CM . . .
. Volume XVI Number 4. . . .September 25, 2009
Mother Nature is coming to visit Smart Valley! The animals would like to hold a party in her honour, and they hold an election to vote in a mayor to be in charge of festivities. Unfortunately, purple wolf Zolt is a sore loser. Upon losing the election, Zolt destroys all the band's instruments and hides all the party food in an attempt to ruin the festivities. Zolt figures he will show up at the last minute with all the food and be a hero, but little beavers Didi and Ditto are on to him. Players of Didi & Ditto Preschool: Mother Nature's Visit choose one colourful beaver (Didi, the red "girl" beaver, or Ditto, the blue "boy" beaver) with which to try to recover the supplies and prepare for the party.
The game can be played in two modes, "full game" and "activities only." Full game mode begins with an interactive animated version of the introductory story. Players can vote in the mayoral election and choose their beaver with whom to travel around Smart Valley, piecing instruments back together and finding food. This mode is episodic and can be saved and resumed at a later time. This mode also allows for plenty of clicking around the screens to discover hiding animals and funny animations. Activities only mode is geared toward shorter attention spans and allows for playing games or puzzles one at a time, with no unifying storyline.
Technical Details: The DVD-ROM requires you to both install software and have the DVD in the computer when you play -- something to be particularly aware of if you might be using it in an institutional setting, such as a school or library. If it were able to be completely installed and run independent of the DVD-ROM, it would be a more versatile product for such settings as there would be no need for constant disc handling and potential damage or loss. It also requires a reasonably new operating system to run, so preschools or daycares with hand-me-down machines should check their specs to make sure they will meet the requirements. That said, once all is installed and running, operation is quite smooth. (Note: Tested on a PC with Vista OS)
Overall, Didi & Ditto Preschool: Mother Nature's Visit is highly recommended for anyone who is seeking a computer game for the preschool set, particularly for home use. Some adults will find Didi and Ditto annoying, but there is nothing violent, disturbing, or consumerist about the game, and most children would find the simple games and activities repetitively enjoyable.
Devon Greyson is a librarian at the Centre for Health Services and Policy Research in Vancouver, BC.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.