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Review CornerSoftware
Disney's Mickey Mouse Kindergarten
Rating: Rating
The Bottom Line
This laid-back title covers basic Kindergarten curriculum with activities that range from simple to highly inventive. Cartoon sequences and rich graphics help maintain interest, and a spirit of playfulness prevails. Exploration and discovery are emphasized in the program's stress-free activities.
Ages: 4-6  Subject: Curriculum  Brand: Disney Interactive
Review Sections: Product Overview  Entertainment Value  Technically Speaking  Design  Skills Covered  Replayability  Educational Value  Dollar Value
image Product Overview
It's nighttime downtown on Main Street and Mickey Mouse, ace reporter, is determined to search out all the scoops he can! With a jazz-laced atmosphere and 7 activities to play, kids will be exploring all sorts of skills in a laid-back way with favorite friends.

At the town clock, Mickey discovers that his analog watch is not showing the right time! Kids learn to compare digital and analog time read-outs as they help Mickey get back on track. After all, any good reporter needs to be current. In the arcade, players blast alien invaders in order to defend the earth, all the while practicing math skills ranging from basic counting to addition equations.

In Mickey's quest for a story, he meets up with a police officer frustrated by a hat thief who is hiding in the alley. The officer gives players the auditory clues necessary to find the elusive weasel's hiding place. After three correct attempts, the culprit is arrested, but, wouldn't you know, keeps slipping away!

Goofy is sleepwalking and Mickey discovers him in some very precarious situations — in fact, he is up on the girders of an unfinished building. Players need to fill in gaps to help Goofy traverse the dangerous girders safely. On earlier levels, Kindergartners fill in the gaps with all sorts of interesting items labeled with letters to complete alphabet sequences. Later they need to add beginning letters to create short words, and eventually they complete sentences. Players will love filling the holes with things like pails of cement, paint cans, rollers, and lunchboxes and watch Goofy's antics associated with each.

The doors to Donald's Dance club beckon and inside, players discover jumbled dance steps that need to be rearranged. Number sequences are taught here, and as players advance, they will need to do some skip counting in order to get the dance steps right. Still, no matter how diligently kids work on the steps, Donald never seems to get the steps right, much to Daisy's exasperation.

Our favorite activity brings players into the hotel lobby where kids help the hotel manager live up to the new reputation bestowed upon him through a prestigious award. Keeping the guests happy is paramount, and even though they have some unusual requests, the goal here is to choose the correct bellhop for each job. One guest asks for a bellhop with green socks but no bow tie, and another has spilled tacks and kids need to find a bellhop carrying an appropriate tool under his domed tray. Kids need to muster up all of their deduction skills in order to please the guests and keep the bellhops hopping. Even making a mistake is enjoyable — kids hear funny feedback from the guests when they do!

On a more creative front, players create free-form designs in the Neon Sign Shop using various parts and stamps. For a more directed approach, children can opt for a pre-made template of a castle, airplane, or another fun and colorful design, and determine which parts will fill in the design best. On Main Street, children choose the style of jazz that will be heard throughout the street.

Don't forget to click on Mickey's laptop computer for an internet-style newspaper that resembles a website, complete with links and scrolling. Kids can browse through the pages of the newspaper, scroll down each "news story" to get the whole scoop, and print some excellent activity sheets for off-the-computer fun and learning.

Disney uses its Active Leveling Advantage in this program, and it is really quite impressive. Though levels cannot be adjusted manually, the program moves children automatically back and forward. While some programs don't always succeed at this task in a smooth manner, this title does an excellent job of determining levels that are appropriate for the skills of its players, avoiding frustrations, but at the same time, gently challenging a child.

The cartoon sequences are outstanding and help to maintain interest in the game. Disney's Mickey Mouse Kindergarten is laced with humor and playfulness, and scores high with children who enjoy free-play programs in pressure-free environments. You won't find anything frantic or rushed in this program — even the arcade-style game is rather relaxed.

Technically Speaking
Minimum requirements are Windows 95/98, a Pentium 133 processor, 32 Mb RAM, and 4X CD ROM. Mac users require an iMac G3 or better, with 32 Mb RAM, System 8.1-9.0, and at least 4X CD ROM. This title requires 30 Mb of free hard disk space. A color printer is optional.

Skills Covered
letter names, letter sounds, vocabulary, word building, reading readiness, sentence structure, spelling, basic math, counting in sets, categorizing & classifying objects, sequencing, size, measurement, opposites, following directions, visual creativity, decision making, problem solving, strategic thinking, matching, music appreciation, telling time, listening skills, memory, computer mouse skills

Educational Value
The automatically adjusting learning activities cover much of the basics in a quiet and playful manner. Many of the featured activities are very creative and original. Printable activity sheets provide extra learning away from the computer.

Entertainment Value
Fun cartoon sequences and familiar characters boost the entertainment value of this program. Humor is an important factor in this title's success at keeping children's interest.

While some parents prefer the option of adjusting difficulty levels manually, this title's automatic leveling succeeds wonderfully at keeping activities appropriately paced for kindergartners. Navigation is simple and based on exploration — children discover the free play activities naturally as they explore the main screen.

Replay value will depend on an individual player's reaction to quiet, goal-free activities. Children who demand a lot of action from their software programs will likely tire easily. However, kids who respond best to exploring a title at their own pace will return to this game often.

Dollar Value
This CD-ROM sells for $30 Cdn/$20 US.

Released: 2000
Reviewed: August 2000