Algebra Meltdown

Linear Equations and Number Machines

Solve linear equations to guide atoms through the reactor. But don't keep the scientists waiting too long or they blow their tops! It's the ultimate nuclear test of your maths skills!

Linear equations, Using number machines, One/multi-stage equations


Game Goals

In this maths game you have been recruited by Lissaman Industries to assist in one of their super-secret, ultra-dangerous research projects.

As the new controller of the mighty Nuclear Generator, your job is to serve scientists waiting at the Generator's outlets. Each scientist needs a certain atom, which you create by solving linear equations and then guiding 'raw' atoms through the Generator's maze of machines and tubes.

Be quick: the scientists are impatient to continue their work. Take too long to serve them and they grow annoyed and eventually storm off; let this happen too many times and you will be fired!

The ultimate aim of the project is to construct a monstrous mega-machine known only as 'The Device'. But exactly what does this strange contraption do? Play the game and find out!

How To Play

Instructions for Algebra Metldown

Algebra Meltdown's action takes place across multiple level or 'shifts', each featuring a unique Nuclear Generator layout. At the start of each shift scientists queue up at the Generator's outlets, with speech bubbles above their heads to indicate the atoms they need (A).

Across the top of the screen is a rack dispensing 'raw atoms' between values -9 and +9 (B). When an atom is dragged and dropped onto the intake funnel (C), it gets sucked inside the Generator and automatically squirted through the tubes in the direction of the chevrons.

If an atom passes through a machine, a nuclear reaction takes place and it's transformed by the operation shown (D). For example, if a '4' atom passes through a '+ 2' machine, it turns into a 4 + 2 = 6 atom. If that atom then passes through a '÷ 2' machine, it turns into a 6 ÷ 2 = 3 atom. And so on.

You direct the atoms through the tubes and machine by clicking switch boxes (E). The currently-active path from the intake funnel to an outlet is illuminated, and its corresponding linear equation displayed on the Quality Controller's monitor (F). For example, if the path takes an atom through a '× 3' machine, then a '- 5' machine, and the scientist at the outlet wants a '4' atom, then the QC's monitor shows '3x - 5 = 4'.

Once a scientist receives the atom needed they run off-screen happy, and the next scientist walks to the front of the queue. In addition the Energy Gauge receives a boost (G); if you fill the Energy Gauge before your shift ends (as indicated by the timer (H)) then you have cleared the shift and graduate to the next, tougher one.

But work fast: take too long to serve scientists and they become bored or even angry. Scientists also get angrier if you accidentally serve them incorrect atoms. Eventually angry scientists will blow their tops and storm off-screen, costing you a 'Miss' counter (I). If you lose all five 'Miss' counters or fail to fill the Energy Gauge before the shift ends, then you get fired.

If the pressure gets too much then click on the 'Tea Break' button (J) - a delicious cuppa makes all the scientists happy again, giving you time to collect your thoughts. You start with just one 'Tea Break' but win a bonus one each time you earn promotion to a higher difficulty.

Game Controls

Place atoms into the Generator by dragging them from the rack at the top of the screen and then dropping them onto the circular intake funnel. To speed placement, atoms 'snap' onto the intake if dragged nearby. If you drop atoms anywhere but the intake they return to the rack.

Change switch boxes by clicking on them. Switch boxes can only point in one of two directions; clicking on them 'toggles' between these directions.

Call a 'Tea Break' by clicking on the button. If you have more than one Tea Break available, this will be indicated by a 'x ?' counter.

Each time you serve a scientist with their requested atom:

If you fail the shift you are sacked and the game ends; you fail the shift if either:

Generator Components

Intake Funnel
Drag atoms from the rack and drop them onto the funnel to fire them into the Generator.
Automated Intake
Produces random atoms and automatically fires them into the Generator.
Scientists queue at these points, as they're where atoms exit from the Generator.
Basic Machines
Performs simple maths operations on an atom, such as add/subtract the indicated value or multiply/divide by the indicated value.
Special Machines
These machines process two atoms at once:
Fuses two atoms into one, adding their values. For example, if a '2' atom is in one side and a '4' atom enters the other, then a single 2 + 4 = 6 atom is produced.
Fuses two atoms into one, multiplying their values. For example, if a '3' atom is in one side and a '5' atom enters the other, then a single 3 × 5 = 15 atom is formed.
Compares the two atoms: if they're of equal value then a single atom of that same value is produced; if they're not equal, they explode and a 'Miss' counter is forfeited.
Splits a single atom into two atoms of the same value.


The first time you play only Easy difficulty is selectable. However, after successfully completing the first six shifts you will be promoted to Medium difficulty, which then becomes selectable from the menu in all future games.

Similarly you 'unlock' Hard by completing all six Medium shifts, and Extreme by completing all six Hard shifts. When you complete all six Extreme shifts, finally you discover what the purpose of The Device is...


Every time a scientist receives their requested atom, you are awarded points according to the this formula:

Atom Score = (Base Score + Speed Bonus) × Chain Counter
Base Score
A 'minimum score' awarded for serving a scientist successfully.
Speed Bonus
This bonus varies with how quickly scientists receive their atoms - the longer the scientists wait, the less bonus you get!
Chain Counter
Each time you serve a scientist successfully, this counter increases by one. It drops back to zero if a scientist storms off or gets an incorrect atom, or if you cause an Atom Generator malfunction (for example, by splitting atoms).

In addition, each time a shift is cleared successfully, you are awarded bonus points:

Miss Bonus
Awarded for each 'Miss' counter remaining.
Timer Bonus
A score boost for each second left on the timer.

Thus, the score for each shift is defined as:

Shift Score = (Sum of all shift's Atom Scores) + Miss Bonus + Timer Bonus

As you're promoted and play at higher difficulties, the scores and bonuses increase accordingly:

Difficulty Base Score Speed Bonus (maximum) Miss Bonus (per counter) Timer Bonus (per second)
Easy 50 points 50 points 200 points 20 points
Medium 125 points 125 points 500 points 50 points
Hard 250 points 250 points 1.000 points 100 points
Extreme 500 points 500 points 2.000 points 200 points

Improve your score

Basic Strategies

Work Backwards
Imagine what number the atom needs to be at each stage of its journey, so that it shows the right number when it reaches the scientist. For example (referring to the image on the right):
  1. The scientist wants a 2 atom...
  2. So when the atom's at this point it needs to be value 8...
  3. And when it's at this point it needs to be value 6.
...Or use the Quality Controller's monitor
The equation displayed on the monitor screen corresponds to the currently-selected route through the Generator. Note that if the equation shows '= ?', this means there are no scientists in the queue!
Set your route first
If you're new to the game, it's safest to set the route by toggling the switches before putting an atom into the machine. However, experienced players may find they can save time and so get higher scores by changing the route when the atom is already moving through the Generator.

Prioritising scientists

How angry is the scientist?
Make sure you serve scientists who are about to blow their tops first.
How long is the queue?
Scientists get angry while waiting in the queue, so it's sometimes worth clearing a queue if it's growing too long.
How long is the route to the scientist?
When you have more than one queue to serve you should take into account the length of the route to the scientist. The longer the route, the longer the atom will take to get there - and the longer scientists have to wait, the angrier they get!
Will your atom make it?
If a scientist is close to storming off, your atom might not reach them in time. Use your judgement to decide whether this will happen - it might be worth letting the scientist blow their top, sacrificing a 'Miss' counter, and focussing on serving the next scientist instead.

Advanced Play

More than one variable? Then fix one!
To solve levels where the equations involve two or more variables, try fixing the value of one and then working out what the other ones need to be. For example, if you're trying to find solutions of 4x + y + 7 = 25, then think about what y would need to be if you set x = 4.
Save time by setting routes 'on the fly'
It's possible to deal with more than one scientist at once. When you start doing this you'll find that you have to toggle switches while atoms are in the machine. But be careful when you do this: you don't want to misdirect an atom!