Basic Math for the Atari 2600

Basic Math for the Atari 2600

Basic Math or Fun with Numbers is one the original launch titles for the Atari 2600. It was developed by Gary Palmer and went on sale in September 1977.

The name tells you pretty much everything you need to know about the title. It is about math and it is very basic.

Your objective in the game is to solve arithmetic problems. That is where variations of “game” come into play as you can solve addition, subtraction division and multiplication problem. These are the more exciting options in the game. Although it does have a few bells and whistle. Like the ability to lock a number into place so you can work out things like multiplication tables and a timer.

Sadly, that is about it. Basic Math is about teaching vey young people basic math. Which it does and rather ably considering that the game weighs only 2K and you are using a joystick. Even though it does the job, I think that Atari could have added some fun numbers or math games to the mix to give the game replayability or increase its age range.

the controls of this game may be a little more complicated than the actual problems

– Video Magazine (Winter 1979)

Basic Math is what I thought of as a gift-killer as a kid. It is the type of gift you get when you ask a well-meaning relative to get you a game for your brand new console. They want to get you what you want, but they can’t help but try to make it more virtuous. That is how a request for Night Driver becomes Basic Math or asking for Zork become a Bible Trivia game.

These people are well-meaning, but obviously forgot what it was like to be a kid.

I had not fired up Basic Math in a long time. Sadly, I don’t foresee doing it again any time soon. It does work as a title, but it lacks the charm or nostalgia that would make it a game worth revisiting. One thing about the game I do like it the box art. It portrays a pleasant fairy tale land of rainbows and numbers that I would have loved to have played in as a kid. Unfortunately nothing resembling that world appears in the game.

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