Spot, Rolie Polie Olie’s dog, needs a bath, but he has run off and hidden somewhere. It’s your job to help Rolie find him. Disney Early Learning Rolie Polie Olie CD-ROM is based on Disney’s pre-school show, and is a fun, interactive way to get two to five-year-olds comfortable with a PC.
The package contains four games, each of which can be accessed by visiting a different room. The Canister Can-Can Game is probably one of the highlights of the package–eight kitchen canisters create an octave for budding musicians, while taps, kettles and even a musical toaster add variety. A playback facility also allows youngsters to record their compositions and play them back at the click of a mouse.
Logically, the “Telly Game” takes place in the living room, the “Crayon Criss-Cross Game” in Rolie’s bedroom and the “Can-Can Canister Game” in the kitchen. The Telly Game tests matching, as youngsters have to drag and drop items of furniture into their corresponding shapes. The colouring game promotes hand-to-eye co-ordination and cause-and-effect relationships, as players grab a passing crayon, then fill in the corresponding polka dot. Level one deals with primary colours, while levels two and three develop the idea of mixing two colours to create another–use the blue then the red crayons to colour in the purple one, and so on.
The final game cannot be accessed until the other three have been completed. To play the “Scuba Splash Game” players grab objects as they float around the bath–increasing levels of difficulty mean objects move faster, more bubbles make it harder for Rolie to stay under water, and fish act as obstacles.
The package is aimed at giving children different environments to learn from, rather than the traditional ABC approach to pre-school education. The format is fun and colourful, if unorthodox, and supports basic skills acquisition. The background music is repetitive and unimaginative, and though the graphics are very good, they tend to pixellate a little in places. Occasionally, the use of Flash means the program “sticks” (this was tested on a standard home PC) but generally the movements and screens flow easily.
These minor annoyances aside, this is good, wholesome, if somewhat surreal, family fun, and though two to three-year-olds will definitely need assistance, a competent four or five-year-old will master the tasks on hand. —Lucie Naylor
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