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Kids' Software

'Spy Fox' Series Has the Right Moves

May 10, 2001|JINNY GUDMUNDSEN | jinny@choosingchildrenssoftware.com

The most popular spy in children's software is back, and this time he is saving the ozone layer.

Spy Fox, the tuxedo-wearing, silver-tongued secret agent who resembles James Bond except he is a cartoon fox, leads children on fanciful missions to save the world. "Spy Fox: Operation Ozone" is the third title in an award-winning series, and it is the best adventure so far. What makes this series so much fun is that each mission involves a cast of zany characters, a crazy diabolical plot that must be stopped and a host of ultra-cool spy gadgets.

Here's a closer look at the just-released "Spy Fox: Operation Ozone" and the older, but also excellent, "Spy Fox 2: Some Assembly Required." If you have a child in the targeted age category, these titles are a real treat, representing "edutainment" at its best.

'Spy Fox: Operation Ozone'

In this computer caper, Poodles Galore, the "queen of cosmetics," appears to have been sniffing too much of her own perfume. She has decided the best way for her to make money is to destroy the ozone layer so that people must buy her unique super-sunblock, SPF 2001. To implement her plan, Poodles launches a giant can of hair spray into orbit around the Earth and has it spraying a specific area of the ozone layer. Earth has only a matter of hours until it becomes toast!

Players join Spy Fox on this quest to save the Earth's ozone. As with all good James Bond-type missions, this software begins with an exciting chase that culminates in Spy Fox infiltrating the bad gal's hide-out. There, he discovers that Plato Pushpin, the expert in "cosmetic rocketry" who was coerced into building the giant aerosol can, is missing. Only Plato Pushpin knows how to stop the giant can of hair spray.

As this spy adventure unfolds, players help Spy Fox find and rescue Plato Pushpin. Once Pushpin is safely ensconced in Spy Corps' Mobile Command Center, he enlists Spy Fox's help in finding the four key ingredients needed to make a "congeal pill" to stop the stream of ozone-destroying hair spray.

Children solve this mystery by unraveling intertwined logic puzzles. Our kid testers loved having to figure out which character would provide information or make a trade. They particularly liked being able to use the spy gadgets--try throwing a laugh bomb outside the doughnut shop so that an insatiable doughnut-eating policeman will have to investigate the disturbance. That's giggle power!

There are two distinct game paths with random variables, so kids can play this software several times. There also are two embedded arcade games.

There is no problem with installation since the software plays directly off the CD. The CD also doubles as a music CD with some clever spoofs of James Bond theme music.

Previous Spy Fox games were incorrectly targeted at 5- to 10-year-olds. This one is correctly aimed at 7 and older. Even testers as old as 12 thought it was great fun.

Children are constantly thinking while they play "Spy Fox: Operation Ozone." Though it looks like they are just having fun in a cartoon environment, kids are really using logic and memory skills to win.

'Spy Fox 2: Some Assembly Required'

This is the second title in the Spy Fox series, and its format is similar to "Spy Fox: Operation Ozone."

Spy Fox is pitted against bad guy Napoleon LeRoach, the head of the Society for Meaningless Evil, Larceny, Lying and Yelling (SMELLY). LeRoach has devised a plan to take over the world by using a giant Dogbot. Children join Spy Fox on his mission to deactivate the Dogbot.

As with "Spy Fox: Operation Ozone," children meet a cast of entertaining characters, use spy gadgets that rock, and explore a fascinating virtual world. In this adventure, however, their missions are less defined than those found in "Spy Fox: Operation Ozone."

The titles in the Spy Fox series have it all: quirky characters, cool spy gadgets, hilarious dialogue, engaging stories and fun activities that make kids think. These titles are so much fun that parents just might want to join in too.

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The Skinny

"Spy Fox: Operation Ozone"

Price: $20

Publisher: Humongous Entertainment

Ages: 7 and older

Platform: PC/Mac

System requirements: On a PC, a 133-MHz Pentium with 32 MB of RAM running Windows 95, 98, Me or 2000. On a Macintosh, a 132-MHz Power PC with 32 MB of RAM running system 7.5.5.

The good: Hilarious plot, great spy gadgets and challenging puzzles

The bad: Nada

Bottom line: Kid software at its entertaining best

*

"Spy Fox 2: Some Assembly Required"

Price: $10

Publisher: Humongous Entertainment

Ages: 7 and older

Platform: PC/Mac

System requirements: On a PC, a 90-MHz Pentium with 16 MB of RAM running Windows 95 or 98. On a Mac, an 80-MHz Power PC with 16 MB of RAM running system 7.5.3.

The good: Cool gadgets and a colorful cast of characters

The bad: Can be quite challenging for younger players

Bottom line: A great adventure in sleuthing

*

Jinny Gudmundsen is editor of Choosing Children's Software magazine.

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