________________ CM . . . . Volume VIII Number 1 . . . . September 7, 2001

cover Mia 2: Romaine's New Hat.

Kutoka Interactive (1001 Sherbrooke St. East, Suite 400, Montreal, PQ, H2L 1L3), 2000.
2 CD-ROMs, Mac and Windows version, $39.95.

Subject Headings:
Computer adventure games.
Educational games.

Minimum System Requirements

Windows O/S
Windows 95 or better
CPU Pentium 166 MX
Ram: 32 MB (64 MB recommended)
Video: 640 x 480 (256 colors)
Sound: 16-bit Sound Blaster or 100% compatible
CD-ROM: 6x
40 MB of hard drive disk space

Macintosh O/S
System 8.1 or better (System 9 requires 64 MB of Ram)
CPU: PowerPC 275mhz, G3 233mhz, iMac
RAM: 32 MB (64 MB recommended)
Video: 640 x 480 (256 colors)
CD-ROM: 6x
40 MB of hard drive disk space

Kindergarten-grade 4 / Ages 5-9.

Review by Gail Hamilton.

** /4

When a sudden downpour washes Mia, the mouse, down a drainpipe, her hat is swept away to the sewer where it is grabbed by Romaine, the evil rat, and his cousins. The object of this interactive game is to help Mia to get back home and to earn "Sparklies" (the currency in Mia land) so that she can buy a new hat or pay Romaine for the original's return. Two CD-ROM disks provide students with many learning opportunities in the area of science. Topics include plants, animal classification, weather, the solar system, earth science, the human body, properties of matter, heat energy, and electricity and magnetism. Activities range from matching, sequencing and classifying to true/false quizzes.

      Players can choose to start a new game or to listen to some basic instructions. There are four levels of difficulty (1,2,3 and "expert") or players can type in their ages to obtain an age-appropriate level. Although the game box suggests an age level range of 5-11, older kids accustomed to playing video and computer games will find the graphics too juvenile. Before the game begins, there is a lengthy introduction (mercifully, players repeating the game can press the space bar to skip this segment). From then on, the game continues in "real" time, with players using the arrow keys or simple clicks of the computer mouse to guide Mia on her journey and to save objects she might need along her way and place them into her backpack. At any time, one can review what is inside the backpack or click on Mia's head to get feedback. In her quest for Sparklies, Mia's travels take her to interesting, exotic places where she stops to do experiments or solve science-related puzzles. One task is answering plant riddles such as "Which plant's root is food for humans?" (answer: carrot) Putting the planets in their proper sequence or clicking and dragging objects in order to rebuild a car engine are just a few other examples of the kinds of activities provided.

      Seen from Mia's perspective, the 3-D environment is rich, vibrant and colourful, with excellent depth perception and high quality computer animation. Characters are unique and amusing. However, despite its being touted as the sequel to the "award-winning" Mia: The Search for Grandma's Remedy and its game-within-a-game format, there are a few flaws. Firstly, the game takes a great deal of time, even at the easiest level. Secondly, Mia has some annoying habits: she taps her foot impatiently as she waits for players to make their next move; when players make a correct move, she always chirps "Okay!" (this repetition gets to be very monotonous after awhile). For players who prefer to read about hints and shortcuts rather than to discover them by trial-and-error, a booklet of tips, science concepts and summaries is provided.

      By incorporating a story, a quest and educational activities, this game tries to do too much. Though the science aspect should be the central focus of the CD, Mia's quest for Sparklies and her lost hat detracts from the CD's intent.

Recommended with Reservations.

Gail Hamilton is a teacher-librarian at Bird's Hill School in East St. Paul, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364