Play 'The Tuttles' to help a charity

What happens when you connect doing good deeds with playing a good video game? You get The Tuttles Madcap Misadventures, a video game created by Legacy Interactive as a fundraiser for the Starlight Starbright Children's Foundation.

When you buy the game, at least half of the proceeds go to the Starlight charity. If you buy the boxed version, 50% of the cost goes to the charity, while with the downloadable version, the charitable amount rises to 75%.

The Tuttles Madcap Misadventures takes you on a 40-level romp with the vacationing Tuttles family as they make their way to visit the Alamo.

Barry, the dad, has customized their van so that it can fly and has an onboard talking computer (with an attitude, of course). Barbara, the mom, has a bottomless handbag that stores everything they need, including tents. Daughter Jess is a brilliant, cellphone-addicted teen who "would rather die than be seen out in public with her parents," while son Zach loves life and video games and views getting lost as a chance for a new adventure. This extraordinary family flies a minivan, and the adventure takes them through the air to a desert, ocean, jungle, tropical island and the mountains. As you work through the levels of side-scrolling craziness, you alternate playing as each of the four members of the family.

The Tuttles is an old-fashioned side-scrolling game, reminiscent of classic Mario games from Nintendo, where you collect items, jump from platform to platform to navigate a level and stun baddies by leaping on their heads. For example, while in the desert looking for more gas for the van, you must avoid scorpions, cobras and prickly cacti. As the desert levels get harder, you also encounter walking mummies and wriggling green vipers.

While the game play isn't anything new, the platform puzzle play is solid. It is fun for the whole family, because it can be played on three levels of difficulty. Kids playing on the easiest level will never get frustrated because there is always a red arrow pointing where to go next. Since there are 40 levels, this is a game that can be played in short bursts — as a reward for finishing a homework assignment or as a break from the stresses of everyday work.

What makes this game fun is the story. This family gets into wacky situations, including bargaining with a group of nomad desert people who deliver a Monty Python-type performance. The hilarious script is a product of Dave Thomas and his Emmy Award-winning comedy team at Animax Entertainment, and it plays out in comic book style cut-scenes that appear between levels. Through all its silliness, the game manages to deliver a strong message about the importance of family bonding.

Another reason this game is special is it has world-class voice talent coming from Bob Saget, Jamie Lee Curtis, Ashley Tisdale, Dominic Scott Kay, Dave Coulier and William Shatner. Couple this with catchy background music and graphics that are bold and bright, and you have a game worth playing.

By buying this game, you can have fun with your family on your computer, while your contribution helps chronically ill children and their families. This is a win-win situation.

Gudmundsen is the editor of Computing With Kids magazine (www.ComputingWithKids.com). Contact her at gnstech(AT)gns.gannett.com.

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