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The ClueFinders 3rd Grade Adventures: The Mystery of Mathra

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The ClueFinders 3rd Grade Adventures: The Mystery of Mathra is a computer game in The Learning Company's ClueFinders series where the ClueFinders save the Numerian rainforest and Dr. Horace Pythagoras from a mysterious monster called Mathra who is a parody on Mothra.

The game is the first in the series and depicts the first meeting of the ClueFinders and LapTrap, who goes on to appear in all the other ClueFinders games. The game ends with LapTrap being given to the ClueFinders and, in this respect, The Mystery of Mathra can be seen as an origin story for the rest of the series.


A thousand years ago the ancient Numerians, great inventors, built a great city in the Numerian rainforest. According to legend, a monster named Mathra appeared out of nowhere one night. Mathra attacked the wild animals of the jungle, but the Numerians managed to capture Mathra. Fearing the monster might escape again, they abandoned their city, never to return. They locked the door to the city, split the key in two, and buried the halves in puzzles "in two corners of the rainforest." The Numerians still live in the villages around the Numerian rainforest, but the location of the Lost City remains a mystery.

When animals began disappearing in the Numerian rainforest again, some suspect Mathra. Dr. Pythagoras, however, believes there is a simple explanation. However, before he could explain, the doctor is suddenly kidnapped by what seems to be Mathra. Dr. Pythagoras' last words are, "Call the ClueFinders!" Interestingly enough, Joni is Dr. Pythagoras' niece.

The ClueFinders fly to the rainforest in Mr. Limburger's airplane, where he explains the legend of Mathra to them. The ClueFinders conclude that they need to get to the Lost City. Joni and Santiago set off to find the keys and Owen and Leslie stay behind. They also join LapTrap, Dr. Pythragoras' Turbo TURTLE, who has a map of the rainforest that comes in useful.

The two areas of the rainforest that contain the keys are the Monkey Kingdom and the Goo Lagoon. In both places, they meet highly intelligent animals and plants which can communicate to each other and the ClueFinders. While searching each area, Joni and Santiago find clues that suggest that Mathra isn't behind the disappearing animals: a badge labeled "Fletcher's Furriers" and a can of aviation engine oil.

After Joni and Santiago collect both key halves, Mr. Limburger offers to fly them to the Lost City. However, when they jump out of the plane with their parachutes, they land in the jungle canopy, far from the Lost City. The ClueFinders eventually make their way on their own to the Lost City's gate. When they take out both keys, they fuse together to form one key, which they then use to unlock the gate.

Inside, they find what appears to be Mathra sleeping, but then it occurs to them who is really behind the disappearing animals — Mr. Limburger. Limburger built a disguise for his airplane, so it would appear to be Mathra, providing a cover for his smuggling of animal hides. It turns out that "Fletcher" is Limburger's first name. He reveals that kidnapped Dr. Pythagoras, and is now being held with the animals that he had captured. After admitting that that he was behind the mystery, Limburger locks them in the city and flies away in his Mathra plane.

The ClueFinders discover that Dr. Pythagoras is trapped on the other side of the Bottomless Pits of Doom with all the animals that Limburger has been collecting. They rebuild the Mathra trap, which the Numerians used to trap Mathra, and rescue Dr. Pythagoras and the animals. After they do so, the Mathra trap becomes invisible, and Limburger flies his plane into it. He falls down the pit.

When the ClueFinders leave the rainforest, Dr. Pythagoras gives them LapTrap, who faints when he hears he'll be going on more dangerous adventures. Meanwhile, Limburger reappears in the rainforest and swears his vengeance. As he stalks away, his dark mood unappeased, a large draconic head resembling that of Limburger's Mathra-shaped airplane appears behind him, smiles, and spouts fire.


The characters listed are characters that appear only in The ClueFinders 3rd Grade Adventures. For information about other characters see the main ClueFinders page.

Dr. Horace Pythagoras

Dr. Horace Pythagoras, PhD, is a famous naturalist and an uncle to Joni Savage, leader of the ClueFinders club. Dr. Pythagoras has Turbo TURTLE called LapTrap whom is responsible for keeping him organized. At the end of the game, he gives the LapTrap to the ClueFinders, as a reward. His last name is a reference to Pythagoras. Dr. Pythagoras was mentioned in passing in The ClueFinders Reading Adventures, where Joni refers to him as "Professor Horace." In 3rd Grade Adventures, she refers to him as "Uncle Horace."

Mr. Limburger

Fletcher Q. Limburger is pilot of the airplane that flies the ClueFinders into the rainforest.

In the end it is revealed that Limburger is the villain. Limburger used the legend of Mathra to keep people away from the Lost City so he could collect furs for his fur company, kidnapped Joni's uncle when he felt that Dr. Pythagoras was getting too close to his operation, and polluted the Goo Lagoon by throwing his oil drum into Goo Springs. Limburger was trapped by the Mathra trap and fell into the Bottomless Pits of Doom. He reappeared in the rainforest later and swore revenge on the ClueFinders.

A fletcher is someone who makes arrows. Limburger is a kind of cheese and sounds similar to "Lindbergh", the last of name of a famous airplane pilot.

Areas of the Rainforest

There are four different areas of the rainforest, each of which teaches a different skill and has a different goal.

The Monkey Kingdom

Skill: Mathematics
Goal: Find the left half of the key to the Lost City

The Monkey Kingdom is home to the monkeystadors who are headed by Vasco da Bongo. The area is populated by Sneeze Berries which were planted by the ancient Numerians. The ancient Numerians hid one of the keys to the Lost City at the center of the Rings of Volcanic Fire (also called the Rings of Fire).

Game Skill
Address Stones Place Value
Monument Word Problems
The Pit and the Vines Perimeter and Area
The Queen’s Calendar Deductive Reasoning with Numbers
Treasure Chest Money
Chasm of Snakes Addition
The Rings of Fire Whole Number Computation

The Goo Lagoon

Skill: Logic
Goal: Find the right half of the key to the Lost City

Goo from Goo Springs flows down Goo Falls forming the Goo Lagoon. Goo is strange green substance that the flowers and insects who inhabit the area enjoy. However, since Mathra's return, the goo has been polluted. The goal in the Goo Lagoon is to reach the top of Goo Falls and collect one of the keys to the Lost City. To do this, one must collect Beetle Bags.

When the ClueFinders reach the Lost City, they find there is a giant computer built by the ancient Numerians whose water wheel (goo wheel?) is turned by goo from Goo Springs, which feeds the Goo Lagoon. The ClueFinders find that Limburger has thrown an oil can in the goo here to pollute the Goo Lagoon. The Cluefinders remove the oil can.

Game Skill
The Spider Sisters Graphic analogies
Crabalock Attack Word analogies
Attack-nids! Visual thinking
Moths and Fleas Attributes
Worms’ Day Out Deductive reasoning with story problems
River of the Goo Creature Patterns and sequences
The Walls of Goo Falls Logical reasoning

The Jungle Canopy

Skill: Geography
Goal: Make it to the Lost City

After the ClueFinders collect both keys to the Lost City, Mr. Limburger mysteriously drops them in the canopy instead of at the Lost City, and thus the ClueFinders have to make it to the Lost City on their own. The goal in this area is simply to reach the Lost City. There are only two games, and each only needs to be played once.

Game Skill
Where Are You? Map Reading
Birds on Vacation U.S. Geography

The Lost City

Skill: Science and Language arts
Goal: Build the Mathra trap

To stop Limburger, the ClueFinders must bridge the Bottomless Pits of Doom, which rebuilds the Mathra trap. To do this, they must collect Snagnets (a combination of snakes and magnets), to move bridge stones.


Game Skill
The Chamber of Order Classification
The Chamber of Vision Sequencing
The Chamber of Structure Constructing Animal Skeletons
The Chamber of Illusion Making Inferences

Language Arts

Game Skill
The Chamber of Knowledge Reading for Information
Bottomless Pits of Doom Parts of Speech

Cultural references and parodies

The game contains a number of parodies of and allusions to popular culture and other topics. These include:

  • A "flower" living in the Goo Lagoon speaks with a Cockney accent and says "I'm a good girl, I am", referencing My Fair Lady.
  • The name "Goo Lagoon" is a play on the Blue Lagoon.
  • "Monkeystador" is a play on "conquistador". The leader of the monkeystadors is named "Vasco da Bongo" in reference to Vasco da Gama.
  • The "Rings of Fire" are a play on the Pacific Ring of Fire, a line of active volcanoes around the Pacific Ocean.
  • The monster Mathra is a parody on Mothra from Toho Studios and Godzilla's films.
  • The Four Flowers at Goo Lagoon resemble the four members of The Beatles. One wears glasses that resemble those worn by the Beatles guitarist John Lennon. The shortest flower has a deeper voice, making him easily recognizable as the drummer Ringo Starr, because he was the shortest member of the group and had a deeper voice than the other three. They also all talk with a Liverpool accent that the Beatles talked with. They also performed parodies of several Beatles songs including "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite."
    • The game credits refer to these plants, as well as the other denizens of the Goo Lagoon, as "Livergooligans," a play on the word "Liverpooligan." This is another allusion to the Beatles.
  • In the Lost City, one of the guardians speaks like Rod Serling of the Twilight Zone, and uses quotes such as "Picture as you will."
  • The ancient inhabitants of the Lost City are called the "Numerians" which is a reference to the Sumerians.


  • In one of the activities in the jungle canopy, we are given the geographical coordinates of Numeria. These place Numeria in northwestern Brazil. The geography of Numeria, however, doesn't match that of the actual area.
  • If one makes it through the Rings of Fire or to the top of Goo Falls after acquiring the keys, one will win other golden objects.
  • The time of day seems to progress as the user advances through the game. At the start of the game it is daytime and when the user travels through the canopy and reaches the Lost City it is sunset. When the ClueFinders leave the rainforest with Dr. Pythagoras after the game's climax, it is daytime again. Therefore, the game takes place over the course of about a day.
  • If the player clicks on Santiago after making it inside the Lost City, he comments on them being the first humans to be within in the city in a thousand years. This overlooks the fact that Limburger quite obviously reached the city before them.
  • In the UK version of "Birds on Vacation", you learn World Geography instead. In this version, each bird goes to a different continent of the world.

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