Is the magic number.
There’s no shortage of cutesy platformers on the mobile market, so unless you’re a modern port of a nostalgia-inducing classic like Sonic or Rayman, you’re gonna need to be offering a little something more to stand out from the crowd. Luckily, Twelve a Dozen will hopefully give your grey matter a workout as well as entertain.
We open on the hidden world inside the decimal point your calculator, a sprawling universe of all possible numbers, and in particular the city of Dozenopolis, where the twelves live. Something’s gone very wrong, and it’s up to one of the twelves (they don’t really go in for names) and a nameless narrating Navi-esque sprite to work out what’s happened and save the day.
The world is well-rendered in a colourful cel-shaded fashion, and the platforming controls are responsive and unobtrusive. If that was all there was, there wouldn’t be much to write about, but you’ll need to harness the power of your basic maths if you want to progress. Floating around each level are little creatures called numbles, each with an assigned value. Once tagged they will follow you around, and using them in conjunction with stationary operator valves will change your value accordingly. The main obstacles are gates which will only open to one specific number, which you must conjure with what numbers and operators you have to hand. For regular viewers of Countdown this will be child’s play, but I’m big enough to admit I furrowed my brow and was briefly stumped at some of the later puzzles.
Something just doesn't add up here. Oh wait, it does!
The learning curve is gentle, starting with small numbers and only addition and subtraction, but soon enough the numbers get bigger with multiplication and division valves introduced around halfway through. If juggling your mental arithmetic wasn’t enough to keep track of, certain digits also endow your numerical protagonist with special powers which are also needed to proceed through certain sections; for example, if your current number contains a nine, you can jump higher, or if it contains a four, you can push heavy objects. These effects are compound, so a forty-nine would have both these abilities.
Don’t worry if your maths skills are a little shabby; a rewind button can undo your actions incrementally if you think you’ve made a wrong decision, and checkpoints are well spaced out. Made in concert with education specialists Amplify, this is a game that will occasionally tax your brain cells but never feel like a chore, like some of those ghastly ‘edutainment’ products from the early nineties. The plummy RP-accented narration provided by your spritely companion is pretty constant but never offensive; although some of the jokes fall flat, the guidance and helpful hints it provides will be of use to younger players. The burbling, bright but sometimes brooding electronic score is also a pleasant accompaniment.
So, even if all you’re after is just another fun platformer on your mobile, give this a try; you might just learn something.