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Review CornerSoftware
Buddy Brush and the Painted Circus
Rating: Rating
The Bottom Line
Buddy Brush is back in another original musical adventure that is pure play and creativity. With much of its focus on whimsical music and painting activities, it is a clear winner with preschoolers.
Ages: 2-6  Subject: Creativity/Art  Brand: Ideas That Play
Review Sections: Product Overview  Entertainment Value  Technically Speaking  Design  Skills Covered  Replayability  Educational Value  Dollar Value
image Product Overview
Buddy Brush, the animated paintbrush, is back. He's your child's guide in this wordless adventure that focuses on two very basic loves of preschoolers — painting and music.

This simple program allows children to explore a number of circus train cars containing basic creative activities. The CD-ROM comes in a colorful carrying case along with a 32-page activity book and a punch-out 3-ring circus building kit.

There are no written or spoken words in this program. Like its predecessor, this CD relies on bright colors, simple activities, and expressive original music to keep kids' interest high. The audio soundtracks are playful instrumentals designed to express the activities and colors of the moment. The CD can be played in an audio CD player as well — it features 30 minutes of circus music.

The opening animation is a circus train riding along the track. Buddy Brush fans will quickly spot their favorite animated paintbrush on the train. The main menu contains a number of train cars that act as gateways to the activities:

  • The Prop Wagon contains an uncolored screen of circus props. Each prop leads to one of 10 musical coloring pages and when kids return to the screen after completing a coloring page, that item is colored in.
  • The Clown Wagon includes more musical painting activities, as well as the opportunity to create a clown face on Buddy Brush and solve a basic "puzzle" involving matching Buddy's costume with the correct hat.
  • In the Juggling Tent, kids click and drag circus props to Buddy and then watch as he juggles the items.
  • Children again use clicking and dragging mouse skills to drag props for Buddy to balance in the Balancing Tent. The animation that ensues is sensitive to the weights of the different props selected.
  • In the Main Tent (opened up only after kids have visited both the juggling and balancing tents), kids create their own circus acts, then watch them perform.
Children can print many of their painted creations by clicking on the printer icon within activities.

This is a fresh and unique program that children — particularly those on the youngest side of the suggested age group — will instinctively enjoy. Three and four year old testers found the program absorbing. Its simple activities pleased them. Note that older kids in the suggested age group will be unchallenged.

The design of this title is an improvement on the first Buddy Brush program. The interface is now easier, with clear icons. While the first title in the series often required a child to click on a combination of objects in order to be transported to an activity, Buddy Brush and the Painted Circus contains a more traditional interface. Note that kids will need to click and drag objects with their mouse.

The idea behind this software title is quite original. The authors did a good job of combining expressive music and basic creative activities into a product that is not quite high-tech, but exciting for preschoolers nonetheless. Each color in the painting scenes represents a different melody and instrument. As such, every time a child paints a scene, a different musical composition is played! My 3 year-old still returns to play the first title, Buddy Brush and the Painted Playhouse, after more than a year of playing the game, and she has taken to this second edition well.

Technically Speaking
Minimum requirements are Windows 95/98, a Pentium 90 processor, 16 Mb RAM, and 8X CD ROM. Mac users require a Power PC or higher, with 16 Mb RAM, System 7.5 or later, and at least 8X CD ROM. This title requires 20 Mb of free hard disk space.

You can use the keyboard to race, but it takes some getting used to. We used a gamepad and found it much easier to control that way.

Skills Covered
creativity, discovery, exploration, creative thinking, color recognition, music appreciation, simple puzzles, mouse skills (click and drag)

Educational Value
This program is not meant to be overtly educational, except of course for the educational value inherent in creative play. Children are given lots of chances to explore and discover. Note that though this title is filled with music, there are no words to identify the colors and objects.

Entertainment Value
Bright screens, plenty of music, and creative activities will keep preschoolers busy for some time.

The interface is easy to understand, and this edition of Buddy Brush includes a handy screen that is essentially a map of all the available activities. Single clicks and some "clicking and dragging" mouse skills are required.

Replay value is expected to be high for preschool-aged children.

Dollar Value
Suggested retail price is $29.95 US/$34.95 Cdn.

Released: 2000
Reviewed: August 2000