Solid piece of edutainment
If you need a little educational title to keep the young ones quiet, and they've exhausted the joys of Carmen Sandiego, Headline Harry or Eagle Eye Mysteries, then Operation Wildfire may be just what you are looking for. This one takes on the task of teaching players about basic ecology, the life of mammals and their habitats and throws in some lessons about cryptography for good measure. Of course, this being an edutainment title, it's not all presented in dull text-book fashion, but is instead dressed up in the style of a game, with players taking on the role of a CYPHER agent (a sort of FBI for kids) who must locate and deliver coded messages to your client, deciphering them before you hand them over. The animal part of the game comes in the form of the clues which will help you decode these messages, but be careful as there are other rogue agents out there trying to prevent you from completing your mission. As edutainment titles go, this one isn't too bad. Its attempt to introduce kids to the joys of the natural world is admirable, while the way in which it does so it reasonably inventive and quite fun. The graphics are simple enough, but are certainly appealing, with vibrant use of colour and cute depictions of the animals that will prove attractive to the target audience. The puzzles themselves aren't too taxing, but should keep the younger gamers guessing and of course they are learning as they play. When you throw in the encyclopaedia which provides further reading material and information on even more species, you have a solid slice of educational entertainment.