The ClueFinders 5th Grade Adventures: Secret of the Living Volcano is a personal computer game in The Learning Company's ClueFinders series of educational software. In the game, the ClueFinders are shipwrecked on a mysterious volcanic island, inhabited by centuries of trapped castaways, where any escape attempt seems to be deliberately thwarted by natural forces.
- Chrissie McCarron - Joni Savage
- Clayton Stroope - Santiago Rivera
- Keoni Asia Gist - Leslie Clark
- Brian Michael Gregory - Owen Lam
- Les Hedger - LapTrap
- Roger L. Jackson - The Big Face/Tobor (the spelling robot)
- Terry McGovern - Chicken Man/The Great CrypTile Thief
- Wally Fields - Manager Worm/Anemones/Tube/The Big Fish
- Becca Barnes - Charlotte No-Haira
- Duane Lawrence - Captain Clark
- Jackie Brambles - Lab5
- Andrew Kawamura - Sailor in crow's nest
- Jon Olsen - Eco (the computer within)
The ClueFinders are on a mission with Captain Clark, Leslie's sailor grandfather, to find out why so many ships have been disappearing in a certain area of the Pacific Ocean, à la the Bermuda Triangle. In one of the wrecked ships, Joni and Santiago discover a pair of metal plaques with strange symbols written on them. However, just when their own ship comes into view of a tiny uncharted island, a tsunami promptly forms and hits their ship.
Later, Joni and Santiago gain consciousness and find themselves stranded all alone, except for LapTrap, on the beach of the island with the wreck of Captain Clark's ship nearby. They make contact with Owen and Leslie via Santiago's red videophone, but the whereabouts of Captain Clark and the ship's crew remain unknown. Owen and Leslie, however, are trapped in an underground chamber that has walls coated with plaques similar to the ones that Joni and Santiago found earlier.
Making contact with the islanders, many of whom are descended from castaways stranded on the island hundreds of years ago, and English-speaking sea worms underwater, Joni and Santiago learn that the mysterious plaques are called CrypTiles. Both the islanders and the sea worms tell them that the island is "alive" and the islanders claim that the island has been purposefully impeding their attempts at escape for centuries. Santiago in particular is highly skeptical of the idea of a "living island," finding it unscientific.
For the majority of the game, the player guides Joni, Santiago and LapTrap in and around the island as they attempt to rescue Owen and Leslie from the underground chamber as well as find a way to escape the adverse island. There are two areas that can be explored at the start of the game, the island itself and the ocean. At the end of the game, the user enters the interior of the island and learns its secrets.
Before the rest of the island can be accessed, the user must build a bridge over a river of molten sulfur. The user is presented with several stone blocks to build the bridge with, each one having two polygons on it. The user must insert the blocks into the bridge so that the touching polygons' number of sides match. An old man, listed in the credits as "Chicken Man", greets Joni and Santiago after they make it over the sulfur river and tells them they need to collect CrypTiles in order to make it past the Faces Within the Face.
Not particularly stranger than the rest of the island's peculiarities is the fact that it apparently rains constantly in exactly one place, that being over a deteriorating settlement inhabited by a Southern belle. This woman, whose ancestors were stranded on the island just after the American Civil War, still lives and dresses as people did at that time. Presumably, she is the character listed as "Charlotte No-Haira" in the game's credits.
Charlotte has been trying to read stories that were written on the backs of silver CrypTiles by various other castaways. The user's task is to rearrange ten CrypTiles so that they make two separate coherent stories, each five CrypTiles in length. Every time this is achieved, Charlotte will provide a package of silver CrypTiles.
In an American Revolutionary War era town, the only remaining resident is a stockade-bound man who has apparently christened himself "The Great CrypTile Thief." Before he was caught, he managed to plant all the gold CrypTiles he stole in a patch of dangerous trees. In order to acquire some gold CrypTiles, the user will have to place map directions in an order that will allow Joni to safely make it through his dangerous garden.
The Faces Within the Face
The goal on the surface is to collect silver and gold CrypTiles from the two aforementioned activities so that they can be used to complete the Faces Within the Face challenge. The central face will translate the symbols on the CrypTiles, revealing they are numbers, while the other four faces change the value of the numbers through a mathematical operation. The user must alter the numbers so that they match the numbers on eight slots below the faces. Once three sets of slots have been filled, the challenge is completed.
In order to enter Captain Clark's ruined ship, the user must build a bridge over shark-infested waters. This activity is essentially identical to Sulfer River, but with math problems instead of polygons. Once a bridge has been built, Joni and Santiago enter the ship and find their scuba gear, allowing them to pass into the ocean. Strange worm creatures, resembling flexible transparent tubes, greet Joni and Santiago upon their arrival underwater, telling them about CrypTiles, which they feed on, and the Fish Within the Fish.
In the Minisub
Lab5, Captain Clark's trusty minisub, has been damaged, but is still somewhat operational. Though she (the sub, apparently artificially intelligent, speaks with a feminine voice) cannot take them away from the island (much to LapTrap's chagrin) she can retrieve turquoise CrypTiles from the ocean floor. That is, if the user repairs her damaged electrical circuits.
One of the worm creatures seems to have a never ending supply of jade CrypTiles stuck in his "throat" which he will give to the ClueFinders if they repair his tube segments. Each piece has a fraction or decimal written on it to inform the user how to put his segments together to form three tubes. Once these three tubes are formed, the tube will spit out a jade CrypTile, but will inform the ClueFinders that he has yet another one stuck in his throat.
The Fish Within the Fish
The Fishes Within the Fish seems to be an underwater replica of the Faces Within the Face with five stone shark-like fish instead of five stone faces. The main difference is that the Fishes Within the Fish is a language arts activity with the symbols on each turquoise or jade CrypTile translating into a word. Four of the fish alter the word by changing its tense, adding a prefix or suffix or by replacing the word with a synonym or antonym.
Inside the Island
Once the user unlocks both the Faces Within the Face and the Fishes Within the Fish challenges, Joni and Santiago are pulled inside the island, where they find Owen and Leslie. However, Joni and Santiago are immediately imprisoned inside what seems to be a giant laboratory filled with other animals and humans including, they soon discover, Leslie's grandfather. Owen and Leslie escape with LapTrap and quickly realize that the entire island is actually a giant, cunningly-disguised extraterrestrial spacecraft that was evidently planted in the ocean to harvest Earthlings as the aliens responsible apparently consider Earthling brains a delicacy.
In order to allow Owen and Leslie to pass over a giant chasm, the user has to build a series of catwalks by using the letter tiles that correctly spell a word that is said aloud and given in a sentence by one of the aliens' robots. This game is identical to the "Chasm of Words" activity moderated by Thoth in The ClueFinders 4th Grade Adventures.
To free the animals and islanders frozen inside the aliens' "biosphere chambers," the player must create a computer simulation that allows an Earth predator and prey to live together for four "sorlax," which is "approximately two hundred Earth years." There are three biosphere chambers, each with a "Spelling Catwalks" challenge that must be beaten to reach it. The last biosphere chamber contains Joni, Santiago, Leslie's grandfather and the rest of the islanders.
The game's conclusion
Fleeing from the aliens, the ClueFinders and the islanders rush into a room with four giant buttons. In desperation, the ClueFinders each push one. The first, pushed by Joni, activates a launch countdown. The second, pushed by Santiago, causing it to stop raining over Charlotte's house and the third, pushed by Owen, opens up a wall. "Chicken Man" comes by the opening in an ancient galleon, allowing the people to escape the island aboard his ship.
However, the final button, pushed by Leslie, turns out to be the "tsunami button." Fortunately, the tsunami pushes the ship away from the island just as the volcano erupts and the island sinks into the ocean. However, a moment later, a spaceship with the same structure as the island rises out of the ocean and warps out of sight. Joni comments that no one will believe their story, but Santiago says they have "proof" since she still has two CrypTiles left in her backpack. Unfortunately, it turns out that the bottom of Joni's backpack was burned off, meaning that the CrypTiles are now lost.
- In each of the two previous games in the series, the ClueFinders appeared dressed differently. In this game, they again appear in their outfits from The ClueFinders 3rd Grade Adventures, which go on to become their "regular" clothes for the rest of the series. Much of the animation in this game is also quite obviously recycled from The ClueFinders 3rd Grade Adventures.
- This is the first game in which the red videophone that the ClueFinders use to call each other for help has a different look. The videophone stays like that for the rest of the series.
- Despite having a unique written language and apparently using their own number and measurement systems, all the aliens' computers speak in English. The aliens themselves, however, appear to be physically unable to create anything resembling human speech. The aliens' written language has twenty-six letters which just happen to directly correlate with the letters of the English alphabet.
- Though the ClueFinders are clearly depicted as rescuing the islanders, it's never explained what becomes of the mini-sub or the sea tubes.
- Everyone on the island appears to live like people did at the time their ancestors crashed on the island, meaning that, despite the size of the island, there is little or no communication between the different parties.
- It's never explained how it is that nobody ever reached "Inside," as the sea tubes call it, or "the Chamber," as the islanders call it, before the ClueFinders did.
- The ClueFinders enter the island either from underwater or on land, depending whether the user solves the Faces Within the Face or the Fishes Within the Fish challenge first. However, once inside, Joni and Santiago always appear wearing their normal clothes while, if they entered from underwater, they should still be wearing their scuba gear. They cannot have been wearing their regular outfits under their scuba gear since their clothes show up in one of the compartments of Joni's backpack whenever they are underwater (a corresponding compartment holds their scuba gear whenever they are on land).
- The fact that the island is a volcano and that the ClueFinders later discover that the island is floating would normally constitute an obvious factual error. However, this is later resolved by the fact that the island itself turns out to not be real.
- Santiago's comment about no one believing them apparently disregards the many people they rescued from the island, them being both "someone" as well as evidence.
- At the end of the game two cryptiles floating in the water offer you the option to "Quit" or "Play again.". These might be the cryptiles Joni lost but it is unlikely as the cryptiles Santiago was probably referring to were the two picked up at the start of the game; they were both rather rusty-looking whereas the two option cryptiles were quite golden. Also the "Play again" cryptile seems to be two cryptiles stuck together.
|CrypTile Stories||Reading Comprehension|
|Fish within the Fish||Prefixes and Suffixes|
|Shark Crossing||Whole Number Computation|
|Sulfur River||Geometric Shapes|
|Faces within the Face||Mathematical Reasoning and Operations|
|Biosphere Chambers||Ecology and Life Systems|
|In the Minisub||Electrical Circuits|
|Poison Garden||Map Reading|