They're cute little CD-ROMs that feature the most popular characters around Pokémon. Mattel has released Series One of a whole line of card-shaped mini-CD-ROMs each devoted to a Pokémon character at a mini-price of $7.99 US. Parents will enjoy the fact that these games have some educational value. No doubt Poké-maniacs will want to collect these unusually shaped products.
We looked at the PokéROM featuring #54 Psyduck, an odd-looking water type Pokémon whose attacks consist of the scratch, tail whip, disable, and confusion. After sign-in, kids must first "release" Psyduck before gaining access to the Pokémon sanctuary. They are required to solve a challenging math puzzle that is a game of Concentration with math facts. A third-grader might need to match up the tiles labeled "52+47" and "99", for example, and continue until all tiles have disappeared, revealing and "releasing" an image of Psyduck. This image is then available for printing (and coloring off the computer), and kids have the option to move onto the quiz contest, or view Pokémon in their "natural environment".
The quiz contest takes the form of a computerized gameboard and can be played with up to 3 friends. Each child can choose his/her skill level from the 5 levels available (grades 1-5). This way, kids of different ages can compete against each other fairly. A race to the finish line requires kids to answer multiple choice questions in order to advance. A few of the questions are entirely Pokémon trivia, but most are math, reading, geography, and other academic questions.
The Viewer is a little disappointing, particularly when you only own one PokéROM. (Of course, this only makes kids want to collect more characters!) Kids scan the environment, on the look-out for Pokémon characters. Players will only find their featured Pokémon in their Viewer in our case, Psyduck could be found in the water, as he is a "water type" Pokémon. When players have located him, they will see a short slideshow of Psyduck in different scenarios.
Series One includes Psyduck, Pikachu, Squirtle, Charmander, Bulbasaur, Meowth, Poliwhirl, Gengar, Eevee, and Mewtwo.
Minimum requirements are Windows 95/98, a Pentium 166 processor, 16 Mb RAM (32 recommended), and 4X CD ROM. Mac users require a Power PC 8500/I20 or better, with 32 Mb RAM, System 8.0, and at least 4X CD ROM. This title requires 10 Mb of free hard disk space. A color printer is optional.
Pros & Cons
Considering that Pokémon appeal to such a wide range of age groups, we found the ability to select individual challenge levels for different players a wonderful touch.
The problem with this program is as follows: as parents, we know that the program is priced considerably less than a regular full software title, and we can therefore expect less content. However, children will only be thinking I have a new Pokémon game! They will undoubtedly be disappointed with the limited activities presented by this mini CD-ROM. The questions for each level start to repeat themselves after a certain amount of gameplay 200 + questions in all, spread over 5 levels mean that roughly 40 questions are available per grade level.
Mattel is coming out with all-new full educational software titles starring the Pokémon franchise this coming Fall. We look forward to these titles, as the appeal of Pokémon is indisputable, and parents will be happy that their kids will be learning some concrete skills from these popular little creatures.
reading, math, grammar
With the appeal of Pokémon and the collectibles-craze, it is nice to see a product starring these characters with academic value hitting the market. However, there is not a whole lot to the game, and whether kids will actually return to the game in the long-term is rather questionable.
Children will want to own these mini-CD-ROMs there's no doubt about it! The graphics are nice and the Pokémon franchise is irrefutably a draw. However, shortage of content limits the program's appeal once the novelty wears off.
We love the idea that kids of differing age groups can play against each other fairly with the thoughtful feature that allows each player to select a grade-level.
Questionable long-term replay value. The novelty will wear thin after a few plays, and there is simply not enough content to keep kids coming back.
This CD-ROM sells for $8 US.
Reviewed: August 2000
Buy Psyduck PokeROM