Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978



Pet Pals: Animal Doctor

Pet Pals: Animal Doctor

Spring 2007 Software
Ages: 10 & Up
Price: $19.95
Platform: Windows/MAC
Review:
A Hollywood adage warns never work with animals 'cause they'll steal the show. Fortunately that's true in this charming educational game in which players role-play as veterinarians. Working with animals, of course. And the animals do steal the show.

The graphics and animation are sort of soft-edged, almost slow motion by today's videogaming standards. But the value and fun of this software is in the doing: Players diagnose and treat sickly cats, turtles, exotic birds, fish, rabbits, dogs—35 different species in all.

Our first case was Anna, a yearling turtle that showed up with no appetite or energy—and with a worried owner. The game teaches players to start off by asking the right questions, followed by conducting a thorough physical examination of the pet using many of the same veterinary instruments real-life vets use. In Anna's case, her too-soft shell turned out to be a symptom of malnutrition-but nothing a couple vitamins A and D injections couldn't start fixing.

Players choose from a variety of possible treatments which they narrow based on symptoms, tests (stool tests, temperature, blood tests, heart rate, etc.) and diagnosis. A magnifier function enables virtual vets to exam animals close up anywhere on the body. That came in especially handy in diagnosing a comatose pet tarantula. It had been suffering from weakness and seizures, according to its owner. A thorough exam found the cause to be hookworms.

The program provides three levels of difficulty—the easiest with lots of hints and guidance. Cases range from grooming to urgent emergency care and even surgery. Mini-games full of information about animals and the veterinary profession add to the learning. After each case, players are scored on how well they handled the case. Those who progress successfully receive promotions, awards and new game features. But the real winners are animal lovers and wanna-be vets who will love the challenge.

Don Oldenburg   ©2007 Parents' Choice
A former feature writer and consumer columnist at The Washington Post for 22 years, Don Oldenburg is the Director of Publications and Editor of the National Italian American Foundation, in Washington, D.C. He regularly reviews books for USA Today and is the coauthor of "The Washington DC-Baltimore Dog Lovers Companion" (Avalon Travel). The proud father of three sons, he lives with his journalist-author wife, Ann Oldenburg, in McLean, VA.

Look for this product at:
Legacy Interactive
http://www.legacyinteractive.com
Online Retailers
Amazon.com
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000QYLGEY/parentschoice-20

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