Sally and T.J., along with their canine pal Gizmo, explore the Sapphire Falls gem mine, and discover that a treasure map has been stolen and that there have been reported sightings of a mysterious creature. Players set out on an adventure to find a lost treasure and to catch a villain that has them learning 4th grade curriculum through a series of adventure games. Gems are earned by playing the activities, allowing secret passageways to open.
There are 11 different game areas altogether, some of which are as follows:
Players keep a Journal so that they can compile their pictures of suspects and clues found along the way.
- Platform Problems requires kids to move Sally around the platforms, selecting the correct answers to mathematical equations.
- In Laser Letters, players must "cut out" the correctly spelled words from the ice with lasers, while avoiding the electricity ball.
- Map Madness involves moving a mine car around a stone map of the world and digging for gems by answering questions about world geography.
- Tablet Turnover is a form of a stone puzzle in which players must match stone tablets that contain descriptions. Kids work with historical facts, and can use a magnifying glass to research their answers.
- Clue Climber requires kids to guide TJ up a cliff by selecting correct vocabulary words.
- In Wacky Words, players try to drain a pond to discover a clue, and are required to connect pipes using their grammar skills.
- Crystal Keys involves playing correct musical notes on a keyboard to unlock a secret door.
- Race Chase requires answering true or false questions to gain speed for a mine car track race. Cross-curricular questions are asked covering the wide range of subjects that were found in the adventure.
- Costume Caper is the last activity that involves identifying the suspect from all of their clues and interviews.
This game features individualized instruction with Knowledge Adventure's Adaptive Learning Technology. Difficulty levels are automatically adjusted based on a player's individual performance. There are 200+ individual tutorials throughout the adventure. Players can choose to play the game in either Adventure or Practice Mode.
The gateway activity, Platform Problems, is rather tricky at times to control, and frustrated kid testers. Otherwise, the activities are "do-able". Even though testers were unfamiliar with many of the historical and geographical facts and questions, there were plenty of opportunities to research the answers. As such, they were able to work the program without getting too frustrated. This is a significant improvement over the original version of JumpStart 4th Grade that had kids getting stuck at various points and too frustrated to be motivated to play through the entire adventure. History problems are largely American, so kids from other countries may need to do a little more research in the Tablet Turnover activity.
A Progress Report allows parents to monitor their child's progress according to each skill area.
Minimum requirements are Windows 95/98, a Pentium 90 processor, 16 Mb RAM, and 4X CD ROM drive. Mac users require a 120 MHz Power PC with 11 Mb RAM, System 7.5.3 and a 4X CD ROM drive. Both require 15MB of hard disk space.
multiplication, division, fractions, decimals, estimating, rounding, prime numbers, world geography, world capitals, critical thinking, fine arts, vocabulary, life science, earth science, physical science, spelling, grammar, history, music
As with most multi-subject curriculum-based programs, educational material is spread rather thin no one topic is covered with much depth. However, players will reinforce some skills and learn some from working through this adventure.
Players will be motivated by the idea of solving a mystery, and working to collect gems and clues.
Although Platform Perils could have been easier to play (maneuvering was awkward), navigation is clear throughout the game with an always-accessible toolbar and clear instructions. There are excellent smart features, including the ability to have the levels adjust automatically or to set them manually.
Most players will be motivated to work through the entire adventure, but once that is done, it is doubtful kids will come back to the game. However, there is sufficient content for this game to have a decent shelf life.
The suggested retail price of $20 US is probably right on target. The program is certainly worth the price for the amount and quality of content.