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Review CornerSoftware
Barney On Location All Around Town
Rating: Rating
The Bottom Line
Though this program offers some appealing activities, its design and atmosphere prevent it from earning our whole-hearted recommendation. It doesnít quite capture the magic of Barney and Friends, but it does contain simple, straightforward activities that will please young computer users approximately ages 3-4.
 
Ages: 3-up  SuB.J.ect: Early Learning  Brand: Hasbro Interactive
Review Sections: Product Overview  Entertainment Value  Technically Speaking  Design  Skills Covered  Replayability  Educational Value  Dollar Value
 
 
image Product Overview
Barney, B.J., and Baby Bop are exploring their town, and invite preschoolers to come along! After an upbeat and visually appealing introduction, children are taken to the main screen of the program that is a map of the town. There are 3 locations to explore — the Fire Station, Bakery, and Park — and a Print Shop contains some printable activity sheets for away-from-the-computer fun.

Each locationís activity screen contains clickable surprises and a "golden treasure" in hiding. As well, each locale is home to 4 early learning activities.

The programís activities provide quite a bit of variety. There are creative activities including a game of dress-up with Baby Bop, a free-play castle designer game in the sand box, and a decorate-a-treat game. Simple arcade action takes the form of a game of "toast catch" in the bakery and playing "ball" with B.J. in the park. Children sort baked goods according to size, type, and quantities, and again work with quantity in the programís "Mystery Recipes" activity. Simple puzzles include a fire drill with tools and an activity in which kids place different oB.J.ects (such as a nozzle, extinguisher, and hose) on the fire truck. Preschoolers work with colors by finding the hidden colorful keys in the firemanís office and discovering colorful butterflies hiding in the flower bushes at the park. Finally, kids play a memory game with adorable little creatures that are hiding under lily pads in the pond.

At 3 of the locales, a music box is available with 2 sing-along songs, Barney-style. These include on-screen lyrics and animated picture-words for added interest.

Though the graphics in the game are well done and quite striking, there is "an un-Barney" feel to this CD-ROM — it doesnít quite capture the magic and spirit of the franchise. Characters seem rooted to the ground much of the time, though they sway along to the music, and other movements are realistic.

We encountered a few problems in the program — once players leave an activity, the level is reset to the easiest level. The program doesnít "remember" where a player left off. As well, a replay arrow prompt is here, which we find can discourage the natural flow of childrenís play. In essence, the program frequently asks a child if they want to continue each activity, which often leads to players exiting activities prematurely.

Technically Speaking
Minimum requirements are Windows 95/98, a Pentium 166 processor, 32 Mb RAM, and 8X CD ROM. DirectX version 7.0a or higher is required (and included). This requires 60 MB of hard drive space.

Skills Covered
memory, colors, sorting, counting, numbers, visual discrimination, puzzles, hand-eye coordination, mouse skills, creativity

Educational Value
The programís moderately educational activities require children to do simple puzzles, count and work with quantities, sort objects, and identify colors. The educational content here is most appropriate for children ages 3-4. Older children simply wonít find enough to challenge them.

Entertainment Value
Young preschoolers will have some fun with this title. The visuals are quite attractive and rich and the activities, though not especially innovative, include some tried-and-true preschool fare.

Design
Though children will quickly find their way around this program, it is lacking some "smart" features. We would have liked a sign-in feature and the ability of the program to "remember" a childís progress in the various activities. As it stands, activities become progressively more challenging as kids succeed, but upon exiting most of these games, their progress is essentially lost. As well, when children complete an activity, instead of immediately offering a new puzzle or game, kids are prompted to either click on a replay arrow or exit the activity. This is distracting and, for some children, is an invitation to spend time activity-hopping instead of fully exploring each activity.

Replayability
There are a lot of activities offered in the program, but thereís not a whole lot of depth. However, many young preschoolers will return to the program often, as the activities are simple and inviting.

Dollar Value
This CD-ROM sells for a very reasonable $19.95 US, $24.95 Cdn.

Released: 2000
Reviewed: November 2000