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August/September 2002

Here are some of the latest releases in children's software and video games. 

Welcome to Animal Crossing. Population: Growing!

Tired of video games that run out of steam far too quickly? An exciting new role-playing game is coming to the GameCube, and it's likely to garner a huge following. Similar in nature to The Sims, Animal Crossing features a "virtual village" populated with human-like animals. Kids build their village, tend to everyday routines, and communicate with other villages. There is a 24-hour "real time" clock in the game, which means that the sun will set when the "real" sun sets. The game's clock also coordinates with real time dates, so that seasons change accordingly. The developers of Animal Crossing seemed to have tapped into the popularity of the social aspect of games with their unique communication feature. Using a memory card, kids can bring their village to that of their friend's and interact with the characters in their game! 

Kids can fish and garden, interact with neighbors, build furnishings in their homes, and so forth. The village life unfolds day by day. An extra bonus in the package is a free Memory Card--and kids will definitely need one in order to fully enjoy Animal Crossing. This game is particularly well-suited for "gaming" families. Although only one player can play at a time, up to four players (alternating) are supported.

See also our ongoing review of Animal Crossing.

[For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Animal Crossing]


Disney Interactive!

Disney Interactive has bundled up some great deals for the school year:

Disney Learning: Toddler bundles Mickey Mouse Toddler and Winnie the Pooh Toddler. Both titles are very toddler-friendly; together, they offer variety, ease of use, and simply gorgeous graphics. This is a great value at about $20 US. 

[For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Disney Learning Toddler at]

Disney Learning: Preschool bundles Mickey Mouse Preschool and Winnie the Pooh Preschool. We adore the Winnie the Pooh title in this bundle, and find Mickey Mouse Preschool gorgeous to look at, but not particularly educational or replayable. The package is a good value, however, with a suggested retail price of $20 US. 

[For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Disney Learning Preschool at]

Disney Learning: Kindergarten bundles Mickey Mouse Kindergarten and Winnie the Pooh Kindergarten. Although you are getting two full programs for the price of one with this title, the package offers rather standard fare. Mickey Mouse Kindergarten is rather fun and original, but Winnie the Pooh Kindergarten lacks pizzazz. Still, this is a decent package to add variety to your collection. 

[For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Disney Learning Kindergarten at]

Disney/Pixar Learning: Buzz Lightyear 1st Grade is a re-release of a title with an additional CD-ROM for extra learning. The program has some original spots, and a few activities that actually teach facts. However, there are better first grade titles out there. Best for Buzz Lightyear fans.

[For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Disney/Pixar Learning: Buzz Lightyear... at]

Disney/Pixar Learning: Buzz Lightyear 2nd & 3rd Grade is a new 2-CD-ROM set that is really quite worthwhile. Children get the chance to exercise problem-solving skills in a fun environment. Good value at $20 US. 

[For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Disney/Pixar Learning 2nd-3rd Grade at]

Disney Learning Adventure: Search for the Secret Keys is an all-new adventure that finds Mickey and the gang locked inside a haunted house. The ghost inhabitants are not only friendly, they actually host tutorials! This program is quite fun, and requires children to draw on some thinking skills. Quite fun, and rather educational for children ages 6-8. Our Rating: A.

See our screenshot gallery of the game, Disney Learning Adventure: Search for the Secret Keys.

[For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Disney Learning Adventure: Search for... at]

Dora Finally Comes to the PC!

The television show, Dora the Explorer, in some ways mimics a computer game. So, one would presume that the show would be a natural for the PC. Dora has finally arrived on software. This new program, Dora the Explorer Backpack Adventure, Dora and Boots need help returning their books to the library. 

[For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Dora the Explorer: Backpack Adventure at]

Get a Clue

Nancy Drew is back in an all-new adventure mystery for the PC. Nancy Drew: Secret of the Scarlet Hand finds Nancy on a museum internship, and in the middle of an investigation of thefts. The Nancy Drew series for the PC is excellent for children ages 12 and up. This challenging but compelling title has some nice new features and an educational slant. We have pictures from the game in our screenshot gallery.

[For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Nancy Drew: Secret of the Scarlet Hand at]

More Clues

An all-new Blue's Clues software title is now available. Blue's Clues Preschool stars the new host, Joe, and features five skill-building activities all found around the Blue's Clues neighborhood. We have a full review of the game, plus we've added a page of pictures from the software program so you can get a closer look. 

[For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Blue's Clues Preschool at]


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