Clifford the Big Red Dog has entered the software scene in an appropriately big way with his first two CD-ROMs. This is hardly a debut for the character, however, as Clifford has enjoyed enormous popularity for decades in the world of children’s storybooks, and if a new PBS series is any indication of his future success, Clifford is here to stay.
In this title that focuses on developing thinking skills, it’s Clifford’s birthday, and Emily Elizabeth is determined to celebrate it in a fittingly grand style. But there are a lot of things to do to prepare for this special event. She’ll have to decorate the cake, get Clifford groomed, create a special birthday collar for her dog pal, and pick up a special package from Grandma – all with your child’s help, of course! Along the way, different dilemmas come up, as life will have it. In fact, Clifford himself creates some of them with his awkwardly big size. Kids will help clean up the backyard where Clifford has buried a number of objects by playing a memory game that requires matching objects that "go together" (like dust pan and broom). They’ll need to find the pet groomer, only to discover that he is intimidated by Clifford’s enormity and that they’ll need to make alternate plans to get Clifford looking his party best. When Clifford knocks over a snack display at the market, they’ll need to help clean it up by organizing food on the shelves in a logical fashion, and glue the shattered pieces of the display picture back together.
There are a variety of activities awaiting discovery in this excellent program, including creative, arcade-style, and puzzle games. Our favorite requires children to listen to audio clues in order to guide cars to their preferred destinations (after Clifford causes a traffic jam, of course!). As well, there are objects to pick up on various screens that need to be stored and used later in the adventure in order to solve assorted problems. These objects are stored in Emily Elizabeth's backpack, and children need to decide which items can be used at different points in the game.
Kid testers adore Clifford Thinking Adventures. Its graphics, though not state-of-the-art, are bright and appealing, and the activities are great fun. Children need to think in a non-linear fashion at various points in the game, and the variety of activities ensures that most children will find something just right for them.
Minimum requirements are Windows 95/98/2000, a Pentium 90 processor, 16 Mb RAM, and 4X CD ROM. Mac users require a PowerPC 120 MHz or faster, System 7.5.3, 16 MB RAM, and 4X CD-ROM. It requires 35 MB of hard drive space.
visual discrimination, thinking skills, memory, matching, following directions, problem solving, logic, reasoning, color recognition, shape recognition, spatial reasoning, classifying and sorting, counting, fine motor skills, creativity
Through an assortment of activities and problems to solve, children must exercise a nice range of thinking skills with this CD-ROM. This adventure contains 3 levels of difficulty and is quite appropriate for children ages 4-5 (6 year olds may not find enough challenge in the program, though they will undoubtedly have some fun with it).
Clifford has a proven track record with kids as a lovable and earnest character, and his digital alter ego embodies all of that charm and appeal. The mix of activities in this CD-ROM is varied and appealing enough to be loads of fun for the target Kindergarten audience.
The interface is, for the most part, intuitive, though parents might want to show younger children the map option that acts as a shortcut to the various locales in the program (otherwise children might find they are going in circles).
The program can be played on 3 different skill levels, and some objects are randomized, adding replay value to the game.
This title is reasonably priced at a suggested retail price of $19.95 US.
Reviewed: November 2000