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spacer all reviews > > > problem solving software

Road Adventures USA

The Learning Company

Ages 10 and Up

Rating Scale
5 = great,    1 = poor
Educational Value
4.5
Kid Appeal
4.5
Ease of Use
3.5

Road Adventures USA Screen Shot System Requirements

PC / Mac Price Survey

Product Support

Remember those scavengers hunts that were once popular? Not the simple door-to-door variety, but the kind that required riddle-solving and sleuthing -- that made adventurers out of pajama-clad youngsters, and clue droppers out of their parents? Like those scavenger hunts of old, Road Adventures USA sets kids off on a hunt, provides them with a variety of clues, some obvious, some obscure, and asks them to make important decisions and collect bounty along the way. It’s a race to beat the (fictional) competition to the final goal before money and luck run out.

Before setting out on the adventure, users pick a travel companion from a group of eager virtual partners (including a monolingual bulldog), and a vehicle from a used car lot. This accomplished, it’s time to hit the road. In addition to clues acquired along the way, the user is guided by an onboard computer that includes state stats, road maps, and a nifty email system. Users must remember to monitor gas consumption, oil and coolant needs, food and lodging (certain partners can be annoyingly picky about where they spend the night, and happy companionship is a must), as well as direction and goals. Although hints can be accessed through the onboard computer, doing so ultimately penalizes the user, as does choosing the ‘easy’ trip. All in all, it’s an adventure to remember.

Educational Value
Just as a true-life road trip stretches the knowledge base and redefines the problem-solving skills of those involved, Road Adventures USA tests and strengthens many of the user’s real-world skills. Inevitably, the car runs out of gas or oil, a speeding ticket is issued, the wrong direction is followed, and more. Strategic thinking and decision making is needed, along with an understanding of basic, real-life math, geography, map reading and research skills.

Each trip location includes a famous U.S. landmark to be explored and enjoyed, with 360 degree panoramic views and full-motion video. A trivia game section allows the user to test his or her knowledge of U.S. history and geography in a fun, gameshow format. High scores earn valuable coupons to be used later in the trip.

Kid Appeal
As often is the case, we received mixed reviews of this program from our kid testers. Those who want immediate gratification with little time investment were frustrated with Road Adventure, which can’t be quickly undertaken and conquered.

Students who persisted with this program were quite enamored with it, and many elevated it to ‘favorite’ status. “Once I understood what to do, I couldn’t wait to arrive at a new trip location to search for clues and coins!” was one student’s comment. While another noted: “I liked deciding what meals to buy. It made me hungry though. . .”

Ease of Use / Install
Road Adventures USA installs without difficulty.

Because of the complexity of the program navigation, we recommend that all users read the included Manual before attempting the game. We initially asked testers to tackle the program unaided, and found that even adults were stumped and frustrated. Not only that, fumbling through the program without concrete instructions makes success and, inevitably, satisfaction less likely. We recommend pairing younger users with adults for initial attempts at this program. It provides a subtle opportunity for the more experienced to share their hard-gained wisdom.

Best for... / Bottom-Line
This adventure, filled with games, riddles, and information, is much more than your basic problem solving program. Best suited for kids who are persistent and like problem-solving.

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

System Requirements
PC: Windows 95 or higher, 166 MHz or faster cpu, 50 MB hard drive space, 32 MB RAM, High Color (16 bit) 800x600 display, 8x or faster CD-ROM, 16-bit audio, 3D Graphics Accelator Card recommended.

PC: System 7.5 or higher, PowerPC cpu, 50 MB hard drive space, 16 MB RAM, 256 color display, 4x or faster CD-ROM

Reviewed on:

  • Pentium 166 with 48 MB and 12XCD
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