Developer: Say Eight
Price: \$1.99; sale for \$0.99.
Version Reviewed: 2.0

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Binary numbers are a standby of classic geekery, but the base-2 system proliferates in both electronic innards and in popular culture—so everyone should at least recognize it. Binary Game takes the plain old 1′s and 0′s that we all know and love and creates a speedy little math puzzler. Thankfully, for those ordinary folks accustomed to counting in decimal, you don’t have to know one whit about binary in order to play the game. It’s surprisingly fun, and definitely worth a look.

Binary Game presents you with a series of switches, and as you’d expect, flipping a switch on indicates a “1″ and leaving it off indicates a “0.” Each light’s decimal equivalent is shown above it. (See? I told you that actual knowledge of binary was unnecessary!) Above the switches, a goal number appears in red, and your job is to create its binary representation as quickly as possible by turning the switches on and off.

While you could just try and figure out binary numbers from memory, what you’re really doing is trying to turn on the switches so that the sum of the lighted switches equals the target number. The switches each represent 128, 64, 32, 16, 8, 4, 2, and 1. So, for example, in order to hit the number 160 in binary, I would turn on the switches labeled 128 and 32. There’s a quick set of instructions included, too.

Binary Game includes a number of different modes, and I appreciate the variety. The inclusion of a practice mode is priceless, as you’ll need to learn some of the common sums in order to cut your times. The main Challenge Mode is divided into levels, and you only have so much time to complete each set of problems; the amount of time allotted per level steadily decreases as you make your way through the game. There’s also Speed Mode, which dares you to complete fifteen problems as quickly as possible. And, finally, the Daily Mode acts just like the Speed Mode—but you can only try it once, and you’re competing with players around the world. (Both global and local leaderboards are included for all modes, and you can even push your scores to Facebook using Facebook Connect—Binary Game was one of the first games to implement it!)

What I found most surprising about Binary Game was that it was actually fun. Now, I’m a math geek, but mental math really isn’t my forte, and I honestly didn’t go into this expecting to enjoy the gameplay. But Binary Game makes a puzzle out of addition, something that I would’ve sworn was impossible. Better yet, it places the emphasis on speed, nefariously tricking you into forgetting that you might actually be using your brain even as it forces you to think on your feet. Instead, I ended up with a twitch-frenzy of crazed mathematics and glowing lights that kept me coming back for more.

The graphics and sound effects are simply adequate. Now, don’t get me wrong; I don’t mean to imply that they’re bad. They do the job just fine. But I don’t love the cheesy text effects (GOOD! FANTASTIC! NOT BAD!) and the rest of the graphics aren’t anything special. Weirdly enough, though, the presentation is my only real complaint. I’ve never had the app crash, and it does all that it sets out to do. In the greater scheme of things, the graphics are a truly minor consideration.

Binary Game is a simple game that’s been executed wonderfully, and I really can’t commend it enough. If you think that a fast math puzzler appeals to you at all, swoop in and grab this one before the sale ends. And if you want to be really, really depressed, check out this gameplay video clip of someone absolutely murdering the game. (Would that I could think so quickly!)

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