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

StarFlyers: Alien Space Chase

StarFlyers: Alien Space Chase

Fall 2002 Software
Ages: 5 - 8 yrs.
Price: $19.99
Platform: Win 95/98/Me/2000/XP; Mac Os 8.6 to OS X
In this new series of problem-solving space-fantasy software, pint-sized Katherine Cadell uses her extraordinary imagination to turn everyday problems into fantastic adventures that bring StarFlyers to the rescue. In this first title, when neighborhood bully Victor Wexlar ruins "Bring Your Pet to School Day," Katherine transforms into Katie Cadet, the bravest star pilot in the galaxy and leader of the StarFlyers gang, who sets out to find the run-off and missing pets.

Suddenly, her school turns into the awaiting galaxy and her friends become the super-powered StarFlyer crew. And Victor? He's Lord Vexar, Katie's archenemy.

Rocketing with the StarFlyers-- AJ, Katie's best friend, Klanker the robot and Io, Katie's dog, transformed into a fearless dragon-dog-- is fun, often funny, and there's even educational value injected into the brainteasing puzzles and arcade-style obstacles. Kids follow the StarFlyers to destinations such as the StarFlyer Academy, Planet Pipeworks and Cafeterium where they undertake challenges and overcome obstacles while searching for eight missing animal characters. All the while they also collect galaxy seeds that can be cashed in for on-screen prizes and printable activities to play beyond the computer-- a nice touch.

In Planet Pipeworks, for instance, kids must figure out how to refit pipe pieces of different shapes to free galaxy seeds from the boiler tank. The pipefitting requires using logic, figuring out the spatial relationships and employing problem-solving thinking-- and the problems get more complex with each success. Funopolis is a space city of great slides and carnival rides. Playing the arcade-like Cosmic Rays game in the Cafeterium is all hand-eye coordination as kids shoot watermelon seeds at flyby fruit and avoid oncoming obstacles to capture more galaxy seeds. One very cool planet lets kids finish partial drawings with an open-ended draw-and-paint screen, and their artwork is automatically incorporated into the storyline.

The graphics? Slick and crisp Saturday morning cartoony-- almost a cross between the Jetsons and Futurama. Challenge levels are adjustable, which is good since the youngest of the recommended age group may struggle a little at first. But little space cadets will get a real rocket boost from the solid content of this game.

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.

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