Round Up Those Arrays Cowboy
One way to get at the concept of multiplication is to represent a value as a rectangular array columns and rows. Presenting a problem like 3 x 4 allows a player to count the objects one by one if they don’t know the multiplication answer. It also helps to link numbers to geometry concepts down the road.
The metaphor of cattle in a pen seemed like a good one. The cowboy needs to lasso the cattle and as he gets them they are placed in a rectangular pen organized in rows and columns. When all the cattle are caught the player needs to tally up the cattle to continue.
Add to that some menacing bulls and funny sounds and… Giddyup.