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Review CornerSoftware
Awesome Animated Monster Maker Math
Rating: Rating
The Bottom Line
Kids will find this title quite engaging with its funny characters and the ability to create their own monsters that animate. This program combines learning and fun in a delightful way.
Ages: 7-10  Subject: Math/Logic  Brand: Houghton Mifflin Interactive
Review Sections: Product Overview  Entertainment Value  Technically Speaking  Design  Skills Covered  Replayability  Educational Value  Dollar Value
image Product Overview
This is a third in the quirky Monster Maker series, and the first dedicated to exercises in math curriculum. There are a whopping 6 levels of difficulty to choose from (grades 1 through 6). The game features automatic leveling that adjusts to the performance of the child, and is a linear-style adventure.

The story is as follows: Blobblers have stolen a "monsterpiece" from the Rogues' Art Gallery — with a monster trapped inside it. The monsters need help retrieving it, and along the way must solve some math puzzles that require some logical thinking, math drills, and more. The activities are as follows:

  • Hero-building (pictured at right) requires building a Hero Monster according to a math sentence or short paragraph. Each part of a monster is worth a certain number of points, and kids must try to build a monster with parts that add up to a number falling within a given range (for example, greater than 123-19 and less than 929-29 on level 3). After you have built a unique monster, you must pay for it with Money Bugs and practice place value at the same time.
  • The Navigation activity takes the form of a grid with [x,y] coordinates. On easier levels, kids work with navigational directions like north, south, east, west, up, and down, and in higher levels, they works with [x,y] coordinates. For example, they may be required to move their monster as follows: "Go left 8 spaces from [9,1]".
  • Number Drop is arcade style and kids must move their monster to catch the correct answer bubble while avoiding the ones with incorrect answers. An example involves rounding a number like 34 to the nearest ten. At the end of it, kids get to reassemble the mixed-up Crumbler any way they like.
  • The Recipe activity involves working with measurement in its various forms -- length, weight, and temperature. Kids may be asked to "measure three snails with the yellow ruler. Then measure the same length in beetles." Once all tasks are completed, the Crumbler parts earned for each correct answer will be available to place on the Crumbler.
  • The Logic activity requires players to place parts on a number of Crumblers according to logic puzzle sentences. For example, "Crumbler A and Crumbler C have the same number of parts. B has one fewer. C has all the yellow parts, and A has all the arms." Kids must then determine which Crumbler gets which part from the given parts.
To complete an entire mission, kids must track and capture 4 Blobblers to get a secret item from each while playing 20+ activities. There is a cute rescue sequence after the 4 secret items have been earned and the location of the Blobbler King/Queen's hideout has been uncovered.

Parental Controls can be accessed after sign-in and are quite detailed and allow for some customization of play. Parents can decide whether the math problems should be read aloud automatically or only upon request, whether the length of the mission should be long or short, and whether to focus on certain types of problems. Additionally, for each activity, any given topic (like odd/even, or percentages) can be either selected or de-selected.

The plot is faintly similar to that of the Zoombinis, and the test children found it totally engaging. Making monsters that animate upon completion went over extremely well with two 8 year old testers.

Technically Speaking
Minimum requirements are a 486/100, 8 Mb RAM (12 Mb RAM recommended for Win 95), and 2X CD ROM. Mac users require a 68040 with 8 Mb RAM (12 Mb recommended for Power PC, System 7.1 or higher and at least 2X CD ROM. The program requires 8 Mb of hard drive space.

Skills Covered
math drill, logical thinking, problem solving, estimation, measurement, rounding numbers, odd/even, navigational directions, addition/subtraction, and lots more

Educational Value
There is a good balance of drill and exploration activities in the game, and the activities themselves are well done, albeit a tad repetitive.

Entertainment Value
The learning activities are highly entertaining and the characters are hilarious. The story line and characters really captured the attention of the kids.

The program is easy to navigate and is customizable, allowing emphasis to be placed on specific topics. The instructions can be interrupted with mouse clicks, and there are loads of parental controls available. The levels are adjusted according to a child's performance and there is a choice of 6 difficulty levels (each matching a grade level from 1-6). After getting many answers correct in a row, kids may be asked whether they want to advance to a higher level.

For a math program, this one ranks comparatively high for replay value. Many kids will enjoy this linear adventure, working hard to reach the final goal of rescuing the monsterpiece from the Blobblers.

Dollar Value
Because kids who play the game are learning while having fun, this game should be considered quite valuable.

Released: 1998