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

Curious George Downtown Adventure

Curious George Downtown Adventure

Fall 2002 Software
Ages: 3 - 6 yrs.
Price: $19.99
Platform: windows; mac
Remarkably true to the Curious George book series that has entertained generations of children, this latest attempt to adapt that "good little monkey" and the Man with the Yellow Hat may be the best so far.

The introductory first couple of minutes of this interactive storybook/game make you wonder if it's anything more than a literal page-by-page replication of a classic Curious George book, narrated in a classic 1950's monotone.

But suddenly it changes--except for George's troublemaking curiosity and narrator's cadence. While the backdrops remain modestly two-dimensional, George now is a lively 3D monkey. And as the story progresses, it stops for related puzzles (60 in all) that require kids to decide what objects to position where in the scenes to help George overcome obstacles and gather bananas.

The opening problem, for instance, takes place in the story's Downtown location: Kids need to position a bowling ball and stepladder so that when they click "start" things go into Rube-Goldberg-like motion to help George grab bananas hanging over a dumpster. The subsequent problems get more complicated and sometimes even require George to visit the other locations--the Circus, the Park, or the Candy Factory--to get other tools and things (trampolines, fans, conveyor belts, sling shots, etc.) that can help solve the puzzle. As the puzzles get more complex, players needing help can click on the clues icon and a faint image of the proper positions of objects appears.

Kids get certificates as they progress through problem-solving milestones. And even better: An open-ended build-your-own-puzzle area lets kids test their creative thinking, reasoning and logic skills. While there's a certain and persistent tedium to this game, kids will find it engaging and challenging--and Curious George fans will love to see their favorite monkey come alive.

Don Oldenburg   ©2002 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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