The fight for freedom continues. Rebel spies have learned that the evil Empire has built a hidden droid factory somewhere on the planet Tatooine. It is here that Imperial engineers are building an army of assassin droids. Once completed, these dangerous machines will terrorize the galaxy.
The Rebel Alliance must find this secret factory and reprogram the assassin droids. To accomplish this mission, the Rebel leaders have selected one of their most trusted agents...
The user takes on the role of secret agent, and master droid builder. Your job will be to create droids with the skills necessary for each of 29 missions, using an advance, 3-D, Star Wars version of something akin to Widget Workshop. Each mission has objectives which can only be met by a droid with the right capabilities -- pick the wrong ones, and your droid will fail.
We were ready to classify this program as an entertainment game, rather than an educational software program. Then we tried it out. Successfully overcoming the obstacles in every mission requires the user to make use of educational hints provided by the program's "Information and Data Exchange" or InDex. This nicely done reference tool provides information on machines, light, energy, force, and materials. For example, one of the earliest missions requires that the user understand and be able to apply the concepts behind inclined planes, angles, and inertia. Each of these topics is covered in InDex, frequently with a combination of explanations, animated examples, and questions related to everyday examples.
Star Wars DroidWorks is an educational program that successfully captures the mesmerizing quality of many electronic game programs. Our parent and student testers reported that this program captivated them for hours at a time, and drew them back again and again. The program features great graphics with familiar characters, plot, and music.
Ease of Use / Install
DroidWorks installed without any problems on our test PC's and Mac, but not without a few time consuming steps, depending on the user's system configuration. This program requires a fairly modern machine, with recent drivers and operating systems. For example, some of our reviewers reported having to upgrade their MacOS' to version 7.5.5 -- luckily, the upgrade is included on the DroidWorks CD.
The introductory tutorial explaining the program, and how to build droids, is exceptionally clear and easy to understand. Most instructions are audibly presented, and backed up by a recall button accessible from every screen, which summons C3PO to assist. The actual process of successfully completing each mission, however, is not easy. The missions take time, and involve a trial-and-error learning process, as well as necessary interuptions to learn educational facts that provide hints, from InDex.
Best for... / Bottom-Line
Star Wars DroidWorks is an intellectually stimulating, viscerally captivating program. It provides a great introduction to scientific principles of energy, force and motion, simple machines, light and magnetism, plus a wealth of information about various metallic materials. In our testing, it appealed most to users with curiosity-driven patience and tenacity. One final note -- one parent reviewer noted that their 4 year-old son was captivated by the program, AND was able to successfully complete missions, after their requirements were read to him!