When children reach about nine or 10 years old, they can be more difficult to please when it comes to software. Many kids will balk at anything remotely educational. That this is a math title may be enough to turn off many a tweener, but the theme of this CD-ROM is really quite fun. Children who enjoy sports sims may take to this fast-paced program best. Kids don't even work with numbers in this game, and yet, they receive an excellent workout in logic and mathematical thinking nonetheless.
There are five missions in the game, and the ultimate goal is "hero extreme" after capturing the coveted Indigo Stinger hover board. In between learning activities, kids earn new hover-board movesfrom the nose grab to the reeksterand get a chance to flaunt their stuff on a cross-terrain obstacle course. Because the new moves are a little tricky to execute, kids are significantly challenged to work through the game as they attempt to master them.
These learning games involve a lot of attention to logic and strategy and require plenty of quick thinking. One activity has kids building a maze of pipes from the top to the bottom of a room, working with random pipe variations, and racing against the clock. Another takes the form of a sky-high grid in which players, working as the character GC, attempt to snatch up hover boards before their robot opponent does. Players have to think ahead (and quickly) as they hop from the platforms that are labeled with directional coordinates such as "2 south" and "3 east." Other activities involve maneuvering scorpions into a hole by turning grid pieces on and off, and collecting hover boards on pillars by strategically moving across the arches that disintegrate after passing over them. Bonus activities involve decoding messages while working with rebuses, homophones, and riddles, allowing kids to rack up bonus points.
Each mission requires children to accumulate a minimum number of points, involves working with a limited number of player "lives", and is timed. Kids can buy time in their games using points if they think they will need it.
The program has enough "attitude" to appeal to the target audience, including sassy running commentary throughout the obstacle course, though some more sophisticated kids will feel that it tries a little too hard in this department.
SmartPoints are earned online and can be exchanged for virtual prizes, but the program can be enjoyed without using this feature. In fact, it is a little tricky to use because children need a parent's written permission before they can get a Smart ID and sign up to accumulate these points.