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Review CornerSoftware
Galactic Whiz Kid
Rating: four stars
The Bottom Line
This is a fun and challenging multi-subject game for kids aged 9 and up. Huge content and smart features make Galactic Whiz Kid a good buy.
 
Ages: 9-up   Subject: Thinking Skills  Brand: Vtech Soft
Review Sections: Product Overview  Entertainment Value  Technically Speaking  Design  Skills Covered  Replayability  Educational Value  Dollar Value
 
 
Galactic Whiz Kid Product Overview
This program is part of the Virtual Vtech line and is based on the popular electronic toy, Talking Whiz Kid. While the electronic toy resembles a small laptop computer and has the advantage of being portable, you get a whole lot more with the software title.

Kids start out at the Registration screen where they get to customize their own Galactic Whiz Kid by choosing from a whole bunch of features (face, hair, etc.). After that, there is a choice of two different modes of play:

  • Activity Mode involves collecting as many points as possible by answering questions and solving problems with topics like trivia, math, word games, and logic. Kids are transported to the next level once they successfully complete 5 questions or problems. This mode can be played with one or two players.
  • Adventure Mode involves a mission to search for invading viruses with the ultimate goal of locating the source of the Big Virus that is responsible for all the little ones, and then destroying it. There are 6 rooms in each of the 5 levels (with the 6th level containing the Big Virus), and each virus opens up to reveal a category and activity inside. Kids have to be fast because viruses multiply within a certain period of time and if they are allowed to grow to 40 in a level, the game will end. However, if they successfully eleminate all 20 viruses, they will earn a DNA code that will give access to the next level.
There's an option for a two-player challenge in Activity mode. Players use the keyboard's left and right shift keys to place their "bids" in game show fashion — great fun!

Other options include a help button on each screen, high-score record keeping for the top three players, a user report, and the ability to turn the timer on or off.

In Activity Mode there are 32 activities to explore, broken down as follows:

  • 10 word activities including filling in plural forms of words, correcting misspelled words, finding words within longer words, scramblers that require rearranging words in a sentence (ex. the words given are: reading, Two, Tale, A, of, am, Cities, reading, I — and kids place these words into a train in the correct order to make the sentence "I am reading A Tale of Two Cities."), grammar quiz, and more.
  • 8 trivia games that require answering multiple choice or direct questions with topics like health, science, TV, culture, and more, as well as working with a selected date and answering a question associated with that date.
  • 9 math activities involving straightforward addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division equations, doing some very challenging story problems, rearranging scrambled numbers and signs to form a correct equation (ex. 594, 6, =, 99, x), and calculating the value of "x" in various algebraic equations including decimals and fractions.
  • 5 logic games involve arranging shapes to match a pattern, making a path by using arrow pieces correctly, completing number patterns (reminds me of common IQ test questions), doing a crazy shape puzzle, and putting two magic stones together.
There are 5 different levels of difficulty for each activity, and the option to select the type of response mode for some of the activities — whether it be clicking on multiple choice answers or typing the answer.

The Adventure Mode is multi-level as well, and contains the same categories and topics listed above. Capturing viruses requires some special tools that can be purchased by bartering points. They work for a limited number of uses.

This program's biggest advantage is its large content. Lots of questions and range of activities are packed into one CD-ROM.

And if 5000+ logic, trivia, science, language, history, and math problems are not enough for you, there is an added bonus program included on the CD entitled "Creativity Tools for Kids". Although not state-of-the art, there are some interesting activities in this bonus game. Most notable is the Animation Workshop that kid testers really love. Kids can create and save up to 10 animations, each of which contains 10 simple scenes. Choose the background, characters, and sound effects (or record your own). The Music Library contains a Jukebox feature that allows kids to watch the keys on a piano light up as it plays their choice of songs, and a Lesson mode that helps guide kids to play the correct notes. The Galactic Whiz Pad is a kid-friendly word processor that is easy to use, and that contains a spell-checker and thesaurus (I did note a spelling mistake in the spell-checker dialogue box that pops up, ironically). Also included in the bonus program is a unit exchange that converts inches to feet, centimeters to inches, kilograms to pounds, etc., a Tricky Riddles section, and Make a Silly Sentence.

Technically Speaking
Minimum requirements are Windows 95/98, a 486 DX2-66, 8 Mb RAM, and 4X CD ROM.

Skills Covered
general knowledge: math — addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, algebra, decimals, fractions, math word problems; logic; science; language — plurals, grammar, spelling, editing misspelled words, sentence structure, antonyms, synonyms; history; creativity; basic word processor skills; music

Educational Value
Galactic Whiz Kid pulls off exactly what it sets out to do — the purpose of this program is to reinforce skills and to increase a child's knowledge in general. By working through the activities, kids learn lots of facts. The game is slightly imbalanced in difficulty (there are some aspects of the math activities that were found to be quite difficult — story problems, as well as some very complicated equations — and others, like the equation maker, rather simple), but there is something for everyone here.

Entertainment Value
We found the 2-player mode highly entertaining and addictive. The mission mode is quite fun as well.

Design
There are some wonderful options in the game that allow for customization for different children. Especially nice is the option to turn the timer on or off in the activities. Easy to control difficulty levels and record-keeping are also good features.

Replayability
Huge content and customizable features help boost the replay value.

Dollar Value
This program retails for $30 US.

Released: 1998