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Putt-Putt Enters the Race is a new Humongous Junior Adventure game. These games are both fun and educational; they challenge and inspire kids to think for themselves in creative and flexible ways. Children can play with lovable friends as they discover captivating worlds where they direct the journey at their own pace. Putt-Putt is a purple convertible who has a pet dog named Pep. The plot in this game involves Putt-Putt entering the Cartown 500 race. But first, he must find several items. His search takes him on a journey where he interacts with other characters, each some form of car, truck or power equipment. Once he finds the four objects and enters the race he has to try to win but has to watch out for oil puddles and yellow ducks. Putt-Putt began his first Junior Adventure over seven years ago in Putt-Putt Joins the Parade and has been a hit with children ever since. This colorful purple car has also been featured in Putt-Putt Travels Through Time, Putt-Putt Saves the Zoo, Putt-Putt and Pep's Dog on a Stick, and Putt-Putt and Pep's Balloon-O-Rama. The product is available on a CD-ROM that can be used with a PC with Windows or a Macintosh. Price $29.99. The Humongous Entertainment Web site is a great place for both parents and kids to visit. There is all sorts of information, games and such.
Junior Adventures help children, ages 3 to 8, develop critical thinking, problem solving, memory and spatial relations skills. Easy-to-maneuver controls make this game easy even for the younger players.

For those readers who have used Humongous products before, you are well aware of the company's regard for detail. The games are always rich in characters, locations, and clickable items. Below I will describe some of the features in Putt-Putt Enters the Race. For those readers who are not familiar with these games, the numerous characters and locations should really give you an idea of the time and effort Humongous has put into developing educational and fun games for children.

Installation. One excellent feature of Humongous products for users who have limited disk space is that you don't install anything or just minimal files. The program runs off the CD.

Interface. The interface is well-done and is entirely cursor driven. You can put the cursor on the road and it moves Putt-Putt in the indicated direction. Or you can put the cursor on an object and the cursor changes to indicate that the object will do something if you click. Throughout the game, there are hundreds of hidden click points such as a rock, a flower, or a tree. Most click points will continue to respond with each successive click, and produce a different reaction each time, so children need to click on an item more than once. Some click points even act as mini-games--a combination of click points that work together for even more fun.

Random Game Paths. As with most of Humongous Entertainment Junior Adventures there is a random element to Putt-Putt Enters the Race. This means children can play the game once through to the end and the next time they visit they will have a different puzzle to solve. Depending on which game path a child is playing, some of the locations, items or puzzles will be useful to solving the game and some will not. This randomness of objects, locations, and obstacles makes for replayability.

Storyline--Putt-Putt goes back to Cartown, where he began his first Junior Adventure in Putt-Putt Joins the Parade. Now he wants to enter the Cartown 500 Auto Race. The Race coordinator Redline Rick has laid out the race-qualification rules, and kids must help Putt-Putt and Pep search through Cartown to find such objects as hi-powered hi-octane gasoline; a triangular racing flag; and super speedy radial racing tires before he can enter the race. Pep also needs a helmet for safety.

Characters--Children meet a number of Putt-Putt's friends who are:

    1. Mr. Baldini. He owns Baldini's grocery store and is always looking for help with keeping his store stocked.
    2. Betsy Bulldozer. She is a construction bulldozer with a heart of gold.
    3. Bonzo the Cat. This is Mr. Fenderbender's cat and she sure likes trouble.
    4. Chuck Tow Truck. He runs the Cartown Tire Center.
    5. Mr. Crankcase. He runs Mr. Crankcase's Junk and Recycling Center.
    6. Mr. Fenderbender. He has a cat that seems to find trouble.
    7. Mildred the Mailtruck. She delivers the mail to Putt-Putt, including the flyer that reminds him about the Cartown 500.
    8. Outback Al. He runs the Cartown Zoo and has exotic animals to show Putt-Putt.
    9. Pete Crane. He is a large truck with an articulated arm rising off the back of the flatbed. His job is to move large, heavy objects.
    10. Ralphie. Mrs. Airbag's dog has been very busy.
    11. Redline Rick. He is a racecar that runs the speedway. He'll tell Putt-Putt what he needs to be able to enter the race.
    12. Rover. He is the little moon-buggy that Putt-Putt helped return from the moon. He runs Rover's Rocket Ice Cream.
    13. Smokey. He is the Cartown Fire Chief. He's always happy to welcome new Junior Fire Marshals.
    14. Torvil Tractor. He runs the local farm, the Country Bumpkin Pumpkin Junction. He grows the produce that Mr. Baldini sells in his store.
    15. Ms. Widget. She runs the toy store and usually has something useful for Putt-Putt.

Calamities in Cartown--Putt-Putt and Pep encounter a collection of calamities that kids must help them solve before the two can retrieve the items they need to enter the race. They include:

  • Mr. Fenderbender's cat is stuck in a tree. Putt-Putt needs to get a ladder from Smokey the fire engine, but Smokey won't lend it to Putt-Putt until he has earned his Jr. Fire Marshall badge. After a trip around Cartown, Putt-Putt encounters a situation in which he can earn his badge.
  • Putt-Putt needs to purchase high-performance racing tires. Unfortunately, Putt-Putt doesn't have any money. But kids will discover that recycling pays in Cartown, where three empty bottles are worth one coin that can be used to buy tires.

Places Putt-Putt Will Visit. Cartown is full of interesting places for children to explore and find all the hidden click points for additional amusement.They include the: Speedway; Cartown Main Square; Cartown Carwash; Gas Station; Baldini's Grocery Store; Fire Station; Cartown Color; Toy Store; Fountain Square; Mrs. Airbag's House; Outback Al's House; Mr. Fenderbender; Library; Construction Site; Nailing Station; Tire Center; Rover's Rocket Ice Cream; Mr. Crankcase's Junk and Recycling Center; Valley Road; and Farm.

Graphics. Putt-Putt and his dog Pep function in a fun-filled cartoon world that looks and feels just right. There is also a wonderful soundtrack.

Educational Value. This program provides practice in developing spatial recall (where did I see that item?). It also incorporates many values that parents of this age group want to instill in their children, such as a positive work ethic, good samaritan behavior, and politeness.

I really like Humongous Entertainment products. They are both fun. And for parents that want some educational merit in their children's software, you don't have to worry. Putt-Putt Enters the Race teaches reasoning and exploration skills. The characters are lovable and the animation and music will please both adults and children. Our two helpers Natalie, age 3, and Morgan, age 5, liked this program also, even though Morgan thought it was "kind of hard to win first place." And they want you to know that even girls like to play with cars and trucks.
Processor: Pentium P90
Operating System: Windows 3.1, 95 or 98
Memory: 16 MB RAM
SVGA (640x480), 256 colors graphics
Sound Card
Quard-Speed CD-ROM drive
PCI Video Card
Putt-Putt Enters the Race has a great readme file with all sorts of clues and useful information for parents to read if they want to help their children with the game. There is also a coloring book and a sheet of character stickons for various Humongous Entertainment characters from other games.

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