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

Parents' Choice Awards : Video Games : Online Video Game
Disney Fairies Pixie Hollow

Disney Fairies Pixie Hollow

Fall 2010 Online Video Game
Ages: 6 - 12 yrs.
Publisher: Disney Online

Price: Free to play; Membership subscriptions ($5.95 monthly, $29.95 semi-annually or $57.95 annually) unlock more options, including shopping, crafting, quests and playing beta games before their release.

Since its debut in 2008, Pixie Hollow has evolved with more places to go, more things to do and more tie-in products to buy, though game play remains basically the same. Before getting started exploring Pixie Hollow's dozen or so sparkly and colorful locations, each with their distinct flora and fauna, shops, games and personalities, players must register (kids under 12 need a parent alongside). Parents should know that Disney states a conduct code right up front about being kind and respecting other fairies, no swearing, cheating, bullying of any kind. And players are encouraged to report any misbehaving pixie to the Never Council.

Players first create their own fairy, either girl or boy, choosing everything from height to eye color. Then, pick a "talent"-Water Talent goes with the flow, Light Talent's a natural leader who sparkles, Garden Talent's good at growing things, etc. On to naming your fairy: The scrolling name creator, for all the possibilities, proves to be lots of fun.

We named our boy fairy River Falcon Heart. He's a scruffy, orange-haired, turquoise-eyed magnet-and I say that only because at every location he flew into, he was inundated with girl fairies twittering around him. Pixie Hollow is what's called a "Massively Multiplayer Online Game" (MMOG), meaning you play simultaneously with possibly thousands of other fairies created and controlled by players who sign on. And they want is to make friends-one of the game's badge-earning activities.

But the heart of this game is exploring, taking on quests (in which your fairy must run down a check-off list of tasks and places to visit), playing games to earn rewards that can be spent in the shops, making virtual crafts, even just flying around collecting magical acorns, dandelion fluff and raspberries that work as cash.

Pixie Hollow, in fact, is a big world-all Web-based so you don't have to download anything. Click the "Fly Up" button at any time and you get a bird's eye view of all the locations, from Havendash Square where you can find Fairy Tale Theater, The Tea Room and the Ballroom, to the Neverberry thicket in Spring Valley, to the Silver Trees and Bubbly Bog of The Wilderness (open to members only).

From lighting up fireflies to bouncing bubbles up a waterfall, Pixie Hollow's games tend to be more fun than educational-though most require some fast thinking and exercise problem-solving skills. The Harvest Hustle over in Pumpkin Patch, for example, is an addictive Tetrus-style game using berries, acorns and corn kernels. The Butterfly Painter game in the Silver Mist Grotto is really about understanding instructions and using hand-eye coordination to paint butterflies as they fly by. All games offer several difficulty settings and a choice of rewards in case you're saving up just acorns, say, for that expense fairy dress you want. Fairies can also visit Pixie Hollow's craftier destinations to tailor patterns and bake recipes. Pixie Hollow boasts a dozen stores-Coal's Clothiers, Cassie's Costume Shop and Bella's Baubles, among others. Don't have enough loot to buy what you want? Go earn some more blueberries, rose petals or meadow grass.

And a word about the chat options: All fairies can use SpeedChat to talk to other fairies, choosing words and phrases from Disney's pull-down list-from "What's up?" to "Please be my friend!" SpeedChat Plus allows fairies to keyboard messages to other fairies using words sanctioned by the Pixie Hollow dictionary. SpeedChat Plus is filtered and moderated, and parents can block it using the parental controls.

To its credit, Disney doesn't allow third-party advertising on this site. But Disney is a master marketer. Just click on the Store tab at the top of the homepage to find actual tie-in card games, handheld Clickables games, toys, accessories and videogames available online or in stores. Some of them earn Tink points that convert to the online Pixie world, and some contain secret codes that when keyed into Pixie Hollow unlock virtual gifts, quests and other stuff.

Overall, any girl who already adores Tinkerbell is likely to love Tink's magical world online. While the graphics are decent, not great, the vast virtual landscape Disney creates out of fairy dust is impressive. And while boys might get a kick out of playing the games, mostly this is a girl thing-a socially active environment all about making virtual fairy friends, shopping, decorating you fairy house and inviting friends over for a party.

Don Oldenburg   ©2010 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.

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