Adiboo is the wide-eyed, big-eared host of this activity-packed program that focuses on introducing children ages 4-6 to early science concepts.
The first CD in the set is the same Adiboo's Playland found in other titles in the series. Here, children explore Adiboo's interactive world, traveling between his playhouse, garden, and kitchen. As they move from area to area, they quickly discover that activities are tied together in clever ways in this intriguing world! 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 second CD, the Land of Science, is home to the program's featured multi-level activities. Children can either hop into a car to move around this virtual land, or click directly on the various learning areas that include a farm, town, laboratory, space station, and museum. Each of the 5 learning modules boasts 6 activities! For example, in the town, children explore the human body, work with floor plans, discover how things like clay jugs and chocolate are made, rearrange jumbled up stories, and match tools with the workers who use them. At the farm, they feed suitable foods to various animals, explore the seasons of the year, and more. Other activities include discovering planets in the solar system, filling in the missing parts of a system of pulleys and ropes in order to free a monkey from a cage, and placing objects and characters into their correct historical period.
Driving the car around the Land of Science is fun and educational too. As children use the arrow keys on their keyboard to navigate the land, they swerve to avoid obstacles, pay attention to road signs and traffic lights, and learn safety rules of the road. A handy onboard computer reminds children they can visit the garage to get a tune-up, gas, or simply to customize their car. Children can choose to journey into the Land of Ghosts, which is perhaps a little scary and unnecessary. Otherwise, testers had a fantastic time with this 3D driving simulation.
As a parent, be prepared to invest some time helping your child to become familiar with the program's many, many options. With so many software titles on the market that come up a little short on content, it seems odd complaining that there is too much content! However, some younger children in the suggested age group can quickly become overwhelmed without a bit of guidance. Some of the icons are tricky and the constant prompts to choose a level can become annoying. Because the level system in this program can be distracting, we wish there was a system that combined automatic leveling and the chance to change a level if desired.
Pleasing options include plenty of printable activities that extend learning beyond the computer, progress tracking, and printable certificates for a job well done.
Minimum requirements are Windows 95/98, Pentium 133 or higher, 32 MB RAM, 12X CD-ROM. A 3D graphics accelerator card is recommended for optimum performance. Mac users require a Power PC 120 MHz or higher with 32 MB available RAM, System 7.6.1 or higher, and 12X CD-ROM. A printer is recommended.
Marine life, the solar system, history, climate, animals and their habitats, phases of a plant's life, the seasons, geography facts, map-reading, stages of production, basic mechanics, safety, rules of the road, the human body, classifying objects according to weight or function, recognizing spatial object relationships, creativity, discovery, memory.
Children become acquainted with diverse facts about the world around them and learn how things work. Early science, geography, and history concepts are introduced in pleasing activities that encourage exploration but at the same time require concrete answers. There's a nice mix of creative, open-ended activities and directed ones, not to mention a huge variety to choose from. Extension activities can be sent to the printer for enjoyment and learning long after the computer has been turned off.
The elf-like Adiboo is somewhat appealing and, at the very least, always polite and encouraging. However, the program's prompts are intrusive and distracting at times. Younger children will be content to play in Adiboo's Playland, while kids approximately 5-7 who show an interest in science should enjoy the learning exercises in the Land of Science.
Children can "click through" much of the program's chatter and extra animations. The icons provided will need to be understood, and it would be wise for adults to read the program's manual (found on the CD) and help their child understand the interface. Players need to confirm their answers by clicking on the "thumbs-up" icon, and are prompted to choose a level often enough to be a little distracting.
With more activities than you can keep track of, there's enough content in this 2-CD-ROM set to last a very long time, and its range and variety of activities should service children of differing skills and ages in a family.
While not every child will take to Adiboo with the same enthusiasm, the package's relatively low suggested retail price of $20 US makes it well worth a try.
Reviewed: March 2001