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Critical Thinking Software Reviews

Iz and Augie Escape from Dimension Q
from Headbone Interactive

For Ages 10 to 110

See also the Summary Rating Table for comparisons with other Critical Thinking / Problem Solving software titles, and the SuperKids Buyers Guide for current market prices of the PC and Mac versions.


Reviewed on:
Children's Software Screen Shot PowerMac 6100/60 with 16MB and 2XCD
Pentium90 with 24MB and a 2XCD

Content
Iz and Auggie's Escape from Dimension Q is an exercise in problem solving disguised as a fun spy spoof. Iz, a musician, and her robot friend, Auggie, volunteer for a mission with the Decentralized Intelligence Agency (DIA) after their music is stolen. To recover their music tape, they must enter Dimension Q, find the XT10 probe, rescue secret agents, and find the missing Q-chip. That may be all in a day's work for super-heroes, but most of our testers found it took them a bit longer!

One of the most attractive aspects of Dimension Q from our adult reviewers' perspective, was the subtle use of humor. At one point, for example, you hear a voice that sounds just like a former President, saying that "I am not a crook."

Ease of Install / Use
Dimension Q runs direct from the CD on Mac's - no installation required. On a PC, installation and initial use were problem free, after we reset the video display to the required 640x480 screen size.

Methodology
This program presents a dozen problem-solving challenges as the user attempts to help Iz and Auggie on their mission. Half of the challenges vary each time they are played. Some of the problems are relatively simple, like rearranging mixed up snippets of the rescuers' audio instructions, or playing the opening six notes of 'Happy Birthday' on a musical door lock. Other challenges are more difficult to overcome. For example, our 10 year-old testers had difficulty with one which involved inserting word fragments into a coded message, transforming innoucuous or nonsensical statements into something with more meaning. Even our adult reviewers reported that some of the problems caused them difficulty.

Like many programs in this category, Dimension Q doesn't teach specific skills - but the user must demonstrate a certain level of critical thinking and problem-solving skills to succeed. Some failures simply put the user in prison; others result in a premature end to the program. A hint folder is available on the CD, however the user cannot access the hints from within the program.

Proxy Parent Value
Proxy parent value is SuperKids' measure of how well a program captures and hold's a child's attention. Dimension Q received mixed scores from our reviewers. Some felt that opportunities for interaction, although numerous, are separated by excessively long sections of storytelling or scene-setting. "This is like a mini-cartoon that you watch, occasionally solving problems to allow the movie to continue," noted one parent reviewer. Others felt the lack of ability to set difficulty levels for different age users made portions of the program too difficult for young users.

Best for...
Dimension Q is best suited for an older child who likes long stories, is not easily frustrated, has a good sense of spatial awareness, and who doesn't require arcade-style graphics and interactivity to create or sustain interest. Many of the problems that confront the user in this program are too difficult for an average 10 year-old, and may be more appropriate for a junior high school student. Several of our reviewers, in fact, suggested that the problems are sufficiently challenging that children might want to work in pairs, or with a parent, so that they could jointly work out strategies for success.

Educational value = 4/5, Kid appeal = 3/5, Parent Friendly = 4/5

See also the Summary Rating Table for comparisons with other Critical Thinking / Problem Solving software titles, and the SuperKids Buyers Guide for current market prices of the PC and Mac versions.



Children's Software System Requirements


PC

Macintosh
Operating System Win 3.1 or Win95 System 7 or higher
CPU Type and Speed 486/33 or faster 68040/25 or faster
Hard Drive Space minimal none
Memory (RAM) 8 MB 8 MB
Graphics 640x480x256 colors 640x480x256 colors
CD-ROM Speed 2x 2x
Audio Windows compatible sound card, speakers n/a
Other Needs mouse

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