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Reading Software Reviews

Barbie Magic Fairy Tales: Rapunzel
from Mattel Media

For Ages 4 and up

See also the Summary Rating Table for comparisons with other Reading software titles, the SuperKids Buyers Guide for current market prices of PC and Mac versions, and previous SuperKids reviews of Reading software I and II.

Reviewed on:
Children's Software Screen Shot Pentium166 with 16MB and a 16XCD

This program is similar in design to many other interactive books which feature read-along stories accompanied by scene exploration and somewhat related activities. Barbie's Rapunzel includes pleasing animation and a well-loved story that is sure to appeal to young girls.

Barbie's Rapunzel tells the familiar tale of a lovely princess, banished by a wicked witch to a prison-tower, with only a magic mirror and three sympathetic birds to befriend her. A handsome prince chances upon her forest home, climbs her lengthy tresses, and claims her as his beloved. The twist to this version of the fairy tale, is that Barbie/Rapunzel is a strong, modern woman, who personally thwarts the plans of the evil witch and rescues her prince from the unhappy destiny the witch had planned for him.

As the story unfolds, the user is given opportunities to momentarily leave the tale to dress Rapunzel, to play a game of concentration or a sorting game, or to navigate a maze. Unfortunately, these games are quite simple, and have only one possible level of play, so do not provide the user with new options after initial success. Our older child reviewers found this to be a distinct drawback, for although they enjoyed story, the lack of stimulating activities was discouraging.

Ease of Install / Use
Barbie Magic Fairy Tales: Rapunzel installs itself automatically in Windows 95. It can be played directly from the CD on a Macintosh.

Although this software is fairly intuitive to use, the instruction booklet provides important help in learning basic on-screen navigation. In particular, several of our reviewers noted difficulty with some of the icons for movement and printing, until they consulted the manaual.

Barbie as Rapunzel is positioned as a program that will "enhance early reading skills>" Unfortunately, there is very little that resembles reading instruction or practice. Even the read-along portion of the storybook is not structured to provide significant reading exposure. The text appears on the screen with the sections being read by the narrator highlighted (in purple), but it disappears quickly making it difficult for beginning readers to even attempt to read-along or associate the written text with the narration.

The educational value of this program comes from its obvious charm and ease of use for the younger child. As one teacher-reviewer wrote, "It's excellent for first-time computer users because it's so easy and fun to use."

Proxy Parent Value
Barbie-lovers who enjoy reading and listening to classic fairy tales will be drawn to this software despite its shortcomings. The story itself is pleasantly written and illustrated and provides an enjoyable distraction for most young girls. The tasks are simple and can be tackled by preschoolers with only a quick adult briefing. Program re-use potential is average at best, but the story is likely to be read and re-read.

Best for...
This software is somewhat limited in content and is therefore best suited to the younger individual who enjoys reading the same story or watching the same program over and over. The activities, as well, are simplistic and quickly conquered, so will not provide a sustained challenge for some children.

Not the best reading software available, but a fun addition for the pink and purple lovers in every family.

Educational Value = 2/5, Kid Appeal = 4/5, Ease of use = 4/5
Ratings key, 1=weak 5=excellent

See also the Summary Rating Table for comparisons with other Reading software titles, the SuperKids Buyers Guide for current market prices of PC and Mac versions, and previous SuperKids reviews of Reading software I and II.

Children's Software System Requirements


Operating System Windows 3.1, Win95 System 7.1 or higher
CPU Type and Speed 486/66 or faster 68030/33 or faster
Hard Drive Space 2 MB 2 MB
Memory (RAM) 8 MB 8 MB with 4.2 MB free
Graphics 640 x 480 x 256 SVGA 640 x 480 x 256 colors
CD-ROM Speed 2X 2X
Audio Sound Blaster compatible sound card n/a
Other Needs printer (optional) printer (optional)

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