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Step into Nancy's shoes in the Creature of Kapu Cave, and you enter into a vivid 3-dimensional world where the background of waves crashing or haunting music keeps you glued to the screen. With a toolbox that stores evidence you've collected, a note-pad that lists tasks you need to complete and important facts to remember, and a cell phone that connects you to the Hardy Boys (and allows you to switch perspectives), you're free to explore, investigate, and help solve the mystery of the Creature of Kapu Cave.
Between the mouse-turned magnifying glass that lights red when you've glanced over a clue, and the note-pad that Nancy keeps listing the various tasks you need to complete, there is enough guidance to eliminate the "I have no idea what to do next" problem. At the same time, you have a lot of freedom -- all the time you need to poke around the crime scene, collect evidence, and solve puzzles by completing various tasks that herald the necessary clues. You can even choose your own dialogue when briefing suspects. Use the GPS system to move from one location to another, and whenever you're in doubt of what move to make next, look over Nancy's check-list of things-to-do.
Nancy Drew is often instructed to complete various tasks before given clues. These tasks are fairly easy, involving pattern-recognition and even testing whether or not you were paying attention to directions. For example, one task involves collecting 12 'viable seeds' -- something you would only know if you paid attention to Dr. Malachi Craven's directions. However, there are certain puzzles or clues that require a lot of mental focus. For example, to repair a broken solar panel, Nancy has collected photovoltaic cells and has to fit these numbered pieces into a Sudoku-like puzzle.
More than specific math or reading skills, Nancy Drew requires great mental focus and general thinking skills. The education value lies more in something like "I just found a radio I need to use but the power isn't on . . . how do I fix it and what kinds of things do I need to be looking for?" rather than "solve this math equation and the radio will magically turn on."
The Creature of Kapu Cave is great for anyone who loves a good mystery. It does require a good deal of mental energy, focus, attention etc. so kids with short attention spans or kids who tend to quit when easily frustrated might not get too far. There is a Junior and Senior level option for appropriate level of expertise (the Junior level offers more clues). Finding clues is relatively easy -- what to do with such clues proves to be a bit more difficult.
No problems were encountered during installation. We simply loaded the CD, followed the click-through user license and installation, and were rewarded with a desktop icon that launched right into the program. Once you select "New Game," you are introduced to Nancy's room. First time users are recommended to browse through "How to be a Good Detective," before reading the "Case File" for the current operation. Then, a simple click of the button lands you in Hawaii and the adventure begins! No manual necessary.
It seems that Nancy Drew will remain a household name well into the twenty-first century.
While there is no blatant educational content -- for example "solve this equation to get a clue" -- there is a hidden educational agenda. You can't just go through the motions and expect to solve the mystery; the wheels have to be turning, so to speak, the entire time. The mind is being trained to be alert, to pick up on and store potentially important information -- a skill that will come in handy again when kids start to be tested in reading comprehension.
PC: Windows XP/Vista, 1 GHz or greater Pentium or equivalent class CPU, 1 GB or more of hard drive space, 128 MB of RAM, 32 MB DirectX compatible video card, 24X or faster CD-ROM, 16 bit DirectX compatible sound card, mouse and speakers.return to top of page
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