Stanley is a little boy who possesses a great love for animals and a vivid imagination. His animated world comes complete with a comical family, a pet cat, and a scholarly goldfish friend. This CD-ROM starring the animal-loving boy takes fans of the Playhouse Disney television show on an adventure in and around Stanley's home.
The story begins in Stanley's bedroom. After his mother informs him that he needs to prepare for a day at the beach, he enlists the help of players and his goldfish, Dennis, to find beach items, his missing animal stickers, and Theodore, his tiger-striped swim tube. This mission takes kids to many different rooms of his house and into the garden, where they will find games to play and problems to solve.
Flights of fancy dominate much of the game--for example, when Stanley can't reach his hat that is hanging on a hook, players must find a broom or hockey stick to help out. This launches a sequence in which Stanley imagines he's a giraffe. Similarly, a spotted ball sets off a fantasy in which Stanley "becomes" a leopard, and a paper towel roll inspires Stanley to imagine he's an anteater. During these enjoyable sequences, kids learn some basic facts about the featured animals.
The games in the program are also inspired by Stanley's gigantic imagination. For example, when Stanley needs to retrieve his sunglasses (an important item for the beach) from his stuffed animal antelope, Stanley imagines a game in which kids must time the boy's leaps from one hiding spot to the next without alerting the antelope to his presence.
In the world of software, it has been a while since "clickables" have been as much fun as the ones in this title! Multiple responses and clever results are triggered as kids roll their mouse over, or click on, objects. A pot becomes a seedling, then a bud, and finally a flower; there are musical fences and stairs; and many clickables hold short demonstrations of early learning concepts. Kids learn about the months of the year, sizes, shapes, and a myriad of other concepts through these sequences. And, more often than not, after a demonstration, a pop-up window appears with a short quiz. One especially fun "clickable" occurred when our tester clicked on Stanley's computer monitor. The first letter of her name appeared and was introduced as such. Then, the second and third letter followed suit. Finally, she was quizzed on the fourth (and last) letter of her name. This was a clever and special treat!
Humorous bits abound. When a penguin pops out of a tree, for example, Dennis says "Penguins don't live in trees!", and a huge hook appears to pull the penguin out of the scene.
Help and hints are just as plentiful. The goldfish lets kids know what they might do next in the game, and family members occasionally appear to offer hints as well. For example, Stanley's mother might pop her head into the room to say, "I think I saw a sticker in the living room." The Great Big Book of Everything is where kids collect the animal stickers they have found. They can do research on some of the featured animals in the game, and find some activity sheets for printing here as well.
Wonderful little social lessons are incorporated into the adventure. These include lessons about responsibilities (like putting toys away and turning off dripping faucets), and safety tips (such as steering clear of the stove and picking up marbles from the floor). The philosophy behind this Playhouse Disney title is based on Disney's "Whole Child Curriculum" that incorporates skills that go beyond rote learning to include thinking skills, emotional development, and more.
Parents of children who are easily miffed by timed arcade-style games should be aware that this program contains a slew of such games. The object is for players to improve on their high score, and when an error is made, kids need to start over again from the beginning. None of these games are particularly challenging or time-consuming, however.