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Review CornerSoftware
Dora the Explorer: Lost City Adventure
Rating: four and a half stars
The Bottom Line
This program takes kids on a math-readiness adventure, Dora the Explorer style. Its weakness is too few activities, while its strengths include fun activities and a gentle introduction to Spanish.
Ages: 4-5  Subject: Math/Foreign Language  Publisher: Infogrames
Review Sections:  Product Overview  Technically Speaking  Skills Covered  Educational Value  Entertainment Value  Design  Replayability  Dollar Value
image Product Overview

This second software title based on the Dora the Explorer television show is similar in format to the first (Backpack Adventure), but it is a little stronger in educational value. In Lost City Adventure, not only is Dora's beloved teddy bear missing, there are plenty of lost treasures waiting to be found in the Lost City. The bilingual Dora and her companion Boots need only make their way to this magical city, but they require some help from Map—and your preschooler.

Preschoolers sign in, personalize a treasure chest, and select a mode of play (adventure or free play) and a difficulty level for the game. No need to worry about the level chosen at sign-in—kids can adjust levels to their satisfaction at any point during the activities.

The first time through, it is certainly more satisfying to play the game in adventure mode. This way, children are involved in a story and they are led through the activities in a progressive fashion. Players begin at Boots' treehouse where they are introduced to the characters, dilemma, and mission of the game. First off, they complete a color-by-numbers activity in order to create a picture of Dora's lost teddy bear, Osito. Along the Forest Path, children locate and collect stars. This basic activity introduces children to counting, and on higher levels, to Spanish number vocabulary. Later, children need to sort "Pirate Piggies" into boats according to color and number values. Players then help Mama Bugga Bugga retrieve her babies, each of whom is labeled with a number, and return them to the correct places in her buggy. More work with number matching and sequencing is required in the Number Pyramid activity. Finally, arriving at the Lost City requires playing a matching and memory game in an attempt to collect all of the lost items.

Children can turn to The Map for a nice overview of the steps needed to complete the adventure. In free play mode, kids use the map to travel directly to any of the program's activities. Children can complete many different color-by-number pictures in this mode (not just the one of Dora's bear) and stay in any of the game's activities as long as they like.

Little surprises, such as hotspots and more stars to collect, are found throughout the adventure. The Fiesta Trio congratulates children when they successfully complete an activity, and kids earn printable worksheets as rewards.

Technically Speaking
Minimum system requirements are Windows 98/Me/XP, Pentium II 233 MHz, 32 MB RAM (64 MB RAM for Win XP), 8X CD-ROM, and 85 MB free hard disk space. Mac users require a G3 processor, 233 MHz or faster, OS 8.6 or higher, 32 MB RAM, 24X CD-ROM, and 85 MB hard drive space.

Skills Covered
number recognition, counting, number values, color recognition, problem solving, number sequencing, pattern completion, basic addition, following directions, listening skills, memory, matching, and basic Spanish words and phrases.

Educational Value
The program's educational activities focus mainly on math-readiness skills. They are age-appropriate and rather effective. The inclusion of Spanish words is wonderfully informal and natural — you won't find overt instruction in Spanish.

Entertainment Value
Fans of the show will enjoy the familiar songs and chants, such as "We Did It" and "Come on, Vamonos". The program is encouraging and positive and effectively involves children in a problem-solving adventure that runs true to the PBS hit series.

Thoughtful design features include the ability to adjust difficulty levels within the activities and to bypass instructions after they have been played through the first time. Children can play the game either in story-adventure mode or free-play mode, and many will attempt both. Independent play is made easy with the program's clear and logical navigation.

Although we wish there were more activities altogether, the ones included are rather fun and should enjoy some replay.

Dollar Value
This CD-ROM retails for approximately $20 US.

Released: 2002 
Reviewed: December 2002