In Ultimate I Spy, kids use the Wii remote as a pointer to scour through 10 crowded 3-D locations to find items that will solve 40 rhyming riddles. And in the process, they will discover a variety of minigames that make good use of the unique motion controls of the Wii. Once unlocked, some of these minigames become games that two players can explore together over many levels of competition.
For those unfamiliar with the "I Spy" puzzles, the format is that a child looks through a crowded scene to find objects mentioned in an attached riddle. For example, one of the puzzles found in "Ultimate I Spy" is a set of magician's objects floating in the air. The riddle reads: I spy four birds, a heart that is blue, two juggled balls, a baseball too; a magic wand waved, a pencil, a boot, check the crystal ball, then find the hidden fruit.
To solve this riddle, kids use the Wii remote as a pointer while the rotate 360 degrees around these floating objects using the multi-directional button on the Wii remote or by attaching a nunchuk. One of the four birds may be visible only when viewed from a specific angle, so kids need to slowly circle the floating scene while looking carefully for the objects named in the riddle.
Within each riddle, there are three minigames that occur when you click on certain riddle items. In the Magic puzzle discussed above, clicking on a juggling ball leads to a minigame of having to tilt the Wii remote back and forth to simulate tossing a ball upward and catching a second ball. The more accurate you are in timing these movements, the higher the juggling meter rises until you win the needed "two juggled balls" listed in the riddle.
In Ultimate I Spy, you discover a mysterious futuristic machine that houses the 10 interesting locations for the puzzles, including a fish tank, outer space, and a city made out of paper. Each location has four riddles that send you hunting for objects. The machine will also send you on a scavenger hunt to find eight objects found within the 10 locations, which then opens one last game.
Ultimate I Spy is a good addition to a Wii library of games for kids who like the "I Spy" books. But these puzzles are harder than those found in books because of the immersive 3-D environments. Because they are challenging, they are best played by kids who like contemplative, visual puzzles, and may not fit as well with kids who want a lot of action. However, the addition of the minigames will open this game's appeal to a wider audience than just puzzle-lovers.
Because this game costs about twice as much as buying an "I Spy" book ($30 vs. $15), it raised the question is whether the technology version is worth the expense. Yes, playing these puzzles on the Wii is fun, particularly because the minigames break up the intensity of the puzzles and let kids use the Wii remote to juggle balls, throw paper airplanes, and pound on a drum (although this last minigame is somewhat inconsistent).
Because these 3-D environments are so tricky, this game skews older than the "I Spy" books and is best played by kids ages 7-12. If younger kids want to play, a second person to help in the hunting for objects by picking up a second controller.
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