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Review CornerSoftware
Mia 2 Romaine's New Hat
Rating: four and a half stars
The Bottom Line
An eye-pleasing and absorbing adventure, this second title in the Mia series takes kids on a fun, problem-solving adventure. Multi-level learning activities that focus on teaching and reinforcing science facts are found throughout the game. Impressive!
Award of Excellence
Ages: 5-11   Subject: Science  Brand: Kutoka Interactive
Review Sections: Product Overview  Entertainment Value  Pros & Cons  Technically Speaking  Design  Skills Covered  Replayability  Educational Value  Dollar Value
 
 
Mia 2 Romaine's New Hat  Product Overview
With Mia adventure CD-ROMs, kids actually take part in an interactive animated story that requires them to do learning activities along the way. We loved the first title in the series, Mia: The Search for Grandma's Remedy (see our review), and this second title didn't disappoint. Mia 2 Romaine's New Hat has a special learning focus on science, and revives the special role of a little mouse who will quickly take a place close to your child's heart.

Contained on 2 CD-ROMs, this graphically rich adventure starts with a high-quality video introduction. Mia gets caught in an eaves trough on the roof a big house when a rainstorm blows in, and she narrowly escapes getting swept down the gutter. Unfortunately, Mia was wearing her mother's big hat at the time, and it washes away. Determined to collect enough "sparklies" (the currency in Mia's world) in order to buy a new hat, Mia sets off on an adventure that takes her through the garden, to the pond, into the house's basement, and down the drainpipe. Truth of the matter is, Romaine the Rat, a familiar villain from Mia's first adventure, has taken possession of the hat, and he's not willing to give it up without some bargaining.

Kids control Mia simply by pointing their mouse where they want her to go — the program uses a real-time engine that allows for a unique form of navigation. As Scary points out in the tutorial, "the mouse follows the mouse". Of course, she can't do everything players want her to do, and she lets them know. Clicking on Mia's head at any time during the adventure will give kids some simple clues.

Basic navigational problems — ones that may not seem difficult for us humans, but which are quite tricky for little mice — need to be solved. Kids collect items that they can use to help Mia get where she needs to go. They also keep their eyes open for "sparklies". Everything is stored in Mia's backpack for safe-keeping.

Some familiar characters from the first adventure are back, such as Scary Spider and Freddi Frog, as well as an intriguing new cast of characters.

The science activities form an integral part of the adventure. Though they can be accessed independently of the adventure, they need to be completed in order to progress in the story line. (There is a way of bypassing these activities, but don't tell your kids that! Producers have added a thoughtful shortcut key F12 that will allow kids too young to understand the activities to bypass them and continue with the Mia story).

There are 7 multi-level activities, some of which are fast-paced drills, and others that require learning about a scientific principle then applying that knowledge. Kids must, for example, listen to Mr. Mole's scientific poems and determine if they are true or false, identify the planets in the solar system, label the human body, classify objects, and more.

Technically Speaking
Minimum requirements are Windows 95 or better, a Pentium 166 MMX, 32 Mb RAM (64 Mb recommended), and 6X CD ROM. Mac users require a PowerPC 275Mhz, G3 233 MHz, or an iMac, with 32 Mb RAM (64 Mb recommended), System 8.1-9.0, and at least 6X CD ROM. This title requires 40 Mb of free hard disk space.

Pros & Cons
Mia 2 is just as graphically stunning as the first title in the series. The problem-solving in the actual adventure seems to be a little easier this time around. At any rate, it plays much like an interactive storybook. The science activities range from drills to games that actually have a lot to teach. Not a lot in terms of scientific experimenting is going on here, but kids come away from the game having learned quite a few science facts, nonetheless.

Skills Covered
problem solving, exploration, memory, logical thinking, science concepts: plants and their parts, animals and how to classify them, animals' habitats, animals' eating habits, weather — clouds, the solar system, earth science, the human body and its systems, heat energy, properties of matter, electricity and magnetism, and more

Educational Value
The adventure itself requires some problem solving skills and planning ahead. The science activities contain a lot of content and help to reinforce and teach kids basic science concepts. They are rather engaging and offer multiple levels.

Entertainment Value
Beautiful graphics and a fun story line quickly captivate children. Most will want to play to the end of the adventure.

Design
There are plenty of options available to customize the game. Kids choose a difficulty level for the activities only — the problem-solving adventure stays virtually the same regardless of the difficulty level selected. There are a few random elements from adventure to adventure. Children must switch from the first CD-ROM to the second approximately midway through the program.

Replayability
Though the adventure itself remains practically the same, there are plenty of levels to the activities. Certainly, most kids will want to stick with the game until they save the day.

Dollar Value
This CD-ROM retails for only $19.95 US. Considering the strong content and high quality of this title, this is an excellent deal.

Released: 2000
Reviewed: August 2000