- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 2, 2003

In a world of violent video games, where dexterity of the thumb and index finger is infinitely more important than the flexing of the cerebrum, there must be a place for children and their parents to interact and actually learn something from that overpriced multimedia computer/gaming system. Take a deep breath and enter the ROMper Room, where learning is a four-letter word cool.

One of the noblest of adventures, learning while fighting crime, enchants children as they take control of the Powerpuff Girls in Mojo Jojo's Clone Zone.

When Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup discover that Mojo Jojo, their maniacal monkey archenemy, is plotting to unleash replicate robots on the mundane land of Townsville, the Chemical-X fueled trio decide to take action and crush the duplicating menaces.

Players 6 to 10 years old will have a blast as they watch awesome animated clips and interact in the cartoon universe while honing some fairly intense math, spelling, vocabulary and logic skills. After signing into the title, players can choose from three primary challenges to defeat clones and acquire points and Mojo memory chips. Each character evolves through five difficulty (danger) levels and begins with a tutorial from mentor Professor Utonium, who explains the rules. Players eventually will find one more game, gather more points and then break into Mojo's volcano-top observatory in a final confrontation.

First in the primary challenges, Bubble must stop a Mojo clone and the Gangreen gang from polluting. The player has Bubbles grab letters and correctly spell words so the Talking Dog can use his street sweeper to clean up the alphabetic mess.

Second, Buttercup must scour a city grid to capture clones before they end up in the city's sewer system. The player must use map-reading skills as well as count grid spaces to define a clear path for Buttercup to succeed.

Finally, Blossom needs to secure building-top satellites in a game of high-stakes hopscotch. The player uses the arrow keys to move Blossom around numbered dishes and a space bar to fill in simple mathematical equations to corner and beat the robots.

When a clone is defeated, it is bounced on the head, producing a blue, green or purple memory chip. Once enough circuits have been acquired, the trio flies up the side of a treacherous volcano as Mojo tosses geometric shapes at them. They must collect only certain shapes that build up the trio's power and allow them to blast away dangerous objects.

After getting into Mojo's observatory, the player must install the memory chips to phonetically identify words and place them in a few sentences. Success causes the release of embarrassing memories from their villain's brain that humiliate him into dropping his psychic shield.

Don't forget about those points. Especially brave players who accumulate mass quantities will unlock several black-and-white pictures and activities revolving around their pint-size pals to print out and color away from the computer.

Overall, Mojo Jojo perfectly melds creator Craig McCracken's Powerpuff mythos with a clever story line and demanding action to sneakily give junior a dynamic educational experience.

Powerpuff Girls: Mojo Jojo's Clone Zone, by the Learning Company, $19.99, compatible with PC or Macintosh systems.

ROMper Room is a column devoted to finding the best of multimedia edutainment. Write to Joseph Szadkowski, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, D.C. 20002; call 202/636-3016; or send e-mail ([email protected]).

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