A.S.K. have been producing third-party educational software on popular micros for a few years now. Number Painter is the first release on their own label. The program is designed to test and build mental arithmetic skills of children in the age range 5-14. After trying the program with some 6-7 year olds I think the lower age quoted is a bit optimistic unless the children are particularly bright and perhaps 7-14 is the correct range. There are two options in the program, the Number painter game and a self-test section.
The Number Painter game is a 'girders and ladders'type game. At the start of the game you are given the choice of twelve levels of difficulty. There are four workmen you can choose from, Mr Plod is the slowest, while Mr Speedy is obviously on piece-work! A target number and starting value are given, you then have to move the painter around the screen and 'paint' the required numbers to reach the target. But watch out, if you take too long a bucket of paint will flood the site, also take care not to fall down holes in the girders otherwise you will get dizzy and all the numbers will be jumbled up. If two or more of your painters reach the target you go up a level, if none of the painters succeeds within the time limit you go down a level. The self-test option, again with twelve levels, gives you a series often problems. If you type in the correct answer the painter nods his head and a painter is placed on the score line, otherwise the painter shakes his head and you are given another chance. If you cannot answer the problem within two trys then the correct answer is given and you move on to the next problem.
It is nice to see some more educational software available for the Amstrad. The graphics, although not up to arcade games standards, are still effective and colourful and the packaging well laid out and easy to follow. On a negative note the sound could have been used more effectively, and if found the game selection menu confusing.