Math Heads (Theatrix Interactive – ages 10-14) sees teaching math as guerrilla warfare – parents aren’t asking for any quarter, and Theatrix isn’t giving any. That’s why the visuals are nauseatingly busy, the soundtrack is obnoxiously loud, and the sense of humor is determinedly Beavis and Butthead. Put all these things together and you’ve got a program that’s sure to hook the target age range; put solid, conventional teaching methods behind them, and you’ve got something that actually works. Math Heads uses the device of a television network to take the boredom out of pre-algebra, fractions, and the universally despised word problems. About a dozen channels alternate between game-show contests (another Hollywood Squares rip-off, and an estimation game in which you race the clock to keep your dancers dancing, Soul Train-style) and clever “infomercials,” which teach handy math tools (slice and dice, one infomercial counsels, and you’ll get 25% of anything – half on the slice, half on the dice). The aesthetics are a mix of MTV and Nickelodeon, but the teaching methods are all sound. Math Heads provides kids with the right tools, always reinforces recent lessons, and – best of all – “shows its work.” There’s no mystery about how the “celebrities” on the Hollywood Square-type show have arrived at their answers; they’ll deconstruct it for you. If you still don’t get it, there’s a help button to lead you through the problem yet again. This will make parents happy. Most everything else, right from the wacky beginning (in which you assemble a character from spare parts to represent you in the game), will make kids happy.
-December 1996, Kids’ Education