Dora the Explorer: Animal Adventures
In Nick Jr.’s popular kids’ show Dora the Explorer, Dora is a big-hearted, exuberant, bilingual girl who uses both English and Spanish to teach her young viewers about the world. She brings the same enthusiasm to learning about wildlife in Dora the Explorer: Animal Adventures, a new edutainment game by MacSoft. It’s a good match for preschoolers who are fans of the TV show.
In Dora the Explorer: Animal Adventures, Dora and her simian companion Boots are joined by Dora’s cousin Diego. After a bad storm, Diego, who lives at the Animal Rescue Centre, recruits Dora and Boots to help him make sure all the animals are safe.
While Dora and Boots explore different habitats, they have to find animals and, in many cases, rescue them or reunite baby animals with their parents. As Dora, you stay in touch with Diego using a PDA-like field journal, which you can also use to snap pictures of the animals you encounter, play music videos, or even create your own custom habitats using pictures of the plants and animals.
Dora the Explorer: Animal Adventures is filled with learning activities such as counting, memorizing, matching shapes and colours, and more. The game also includes songs and throws in a little bit of Spanish vocabulary for good measure.
Most of the activities are of the “soft learning” variety. That is, they don’t hit kids over the head with a hard curriculum, but instead introduce educational activities that feel more like play. For example, Dark Mountain Matchup tests memory and matching skills by uncovering animals that are hiding in the dark. When you find two that match, you’re rewarded and lavished with praise.
The game is for children aged three and up, many of whom haven’t developed reading skills, so all the commands and interactions are graphical. Three levels of difficulty will keep kids busy for a while. Given that the title allows kids to enter their names and proceed at their own pace, it would be nice if it included a tracking feature that let parents or teachers know how well their children were doing in specific areas, as many other edutainment titles do.
If you pick up the game in a shop, make sure it has the MacSoft logo and the word Mac on the spine of the box, because the Mac version is sold separately from the PC version.
The game calls for a 400MHz G3 or faster Mac, OS X 10.1.5 or later, and an ATI Rage 128 graphics chip or better. This covers older CRT-based iMacs that have been upgraded to OS X.
Dora the Explorer: Animal Adventures is a fun and benign way to introduce little ones to important learning concepts while they have fun with exotic animals.