Katie is a self-confident little girl with a huge imagination. After all, she has dreamed up the StarFlyers, a group of sometimes fearless space cadets, led by her Katie Cadet persona. StarFlyers: Alien Space Chase is one of two titles from a new StarFlyers series. The group's mission this time around is to find missing Space Ambassadors, including Madame Slither.
Players travel between Star Cadet Academy and the planets (Funopolis, Planet Cafeterium, and Pipeworks). Along the way, arcade games and logic activities need to be mastered. Players collect special items, such as a broom, and store them in their dashboard. On their way to a planet destination, kids play an arcade game in the "Fruity Way", where they dodge, collect, or shoot at banana peels and pieces of fruit. The currency of the galaxy is galaxy seeds--these can be collected and earned throughout the game. After collecting enough galaxy seeds, children can trade them in for Astro-Prizes. These clever rewards are actually playable little games.
When players first arrive at Planet Cafeterium, which consists of rings of different food groups, they can't land their spaceship without first collecting something to clean up all the ketchup and mustard! Once they've successfully collected the item and used it to clean up the planet's surface, they work their way through the different planetary rings by playing a series of arcade activities. At Planet Pipeworks, children need to rescue Commander Ann Chovy (one of the missing space Ambassadors), who is at the bottom of a drain. They need to connect the pipes, one level at a time, so that she can work her way back up. These levels become increasingly more challenging, with higher levels requiring the need to "flip" the pipes for success.
Although children select one of three difficulty levels at the outset of the game, the program adjusts the levels (up or down) according to children's performance. These settings determine the level of challenge of the educational activities, but do not affect the adventure itself.
One of the game's most appealing qualities is its hefty dose of humor. Since the story is essentially a child's flight of fancy, ridiculous moments abound. At one point, the StarFlyers face a cave filled with animated hairballs, and they need to call on A. J.'s "Bubble Gum Blast" in order to get past these funny creatures. The game's characters are well-developed; and the graphics give a Saturday morning cartoon feel to the game.
Our testers found the other game in the series, Star Flyers Royal Jewel Rescue, a little more satisfying (they felt the theme, activities, and even the ending had an edge over those in Alien Space Chase). In addition, the activities in Royal Jewel Rescue offer more educational value. We recommend starting with Royal Jewel Rescue. If kids can't get enough of the StarFlyers, which is highly probable, then Alien Space Chase will satisfy them. Although children will face some similar situations (Cafeterium and Bowlarama games are especially similar to each other), children will face some new challenges and have a great time as they do. Though the recommended age group includes 5 year olds, we feel that children ages 5-6 will need a little help. The program is probably just right for children ages 7-9.