—mathemagical fun in the snow—
Developed and published by The Learning Company in 1992, Treasure Mathstorm! is one of four educational titles that also include Treasure Mountain!, Treasure Cove!, and Treasure Galaxy!. It was designed to teach young children maths and problem solving skills, and remains one of my favourite educational titles to this day. With its charming graphics and memorable characters, it adds a fun new dimension to learning maths while also telling the player a story.
The Master of Mischief (a crazy fellow with Goku style hair) has invented a magical, weather changing machine that he used to turn Treasure Mountain into a giant Ice Village (sort of like what Elsa did in Frozen). Unfortunately, that caused countless problems-clocks went cuckoo, gold scales lost their balance, and crystals crumbled, plus all the treasures were swept around the mountain and the bridge leading to the castle was destroyed. You play as a Super Seeker, the hero who must enlist the help of elves to find treasures, climb the mountain, and take down the Master of Mischief once and for all. When all treasures are found, the power of the sacred crown is released, melting all the snow and restoring Treasure Mountain to its former glory.
At its core, Treasure Mathstorm! plays like an old-school 2D platformer, although there isn’t the same sense of level progression that you see in games like Super Mario Bros for the Super Nintendo. That is replaced with a serious amount of item collecting, which sees players gathering various items like nets, ice picks, snowballs, and a whole lot more in order to trek their way up the mountain, where the Master of Mischief awaits. You can use either the keyboard (arrow keys) or mouse to navigate your way over the slippery snow, and also when you’re busy solving maths problems. Providing that you are outside skiing, you’ll bump into several elves who are going about their business. However, being the obsessed mathematician you are, you must trap them with your nets and force them to quiz you on your addition and subtraction skills. Answering these questions correctly rewards you with money, which you can spend in the shop later on.
The shop, which has a slightly different appearance on each level and is serviced by a different staff member each time, provides you with yet another opportunity to practise your maths skills. Here you must select the correct change in order to purchase ice picks, or whatever necessary item you need to help you scale the mountain cliff.
There is also an opportunity to acquire mountain-scaling equipment for free, however, from places such as the Time Igloo (see below), the Gold Room, and the Crystal Cave. In the Time Igloo, a wizard will ask you to set the hands of the analogue clock so they correctly match the digital clock on the left hand side. Do this exactly four times, and you will receive exactly what you need to climb the mountain. Of course, you can continue correctly matching the times up, which will give you more money in return, and present you with more complex time commands.
You can also collect snowballs, which will help you uncover hidden treasures. Each snowball pile has a secret number of snowballs that must be placed down in order to activate the hidden treasure, and you can find out that number by trapping a special elf-the one holding a golden scroll. If you answer his question successfully, he will reveal the secret number. This is a nice departure from straight up maths problems since it offers you the chance to practise your counting skills as well.
Gameplay certainly offers a lot of variety, and in addition, Treasure Mathstorm! has wonderful graphics that make you feel like you’re right at home with a hot cup of cocoa on a cold, snowy day. The music is jovial and catchy to the extreme. Much to my delight and surprise, it actually comes from Johann Sebastian Bach’s Invention No. 8. Who knew that classical music had found it’s way into a kid’s game? Certainly not me when I was playing this in primary school. After you play for a while, you’ll notice these enemies called ‘snowbullies’ hurtling through the air, which can knock you over. They also steal your money, which I’m pretty sure is illegal. Yum yums from Treasure Trove Cove, anyone? To avoid them, you can either duck, or use one of your nets to trap them for good. There is one snowbully per level, but they will respawn when you parachute down the mountain and try to ascend it again.
The maths problems will scale up in difficulty as you progress, but they are always achievable. However for someone still in primary school, they might come across as a bit challenging. This is especially true of the Crystal Cave, which had me feeling confused sometimes as I frequently forgot what number the large group of crystals represented. I think the art style here could have been made slightly more clear in order to make counting easier.
I also found answering addition and subtraction problems that had a two-digit answer counter-intuitive. This is because you have to enter the digit on the right before the digit on the left, which is the reverse of what you would do in real life. Other than that, Treasure Mathstorm! delights you with its approach to making you more enthusiastic about maths. Catching the elves with nets is extremely fun, as is watching the animation when they scurry away from you. All in all, Treasure Mathstorm! is an enjoyable, educational platforming title that successfully weaves maths into its core gameplay mechanics in the same delightful vein as Math Rescue. It challenges your mind in a range of different ways, and manages to entertain you at the same time with its bright artwork, pleasant soundtrack, and its crazy story.
Why you should play it:
- You have a passion for maths
- You like 2D platforming games
- You appreciate games with old style graphics
- You believe in elves
- Beautiful illustrations
- Funny animations
- Good educational game
- Lots of variety in gameplay
- Light and catchy soundtrack
- Can become repetitive
- Difficult to run through quickly
- Two-digit number entry is ordered in reverse
Remember, as this is a MS DOS game, you will need DOS Box to play it. If you don’t know how to open a DOS game, please check out the end section of my Goldfields review for a quick explanation (visual guide provided). For a taste of the gameplay, please refer to the video below as presented by YouTube user Lingyan203:
The game also has an updated 1996 version complete with voiceovers for those who are interested.