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Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? Make the Grade

Score: 70%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: THQ
Developer: THQ
Media: CD/1
Players: 1 - 4
Genre: Family/ Trivia

Graphics & Sound:

Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? Make the Grade brings the popular Jeff Foxworthy-hosted game show to your computer in a pretty faithfully represented game. While it doesn't throw anything too extreme at the players, fans of the show will get exactly what they expect.

Visually, Make the Grade isn't all that bad. Foxworthy looks very recognizable, but his animations tend to leave a lot to be desired, while each of the kids have their own unique look. On top of that, your avatar is very customizable. You can change everything from gender, skin tone, hair style, body type and even clothing and accessories. While you won't really be able to make a character that looks just like you, there is enough variety to make someone who is decidedly different than your friend's avatar.

Sound is fairly middle of the road. The music and Jeff Foxworthy's snarky comments come through loud and clear to really help sell the Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? feel, but outside of that, the sound effects tend to be a bit bland.


Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? Make the Grade has several modes, but purist-fans of the show will find Homeroom to be what they are looking for. This is the mode that is just like the TV show. You choose a 5th grader, and get ready to answer a variety of questions ranging in grades from 1st to 5th and topics that touch on science, social studies, math and grammar. If you get stuck, then you can attempt to cheat off of our 5th grader in two of ways (Copy and Peek). Think of these as Lifelines from Who Wants to Be A Millionaire.

Academic Academy mode is similar to the standard Homeroom setup, but instead of a single player experience, up to four players go head to head in order to try and win the million bucks, while the Flashcard option lets up to two players try and answer questions as fast as possible. The person with the fastest fingers gets the most points. And the last gameplay mode has one or two players trying their hands at the Spelling Bee game where the players try to identify the misspelled words as quickly as possible.

As for fun-factor, if you enjoy trivia games and like to see a lot of questions that you are sure you knew at one time, but kick yourself when you get them wrong - then Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? can get to be pretty entertaining.


Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? Make the Grade has three difficulty settings that don't really affect the toughness of the questions, but tend to alter the chances your A.I. opponents will get the correct answers. In the end, you will still have to work out the same level of questions and attempt to dredge up that long-forgotten knowledge if you are going to win the million dollars.

That being said, there are a lot of questions (the box boasts 6,000+), and there are some that are harder than others, but a lot of that might be due to personal slants. For instance, someone who was more science intensive in grade school probably won't have any issues with that subject, but falter quite a bit on the more liberal arts topics like grammar.

Game Mechanics:

I have to say, there were a couple of aspects of Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? Make the Grade that really surprised me. One was the variety of choices in the character customization option. It seems like a game that borders on casual like this could have easily gotten away with providing only a few pre-set avatars for you to choose from (like four considering that's the most players you can have at any one time). Instead, the developers went the extra mile to provide quite a variety in not only the basic character models, but also accessories and clothes.

The other aspect that really stood out to me, but not necessarily in a good way, was the lack of resolution options. The game renders in 800x600, and that's it. Now I know, Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? Make the Grade isn't for hardcode gamers out there, and the specs on the box show it, but you shouldn't need a high-end machine to grant a few graphical options. When I took the game out of Full Screen Mode, I wasn't shocked to find how small the window became on my 1920x1200 monitor (I'm used to that), but the fact that I couldn't increase its size at all was pretty annoying.

But that really is just a personal soap box and I probably shouldn't rant too much about that. The truth is, if you really enjoy the show, or like trivia type game shows similar to this, then Make the Grade is a nice addition that should bring some enjoyment.

-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

Minimum System Requirements:

Pentium IV 1.2 GHz, 256 MB RAM, 64 MB DirectX 9 video card, Intel 915 or higher, ATI 8500, Nvidia 5200 FX, 120 MB Hard Drive space, DirectX 9.0, DirectX compliant sound card

Test System:

Alienware Aurora m9700 Laptop, Windows XP Professional, AMD Turion 64 Mobile 2.41 GHz, 2 GB Ram, Dual NVIDIA GeForce Go 7900 GS 256MB Video Cards, DirectX 9.0c

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