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Review CornerSoftware
Rainbow Hoppers
Rating: four stars
The Bottom Line
This program's focus on social skills, in addition to some academic skills, is unique and refreshing. Lessons learned are plentiful, including awareness of all-important virtues and concern for others and one's environment. The messages conveyed are delightfully positive. Children ages 5-7 may find the program too difficult, but 8-9 year olds will likely find the challenging activities stimulating.
 
Ages: 5-9   Subject: Social Skills  Brand: Social Express
Review Sections: Product Overview  Entertainment Value  Technically Speaking  Design  Skills Covered  Replayability  Educational Value  Dollar Value
 
 
Rainbow Hoppers Product Overview
Rainbow Hoppers is a magical 3-D adventure designed for kids from kindergarten to third grade. Its focus is on social skills and the adventure is intended to build confidence and make kids aware of such important virtues as respect for others, responsibility, concern for others' feelings, awareness and care for the environment, politeness, and more.

Players are invited to help restore the disappearing colors of the rainbow in Elfland. This mission is a challenging one and involves completing 6 paths of play (28 activities in all). Each of the 6 paths is associated with one of the 5 senses as well as a color of the rainbow:

  • In Elf School, kids play 6 activities, including puzzles involving instruments and music, a sing-along, a fill-in-the-blank word game, identifying missing words, and a conflict resolution game show.
  • In Elf Park, players undergo some "tests" (such as throwing cans at flowers), as well as activities like repairing the weather machine, search for missing items, matching, and more.
  • Elf Homes involves traveling a path discovering the homes of Zaney and the Princess, learning about touch and observation, and science. Along with some tests, kids build a bridge, play a game of water balloon toss, sort items in a toy chest, listen to some sing-alongs, set the dinner table, and more.
  • Elf Village consists of a toy shop, bakery, and comic book press. Players follow street signs, fill orders, create a comic book, and more.
  • Elf Farm contains activities such as following directions to help with work on the farm, feeding animals, searching for a hidden path, and more.
  • The Secret Path is the last level, and is filled with riddles and rhymes, and number/math activities.
Players are free to choose any of the paths, but each needs to be completed in a particular sequence. Players must collect various objects as they travel through the various lands and locations in the game, and they store them in their Inventory Bag. Help is a click away — the "Friends" button activates two helpful elves who offer clues and interesting chat.

At various points during the adventure, kids meet up with a difficult character named RudeLee, who attempts to steer the player towards bad behavior. When kids choose to give in to RudeLee's temptations, they must take some responsibility, such as cleaning up or correcting mistakes made.

This title features 3-D graphics and 360 degree views. The scenes are very rich and detailed, and the characters are unusual.

The difficulty levels of the activities are rather uneven, with most activities much too difficult for kids in the lower end of the suggested age group of 5-9. A 9 year old tester was able to (almost) complete the game, and commented on the challenging nature of some of the activities.

Technically Speaking
Minimum requirements are Windows 95/98/NT, a Pentium II 133 MHz processor, 32 Mb RAM (64Mb RAM recommended), and 4X CD ROM. Printer is optional.

Skills Covered
Social skills and confidence: respect for people, urban safety, bullying, respect for environment, apologies, awareness of the consequences of vandalism, respect for self, manners, conflict resolution, respect for property, table manners, friendship, appreciation for diversity, respect for animals, helping, caring; other skills: musical notes and instruments, words, time-telling, comparing colors and shapes

Educational Value
The skills covered are very broad — although the title focuses on developing social skills and awareness, players will also work with puzzles and need to draw upon academic skills in order to advance successfully. Some of the activities are very challenging — the program would have benefited from adjustable difficulty levels.

Entertainment Value
The mission itself and the desire to complete it probably offers the biggest entertainment factor. The activities themselves are generally fun (although often quite difficult), and the characters are well-developed and helpful.

Design
Moving around in Elfland is relatively straightforward, and the various options are well-organized. Help is readily available, and kids encountered no problems exiting, scrolling through their inventory bag, or navigating in general. The manual is well-written and handy. Adjustable difficulty levels would have been a nice addition.

Replayability
There is a lot of content and much to do that will keep children busy for many hours.

Dollar Value
The consumer single CD-ROM retails for $39.95 (there is an introductory offer of $29.95). There are other options available at different pricing (school edition, and school lab pack).

Released: 1999