As sudoku sweeps across the globe, tightening its stranglehold on commuters, Carol Vorderman and millions of people's DSs, numerous other pretenders to the crown have popped up, all vying to be called the Next Big Casual Mathematical Thing.
As a puzzle game with a strong tilt towards people of a numerate nature, Rubik's Numbolution is the newest challenger to the throne – a mathematical puzzle game that relies as much on your ability figure out a puzzle as it does your skill at adding up numbers in the most obscure way possible.
When you begin a game, you'll be presented with a variety of blocks, each of which has a digit on it, from 1-9. At the top of the screen, the game gives you a target number, and it's up to you to select the relevant blocks that will add up to that number. When you've reached the target number, all the blocks you've used will mysteriously vanish, and when you've cleared the screen of blocks, you've finished the level.
Unlike other puzzle games, there's no connecting groups of three here, and there's no rotating blocks, which really helps the game to differentiate itself from the pack (there's your maths joke). In later levels, the game introduces special pieces, such as negative numbers, and bomb blocks, which explode when you use them, though while these do help you to make some huge combos, they do little to expand on the basic formula of 'fastest mental mathematician first'.
Sadly, however, Rubik's Numbolution isn't without its problems, one of which is the size of the font used for the target number. Whenever you reach the target number, you'll be instantly set a new one, but as the target number is found at the top of the screen towards the left hand side, (in other words, exactly where you're not looking), it can often be quite hard to tell. If the developer had made the number bigger, and actually put it in an area of the screen where you may be looking, the game would have been a little more playable.
There are five levels in the game, each of which is made out of three stages and a bonus round, and it's here we come to our biggest gripe. We quite like Rubik's Numbolution, because it makes us think. We like games that make us feel clever, and, because we aren't too bad at maths, Rubik's Numbolution is exactly the sort of game we're looking for. The problem is there's just not enough of it. You can blast through the 20 levels in no time, after which the game just changes to an Unlimited mode, which lets you play forever (or until you run out of time).
To say Rubik's Numbolution is average would be mean (there's your second maths joke!). A fun little mathematical puzzle game that'll really make you think, Rubik's Numbolution is exponentially better than the majority of puzzle games, but it's badly let down by a lack of levels. While the formulae may be alright for the first few plays, it could really do with being a little more complex – more like a quadratic than a linear equation.
Still, if you think that current puzzle games don't push your mental maths enough and you're looking for a game that you could almost legitimately pass off to your teacher/boss as work, then Rubik's Numbolution is well worth a try.