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Matchbox® Caterpillar® Construction Zone CD & CAT® Controller

Mattel Media

ages 5 and up

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

Matchbox Construction Zone Screen Shot System Requirements

PC / Mac Price Survey

Product Support

Construction Zone is a simple entertainment game rated for kids ages 5 and up. The player can select from a fixed set of 4 or 5 scenarios and operate heavy, tractor equipment to do such things as cut down and stack trees to clear a path for an erupting volcano, or jack-hammer a street to get to a broken water main. About the only interesting twist to this game is that it comes with a dual joystick and miscellaneous switch assembly which straps onto the keyboard. Joystick or switch movement depresses keys on the keyboard. The menu system is very simple with one main screen where the 4-5 scenarios are selected, at either a "novice" or "expert" level, and play begins. The only character (voice only) is a blue collar sounding foreman who provides a minutes worth of orientation at the initial selection screen.

Educational Value
Construction Zone is principally an entertainment program with very little educational value. The activities are very simple and quite repetitive, allowing very little exploration or "what-ifing". There is some initial two handed control - eye coordination learning which goes on, but is soon easily mastered by a five year old.

Kid Appeal
This game might be better targeted for kids aged 3 to 5 rather than 5 and up. The novelty of the strap-on keyboard soon wears thin, especially after the straps pop loose for the fifth time. The game is soon mastered and with little else to accomplish quickly becomes overlooked when it is computer play time. The graphics and animation are simple and pale when compared to the many excellent entertainment and educational games out there. Finally, there is no music with the only audio output being the mundane drone of the diesel motor spewing some realistic smoke into the cyber air.

Ease of Use / Install
The software loads fairly easily. The most time consuming task was adjusting the universal strap-on joystick assembly onto our keyboard. This took several strap length adjustments and the addition of the included rubber extenders so the button actuators could reach the buttons. This review would have been a little more complete if the game didn't completely hang our Windows 98 test computer and force repeated power off/on reboots.

Best for... / Bottom-Line
There is a wealth of well written edutainment games out there, but this isn't one of them. Younger kids (<5 yrs.) who are really into big earth moving, tree chopping, cement smashing machines may derive some short-lived enjoyment from Construction Zone.

See SuperKids' comparisons with other Problem Solving software titles, and the Buyers Guide for current market prices of this PC-only program

System Requirements
PC: Windows 95/98, Pentium 133 or faster, 15 MB hard drive space, 16 MB RAM , 16-bit graphics card, 4X CD-ROM, 16-bit sound Balster compatible sound card .

Reviewed on:

  • PentiumII-400 with 128MB and 32XCD
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