This third Clifford the Big Red Dog software title boasts colorful, fun graphics and more interaction between the characters and little users. The story is as follows: Clifford and his canine friends, Cleo and T-Bone, are trying to win a contest for Prize Pooch magazine. A lot needs to be done in order to impress the editor of the magazine kids engage in 10 learning activities in order to help win her favor. As each activity is completed, a photo is snapped and added to a scrapbook. Once the scrapbook is filled, kids are treated to a fun video sequence in which their favorite red dog gets the attention he deserves.
As they start out, players get a sky-high view of the bone-shaped Birdswell Island and can choose any area of the island to explore. Learning activities include leading T-Bone through a maze in the woods on a hunt for keys, sorting garbage in Dumpster Alley, building playground items in Cleo's backyard, and collecting and counting fruit in the schoolyard. All of the activities nobly involve helping out the community in some way.
The learning exercises are manageable and nine of the 10 activities are multi-level. In one activity, kids must match rhyming objects in the clouds. In another, they extend patterns consisting of colorful shapes. Another game involves collecting items around town that would work well as musical instruments, choosing a style of music (reggae, hip-hop, disco, or country), and making a song.
The challenge of each activity varies depending on which of the three levels a child selects. In the garbage-sorting activity, for example, the easy level requires players to sort bottles, cartons, and cans, but on the highest level, these items bear labels with different shapes and colors, adding more challenges to the sorting exercise.
While this Clifford title offers more interaction and the best graphics of the three Clifford offerings, our choice for the best of the bunch remains Clifford Thinking Adventures. Still, this program will satisfy little learners' appetites for both learning and fun with their favorite big red dog.
Minimum system requirements are Windows 95/98/ME/2000/XP, Pentium 166 MHz, 32 MB RAM, 8X CD-ROM. Mac users require a PowerPC 200 MHz+, System 7.6.1 or later, OS X; 32 MB RAM, and 8X CD-ROM. Requires 50 MB of hard drive space, and a printer is optional.
Kids work with sound patterns, pattern recognition, counting, critical thinking, fine motor skills, logic, reasoning, word recognition, sentence structure, addition, subtraction, colors, shapes, spatial reasoning, memory, sorting, and creativity.
Early learning opportunities include work with shapes, colors, sorting, and pre-reading skills. If the program included an activity that helped kids identify letters of the alphabet (and we wish it did), it could easily be considered an all-purpose Kindergarten title.
With graphics that make kids feel like they are part of the show, and just enough chatter from Clifford and friends (featuring voices from the TV show) to keep kids entertained, this title is a whole lot of fun.
There are three difficulty levels to choose from, with each offering appropriate challenges for kids in the target age group of four to six. This title is well designed, though our testers had a hard time uncovering all the activities, and the program didn't help them on this note. (One activity area holds two games clicking on the beach ball in the Dunes leads to a game that our testers had a hard time finding).
Each activity needs to be completed up to a certain level before kids earn a photo for the scrapbook. This required level is not very high or time consuming, so it shouldn't take kids too much time to complete the basics of the adventure. However, kids are free to do the activities as long as they want, and they can always start anew on any of the three difficulty levels.
This CD-ROM carries a suggested retail price of only $20 US.
Reviewed: November 2001