This new mystery series features the Spy Masters--five young tween detectives who are found in other JumpStart educational titles.
From their secret hideout at Spy Command Headquarters, the Spy Masters discover that chaos is erupting in Arcadea. A mysterious villain named “The Prankster” is playing mean tricks on Arcadea including releasing a horde of attack robots and setting all the clocks to 12:00.
To right the Prankster’s wrongs, players control a self-made avatar on eight missions who visits different locations in Arcadea. Each location houses an arcade-style learning game that covers language arts, math, geography, or science. The games have three levels of difficulty that correspond to the curricula of third through fifth grades.
By playing six games, players accomplish the goals needed to complete their missions. For example, kids will “download” software by zipping past pieces of data and grabbing those that are requested, such as “countries in Europe”. When players win games, they are rewarded with new cool spy gadgets for their avatar to use.
While Spy Masters: UnMask the Prankster has a fun theme and six good learning games, this software has some rough edges. The storyline and the mission idea are cool, but they are explained too hastily. Kid-testers complained about the clumsy controls. Also, this title constantly requires children to blow up renegade robots. For some, this violence wasn’t fun.
A glaring error is the ethnicity of the Spy Masters—all five kids are white! In this world of cultural diversity, Knowledge Adventure needs to be more sensitive.
All tech products are judged on a five star scale by looking at the following factors: fun, education, ease of use, value, and technical.