Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

I SPY Spooky Mansion Deluxe

I SPY Spooky Mansion Deluxe

Fall 2004 Software
Ages: 6 - 10 yrs.
Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
Price: $19.95
Platform: Windows 95 98 2000 Me XP Mac 8.6 9.2
Look, this game is all about looking. If you know the "I Spy" theme, you know that the eyes have it in this series which challenges youngsters to identify objects hidden in richly busy scenes. These are eye puzzles, camouflaged visuals, laundered landscapes that require an inquisitive and dogged browsing and meticulous ogling to beat the needle-in-haystack puzzles.

The scenes are all inside a haunted mansion where dark and dank rooms whose walls are lined with creepy portraits or old books invite exploration. Players either solve the puzzles--which earns pieces to a larger jigsaw puzzle enabling their eventual escape--or never get out. The games are plentiful with 39 riddles---"two yellow feathers, a rain drop, a spider," etc., all which are disguised as parts of a butterfly collection or some other complicated scenery.

No this isn't standard test curriculum and you won't find this stuff in math and science books. But it is a brain-building challenge to solve the puzzles and persist through some difficult visual brain twisters.

Kids who feast their eyes through the mansion a second or third time will find the same activities but with different riddles to solve. The biggest problem with this deluxe version is that except for additional riddles and two new adventures, it's an upgrade of the series' previous spooky title. If you have the original and loved it, wait for the next new "I Spy." If you never had it, seeing's believing.

Don Oldenburg   ©2004 Parents' Choice
A former feature writer and consumer columnist at The Washington Post for 22 years, Don Oldenburg is the Director of Publications and Editor of the National Italian American Foundation, in Washington, D.C. He regularly reviews books for USA Today and is the coauthor of "The Washington DC-Baltimore Dog Lovers Companion" (Avalon Travel). The proud father of three sons, he lives with his journalist-author wife, Ann Oldenburg, in McLean, VA.

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