Super Algebrawl Review — Fantastical Operation

Super Algebrawl aids in math learning by transforming algebraic operations into a fantastical battle setting!
Super Algebrawl Featured

If you’re anything like me, you struggled with math in school. Unlike other subjects, algebra is a strictly logical subject, missing the excitement of historical events or the intrigue of literature that makes learning stimulating. If learning isn’t exciting, it can be hard to learn. Super Algebrawl attempts to tackle this problem by transforming Algebra and its complex, tedious functions into a strategic battle game. Though it’s more enjoyable than a typical math lesson, the game lacks some real polish.

Super Algebrawl opens with a short cutscene explaining the plight of the Boar King. Indebted, the king seeks to restore his fortune by cleansing his neighbors of their pesky monsters. Raising some mousey mercenaries, it’s up to you to lead your army into battle with a few spells and a dream of restored glory. This short introduction serves as a serviceable backstory for Super Algebrawl, fascinating and detailed enough for what the game is. I wish this section was more readable, as the low pixel count font makes the text difficult to see clearly.

Super Algebrawl Story
Screenshot: Try Hard Guides

Super Algebrawl’s gameplay is straightforward enough. You and your army of mercenaries have a certain amount of health represented by a number above each unit’s head. The monsters you meet have their own numbers, often bigger than any single unit in your group. You send party members to attack the monsters, subtracting each number and leaving the larger number still standing.

You lose if your king dies. To aid in defeating monsters, your king has a plethora of mathematic spells that can add, multiply, or even divide your units together to create new numbers. More complex spells, such as straight subtracting (or “dealing damage”) to targets, are unlocked as you progress through a level.

The mechanical nuance of Super Algebrawl lies in one particularly intriguing mechanic. Defeating a monster ‘corrupts’ the surviving soldier, turning them against you. What this means is that you can’t simply create the largest number possible and pass a level by crushing your enemies. If you make a single soldier too large, they’ll turn against you with an unbeatable new number. So, each level isn’t really about defeating all the monsters but rather creating a mathematical sum of 0 from their numbers to prevent your own soldiers from turning on you.

Super Algebrawl Fight
Screenshot: Try Hard Guides

It didn’t take me long to realize that Super Algebrawl wasn’t so much a strategic war sim, ala Total War or similar titles, but is actually a puzzle game. Each encounter is an algebraic equation hidden behind pixelated warriors, waiting to be solved.

There are some aspects that separate Super Algebrawl from a straight-up puzzle title. Namely, after each encounter, you receive one from a list of seemingly randomized buffs, giving the game a sort of roguelike appeal. These buffs can drastically change the outcomes of an encounter, shifting the puzzle in your favor. One notable example of this is the ability to keep your troops from being corrupted if they end battle below a specific number, which allows you to get away with small remainders in your operations.

Really, Super Algebrawl is a math lesson in disguise. That’s not such a bad thing. It simply leans too heavily on puzzle mechanics to truly be the turn-based tactical experience it claims to be.

The game is not without its hiccups, either. One noticeable issue is the targeting systems.

Super Algebrawl Cards
Screenshot: Try Hard Guides

To initiate battle, use a spell, or otherwise interact with any unit on screen, you must first click on the tool you wish to use and then select two units. This is accomplished by drawing a line from the unit under your mouse to another nearby or between two units if your mouse is positioned between them.

There were plenty of times when the finicky selection process led to my king engaging in a battle I definitely did not want him in, taking major HP damage and often losing the game entirely. Otherwise, I would add two figures together or have two of my units attack each other. Thankfully, the game is generous with redos, which I, in turn, made plenty of use of.

The game seems to understand its own limitation in the selection tool because it allows you to move your troops freely around the map to ease the pain of inaccurate line draws. It seems odd to implement this feature instead of just choosing a more straightforward, traditional selection method. Clicking on units one at a time would be much easier and more accurate for controlling operations, and there’s no clear reason for the current system to exist as it does.

Super Algebrawl Gameplay Options
Screenshot: Try Hard Guides

Though it has its flaws and may seem misleading in its presentation, Super Algebrawl is fair for its price point and could theoretically serve as a great way to learn Algebra. While I struggled with the game and didn’t feel any smarter after playing, I can certainly see how the game can be employed in education circles to improve a student’s mathematical retention. Or it could be used to improve your math skills during your spare time. Additionally, it boasts great pixel art, enjoyable levels and enemy variety, and as much replayability as your math tolerance allows.

The Final Word

Super Algebrawl takes simple algebraic operations and turns them into pixelated fantasy battles, which can help players of any age retain math better. While featuring a few functional hiccups and a bit misleading with its “turn-based tactics” label, this algebraic puzzle game should appeal to math experts and those looking to brush up on their algebra.

7

Super Algebrawl was reviewed on the PC. Find more detailed looks at popular and upcoming titles in the Game Reviews section of our website! Super Algebrawl is available on Steam.

Erik Hodges

Erik Hodges

Erik Hodges is a hobby writer and a professional gamer, at least if you asked him. He has been writing fiction for over 12 years and gaming practically since birth, so he knows exactly what to nitpick when dissecting a game's story. When he isn't reviewing games, he's probably playing them.

Comments

Leave a Comment

All comments go through a moderation process, and should be approved in a timely manner. To see why your comment might not have been approved, check out our Comment Rules page!

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.