The Nightmare Machine is one of a series of four Spy Kids Learning Adventures. In this episode, the Spy Kids, Carmen and Juni, are called upon by their superiors to rid the world of The Nightmare Machine. It seems that there is a diabolical machine located in the Antarctic that is broadcasting nightmares to all the grown-ups in the world, making sleep rather difficult.
The game unfolds in an animated comic book manner. In order to accomplish the mission, the player guides the Spy Kids through 2 types of challenges. In the first, the game comes with a separate puzzle book (either printed or in PDF format) which can also be downloaded from the publisher's website. The book contains math and logic puzzles. The player will be prompted at various junctures for the answers to certain puzzles in order to advance the storyline.
The game also contains 8 minigames tied to the story:
Penguin Path: Penguins are blocking your vehicle's path. Toss fish in strategic squares to goad the flightless birds into moving out of your path.
Ice Wall: A traditional pair-matching game where an ice wall has an assortment of concealed patterns. Flip 2 patterns at a time to find matches.
Jump the Ice Floes: A Frogger clone where the player must maneuver the spy vehicle across ice floes moving in opposite directions at different speeds.
Ice Tunnels: Ice is falling and the player must maneuver through the ice using a pattern specified by the game.
Alphabetical Spire of Doom: Spell out valid words using adjacent letters from a hexagonal grid.
Run In Up The Spire: Carmen and Juni are on their rocket skates to cruise up a spiral ice tower. Help them dodge falling snowballs by either ducking or jumping. The action to be taken depends on whether the snowball has an even or odd number.
Antarctic Gothic: Defeat the ice giants using a supersonic tuning fork to match their own tones.