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

ClueFinders: The Incredible Toy Store Adventure

ClueFinders: The Incredible Toy Store Adventure

Spring 2002 Software
Ages: 7 - 10 yrs.
Price: $19.99
Platform: Mac OS, Windows 95 / 98 / Me / XP / 2000
The latest in the ClueFinders series, this mystery is set in a San Francisco toy store where the familiar cast of teen detectives bumps into, quite literally, a small problem. Two of the team members are downsized by a shrinking machine that threatens the city. To restore Joni and Owen from their three-inch stature to normal size and defeat the dastardly diminutive dirty work behind the shrink machine, players use language arts, math, geography and logic to solve problems, acquire clues and earn items they can eventually use to build an unshrinking device.

Along the way, the dinky duo meets a bunch of odd characters and must overcome all sorts of perils and problems. In the Air Tubes, for instance, players must track patterns of symbol sequences to succeed and win valuable machine parts. At Escape from Alcatraz, they must choose proper parts of speech to fill in blanks in series of sentences. For a dose of science, the Catapult requires players to estimate the weights and leverages needed to thrust objects at bundles of toy parts. All activities feature four levels of difficulty that can be set manually or will automatically adjust to a player's performance; pop-up hints help to keep the game from bogging down in don't-knows. Once all the machine parts have been collected, players must still figure out how to build the unshrinking machine and finish the game.

The animations and graphics are Saturday morning cartoon-style, and the scripts pack a little attitude, but are humorous overall. And there's a bonus: A second CD-ROM of a previous ClueFinders title, "The Mystery of the Missing Amulet," is included in the package. One downside is that the activities become repetitive after a few go-rounds. But certainly the first time through, the game has big appeal.

Don Oldenburg   ©2002 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.

Look for this product at:
Riverdeep/The Learning Company
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