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problem solving skills software
Much like wishy-washy Charlie Brown himself, It's The Big Game Charlie Brown! seems unable to make up its mind about what it is. But one thing is certain: it is not educational software. To be fair, nowhere on the packaging, in the manual, or on its website does it claim to be educational.
The game has two main phases: The first is a quasi-adventure/life-simulation game (think Myst meets The Sims, devoid of their detail and populated by sarcastic, big-headed children), in which Charlie Brown must recruit players for his baseball team; the second is the baseball game itself (think Major League Baseball videogames on Valium).
In the recruiting phase, players take Charlie Brown to visit several members of the Peanuts gang, none of whom want to join his baseball team. Players face three sets of challenges before a character will join the team: First, they must discover and create the conditions which will motivate that character to join; second, they must win the game proposed by each character (for example, fix Pig-Pen’s broken alarm clock by placing a series of gears in the right places); third, they must show proficiency in a particular computer baseball skill (catching, batting, etc.).
Players may choose to opt out of phase one and skip straight to the Big Game.
Fans of Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences could argue that the player-recruiting phase of the game accesses a child’s logical-mathematical intelligence (if Pig-Pen isn’t in love with Marcy or Lucy, then he must be in love with Violet), interpersonal intelligence (who do you need to recruit to the team before Lucy will play?), musical intelligence (Schroeder’s game), and visual-spatial intelligence (Pig-Pen’s gear game). But they’d be stretching it.
What your child will learn, assuming he goes through the entire recruiting phase, is patience, persistence, pitches (difference between a slider and a change-up), and Peanuts trivia.
The baseball-playing phase of the game is just that: baseball on a computer screen.
All of our testers grew impatient with the recruiting/skill-building part of the game, but never to the point of wanting to quit. Older kids appeared to enjoy themselves, but said they would play only the baseball part again, and only with major modifications which would make it just like MLB. Younger testers, who hadn’t experienced the more sophisticated sports simulation games on the market, were perfectly happy with the baseball, but confused about the point of recruiting players.
Installation is self-explanatory and quick. Players may have difficulty figuring out how the recruiting game works without first reading the instruction booklet. On the other hand, once they get started, play is simple and instructions are clear. Younger players may need some guidance in recruiting team members.
Older testers (ages 10 - 12) summed it up quite well, saying that this game would be best for “little kids who don’t know how to play baseball” and “kids who have a lot of time” to play the lengthy first phase.
A caveat: Peanuts humor seems to be an acquired taste among adults, and this game will prove no exception—one person’s gentle, cute, and ironic is another’s dull, mean-spirited, and depressing. But our testers, it should be noted, seemed not to notice or care.
PC: Windows Vista / 98 / 2000 / Me / XP .return to top of page
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