Content and Methodology
Disney's Toy Story is a condensed version of the movie, complete with the same phenomenal Pixar-produced animation, and familiar character voices. Built around ten screen shots, the Toy Story CD "captures the story pretty well," according to our 9 year-old kids reviewer.
Educational content? In addition to the narrator's reading of a small piece of highlighted text on each screen, Toy Story includes five integrated activities. Unlike some previous Disney StoryBooks, these activity screens are not optional side-roads to the storyline; here, they are inserted directly between sequences in the story. Our adult reviewers found this "a little distracting" when they were trying to follow the story. The activities focus on early learning skills, like matching colors, hand eye coordination, following oral directions, and navigating mazes. The best among these were those requiring the user to follow oral directions. One favorite, for example, was a version of the "you're getting warmer" location game. Given their early learning educational objectives, our teacher reviewer felt that these were good activities.
Ease of Install / Use
Toy Story installed without difficulty on our reviewers' Macs and Windows-based PC's. Beware, however, that this is a power-hungry, memory intensive application. On a Pentium90, 8MB machine, we were forced to run Toy Story after a fresh reboot, to clear out those lingering bits and pieces of other programs that take up memory. The manual was minimal, focusing on the activities and trouble shooting. Disney offers a 1-800 tech support line, six days/week.
Proxy Parent Value
Proxy parent value is the term SuperKids uses to describe programs so captivating, that they give parents a break while knowing their child is involved with an educational activity. Toy Story scored high on this measure with those kid testers who loved the movie, and with others who liked click and explore software. We did, however, notice that Toy Story's appeal was not as universal as the Lion King's.
Toy Story will be enjoyed most by children who loved the movie. If your child is between five and nine, and saw the movie more than two times, this is a program you won't be able to drag them away from. Toy Story will also be enjoyed by children less enamored with the movie, but who enjoy animated book programs with lots of 'click-and-see-what-happens' objects. Toy Story seemed to have more of these (14 or more per screen) than any other program we have seen.
"Truly amazing animation!" according to one of our Silicon Valley parent reviewers. "If you like computer graphics, you'll love Toy Story." Oh, and if your kids liked the movie, or like animated books with lots of click-to-explore opportunities, they'll like the Toy Story Animated StoryBook, too.
See also the
Summary Rating Table for comparisons with other Early Reading Software titles, and the SuperKids Buyers Guide for current market prices of
|Operating System||Windows 3.1 or later, Win95||System 7.1 or later|
|CPU Type and Speed||486/50 or faster||68040 or faster|
|Hard Drive Space||10 MB free space||none|
|Memory (RAM)||8 MB||8 MB|
|Graphics||256 color VESA, PCI or local bus||640x480x256 color display|
|Audio||8-bit sound card||n/a|
|Other Needs||MS-compatible mouse||n/a|