TV-based 'Blue's Clues' CD-ROM lets children join computer fun

September 07, 1998|By Jean Nash Johnson | Jean Nash Johnson,DALLAS MORNING NEWS

Humongous is branding the "Blue's Clues" series as "Software With a Clue," and indeed, there are many clues in Birthday Adventure.

Parents and preschoolers familiar with the popular Nickelodeon TV show will be that much ahead of the game. But even if you come into Blue's world cold, you'll find lots of engaging fun and educational benefit.

With its personal touches, the software is an extension of the interactive exercises on the TV show. The player becomes a part of the problem-solving plot. When entering the world of Blue the dog, a preschooler signs in and gives other pertinent information such as his birthday and favorite color, a simple way to introduce 3- to 6-year-olds to keyboarding and exploring the calendar.

The player then goes to Blue's house, where the pup and Steve, her sidekick, greet him, just like on TV. Steve gives the visitor instructions, and the search for clues begins.

The personal information collected at the start is put to use throughout the game. For instance, if a player visits the Present Store (he can see it outside Blue's living room window, so just click on the window to go there) and buys a gift for Blue, the present gets tagged with the giver's name. At the Present Store, kids test their skill at logic and matching. A child can pick presents off the shelf that go together - a baseball and mitt, a drum and sticks - and drag them into the gift box.

Such provocative sidetracks as the Present Store exist throughout the game, but the real object is to find the three clues that will help you and Steve plan the party that Blue wants. Clues are challenging, even difficult, depending on which of the three game levels you're playing.

The blue paw print marks the clues. After a player collects three, Steve goes to the red Thinking Chair, where he ponders possible solutions. The player picks the correct solution and is rewarded by moving to the birthday party, where a place setting with the child's name waits.

The program is a good wraparound of almost nonstop activities. There are nine multilevel activities with plenty of devices to make the two-CD set strong. Pictorial multiple choices are excellent for the nonreader. Richly detailed interactive items keep the curious entertained. Arrows give the beginner a clear sense of directions. Audio prompts and assurances from the familiar, friendly voice of the TV host offer security. A long list of other intelligent characters keeps the sometimes wandering preschooler from getting bored.

I was struck by the sense of real time from one scene to the next. Steve and Blue actually move on-screen as the player moves from the house to the front yard.

Blue's Birthday Adventure is a real treat and should take off on the PC as quickly as the show did on TV. For preschoolers, the two approaches will be complementary.

Blue's Birthday Adventure lists for $29.95 and is available for Windows and Macintosh systems. Information: 800-499-8386 or www. humongous.com.

Pub Date: 9/07/98

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