Thursday, January 15, 2009

Review: Didi & Ditto Preschool Mother Nature's Visit Computer Game by Kutoka

Before the holidays Kutoka sent me a computer game for preschoolers. I am just now getting to writing the review for a number of reasons. The first being that we never had time to sit to play a computer game. The second reason, and probably the best, is that my son (the preschooler) came ill simultaneously with a head cold that sucked half the life out of him and a GI bug that sucked out the other half. Do you know what a 3 year old who's recovered from two illnesses wants to do?

If you guessed, "Go outside." You would be right. We obliged.

It took school beginning for us to find a day without others to load the game and sit with the sole intention of playing it. We opened the program: Didi & Ditto Preschool Mother Nature's Visit.

I've reviewed another of Kutoka's games, and the one feature that stands out from all the other games I've seen for this age group are the animations and the graphics. Wow! Double wow! Depth, lovely colors, whimisical characters, and cute, but easy to understand voices. The hopping rabbit host hooked my son instantly.

The game opens with a mouse skills game, showing the parent and the kid that the cursor changes colors where there is something on the screen available for interaction. While my son didn't notice it right away, I did and directed him accordingly. For this age group, this detail is wonderful and something that we adults take for granted.

The animation tells the story of choosing a mayor to prepare for the visit of Mother Nature. There's a "bad guy", who isn't very bad that wants to foil the party so he can take credit for saving the party. The kid's job is to help either Didi or Ditto gather the instruments and food for the party. The child chooses one of the characters and takes off on the adventure.

The overarcing theme is to fix the broken instruments (done by the bad guy) and through other activities earn food and drink so that the mayor, a wizardly bird named Houdini, can gather them in the cart. There's a sign post with all of the destinations, such as waterfall, mountaintop, forest, meadow, etc. containing two main activities each. However, each place is very interactive, from making sounds (my son loved that part) to disturbing a chicken (another of my son's favorites). Each screen gives the child many options.

As for the activities, there are three different levels. We chose the simplest, but I believe that my son could do the second level as well. Since he's completed an entire story, we'll try the next level when we sit to the game again. That's a huge positive, by the way, a clear defined goal, an easy tracking system of the goal, and a good ending. I've played $10 games with my children before, and I grew more and more annoyed as the goal seemed too far away for their attention spans.

Ooops, I was talking about the activities. These cover matching colors, sounds, letter and shape recognition. Lots and lots of skills with a good introduction of vocabulary words that you might not use each day. My son and I had discussions over a few words. That's good to me. We bowled to match baby animals to the adult version. We pieced together parts of instruments. We covered the senses as well, taste (which one is sour?), touch (which one is hard?), smell (which one smells good?). Plenty of opportunities for learning with a reachable goal.

Somewhere in the middle of our playing, I had to leave. My husband took over my position. They didn't complete the game in one sitting. My son was pooped! Knocked out! His brain had a work out, some serious exercise. He asked for a nap.

I'm happy with this game for my youngest. I can see many 2-4 year olds playing this game, learning all the time.

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