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Review CornerSoftware
Disney's Mickey Mouse Preschool
Rating: Rating
The Bottom Line
Though the graphics are striking and the activities have some real value, this game has a very low-key atmosphere that is best-suited to children who enjoy exploring in a pressure-free environment. Mickey Mouse Preschool features clever content, a fun cartoon atmosphere, and original games that help reinforce early learning concepts.
Ages: 2-4  Subject: Early Learning  Brand: Disney Interactive
Review Sections: Product Overview  Entertainment Value  Technically Speaking  Design  Skills Covered  Replayability  Educational Value  Dollar Value
image Product Overview
Mickey and Minnie are having a relaxing ride in the country when they discover they are running out of gas. They stop at a retro-style gas station/diner, and end up spending a lazy afternoon there. Nobody is feeling pressure to do anything much and in the meantime, kids get the opportunity to explore the garage, out back, the diner, and more.

If players follow Minnie Mouse into the diner, Daisy Duck will serve them up some educational activities on their placemats. These include finding hidden letters of the alphabet, identifying matching objects, determining objects that don't belong, and more. Four printable workbooks are available, but be sure to turn this function off if you don't want your kids to inadvertently start printing (it would have been better to have this print button in a less prominent place in the activity).

In the garage, kids can design and paint cars with vivid colors and cool spray paint patterns. Entering the other door of the garage brings kids to an environment where everything is musical including the wrenches and the fan! Clicking on the radio will prompt the mechanic to change the channel to another catchy tune, and kids can "play" along, adding all kinds of interesting sounds from the garage items, and creating rather original mechanical symphonies.

Clicking on an old car (that is up on blocks — a thoughtful and safe touch!) puts kids in the front seat of the vehicle, experimenting with the windshield wipers, the horn, and various knobs and sliders that help teach them concepts like on/off and other opposites. Kids can click and watch the seemingly endless numbers advance on the odometer, adjust the rearview mirror and learn about near and far, adjust the radio's volume, and more. Various Disney characters walk by and preschoolers get a real kick out of sounding the horn and startling them. Don't forget to honk Donald and watch as his laundry goes flying!

Donald's nephews take kids out back and into a mischievous but educational game in which they must spray the hose at cans and hanging laundry labeled with numbers, shapes, and more, according to instructions.

Goofy needs help pumping gas, and his customers let him know not only how much gas they want (from the numbers 1-20), but what color! Primary colors blue, red, and yellow are available, and when the customer wants green, orange, or purple, kids need to mix the colors to arrive at the correct shade.

Strengths & Weaknesses

What a relaxing day! The activities are, for the most part, just as pressure-free. Be aware that this lazy, free-play atmosphere will be perfect for many kids, but some kids who are used to high-energy games could end up yawning.

The placemat activities are some of the most academically-inclined of the bunch, yet the most disappointing. Though Daisy does rephrase her questions when a child makes a mistake, repeated mistakes don't prompt the program to eventually identify the answer. But the most serious flaw is that there just simply is not enough variation in the activities presented! Kids will end up repeating the same lessons over and over again, regardless of their performance.

The graphics are truly stunning and inviting. The activities range in difficulty from one to the next, though there are no distinct adjustable levels of difficulty. The program uses an "Active Learning" technology that automatically adjusts challenge levels according to a child's performance. The musical activity, while fun, ran out of steam relatively fast for kid testers. However, children who really enjoy exploring took to the game well.

Encourage your child to click around the main screen because all that the program has to offer is not immediately apparent.

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 recognition, number recognition, early reading skills, phonics, counting to 100, math readiness, matching, opposites, music appreciation, early music concepts, listening skills, cause and effect, observation, strategic thinking, computer mouse skills

Educational Value
Quite a few early learning concepts are addressed in this program, including numbers that go beyond 10. Exploration is the theme of the game.

Entertainment Value
Some easy-going entertainment is in store for kids, as well as sharp graphics and a cleverly interactive cartoon environment. Transitions between and during activities flow smoothly as if kids are part of a television cartoon.

Remember to press the Escape key to skip through animations, if so desired. Make use of the Ctrl-P function to control your child's ability to print the workbooks, or you might find your printer working overtime without your child even meaning to. Besides these minor gripes, this program is easy to use and cleverly conceived.

There is some annoying repetition in the diner "placemat" activities. Otherwise, a fair amount of content will keep kids busy.

Dollar Value
This CD-ROM sells for a suitable retail price of $30 Cdn/$20 US.

Released: 2000
Reviewed: July 2000