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



The Tuttles Madcap Adventures

The Tuttles Madcap Adventures

Spring 2008 Software
Ages: 7 & Up
Price: $19.95
School Use Price: $19.95
Platform: Windows
Review:
Think cartoon version of the "National Lampoon Vacation" movie and you get the humorous concept behind this oddly appealing road-trip-gone-wrong game.

Tuttles is a better-than-average multi-level, side-scrolling platformer recalling the best Super Mario Bros. adventures, but it stands out for reasons aside from its engaging highjinks. The publisher, Legacy, created it in partnership with the Starlight Starbright Children's Foundation, donating 75 percent of proceeds to the group's efforts to help seriously ill children and their families. Nice idea from an industry more often blamed for manufacturing drivel that distracts kids from what's important in life.

Not exactly an educational game, Tuttles has redeeming qualities. Granted, the Tuttles are so typical a family they're stereotypic. Barry's the garage-tinkering dad, Barbara's the reality-TV stuck mom, Jess is the teenage daughter obsessed with boyfriends and cell phones, and Zach's the videogame-addicted little bro. The parents can't wait for a family vacation; the kids can't bear the thought. But things change in this game.

At the start, Barbara hits the store for provisions-a tutorial side trip giving players practice at navigating the game controls. Then, the family takes off in the flying mini-van Barry modified in his garage, requiring hand-eye dexterity in dodging telephone poles, big birds and gray clouds while capturing falling stars and glowing rings-routine power-up and power-down objects platform games. The witty storyline progresses when the mini-van runs out of gas and crashes in a desert. Barry heads off on foot looking for help, trying to avoid boulders, cactuses and scorpions on the way while collecting treasures and cash. Each of the 40 chapters somehow detour the family or a family member through some dangerous off-road adventure, from shark-infested seas to overgrown jungles.

The graphics and animation are crisp and get funnier the farther you go. The dialog is clever for a platform game. And the game is long and grows more challenging chapter by chapter, with each new lushly detailed environment different enough to lure players onward. Celebrity voice-overs, including William Shattner, Jamie Lee Curtis and "High School Musical" star Ashley Tisdale, add a nice touch.

But, most commendable, once the trip goes awry the characters pull together as a family united in its mission. That's a worthwhile value lesson underlying this otherwise frivolous fun-and one that seems perfectly aligned with the Starlight Starbright Children's Foundation purpose. To learn more about the work of the Foundation, go to its Website (www.starlight.org) where you also can try this game for free and buy a download.

Don Oldenburg   ©2008 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:
Major, Specialty & Online Retailers
Legacy Interactive
http://www.legacyinteractive.com

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