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problem solving software
In StarFlyers Alien Space Chase, young friends Katherine and Ajay team up with their trusty dog Lo and robot Klanker to become StarFlyer super heroes. Their mission: rescue a group of alien ambassadors kidnapped by their arch-enemy, Vexar.
Starting from the Star Cadet's Academy, the user helps them as they wend their way through three other worlds: Funopolis, Planet Pipeworks, and Cafeterium. In between each of the worlds, the user has the opportunity to play a modified version of the classic Space Invaders arcade game. Except here, instead of shooting missiles at incoming aliens, the user shoots watermelon seeds at a barrage of fruit. Honest.
On Planet Pipeworks, the superheroes need to rescue Commander Anchovie (an ambassador) from a whirlpool. They follow her down the drain, and encounter a puzzle where they must connect a series of pipes using rotatable sections of straight and elbow pieces so she can swim to the top. Five levels of increasing complexity, requiring some spatial awareness planning is required.
On Funopolis, the user gets to play a pattern repetition game, and then go on "the largest slide in the universe." With that type of a buildup, we expected to be treated to some exceptional, vertigo inducing animation. Reality, however, did not live up to the hype. Here, the user exits an elevator, and is confronted with a choice of six tubes to slide down -- one of which apparently contains a trapped Captain Furward (another ambassador). "I don't get it," said our young reviewer. "I saw him in the pink tube at the bottom, but I had to take the green tube to get him..."
We won't spoil all the fun by revealing what other challenges faced our gang of StarFlyers -- but they were consistent in style and content.
What can we say? StarFlyers Alien Space Chase is more a video game than a learning program. Although there is a modicum of problem solving skill required, it doesn't greatly exceed that required by a typical Nintendo game. The most difficult, and hence most time-consuming component of the game in our young reviewer's trials, was a set of Mario-type aracade activities on the Cafeterium planet, where the user had to direct the super-heroes past a series of obstacles. Although it required some problem solving to determine which super hero could overcome which obstacle, for the most part this was a hand-eye-mouse coordination exercise.
Bright, colorful animation and a variety of non-violent, arcade-type activities made this a pleasant program for our young reviewers. But even they recognized that they weren't learning a lot from StarFlyers Alien Space Chase.
StarFlyers Alien Space Chase installed without difficulty on our Windows ME test machine. Users must sign in to begin a session, and can select a difficulty level, or accept the default "auto-leveling" option. Program navigation is largely non-linear, with a few exceptions where the user must first acquire certain objects before being able to access some activities. Although the program includes an electronic user manual on the CD, our reviewers were able to use and complete the program without referring to it.
StarFlyers Alien Space Chase is a pleasant, non-violent, near-arcade game suitable for children attracted to that genre.
PC: Windows 95/98/ME/2000/XP, Pentium 166MHz or faster cpu, 100 MB hard drive space, 32 MB RAM, 16-bit color, 800x600 display and DirectX-compatible video card, 8X or faster CD-ROM, Windows-compatible sound card, mouse, (optional) Tactile Feedback Mouse.return to top of page
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