Mia St. Clair is this year's "Girl of the Year" doll from the American Girls. In addition to having her own books, she also has her own computer game. American Girl: Mia Goes for Great is a puzzle adventure that follows Mia on her journey to become a competitive figure skater.
In this Windows-based game, THQ lets girls control ten-year-old Mia by simply pointing and clicking (or by using the arrow keys). The game takes place during the winter months in a small upstate New York town. Against a beautiful backdrop of snowy landscapes and detailed interiors, Mia prepares to compete in her first two figure skating competitions. You will help her to select music, secure costumes, design programs that comply with the competitions' requirements, practice, and compete.
How to Play
As Mia, you walk around her town and meet its inhabitants including her parents, three brothers, friends, the town's librarian, her skating coach, and store owners. You can talk to each person by selecting conversational sentences from a drop-down menu of possible things to say. You have a backpack in which to keep things you find, and a diary that automatically keeps track of things you discover and generates a "To Do" list which helps you figure out what to explore next.
Similar in gameplay to the Nancy Drew computer games, but a lot easier to play, the game revolves around talking to and helping others so that they will help you.
For example, before your coach can tell you about the new requirements for your performance routine, you need to go to the auto repair shop to retrieve the new rule book from the coach's glove compartment. Since the car is being repaired, you need to convince Mia's brother Skip, who works at the repair shop, that he should retrieve the rule book for you. But Skip won't help you until you bring him lunch. And to get him lunch, you need to earn a pizza coupon from another of Mia's brothers by helping to sweep snow off the ice on the pond. Sweeping snow is actually a very fun match-three-in-a-row-type game involving different shaped snow flakes on a large grid. You play by swapping snowflakes that are next to each other so that you create three-in-a-row matches.
Other fun activities include cleaning off the ice at the rink, a Magnetica-type game about shooting beads into a moving spiral to make them disappear. Girls can also design Mia's performance routines by selecting jumps and spins and dragging them into a timeline to see what the routine looks like. Deciding on the music for your competition routines means going to the library to listen to music to match a melody sung to you by the coach. And to win competitions, you must hit the arrow keys in the right order as they appear on the screen while Mia skates.
Mia Goes for Great is a gentle, sweet computer adventure for girls. The game models good life lessons by having Mia prepare and work hard for a goal. She learns to handle and eventually win over the "mean" girl. When her family can't afford her new costume, she takes on a part-time job of being a mascot for a business in town. The game also requires Mia to go to the library to research various questions; and the librarian will be heard reminding Mia that: "School is more important than sports."
This game suffers a little from presenting such a small world to explore. Its compact world keeps girls from getting lost, but it might also seem a little tedious when they return to the same places over and over again. Also, the game does not automatically save when you quit; so make sure to actively hit "Save" so that you don't lose your game's progress.
While the game play is easy enough for girls as young as six, and the conversational prompts, once selected, are spoken aloud, you must be able to read to select them. Keep in mind your child's ability to read the dialogue in deciding her readiness to play this game.
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