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spacer all reviews > > > problem solving software

3 Great Adventures with MAX

Tivola

Ages 3 to 7

Rating Scale
5 = great,    1 = poor
Educational Value
2.8
Kid Appeal
3.8
Ease of Use
4.5

3 Great Adventures with MAX Screen Shot arrow indentSystem Requirements

arrow indentPC / Mac Price Survey

arrow indentProduct Support

Accompany Max on three distinct adventures with MAX and the Pirates, MAX and the Haunted Castle and MAX and the Secret Formula. On each quest, help Max to locate missing items. In MAX and the Pirates, Max helps Captain Spinnakerears search the Santa Loosetooth to locate the missing parts of the pirate machine. Willy, the castle ghost in MAX and the Haunted Castle, is trapped in the tower because he doesn’t have enough energy to maintain his ghostly ways (flying through locked doors and closed windows). Yellow socks, of course, are his favorite food; help Max to locate twelve of them, hidden throughout the castle, to feed to Willy. Finally, in MAX and the Secret Formula, Max must locate the numbers 1-9, which have been misplaced by his uncle Pong. They compose a secret formula needed to restore Aunt Lisa’s leaning tower to its upright position.

The three CD-ROMs are narrated in English, French and German and are designed for children ages 3-7.

Educational Value

3 Great Adventures with MAX is a collection of exploratory software that encourages users to be observant, decisive and mindful as they try to find secret passageways and hiding places. The program is designed for young children and focuses on some very basic concepts: visual discernment, decision-making, color recognition, number recognition and aural and reading comprehension. In MAX and the Haunted Castle, while trying to locate the twelve yellow socks, players may encounter socks of different colors. They are described using similes: “as green as a frog”, “as red as your nose in winter”. In MAX and the Secret Formula, players must extract the digits 1-9 from their hiding places.

Throughout all three adventures, boxes of text are displayed while the story is narrated. The text changes color enabling users to follow along. A standard font is used for the majority of the text, although the handwritten letter that appears in MAX and the Secret Formula could prove difficult for beginning readers. The text can be repeated with a click of the mouse. The narrators speak in expressive voices, carefully enunciating their words. The CD-ROMs could be enjoyed by those acquiring language skills in English, French or German. Only one error was discovered in the English version of MAX and the Pirates; the narrator stated, “the sea serves up fresh fish”, while the text read, “the sea service up fresh fish”. For parents who are sticklers about the type of language their children use, be aware that, in MAX and the Secret Formula, one of the narrators remarks, “Look how stupid Max looks!” Although this program is marketed for children ages 3-7, aside from reading, there are very few challenges to hold the interest of older kids.

Kid Appeal

The adventures with Max are designed for the mouse-happy child. By clicking all over the screen, users reveal characters behind shutters, inspire frogs to jump into buckets, start thunderstorms, discover secret passages, and find the missing items. The quests are full of silly antics and clever inventions, like a sunscreen-applying machine and a self-cleaning desk. The enormous array of images that move and/or make noise when clicked upon makes repeat usage a possibility for young children (ages 3-5). However, beyond reading the text boxes, there is little opportunity for cognitive development for older children (ages 6-7). A sense of mystery and adventure is certainly achieved in all three settings, although the premise for MAX and the Haunted Castle (finding yellow socks to feed the castle ghost) is a bit obscure. This collection of software is more appropriate for home use than for classroom use as the limited educational content would be difficult to justify.

Ease of Use / Install

3 Great Adventures with MAX was very easy to install and to uninstall. The key to program navigation is to use the mouse unceasingly. This software can certainly be used without adult assistance. The only difficulty may be determining how to quit the application. A toolbar displayed across the bottom of the screen throughout the quests shows a picture of Max inside a frame (right side of the toolbar). By clicking on this image, a user can access the various rooms explored during the quest, as well as a waving hand. Click on the hand to end the game.

Best for... / Bottom-Line

All three of these adventures with Max are full of funny noises, exotic music, silly images, and a sense of mystery. These qualities, and a lack of serious intellectual challenge, make them most appropriate for young children. They provide an enjoyable way to become comfortable with using a computer, as well as to practice some basic concepts like color and number recognition.

See SuperKids' comparisons with other problem solving software titles, and the Buyers Guide for current market prices of the PC and Mac versions.

System Requirements
PC: Windows 95 or better, 486 Processor, 8 MB of RAM, SGVA-Graphics card with 256 colors, sound card, double speed CD-ROM drive.

Mac: O/S 7.1 or better, 8 MB of RAM, sound card, double speed CD-ROM drive.

Reviewed on:
-     Pentium III - 450 running Windows 98, with 128MB RAM and 24x - CD-ROM
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