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Caillou Ready for School!

Score: 95%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Brighter Child Canada
Developer: Cookie Jar
Media: CD/5
Players: 1
Genre: Edutainment


Graphics & Sound:

When it comes to Caillou Ready for School!, all I can really say is wow. Iíve been reviewing edutainment packages for years now, and until this yearís line of Brighter Child games, I havenít seen anything that packs as big a punch as this Caillou set and the other edutainment titles from the Canadian company.

Not only does Ready for School! have five discs, each with a different major topic, but it also comes with two packs of flashcards and the ability to print out 128 pages of workbook activities. But those are topics for the next section. Here I need to talk about the graphics and sound of Caillou Ready for School!.

The look and feel of Ready for School! comes straight out of the PBS cartoon series. All of the characters, from Caillou to his mom to his pets, look just like their TV-series counterparts. Not only do the four-year-old and his friends look like the characters from the show, but the voices are a perfect match as well. If the voice talents from the show werenít used, then the people mimicking those actors deserve much praise. As an added bonus, Caillou Ready for School! can be played in English, French and Spanish.


Gameplay:

Four of the five discs in Caillou Ready for School! focus on the main skills needed to succeed in early school. These discs are for Thinking Skills, Counting, Alphabet, and Colors and Shapes. The fifth disc is for general activities that donít focus on any one topic, but allow the child to combine skills.

All five discs add up to more than 100 different activities that your child will use to help prepare him or her for everything they need to succeed in school. Some activities include selecting letters drawn in the mud or clicking on the balloon with the correct number on it. Others have your child following a path of colors across the screen, which reinforces both path-finding and color-matching skills.

On one of the discs, you can find tons of workbook sheets to print out that will (among other things) allow your child to trace over letters and match colors and shapes. Other packages, like the Reader Rabbit series, have boasted similar features, but I donít believe that it was quite of this magnitude.

Included in the box are two packs of 52 flashcards. One pack has a card for each letter in the alphabet (26 for uppercase and 26 for lowercase). On one side of the card is the letter, on the other is a common object that starts with that letter (like a quilt or music notes). The other pack is chock full of numbers (numbers 1 to 100 to be specific). Most of the cards have the number on one side with it spelled out on the bottom of the other side. A few of the other cards show how to count by tens, fives, twos, as well as list all of the even and odd numbers (separately) from 1 to 100.


Difficulty:

Caillou Ready for School! is about the right difficulty level for its intended audience. This is a series of games designed to fortify and strengthen skills and concepts taught outside of the computer. The activities are easy to manage, yet challenging and variant enough to prepare youíre little one for kindergarten.

Game Mechanics:

Caillou Ready for School! uses a simple point-and-click interface that makes it easy for your child to just pick up the game and get started in the activities without having to learn a horribly complex control scheme.

Whether it is selecting colors, counting toys, or selecting letters, your child can help Caillou in his activities by clicking on the appropriate icon on the screen with your mouse. The sheer number of activities that your child will be able to take part in is amazing and could be daunting if it wasnít for the common interface and easy-to-use system that makes it easy for your little one to go from one activity to another without having to relearn how the game is played.

Put simply, if you have a young one getting ready for kindergarten, then Ready for School! is a must-have to make sure they are prepared to start off their first year of school.


-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

Minimum System Requirements:



233 MHz Pentium II processor (or equivalent), Windows 98/2000/ME/XP, 64MB free RAM, 20 MB free hard disk space, thousands of colors display (16-bit), 4X CD ROM drive, mouse, Quicktime 4 or later (Quicktime 5 included on CD ROM)
 

Test System:



Toshiba Satellite series laptop, Windows XP Home Ed., 2.0 GHz Celeron, 2 GB RAM, 24X DVD/CD-ROM, 32 MB 3D accelerator

Sony PlayStation 2 Mobile Suit Gundam: Gundam Vs. Zeta Gundam Sony PlayStation Portable Coded Arms

 
Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated