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GF! Archival Version Copyright 1995-2004

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Ups:Good graphics, fun; effectively teaches vocabulary skills.
Downs: Kids might need some adult assistance to initially master interface.
System Reqs:
Microsoft Windows 95
486 DX/2 66 or faster
Double-speed CD-ROM
256-color SVGA
By De’Ane Samuels, 2nd Grade teacher,
McDonald School, Moscow, Idaho

rb1.jpg (5264 bytes)Reading Blaster entices children to be become a BIA detective and solve Bizarroville’s recent crime wave by playing word games with the suspects of the crimes. The game begins at a party in the mansion on the hill. As the detective, the player has to travel from room to room in the mansion and challenge the guests (suspects) to word games. If the child wins the word game, they receive a letter clue. When all six clues are earned, one from each room in the mansion, the clues have to be unscrambled to form three key words. After the key words are determined, the detective has to read the biographies on each suspect and matching their descriptions to the clues, guess who actually committed the crime.

rb2.jpg (7783 bytes)Accessing the game and choosing the desired word list was quick and simple. Rave, Bizarroville’s Junior Detective, gives clear instructions on how to start solving the mystery. Once a room is chosen, the character explains the game and the player can click on an icon when ready to play. At the easier levels, there is no time limit for completing the game, however there is at the third or hardest level. There is a range of activities for the games. They include reading the sentence and filling in the blank with the correct word, matching words to definitions, creating new words from two main vocabulary words (anagram challenge) and grouping words that have similarities. Once the player wins in a room, he must find the clue and move it to his Detective Notebook.

rb3.jpg (6478 bytes)The characters in this program are cute and have funny biographies. There are lots of detailed graphics in each room that can be clicked on for comments and movement. I did become a little confused trying to access the clue once I had won the game in a room. After winning, you have to travel to a new room and look for a magnifying glass. Once you find it, you earn the clue. I didn’t think this was clearly explained, so I decided to put the game to the real test. I just handed it over to ten-year-old boy and told him to enjoy! He returned an hour and a half later, handed the program back to me and said with a big smile on his face, "Excellent!" Based on his previous experiences playing mystery games, he told me he knew to wait and look for a magnifying glass to find the clues.

Overall, it was a fun game to play and there was a wide range of skills and vocabulary to be introduced. Players might need some help from an adult to get through the mystery the first time, but after that children should be able to make it through on their own and be entertained not only by the word games but the challenge of solving the mysteries!

--De' Ane Samuels