A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that I Spy Universe, the latest hidden object game in Scholastic's growing I Spy series, will have kids staring intently at their little DS screens for hours on end. The seek-and-find action, however, is broken up occasionally by one of several mini-games which test kids on pattern recognition and strategic planning. Plus, a side benefit to these hidden objects puzzles is that kids increase their vocabulary as they learn more meaning to common words.
What's it about?
I SPY UNIVERSE is a hidden object game set within a scenario that casts the player as a stranded spacecraft pilot. In order to rebuild your engine, you need to gather several missing pieces -- all of which you will earn through winning virtual scavenger hunts. Each missing part is on a different planet, and you will need to play mini-games involving concepts like pattern recognition and path-plotting in order to earn enough fuel to get you from one puzzle planet to the next.
Is it any good?
The fuel-earning mini-games in I Spy Universe add a great new layer to the classic hidden object game. As fun as these scavenger hunt games are, they can be a strain on the eyes after a while, so it's nice to have the visual searching broken up every now and again by a less-static mini-game. The picture puzzles of I Spy Universe tend to veer toward the "jumble of random objects" type; this is a slight disappointment as these games are arguably more fun when the objects you need to find are blended into a complete scene. But at least the messes of scattered toys are artistic messes, and still fun to scour through. All in all, this is still a nice addition to a winning series.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about hidden object games and why they are so popular. Do these games do a good job of replicating a good old-fashioned scavenger hunt?
If you're already a fan of the I Spy series, do you think these puzzles work better in book or video game format? What are the pros and cons of each?
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