Star Wars: Yoda's Challenge - Activity Center Download (1999 Educational Game)

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By the time they've reached the age of six, most kids these days know their way around the computer and are either discovering that they really dig school or that it's just a drag. That being said, Lucas Learning's Star Wars: Yoda's Challenge Activity Center does a nice job of not insulting their intelligence when it comes to computers (as many activity centers might). However, the will to learn is essential for a child to want to play this title for more than a few minutes.

Quite simply, Yoda's Challenge just isn't very fun. Though mature, it lacks the creativity and comic edge displayed in Lucas Learning's other contemporary Star Wars fan who has or knows someone with a Nintendo 64 (and the odds are this is so at the time of this game's release in 1999), then he or she has probably played Star Wars: Episode I: Racer. If such is the case, they will no doubt be disappointed with the one-screen overhead view displayed as they race two-legged Nabooian animals instead of Podracers. They'll go from a first-person game driving at high speeds to slow-paced third-person action in which the only control they have is to instruct their character as to which path to take. Though it may aim to improve time over distance and critical thinking, it will only succeed if it entertains the child. That might not happen.

If your child has an inclination toward music -- and only if your child has an inclination toward music -- then there are a couple games included that he or she might actually find interesting. The jam with the cantina band is a phenomenal way to get them to learn to read notes off a music staff. And if keeping the beat is their thing, then they should love trapping Battle Droids with Jar Jar by emulating a given beat with three drums. In both cases, though, the will to learn music must be there. Unfortunately, my feeling is that this is not the case with 95 percent of kids out there.

The game that kept me busy for the longest was the geometry activity in which you must move triangles and squares around so as to insert them properly into a puzzle. This can actually be quite challenging, even for a person in his 20s such as myself. However, what really kept me with the game so long was the reward -- an in-depth description of something from the Star Wars games, voices actually heard in the movies are portrayed in Yoda's Challenge -- sometimes. While we do get Anthony Daniels as C-3PO and Ahmed Best as Jar Jar, Frank Oz's Yoda is noticeably absent. You know how you've got that friend who thinks he sounds like Yoda and does a relatively close job yet doesn't quite get it? I get the feeling that one of the people at Lucas Learning knew someone like that and, when Oz informed them he could not participate, recommended him for the part. ("I know this guy named Tom. . .")

Yoda's Challenge represents a valiant effort to teach those between the ages of six and eight, but I'm just not sure it succeeds in doing so. Still, if your child is as mad about

Graphics: Adequate graphics that remain as still shots for the most part.

Sound: The

Enjoyment: This will depend greatly on your child and his or her interests, but I really believe that no more than one or two of the six games will entertain most kids.

Replay Value: If your child likes the games -- and that is a big "if" -- then the four difficulty levels should keep him or her occupied for quite some time.


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