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spacer all reviews > > > problem solving software

Nickelodeon BrainBender

Mattel Media

Ages 8 and up

Rating Scale
5 = great,    1 = poor
Educational Value
3.9
Kid Appeal
4.0
Ease of Use
4.5

Nickelodeon BrainBender Screen Shot System Requirements

PC / Mac Price Survey

Product Support

This cleverly themed program aims to stave off brain-death due to inactivity. Eight puzzles and activities offer something for every brain: the first 4 strive to challenge the more analytical Left Brain, while the other 4 provide creativity options for the artistic Right Brain. The result is a smorgasbord of mind flexing amusement.

Each of the activities features a customizable set of familiar Nickelodeon characters, backgrounds, music and sounds. Strategy games are of the quick and addictive variety, with the exception of Nickinos, a dominoes-like activity which must be printed and played away from the computer. The creativity activities are similarly quick to master and enjoy, and include Nick character drawing lessons and choreography, and a Nick Toons-oriented 'Mad Libs' imitation.

Educational Value
The strategy games included in this program are quick to comprehend and complete and can provide a hearty challenge if played at the toughest difficulty level. In an interesting educational twist, students have the option of re-playing an exact duplicate of their previous game. In doing so, they can use memory skills and learn from earlier mistakes to emerge victorious the second time around. Conversely, they can choose to play the same game but with a new gameboard. The latter choice requires the employ of more advanced critical thinking skills.

The program's art activities are, unfortunately, a bit weak. The concepts are fun and interesting, but too easily mastered and too quickly exhausted. They leave even young users piqued but unsatisfied.

Kid Appeal
Kids who like Nick Toons and are familiar with the Nickelodeon characters are likely to enjoy BrainBenders despite its deficiencies. Major characters from nine Nickelodeon television shows are incorporated into each activity, as are typical Nick game themes.

The lack of depth of the included games and activities may, however, prove discouraging to some users, especially those who prefer intricate quests or difficult to master programs. BrainBenders is much like the half-hour cartoons on which it is based, fleeting and fun, but a bit superficial.

Ease of Use / Install
This program installs without difficulty.

Although all activities are explained in both the User's Guide and the "Help" section of the activity screens, our testers had trouble understanding how to proceed in some instances.

Best for... / Bottom-Line
BrainBenders provides a sampling of a number of strategy and creativity activities. It works especially well for those who are short on time or attention span, but its lack of depth may discourage some users.

See SuperKids' comparisons with other problem solving software titles, and the Buyers Guide for current market prices of this PC-only title.

System Requirements
PC: Windows 95/98, 133 MHz or faster cpu, 80 MB hard drive space, 16 MB RAM (32 MB recommended), 640x480 display High Color Required, Quad-speed (4X) or faster CD-ROM, Video and sound cards compatible with DirectX.

Reviewed on:

  • Pentium 266 with 64MB and 12XCD
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