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Review CornerSoftware
Clue Jr. SpyGlass Mysteries CD-ROM PlaySet
Rating: Rating
The Bottom Line
If you are looking for a program that really stimulates problem solving and thinking skills, this title may disappoint. However, younger kids will likely gain confidence and have some fun "solving" the mysteries. The mysteries are simple and don't require much thought.
Ages: 5-up  Subject: Adventure  Brand: Hasbro Interactive
Review Sections: Product Overview  Entertainment Value  Technically Speaking  Design  Skills Covered  Replayability  Educational Value  Dollar Value
image Product Overview
There's a new trend that has children's software games combined with some form of a toy accessory that can be used with the program, and Hasbro is one of the companies on top of such a trend. This CD-ROM Playset combines a mystery-based software with a handheld SpyGlass — an electronic clue finder that plugs into the computer's gameport and can be used to search for clues on-screen. Kids move their SpyGlass in front of the monitor and it lights up when a clue is located.

The software itself features 15 unique mysteries to solve in a museum setting, as well as 5 mini-games. Someone has stolen a valuable object from the Museum, and players take on the role of a Clue Jr. Detective as they explore the wings of the Museum, "interviewing" suspects, and playing arcade-style games. Not only do they need to determine the location of the missing object, they must determine the identity of the perpetrator from a line-up of 5 possible suspects. The crimes include The Case of the Missing Stuffed Vulture and The Case of the Missing Cathedral Bell.

Kids refer to their on-screen Notebook to help solve the mystery at hand, and go to the Information Booth to get some hints. There are "where" and "who" clues to locate, and a funny cast of characters to meet throughout the Museum. Clues are not hidden in difficult places, and their meanings are relatively straightforward. Mustache oil is a "who" clue in one of the mysteries, and kids can logically conclude that the person who stole the object has a mustache. In case kids don't arrive at that conclusion right away, Gabby will help them out.

Each wing has a theme — Medieval, Egyptian, Jungle, Dinosaur, and Science — and there's a mini-game in each that serves as a little "break" from looking for clues. Games include a memory game in which players race against the clock to try to match fossil pairs, zapping bugs with the SpyGlass, and more.

There is a lot of help given to players along the way. For example, if kids are clicking around a certain area for awhile, they are told "no clues here". Characters in the different wings will also give them direct hints. For example, if kids find a paper clip and give it to Dr. Adam Atom, he will tell them which wing to go to next find a clue. Once the main "who" and "where" clues are discovered, kids go to Joe Security and solve the mystery, after which there is a cute animation and a recap to conclude the case.

If you are expecting this program to bear any resemblance to the Clue board game, guess again. Kids won't meet up with characters like Professor Plum and Colonel Mustard, and the game itself doesn't play like the board game.

Kid testers enjoyed the program, though Clue Jr. SpyGlass Mysteries didn't meet with above-average enthusiasm after the initial novelty of the SpyGlass wore off. Kids eventually tired of holding the accessory close to the screen (and parents found that the SpyGlass simply brought their kids too close to the monitor when they did use it).

Gameplay is very straightforward — clues are easy to find and hints are plentiful. Therefore, this program is best for kids ages 5-6.

Technically Speaking
Minimum requirements are Windows 95/98, a Pentium 90 processor, 16 Mb RAM, and 2X CD ROM drive. DirectX 6.0 or higher required (included). The SpyGlass accessory installs easily — it simply plugs into the gameport.

Skills Covered
thinking skills, arcade skills

Educational Value
Players basically do simple "search and solve" activities as well as arcade-style games. There is not a whole lot of value in terms of brain gain. Difficulty levels would have helped extend the educational value and age range — the clues are simply too easy for children beyond Kindergarten.

Entertainment Value
Testers generally enjoyed solving the mysteries, and the characters in the game are interesting. The Spy Glass will be a novelty for most kids, and they will be eager to use it initially. As with most toys, the novelty may wear thin over time.

The SpyGlass accessory is very easy to use and install. Though kids found that using the mouse was sometimes easier in the arcade activities that required speed for "zapping" objects, the accessory worked flawlessly in every other aspect of the game.

There are 15 mysteries to solve, and each requires a decent chunk of time to complete, so this software should last if indeed children are motivated to return to the game. However, there is not a whole lot of depth to the problem-solving, and without any difficulty levels, this title won't grow with your child.

Dollar Value
Suggested retail price is $29.95 US.

Released: 1999
Reviewed: March 2000