This exciting arcade-style adventure involves protecting a nearby planet from the forces of Zurg. The program lets children decide whether they want to play as Buzz Lightyear or Mira Nova, taking care of the gender issue right away. There are four arcade games to play, but players will need to top up the fuel required to run their space ship's shields, engines, thrusters, and blasters and managing the fuel requires brainpower.
The arcade challenges in this program are manageable for the suggested age group. Players set out into space and, for example, rebuild a damaged Outpost by collecting Trizilium (a rare metal) from asteroids in the Asteroid Belt.
Inevitably, fuel will be consumed and kids will need to return to the ship's hold to manage the fuel supply. Four color-coded areas hold the game's learning activities. Each activity involves moving either Buzz or Mira around grids, strategically moving blocks according to instructions. In Word Cubes, players need to establish relationships between words (such as duck and swim; and duck and tail) and move the cubes in such a way that only words that are related are touching each other. Spelling Cubes challenges children to create words with letter cubes. At easy levels, kids can create any words they see, but as levels increase, they must follow instructions in order to generate fuel. The Logic Puzzle activity involves moving colored blocks around the grid according to instructions. These instructions (such as "a red block must be beside a blue block") become increasingly complex as levels advance. Finally, the Math Grid activity involves arranging number and operator cubes in such a way to form logical equations. This last activity may be a little tough for the younger kids in the suggested age group.
There are two CD-ROMs in this set, but only one game. Parents will need to read the e-Manual on the CD to help children understand the controls and objectives of the games and activities. Once understood, the game is very manageable, although higher difficulty levels of the learning activities may be too challenging for early second-graders.
Despite these complaints, we recommend this software for its original and entertaining content, especially for children who enjoy arcade-style games.
Minimum system requirements are Windows 95/98/Me/XP, Pentium II 233 MHz, 64 MB RAM, 8X CD-ROM, 16-bit DirectX-compatible sound card, 16-bit color DirectX-compatible 4 MB video card, and 80 MB free hard disk space. Mac users require a G3 processor, 233 MHz or faster, OS 8.6 through OS 10.x Classic Mode, 96 MB RAM, 8X CD-ROM, and 80 MB hard drive space.
Skills developed include perception, observation, hand-eye coordination, spelling, memory, addition, subtraction, multiplication, critical thinking, creative thinking, logical thinking, and association.
There is a free-play element to the four learning games offered in this program that has us impressed. The brainteasers are very well done and original. However, if you are looking for a program that touches upon a more comprehensive set of curriculum skills, this CD-ROM may disappoint.
Hilarious dialogue is featured in this very entertaining program. The graphics are fun and the missions are humorous (for example, finding missing basketballs in outer space in time for the big game).
The program offers a nice selection of options, including the ability to play the games with the mouse, keyboard, or a gamepad. Parents may need to read the e-Manual (accessible through the CD) in order to help their children understand the different controls and game objectives.
The amount of content is fair and the missions are quite enjoyable. Even though gameplay sometimes feels repetitive, we expect good replay value.
This 2 CD-ROM set retails for approximately $20 US.
Reviewed: January 2003