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spacer all reviews > > > problem solving and creativity software

Gary Gadget: Building Cars

Viva Media

Ages 5 to 9

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

Gary Gadget: Building Cars screen shot arrow indentSystem Requirements

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Gary Gadget: Building Cars is a fun program that combines elements of classic seach and exploration games. In this case, the user is asked to help Gary Gadget build a car from the collection of "stuff" in his junkyard.

After assembling the car using a simple drag and drop interface, Gary and his dog Boxer jump in the car, and set out on an adventure. The user directs the adventure, by steering the car on a graphical map, using a mouse or the arrows on the keyboard. Possible stops include the gas station, an auto show, a friend's junkyard, and an island. Some routes, however, have obstacles that require changes to the car's design. For example, a bridge that breaks because the car is too heavy, or a muddy road that requires different tires, or a hill that demands a different engine. Each requires a trip back to Gary's shop, for a car makeover.

Educational Value

The educational value of Gary Gadget is centered on creativity and problem solving. Finding parts, creating functional or funny cars, and overcoming obstacles engage different parts of children's minds - and different children.

Kid Appeal

Gary Gadget makes use of simple, animated illustrations, rather than Saturday morning cartoon quality graphics. Think Curious George, rather than the latest Pixar computer-generated animation masterpiece.

SuperKids' young testers generally found Gary Gadget appealing, both in initial use, and for repeat play. The youngest ones were occassionally stymied by their difficulty in finding the things they needed to overcome the obstacles, so they tended to replay the same parts of the program, focusing on the car building aspects. Older kids spent more time on trying to overcome the obstacles.

Ease of Use / Install

Gary Gadget: Building Cars installed quickly and easily on our test computer. Although the program comes with a six-page user manual, none of our testers reported opening it.

Best for... / Bottom-Line

Gary Gadget is best for young kids who like to build things, and/or to explore and solve puzzles. It is not designed to appeal to true video game players who might require faster paced action and higher resolution graphics.

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

System Requirements
PC: Windows Me or XP, Pentium II 233 MHz or faster cpu, 16MB hard drive space, 32MB RAM, 800x600 16-bit color display, 24X or faster CD-ROM, sound card .

Mac: Mac OSX 10.1, 233 MHz or faster cpu, 16MB hard drive space, 32MB RAM, 800x600 16-bit color display, 24X or faster CD-ROM .

Reviewed on:
-     Pentium 4 3GHz running Windows XP Home, with 768MB RAM and 24x - CD-ROM
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