Washington Apple Pi

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Don't You Wish Your Parents Named You 'MazMaz'?

© 1998 Lykara Iann Charters

Washington Apple Pi Journal, September/October 1998, pp. 73-74, reprint information

Crisis in Alborz Galaxy: An Adventure of Detective MazMaz is a multi-media mystery math game. (Alliteration runs in my family.) This educational adventure game, developed by EZ Solutions Software Corporation, is available on CD-ROM, and is accelerated for Power Macintosh.

Now, about system requirements:

For better performance:

For this review, I used a Power Computing PowerCenter Pro 180 Mac-compatible with 64 MB memory running Mac OS 8.0, QuickTime 2.5, and a faster than double speed CD-ROM drive (I have no idea how fast it really is). There were no performance problems. To install, insert the CD-ROM into your CD-ROM drive. Drag the Crisis in Alborz Galaxy 1.60 program icon and License Folder into your hard drive. Enter your name, your organization, and (if you have purchased your license) your license number. If you haven't purchased your license number, you can choose the free time-limited trial license agreement, which requires no registration number. (To enter the registration number, you have to go under the Apple menu once the game has been opened.)


While the game states that it was designed for grades 3 through 8, it really does depend on the student. The skills the student has already worked on and the ones that still need work matter more than the grade they are in. If your child has mastered most of the skills on the chart (see table), this game will work as a review tool, but they won't learn much more. However, if your child is struggling, or hasn't yet covered most of the skills, this game could be a real learning tool. In addition to the game, your child can take tests with options for intensity and length. I'm sorry I can't help more with deciding whether or not this game would be a good buy for you, but it is a very individualized question.


Beginner Settings

Advanced Settings


Addition and Subtraction

Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, Division, and Rounding



Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, Division, and Rounding

Multiplication, Division, Rounding, Fractions, and Decimals


Addition, Multiplication, Division, Rounding, and Decimals

Rounding, Fractions, and Decimals


Rounding, Decimals, Equations, and Powers and Exponents

Fractions, Decimals, Equations, Percents, and Integers



Decimals, Equations, and Powers and Exponents

Fractions, Decimals, Equations, Powers and Exponents, Percents, Integers, and Sequences


Fractions, Equations, Powers and Exponents, and Sequences

Fractions, Decimals, Equations, Powers and Exponents, and Percents

The Game...FINALLY!

Your life as Detective MazMaz starts when you are "given" a letter from Chief SunShine (your new boss) welcoming you to the ClueMasters Detective Agency. Once the letter is put in your inventory, which stores all your clues, you hop aboard the intergalactic shuttle bus to get to planet Pikar in time for your briefing and first case assignment. After your briefing, you go out to meet your shuttle and Schnook. Schnook is a Synthetically Constructed Humanoid with Numerous Obsolete, Obscure, and Contradictory Knowledge. He is your assistant and copilot. As you can see in the picture of Schnook introducing himself to you, the graphics aren't Michelangelo, but they fit the bill for a computer game.

Screen Shot

Detective MazMaz is the person in the lower left corner, and Schnook is in the window. At the bottom of the screen, you can see that, in addition to the word balloons, every time someone talks, you can control their volume, and you can have them talk continuously, or have them talk with a break so you can take notes. If you choose 'Talk with Break,' every time a new speech bubble would come up, you have to press a 'Continue' button to move on. If you are impatient like me, that gets old real fast, but it is helpful when taking notes.

The game constantly involves math questions in clues, activities, and transportation. While the game is supportive, and keeps reminding you that you are a math genius, if you get stuck on a math problem, you don't get much help - you are just told that you are wrong. (Literally told - the game makes use of the Mac's voice synthesis when people talk in addition to a speech bubble.) I suggest that you keep pencil and paper handy, or a calculator, to help you if you get stuck, but I found I could answer most questions by doing the calculations in my head.

Throughout the game, you must avoid black holes and collect clues from landlords, trash, junk mail, and other characters while helping Professor Magneton recover key parts to his experiment stolen by his former assistant. I have a warning, though. The gypsy lady that appears often is not really helpful - she has a genius crystal ball that can't tell the difference between a black hole and a sand crab. The one time where it seems you need her help, you really can get by using a trial-and-error method. Don't ask. Don't tell.

My favorite feature of the game were the strange sayings Schnook told you. If you ask his advice, he will take famous sayings and twist them into strange, often stupid, but always amusing sayings like, "Rome was not built in a day, but it sure looks like it" and "An apple a day keeps the doctor away, a garlic a day keeps the dentist away." His advice doesn't help much in solving your case, but it is a funny thing to hear when you are stuck or frustrated.

Overall, When it's said and done, and In Conclusion...

I feel obligated to say again that this game has a varying target audience. It's not for everyone, but the people it would benefit would benefit a lot. If you are considering buying this game, please consider your child's skill set, and how long the game would be useful. I enjoyed the game very much, even though I've covered all the math skills it worked on. Unlike many other math games, the math was all relevant, and did not dominate or overpower the mystery and fun side of the game. I highly recommend it...to the people it would be useful for. I have two pieces of advice to end with (only one having to do with the game; guess which one): "don't Vulcan Mind Meld with hamsters - it hurts," and beware of everyone!

Crisis in Alborz Galaxy
$49.95; $34.95 for Washington Apple Pi members (volume discounts available)
EZ Solutions Software Corporation
PO Box 455
Germantown, MD 20875
(301) 916-7106
E-mail: feedback@ezsolutionsoftware.com

Lykara Iann Charters is an honor roll student at Mayfield Woods Middle School in Elkridge, MD. In the fall, she will be taking the advanced study courses there for eighth graders. She enjoys reading and 'riting, but unfortunately, not 'rithmatic; and is an apprentice Mind Melder. This is her first review article for a magazine.


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Revised August 28, 1998 Lawrence I. Charters
Washington Apple Pi
URL: http://www.wap.org/journal/