This software contains 56 I Spy-type puzzles that challenge kids to find objects hidden in a crowded photorealistic picture. Accompanying each picture is a riddle which, when solved, lists the objects to find. Kids will be told to find "a foot with no toes," and while they can look for a human foot without toes, they will only solve the riddle when they click on a ruler. Likewise, "a face with no eyes" is a clock face. Kids know when they have found the correct object because it animates when clicked, and the words in the riddle change color.
The 56 puzzles are divided into 13 mystery file folders. Upon selecting a file, kids hear about the mystery and see three to six photographs. Clicking on a photograph launches an I Spy puzzle; and when all the objects are found, a clue to the mystery is revealed. Each of the 13 mysteries is different; but to solve most, the player must go back within the puzzles to find or collect additional objects. For example, in the folder called "Scientist Code," kids will find four photographs, each containing a part of a decoder. When kids collect all four parts and then assembly the decoder, they can read a message in one of the photographs and solve the mystery.
Families who are avid fans of this software series will want to know that a majority of the 56 puzzles found in I Spy Mystery are recycled from earlier CD-ROMs, including I Spy Treasure Hunt (2001), I Spy Spooky Mansion (2004) and others. This can be disappointing to children anticipating all-new content. However, since the recycled puzzles are combined with new puzzles to form mysteries that have additional puzzle components, even kids who have played the previous "I Spy" titles will find something new to explore with this software. Testers particularly liked the puzzle that revealed a scene shown under a microscope. To solve that riddle, kids need to switch between magnifications of 1x, 5x and 10x. It was fun to discover that a beetle had soccer ball eyes when magnified to 10x.
Families who are new to this series will find lots to like. The mystery format provides great motivation to solve each I Spy puzzle within a mystery folder. The pictures used as puzzles are interesting to look at, and solving them requires thinking and problem-solving skills. For younger children, the puzzles teach vocabulary by having kids seek items that are new to them. The software will also pronounce all the words in the riddles. Parents might want to play with children under age 6 because some of the riddles are very clever, and finding the objects can be challenging.
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