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Article:    Popular TV Characters in Kids' Software

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Whether your children are ecstatic about Elmo, bewitched with Blue, zealous for Zoboomafoo, or ardent for Arthur, there are software titles that will allow them to play with their favorite character on their computer.


For the most part, the first computer game starring Hamtaro, released near the end of 2003, is age-appropriate for the popular television series' target audience. Hamtaro: Wake Up, Snoozer has some educational value to boot. However, it is a little confusing overall. Parents will need to read the game's manual and help some kids out if they wonder what their goal is. The graphics are gorgeous and won't disappoint. Little fans of the show will notice the voiceovers for the little hamsters don't match those of the show. We have screenshots and notes from the game, which we rated a B, here.

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



Playhouse Disney's Stanley is a charming cartoon character with a powerful imagination and a predilection for animals of all shapes and sizes. Now kids can share his enthusiasm for the animal world in two adventure-style software games by Disney Interactive. Playhouse Disney Stanley Tiger Tales is a very cute extension of the show! And, the latest title, Playhouse Disney's Stanley: Wild for Sharks!, is just fantastic. See our review of this fun game.

See Disney's Stanley Wild for Sharks screenshots.

Best value: Note that Stanley Tiger Tales is now available in an economical bundle along with two other full CD-ROMs: Disney Learning Preschool

[For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Playhouse Disney's Stanley: Wild for Sharks! at]


There are currently three titles starring the precocious preschooler, Caillou, and they are really quite fun. Caillou Birthday Party and Caillou Magic Playhouse share the same format: scenes from both the animated and live-action video portions of the show are featured, and kids play a number of fun early learning activities based on the themes from the episode.  The latest title, Caillou: Four Seasons of Fun, is an exciting celebration of the seasons--little Caillou fans will just love it!

[See our review. For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Caillou Four Seasons of Fun, Caillou - Magic Playhouse, or Caillou - Birthday Party at]


Powerpuff Girls

If you think a game based on the Powerpuff Girls might be low on educational value, guess again. There are currently two PowerPuff Girls CD-ROMs that are both fun and educational: Powerpuff Girls Learning Challenge#1: Mojo Jojo's Clone Zone and Powerpuff Girls Learning Challenge#2: Princess Snorebucks. Kids practice reading, math, and mapping skills. Both titles are excellent for children ages 6-10. Older games starring the PowerPuff girls don't have the same educational punch as these titles, so the learning challenges are definitely the ones to buy for your kids if you're looking for quality time spent at the computer.

[See our review. For more information, user reviews, or to buy: The Powerpuff Girls: Mojo Jojo's Clone... at]


SpongeBob SquarePants

We just love SpongeBob SquarePants: Employee of the Month. Young fans of the cartoon will too! This CD-ROM takes kids on a truly fun, problem-solving adventure. Filled with "comic mischief", this title is humorous and very "doable" for kids approximately ages 5 and up. We rated this title an A-. You can see why in our full review.

[See our review. For more information, user reviews, or to buy: SpongeBob SquarePants: Employee of the... at]



There are currently two Zoboomafoo software titles available: 

  • Zoboomafoo Animal Kids
  • Zoboomafoo Animal Alphabet

Both are fun, and both include live-action video from the TV series. Zoboomafoo Animal Alphabet, however, is a little more fun and educational. The program has an interesting mix of animal facts, games, and spelling activities.

[Buy Zoboomafoo Alphabet at Amazon for approximately $20 US each]


Rolie Polie Olie

The first software title starring Rolie Polie Olie has been released by Disney Interactive. In this adventure-style program entitled Playhouse Disney Rolie Polie Olie Search for Spot, kids need to find Olie's dog, Spot, so that Pappy can give the dog a bath. Kids explore the unusual house and play games along the way. Players really feel like they are an integral part of the game. They are invited into the house, and through each room to explore and uncover games. The graphics and music are wonderful, and some of the games are quite fun, but there are not enough of them. Also, the title is confusing for the show's target audience.

[For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Playhouse Disney's Rolie Polie Olie: The...]

Dora the Explorer

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. There are currently three CD-ROMs based on the Dora the Explorer television show available. The first is Dora the Explorer: Backpack Adventure, in which Dora and Boots help return books to the library, and the second Dora software title is entitled Dora the Explorer: Lost City Adventure. Of the two, we prefer the latter: this time around, children join Dora and Boots on an adventure toward "Lost City", a hidden city where all lost things are found! Cute math games are involved. We enjoyed both software games, but we found them a little short. See our review of Lost City Adventure. 

The latest Dora game is Dora the Explorer: Animal Adventures. Although graphically interesting, we are unable to heartily recommend the title because the overall mission is confusing to young children. Read our full review of the game to find out why.

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



There have been two newer software releases based on the well-loved segment of Sesame Street, Elmo's World. Unfortunately, neither does the cute little monster justice. (See our review of Elmo's World: Shoes, Bugs, & Farms for our reasons). 

If we turn to digging out older titles to recommend ones starring this lovable and furry red monster: Elmo's Preschool Deluxe is on the slow-moving side, but it is really quite cute. Kids play with patterns, letters, and more in this older title that can still sometimes be found in stores' software bargain bins. Elmo's Reading Preschool & Kindergarten is simply fantastic, but is equally hard to find.  

Update: There are three new releases featuring Sesame Street characters, and they do the license justice. Sesame Street Toddler features excellent educational activities, fun graphics, and...plenty of Elmo! Elmo's character is represented perfectly. He laughs, jokes, asks questions, compliments, and more in this cute, cute title sure to please Elmo fans. Elmo plays host to games with identifying letters, making music, finding colors, and more. Very sweet! 

See Sesame Street Toddler Screenshot Gallery for plenty of pictures of the game.

[See our review. For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Sesame Street Toddler at]

For babies, there's Sesame Street Baby, a re-release of Sesame Street Baby & Me. This title is a lapware program that requires parents to be on hand to navigate through twelve different activities. Elmo is here in all his furry red glory. Kids can "unwrap" Elmo's presents, copy his actions, and more.

[For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Sesame Street Baby at]

Preschoolers will be delighted with Sesame Street Preschool. They hone their alphabet and counting skills alongside Elmo, Bert, Ernie, and Zoe. We've given this title a grade of B+. It's original, although sometimes slow-moving. The best thing about the game is its level of interaction. The muppet characters speak to players, and all the humor you'd expect from a product featuring Sesame Street characters is here!

See Sesame Street Preschool Screenshot Gallery for plenty of pictures of the game.

[For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Sesame Street Preschool at]


Blue's Clues

Our favorite Blue's Clues titles now come in affordable bundles: 

  • Blue's Clues Learning Time features two full programs that focus on teaching the alphabet, early reading, early math, and numbers. 
  • Blue's Clues Play Time also contains 2 full programs--Blue's Art Time Activities and a scavenger hunt-style adventure game, Blue's Treasure Hunt.  

If you are unable to find the titles above at your local software store, however, (they've been discontinued), you might have better luck with Blue's Clues Preschool and Blue's Clues Kindergarten released in 2002, starring the latest host of the game, Joe, and the lovable cast of familiar characters as well. See our reviews of:

Blue's Clues Preschool

Blue's Clues Kindergarten

[Buy Blue's Clues Preschool and Blue's Clues Kindergarten at]



Arthur and friends have appeared in numerous software titles over the years. For the best educational titles, you might choose one of the curriculum-based titles that have recently been re-released with minor improvements. They are all well-designed, straightforward, and decent: Arthur's Preschool, Arthur's Kindergarten, Arthur's First Grade, and Arthur's Second Grade. For fun, we like Arthur's Camping Adventure that involves using problem-solving skills.

[Buy Arthur games at]

The latest titles, released near the end of 2003, include Arthur's Pet Chase, an arcade-style adventure, and the more educational Arthur's Sand Castle Contest which focuses on problem-solving and critical thinking skills.


Bob the Builder

Bob the Builder: Can We Fix It? contains a lot of activities that will please some children. However, it is unlikely to have much long-term appeal. Players learn to sort and match, and improve their eye-hand coordination and mouse/keyboard skills in activities that are fun for awhile, but somewhat uninspired. 

A little better is the latest title, Bob the Builder: Bob Builds a Park. This one has great graphics and some exciting activities, but we couldn't help but be a little disappointed with the game overall. We rated this title a B+. See our review for details.

[Buy Bob the Builder: Can We Fix It? or Bob the Builder: Bob Builds a Park at]













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November 2003

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