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Review CornerToys & Games
Playzone! Games for Boys
Rating: Rating
The Bottom Line
This set of CD-ROMs offers children a variety of appealing activities that are often rather mindless, but satisfying and at times educational. Enjoyable programs for both boys and girls.
Ages: 4-7   Subject: Adventure   Brand: Vivendi Universal
Review Sections: Product Overview  Technically Speaking  Skills Covered  Educational Value  Entertainment Value  Design  Replayability  Dollar Value
 
 
image Product Overview
This set of previously released CD-ROMs features mostly just-for-fun games that will keep children busy. Although the target audience is boys ages 4-8, our girl testers were just as pleased with the bundle as the boys.

The fun starts with Fisher Price Power Wheels: Off-Road Adventure in which children get the chance to race Power Wheels cars through fun fantasy environments, such as a junkyard or a winter course. Plenty of ramps and obstacles are found in the different environments, and kids earn points towards a driver's license. Children older than 8 or 9 are likely to want more realistic controls, but for younger children, this game is fun and very forgiving.

Fisher Price Big Action Construction is all about building things...and tearing them down! Children use heavy-duty trucks, wrecking balls, and all sorts of construction gear in this pleasing and fascinating CD-ROM. They even build sandwiches at the lunch wagon. Some activities allow kids to build on their own or to follow a blueprint. This is a lively, if repetitive, program that is best for younger children in the suggested age range.

Dinosaur Adventure 3D is an adventure game that offers a variety of activities and a fair dose of information about dinosaurs. Life on Paleo Island used to be rather peaceful until a hungry and cranky T-Rex came along. Dino eggs are lost all over the island and it is the player's job to find the eggs and return them to the volcano so that they will hatch. Animated hosts accompany children in the adventure as kids explore the island. They put fossil skeletons back together, save a baby dinosaur, and more. A help button is always handy for when children need hints, and little informational sequences offer children some interesting facts about dinosaurs as they play.

Depending on the version, a fourth title may or may not be included in the set. Adiboo Magical Playground is only included in the larger box version, and involves children in Adiboo's interactive world. Kids explore Adiboo's playhouse, garden, and kitchen, finding activities that are tied together in clever ways. Vegetables in the garden need to be planted, watered, and harvested so that they can be used in the kitchen for concocting recipes, for example. Birds inhabit this world, but in order to encourage them to stay and make families, children will need to set up a birdhouse and keep it well stocked with the wheat they've grown in their gardens. Similarly, the bees will need plenty of flowers in the garden in order to collect nectar and produce honey, an important ingredient in the program's more luscious recipes. A robot gardener and chef, plus a touch of magic, make life a little easier for everyone. Inside Adiboo's playhouse, there are games to play, including a variation of the classic arcade game Pong with 20 levels and interesting power-ups and surprises. A paintbox is available with 3 levels of challenge, catering to children with different computer mouse skills. Completed artwork magically appears in Adiboo's mailbox when kids opt to "send" their creations to him. Children can assemble jigsaw puzzles, create storybooks, and listen to music. There are plenty of things to do in this land, and Adiboo is always available to give children a heads-up, reminding and encouraging them to tend to different elements in their personalized playground. Even the radio in his living room keeps kids abreast of all sorts of goings-on in Playland.

The activities are varied in this package. While none of the games stand out as spectacular, as a whole, this bundle is rather valuable and entertaining.

Technically Speaking
Minimum system requirements are Windows 95/98/XP, Pentium 233 MHz, 64 MB RAM, and 16X CD-ROM.

Skills Covered
Memory, motor skills, prediction, dinosaurs, science, exploration.

Educational Value
Although designed mostly for fun, children will learn assorted facts about dinosaurs and science as they play. Learning through exploration and discovery is featured.

Entertainment Value
Each program in the set offers some unique entertainment value—children get to race vehicles, save dinosaur babies, solve problems, construct buildings, and more.

Design
The games contain features that support independent play, such as help buttons that launch game hints, helpful instructions, and straightforward interfaces.

Replayability
Although some of the individual games become repetitive with multiple plays, the package as a whole offers variety.

Dollar Value
This CD-ROM carries a suggested retail price of $19.99 US.

Released: 2003
Reviewed: July 2003