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

Digging for Dinosaurs

Digging for Dinosaurs

Spring 2011 Video Games
Ages: 5 - 8 yrs.
Publisher: Scholastic Media
Price: $19.99
Gaming System: Nintendo DS

Dig dinosaurs? Then you'll like this handheld game filled with lots of dinosaurs, plenty of simulated archeological tasks and some entertaining mini-games all relevant to the topic.

Players start out choosing an archeological dig from a dozen locations worldwide actually known for their dinosaur fossils. We started at a dig site in Argentina. First, we had to hammer half dozen boulders into chunks and dirt, then brush off the debris and pick clean fossils with a dental tool. The work at every site is identical, looks exactly the same, and gets a little tedious by the fourth or fifth dig. But each dig reveals different fossils that reveal different dinosaurs-and that's cool.

Click and drag the fossil pieces into the correct skeletal position to see which dinosaur you've discovered. That also unlocks scientific facts about each find, from its geologic period to its eating habits. Each new successful dinosaur dig also unlocks some arcade-like mini-games based on each dinosaur's characteristics and habits.

The first dino we unearthed was an Argentinosaurus, a plant eater from South America whose "Maze Graze" is a simplified Pacman-style game in which the dino races around gulping veggies while evading a predator. In our Canadian dig, we uncovered a Triceratops whose "Dinosaur Heroes" game pitted him in battle against a Tyrannosaurus Rex. The Microraptor we found in China plays a "Winging It" game in which it takes flying leaps from tree tops to find food.

Digging for Dinosaurs includes 21 different creatures and eight different mini games with three levels of difficulty each. Young dino-lovers will keep busy (though older siblings will rip through this in a few hours). While this videogame has a steady educational element, the mini-games aren't hard and younger players don't need to be able to read since all text is spoken aloud. Even pre-readers can dig it.

Don Oldenburg   ©2011 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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