I Spy Universe



Space-themed hidden object puzzles, plus mini-games.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

There's a cheery, you-can-do-it spirit behind the tutorial narration.

Positive role models

There are no real characters in the game, but the game itself -- and its amiable narrator -- treat kids with respect and applaud them when appropriate.

Ease of play

The hidden object puzzles, which make up the heart of the game, are always made up of both easy and challenging clues. All of the clues can be spoken aloud so even non-readers can play. The mini-games you'll play in between are simple enough for young children to handle, while still making them think.

Violence & scariness
Not applicable
Not applicable

The game is part of the ever-growing I Spy franchise, which includes books, puzzles, board games, and other video games.

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.

Kids say

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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.

Families can talk 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?

Game details

Platforms:Nintendo DS, Nintendo DSi
Available online?Not available online
Release date:June 21, 2010
ESRB rating:E for (No Descriptors)

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent of a 6 year old Written bymohi August 27, 2010
What other families should know
Too much violence
Great role models


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