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spacer all reviews > > > preschool software

Oscar the Balloonist Discovers the Farm

Tivola

Ages 4 to 8

Rating Scale
5 = great,    1 = poor
Educational Value
4.0
Kid Appeal
4.5
Ease of Use
4.5

Oscar the Balloonist Discovers the Farm Screen Shot System Requirements

PC / Mac Price Survey

Product Support

This pleasant early learning program from the UK takes kids on an animated adventure with the charming young balloonist, Oscar. Oscar's balloon lets him magically travel through the seasons so that he can observe things not only as they appear, but also as they change--from Fall, to Winter, Spring and Summer. On his current adventure, Oscar lands on the dung heap home of eccentric animal researcher, Balthasar Pumpernickel.

Unfortunately, considering his occupation, Balthasar is afraid of animals. He is, therefore, understandably delighted when Oscar arrives and agrees to explore the farm with him. Kids join the duo as they meet and learn about farm animals and their families and friends through a variety of virtual interactions. As they interview the animals and explore their environments, users can also choose to play 12 amusing games, and find the ingredients to make a three course meal for Oscar and Balthasar.

Educational Value
This early learning program provides basic information and interesting tidbits about farm animals: their homes, habits, families and contribution to our everyday world. Illustrations and animations bring the farmyard to life, giving even city dwellers a personalized rural experience.

Kid Appeal
Our testers gave this program an enthusiastic response. Oscar and his friends are gentle characters, eager to question, experience and share. As such they make ideal virtual companions for young learners. The illustrations are classic, the dialog engaging, and the imparted information interesting and useful.

The included games are appropriate for the targeted age-level but not remarkably innovative or entertaining. Their lack of spark does not, however, greatly detract from the program's overall appeal. They include such standards as matching animals to their sounds, making music with animal singers, sorting animal families, and finding hidden pictures, as well as a quirky game that matches animals to their dung.

Ease of Use / Install
Oscar the Balloonist Discovers the Farm installs with ease. Each program screen includes a navigational toolbar that allows kids to easily move throughout the program, access games, change seasons, enter the kitchen, change languages (gameplay is available in either English or German) and quit the session. Four activities are immediately available, while the additional 8 are collected as the user continues to explore the program. Food items needed to complete Oscar's meal are also earned with persistence and complete game exploration.

Our testers expressed some dissatisfaction with the method used in collecting meal ingredients. "It's not clear how to collect ingredients!" commented one exasperated tester, "I can't tell if an 'X' means that I have the ingredient or I don't."

Best for... / Bottom-Line
Charming characters, lovely illustrations, and an informative story combine to make this virtual adventure a nice, and somewhat novel, option for young computer users.

See SuperKids' comparisons with other preschool software titles, and the Buyers Guide for current market prices of the PC and Mac versions.

System Requirements
PC: Windows 95/98, Windows NT 4.0, 486 MHz or faster cpu, 8MB RAM, SVGA graphics card, Double-speed or faster CD-ROM, sound card.

Mac: System 7.1 or higher, 8 MB RAM, Double-speed or faster CD-ROM.

Reviewed on:

  • PowerMac 6400/200 with 32MB and 8XCD
  • Pentium550 with 128MB and 12XCD
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