Here's a game that truly requires children to put on their
thinking caps. In Gary Gadget Building Cars, children build cars out
of gadgets and "thing-a-ma-bobs". Gary collects all sorts of gadgets
and decides to build a car "to see what's at the end of the road".
There's plenty at the end of the road--an auto show, neighbors
needing help and offering Gary more parts, gas stations, and the
Children initially collect items from Gary's junk piles on his
lawn, and then build a car part by part from the parts. The pickings
are slim at the outset, but once players have built a road-worthy
car, they are able to explore the neighborhood and earn new parts.
If they attempt to drive an unfinished car, they will learn why they
can't yet drive ("Without an engine, we're not going to get very
far!", Gary comments).
Essentially, kids continue to create and then test their cars.
They discover missions as they drive around the neighborhood--find
Freddy's dog, rescue Mia's cat from a tree, and so forth.
There are many factors to consider when building cars. Some
engines are not powerful enough to navigate up hills or through mud,
for example. Some horns will succeed at getting goats off the road,
and others won't. Kids earn medals based on what their cars can do
(they create and test many different types, such as hill climbers,
lightweighters, and speedsters). Their cars are judged at the Auto
This game is unique in that children truly experiment as they
play. Through trial and error, as well as solid thinking skills,
they make their way through the game. Children need to figure out
which combinations of parts will work for various missions and
driving feats. Younger players will need some help to begin
with--the software does some hand-holding, but won't tell you
exactly what to do. For families looking for a unique title, this
one is sure to delight. It's nothing like the standard activity
centers or adventure learning games that are commonly produced.
For more information, user reviews, or to buy:
Gary Gadget: Building Cars (Win/Mac)
Reviewed: December 2006