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

Gary Gadget: Building Cars

Gary Gadget: Building Cars

Spring 2007 Software
Ages: 6 & Up
Publisher: Viva Media
Price: $29.99
Platform: Windows/MAC
Future mechanics might get a jumpstart out of this game that begins with nothing more than a car frame, battery, gearbox and brakes, and then asks players to create their own unique cars from junkyard leftovers. Piecing together gadgetry, engine parts, old sofas and wheels from the dump enables kids to design, assemble and try to drive their oddball vehicles right out of Gary Gadget's garage. When the car's finished, players can even snap a “photo” that stores on the computer as a digital keepsake.

Sure, that's a great lesson in recycling. But this somewhat-educational game's appeal is downshifted by the 2D graphics. Although the illustrations are skillful and would look right on track on children's book pages, they may not appeal to players older than seven. Mr. Gadget is a wholesome character, offering a full tank of encouragement and clues to players who need help. The pacing here is more of a ride through the countryside than around a racetrack. And for those looking for more charm than razzle-dazzle, that's not a bad thing.

Don Oldenburg   ©2007 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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