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Review CornerSoftware
Barney Goes to the Circus
Rating: Rating
The Bottom Line
An entertaining software for Barney fans that can be played with or without the ActiMates Barney doll.
Ages: 2 & up  Subject: Early Learning  Brand: Microsoft
Review Sections: Product Overview  Entertainment Value  Technically Speaking  Design  Skills Covered  Replayability  Educational Value  Dollar Value
image Product Overview
This program is designed to be used with the ActiMates Barney doll and to be a stand-alone title as well. It fares very well without the doll and has about as much content as the average children's software title.

Set in a circus, there are 6 activities to explore along with Barney, B.J., and Baby Bop:

  • Baby Bop's Clown Coaster: Create silly clown faces and learn to connect certain facial expressions with different emotions.
  • B.J.'s Carousel: Make your own merry-go-round and learn up/down concepts.
  • Professor Tinkerputt's Snack Bar: Create your own pizzas with all sorts of wacky toppings, and learn about simple fractions.
  • Terry's Letter Train: Place letters (upper and lowercase) on the correct train cars, then color pictures of objects that start with particular letters of the alphabet.
  • Hootin' Annie's Big Top: Identify the circus animals, and create silly ones too!
  • Video Ferris Wheel: Watch video clips from the Barney TV show.

Each activity (except the video one, of course) has an Activity Mode with 3 levels of difficulty and an Explore Mode.

In Activity Mode, levels automatically advance as needed, and they can be manually adjusted as well.

In Explore Mode, kids are free to experiment and use their imagination.

Whenever children have completed a picture, they can click on the "Gift" icon to "send" their picture as a present to their parents. Parents of course need to check into the Parent's Room to retrieve them.

If you do have the ActiMates Barney, along with the PC Pack, you can set it up so that the doll will take the place of on-screen Barney and interact with your child. Cover Actimates Barney's eyes while playing the activities and the on-screen character will play peek-a-boo. Squeezing the doll's hand in regular activity mode will prompt Barney to give a little learning lecture, and in explore mode, Barney will participate by adding something to the creation. During an activity, pressing Barney's middle toe will prompt the doll to sing a song that has a similar theme as the activity at hand.

We originally bought this title for our daughter's 4th birthday, but her 18 month old sister took over. She got more out of it because the program is really basic and more appropriate for toddlers with basic mouse skills.

There is one thing that bothers me — and it is a personal one — that Barney says "You got that on the first try!" much too much. In my opinion, it makes kids feel pressure that they are expected to know the answers immediately and answer correctly on their first attempt, which shouldn't be the case. We don't want preschoolers to feel they are being tested by software.

Technically Speaking
Minimum reqs are Windows 95 and a 486/66, 8 Mb RAM (16 Mb recommended), and 2X CD ROM.

Skills Covered
simple fractions, upper and lowercase letter recognition, creativity, up/down concept, facial expressions and emotions, animals

Educational Value
Kids don't learn anything groundbreaking with this software, but the learning activities are well done.

Entertainment Value
Although the games are not outstanding, they are entertaining, and the characters are extremely appealing to toddlers and preschoolers.

Difficulty levels are easily adjustable and advance automatically, which is a nice feature. Everything is designed so that young children can easily navigate the program's activities. Having 2 different modes of play extends the game's content.

Any young Barney fan will choose to play this game often.

Dollar Value
I wish it were lower in price, but we consider this program to be quite valuable.

Released: 1997