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~~October 2003~~

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

Educational Hamtaro CD-ROM!

coverHamtaro, the hit television series starring a group of adorable hamsters, is designed for children approximately 3 to 9, so it is refreshing to see a Hamtaro game that is age-appropriate. Not only that, it's educational. Hamtaro: Wake Up Snoozer! is a new CD-ROM from The Learning Company, one of our favorite producers of children's edutainment software. 

The game's target age group is 4-7, and as kids search for the sweet baby Ham-Ham, Penelope, they develop skills in math, logic, and phonics. The program has multiple levels of difficulty and automatic leveling so that children stay at a gently challenging level as they play. We have a screenshot gallery of this unique computer game, and we will have a full review soon! 

[For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Hamtaro: Wake Up Snoozer! at In Canada, buy Hamtaro: Wake Up Snoozer! at]


Barbie of Swan Lake

coverIt's up to kids to help Barbie, playing as Odette, restore beauty to the Enchanted Forest in time for the Moonlight Picnic in a new CD-ROM based on the direct-to-video Barbie fairy tale release, Barbie of Swan Lake

Barbie of Swan Lake CD-ROM: The Enchanted Forest is a graphically rich creative adventure that involves finding hidden items in six different locations, painting murals, playing games, solving puzzles, and more. Those familiar with last year's Barbie as Rapunzel CD-ROM will find this newest creative adventure follows a similar format, but with all-new settings and games. Cute! (See our full review of the game here; see also our screenshot gallery of the game).

[For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Barbie of Swan Lake at In Canada, buy Barbie Of Swan Lake at]


Imaginext: Battle Castle

coverThe second title in the Imaginext software title series, Imaginext: Battle Castle, has been released and is proving to be quite a bit of fun for our kid testers. We'll have a full review soon. There are a tremendous number of levels in this adventure that allows children to play-act in a medieval setting using their imagination, problem-solving skills, and creativity. 

[For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Fisher-Price Imaginext Pirate Raider and Fisher Price Imaginext: Battle Castle at]


~~August/September 2003~~


Zoo Complete

coverMicrosoft Zoo Tycoon is an outstanding simulation software for kids. Children can build their very own zoo, but they use their brains as they do. They are managers as well, and they learn quite a bit about animals as they play. Although not explicitly educational, this program is excellent for developing thinking skills. 

Expansion packs for the game have been released since Zoo Tycoon was first released. Now all of these are included on the recently-released Microsoft Zoo Tycoon Complete. This new title contains the original Zoo Tycoon, Dinosaur Digs Expansion Pack, and Marine Mania Expansion Pack, as well as some all-new content, including the new Endangered Species Theme Pack. This is a fabulous game that kids love!

[For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Zoo Tycoon Complete Collection at]



Young fans of the Fisher Price Imaginext line of toys will enjoy the new software games based on the toy. Although kids won't do any building with these CD-ROMs, they certainly can have fun imagining. We have a full review of Imaginext: Pirate Raiders here

The other title, Imaginext: Battle Castle, will be released at the end of the month. 

[For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Fisher-Price Imaginext Pirate Raider and Fisher Price Imaginext: Battle Castle at]


Going Back to School with Blue and Dora

coverTwo new Nick Jr. favorites have been released: Blue's Clues and Dora the Explorer--sure to please preschoolers. 

In Blue Takes You to School, kids explore Miss Marigold's classroom and learn that school is fun. See our review (we've rated the game B+) and screenshots from the game. 

The latest Dora adventure, coverDora the Explorer Animal Adventures, takes children on an adventure that has them problem-solving as they find and care for animals. At the same time, they are exposed to some Spanish and early learning skills like counting and sorting. See our review (we've rated the game a B) and screenshot gallery.

[For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Blues Clues: Blue Takes You To School and Dora the Explorer: Animal Adventures at]


coverGet ready for the back-to-school software boom. Lots of new releases will be popping up in the next weeks, including CD-ROMs like Clifford Phonics (see our review of the game here), I Spy Fantasy, an all-new Pajama Sam adventure called Pajama Sam: Life Is Rough When You Lose Your Stuff, Barbie Beauty Boutique (see our review of the game here), Scooby-Doo Case File #2: The Scary Stone Dragon, Fisher-Price Imaginext Pirate Raider (see our review of the game here), Barbie of Swan Lake (see our review of the game here), and even a Hamtaro game by the Learning Company (it's going to be educational, too!), called Hamtaro: Wake Up Snoozer!, and set to be released in mid-October. 



~~July 2003~~

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

The Ultimate Reference Resource

coverThe latest version of the exceptional Encarta Reference Library series has just been released: Encarta Reference Library 2004 includes the Encarta Encyclopedia Deluxe, Homework and Research Tools, Dictionary and Thesaurus, Encarta World Atlas, Encarta Africana, translation dictionaries, and more. New to the 2004 edition is video content from the Discovery Channel and a "Visual Browser" feature. This series is vibrant and alive with up-to-date content and fabulous features that attract kids and parents and hold their interest. Kids won't only be turning to this resource for their homework needs -- they'll enjoy browsing the reference library just for the fun of it! A DVD edition is also available at the same price.

[For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Encarta Reference Library 2004 (CD-ROM set) or Encarta Reference Library 2004 DVD at]

Saving the Day!

cover Hard to pass up the opportunity to save the day! Kids join the Rescue Heroes team in a rather exhilarating CD-ROM, Rescue Heroes Mission Select, that will keep children about 4-8 on their toes. Disasters caused by volcanoes, floods, and lightning have created havoc in the Disaster Zone, and kids need to get busy saving people and pets, putting out blazing fires, building bridges over lava, and all sorts of other important missions. This is a very "doable" game for younger kids and keeps children pleasantly busy. Players feel important as they "man" all sorts of exciting rescue vehicles and they learn the importance of safety as they save the day. This title is really fun, but even though there are two difficulty levels with different tasks in each, the missions play the same after kids have completed them on both levels. It's great fun while it lasts, though.  See some screenshots and notes from the game here.

[For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Fisher-Price Rescue Heroes: Mission... at]

Detective Work

coverNancy Drew CD-ROM mysteries are hard to beat. A new adventure in the series is on the horizon, Nancy Drew The Haunted Carousel, this July. The setting this time around is an amusement park. Nancy Drew adventures feature rich story lines, plenty of challenges, and hours of exciting game play. New to this latest title in the series is a cell phone -- players no longer have to return to Nancy's hotel room for phone tips and hints. This is a game that exercises kids' thinking skills as they take part in an exciting mystery adventure. Players meet and interview suspects (they get to choose from different possible questions to ask), explore 3D environments, and attempt to solve the case. Children ages 11-up will need to solve puzzles and crack codes in order to complete the game.

[For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Nancy Drew: The Haunted Carousel at]


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April-June 2003

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October 2002

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