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spacer all reviews > > > problem solving software

Puzz3D Victorian Mansion

Wrebbit Inc.

Ages 10 and up

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

Puzz3D Victorian MansionScreen Shot System Requirements

PC / Mac Price Survey

Product Support

Few can resist the lure of a good jigsaw puzzle. Each correctly placed piece is a mini-achievement, making it increasingly difficult to abandon. Yet, a dining room table covered with puzzle pieces is not always desirable. Many a parent has suffered through weeks of good natured silence while secretly hoping their child will become bored or disillusioned and scrap the project, freeing the table for its original purpose. Then, just as completion is neared, disaster can occur (the dog eats one of the cardboard pieces?) causing a premature halt to the entire endeavor.

These dangers are avoided with the Puzz3D Collection, which allows amazing puzzles to be built on the computer screen. The user begins by using the mouse to move traditional puzzle pieces around the screen, until a facet of the Victorian Mansion is assembled. The completed facet must then be positioned on a wire-frame drawing of the entire, 3-dimensional building.

But that's only half of the program. Next comes the murder mystery! Here, the user must enter and explore the Mansion. There are characters to meet, clues to uncover and activities to complete. The challenges never seem to end, and according to our puzzle-loving reviewers, neither does the fun.

Educational Value
Puzz3D Victorian Mansion drills the user’s ability to conceptualize 3D objects. Second nature to some, this capability is arguably an acquired skill or at the very least a skill that can be improved with exposure and practice. Although the makers of the product have done everything possible to help the user succeed at solving the puzzle, it is a difficult task, involving high level problem-solving skills. As such, it stimulates the brain in a more sophisticated manner than mere classroom basics, strengthening, while increasing flexibility.

Kid Appeal
Although difficult to master, our testers, especially those who consider themselves 'good at puzzles' rated this program highly. Younger kids had difficulty with the 3D construction phase, but were able to enjoy the program when it was approached as a ‘family’ undertaking, with mom, dad and siblings all pitching in when needed. Teen testers saw puzzle construction as a necessary means to reaching the mysterious exploration phase which they saw as the program highlight, while adults preferred the puzzle building.

Ease of Use / Install
Puzz3D installed without difficulty on our Windows 95 test machine. It requires Quick Time 3.0 and Direct X, also available for installation from the CD-ROM.

Puzz3D Victorian Mansion is not simple and it cannot be effortlessly completed. Success depends on good visualization skills, patience and dedication. Thankfully, Wrebbit has done a great job building help into the program. Users are invited to begin with a tutorial that explains the program’s sophisticate interface, and gives step by step instructions for building a simple, introductory puzzle.

Among additional help options available to the user are: smart pieces (unmatched pieces resist each other), no rotation (pieces are all correctly oriented), presorting (groups pieces of similar color), no overlap, and 3-D guides (virtual wireframe guides that assist in the building process). Trays allow the user to sort pieces, four views let the user see the puzzle from different perspectives, and a zoom provides three magnification levels. Constructions tips can be accessed throughout the game, giving building recommendations and explaining the program’s advanced features. Finally, upon puzzle completion, users can choose to save it, print it, or view a performance evaluation.

Best for... / Bottom-Line
Puzz3D takes puzzles to a new level, making them literally come alive for the user. Great calisthenics for those wanting to develop unused brain muscle, this program is a must for puzzle-‘philes’. But it is not to be taken lightly. Time, dedication and patience will be needed to reap the rewards of this teaser!

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

System Requirements
PC: Windows 95 or higher, Pentium 100 MHz (200 recommended), 45 MB hard drive space, 16 MB RAM, 640x480, 16-bit colors DirectX certified video driver (1 MB of cache video memory is recommended), Double-speed or faster CD-ROM.

Mac: MacOS 7.5 or higher, Power PC 80 MHz (200 MHz recommended), 32 MB free hard drive space, 20 MB RAM (32 MB recommended), 640x480, 16-bit color display, Double-speed or faster CD-ROM .

Reviewed on:

  • Pentium166 with 48MB and 12XCD
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