In Mia's third adventure, the endearing little mouse sets her sights on time travel. Her search for parts for a time machine is prompted by a fire that burns Mia's house to the ground in a program introduction that is perhaps too scary for younger players. Fortunately, Mia can make things right again by collecting Sparklies (colorful gems) and finding machine parts.
Mia's quest takes her through a vegetable garden, into Mr. Mole's burrow, to the patio, and into the kitchen. Returning characters, like Freddi the Frog and the very ratty Romaine, as well as a few new faces, help round out the charming cast.
While the previous titles focused on reading and science, this one is devoted to math. A choice of four skill levels that affect the learning games not the adventure itself are roughly matched to grade level (that is, level one features first-grade curriculum, up to level 4, which is designed for fourth-graders). While higher levels were age-appropriate, we found some of the level one games challenging for the average first-grader.
In order to help Mia complete her quest, players need to collect items and solve problems. For example, in one sequence, they have to hunt for an object that will help Mia rouse resting ants. Once done, Mia works at earning a lock for an ignition by solving math equations. Depending on the level, players will need to recognize numbers, add, subtract, multiply, or divide in order to advance.
Activities are tied in well with the storyline. For example, Mia needs a clock for the time machine, but will need to set the clock to the requested time of day in order to earn it. Other math activities involve arranging numbers in descending order, identifying geometric shapes, and completing number patterns.
This content-rich adventure is contained on two CD-ROMs, but disc swapping is limited to only once in the adventure. Kids click on Mia's face in order to get hints, and the more they click, the more specific the tips become. A complete walk-through of the game is promised to be available on the Kutoka web site, but most children ages seven to 10 will be able to get through it independently with a little persistence and a lot of exploration.
Minimum system requirements are Windows 95+, Pentium 233, 64 MB RAM, 6X CD-ROM, and 40 MB free hard disk space. Mac users require a G3 processor 233 MHz or iMac, System 8.1+, 64 MB RAM, 6X CD-ROM, and 40 MB free hard disk space.
Children work with addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, geometry, logic, place value, fractions, measurement, inductive reasoning skills, estimation, strategy, and mental computation.
The math activities can be accessed independently of the adventure. However, the fact that they are incorporated into the storyline so well makes them more meaningful and attractive when played in the context of the adventure. Activities feature a nice range of math skills at four different challenge levels.
The story complete with cute characters and "bad guys" kids love to hate will appeal to most children. The program's top-quality movie introduction easily sweeps children up into Mia's world, and as the game advances, the mouse-eye view of the world continues to feature visuals that are stunning.
As in previous Mia titles, "the mouse follows the mouse" children simply point their cursor where they want Mia to go. The program supports multiple players and multiple games for each. Background music can be turned on or off, and activities can be played independently of the adventure. Movie sequences can be skipped with a tap of the spacebar.
Kids have a well-defined goal to work toward, and the problem solving required to complete the adventure is manageable enough to keep children playing until they've saved the day.
This CD-ROM carries a suggested retail price of $19.95 US.
Reviewed: October 2001