101 Dalmatians is a PC game that we have had for about 3 years now. My daughter absolutely loves the Disney animal characters and the dalmatians are her favourites, so she plays this game regularly. I would say that it would appeal to kids aged 2-8, as the game has varying degrees of difficulty which spans these age ranges.
In the most basic form, the game can just show the story of the dalmatians, like a mini-movie. This is an interactive storybook, however, which also allows the child to interact with the pictures and scenes on the screen. This is fantastic for developing mouse control in very young children as young as 2, as they can see the effect of clicking on an item or character. The interactive storybook takes you from the beginning of the story, through memorable scenes in the film including the most formidable of Disney villains, Cruella De Vil.
Throughout the game there are aditional games and puzzles that the child can access if they wish to. These include matching dogs with their owners and cracking codes to get into the De Vil Mansion. You can also acess songs from the film and additional songs that have been composed especially for the game. The words come on the screen so the child can sing along.
The style of animation in the game is faithful to the film, and there is lots and lots to explore in the scenes and pictures to keep the child coming back time and time again and discovering something new that they didn't see last time. The music is toe-tapping and the characters adorable.
The game also contains a print studio, which enables the child to print off cards and other stationery items such as bookmarks with dalmatian pictures on them. This is easy and simple enough for most kids to manage without help.
My daughter plays the game regularly, despite having had it so long. We recently had a new computer, and I wasn't sure that the disc would be compatible with Windows 7, but it worked just fine with no problems. As she has got older, she has been able to increase the difficulty levels on the games so that they still remain a challenge for her. The games can be adjusted between levels 1-3 difficulty.
This is one of the best PC games for children I have bought, and is consistent with the high quality I have come to expect from Disney products. This game will appeal to boys and girls, as well as most parents who love the film. I think the idea of an interactive storybook is fantastic, as it makes the game educational as well as great fun to play.
I am almost embarrassed to say that my five year old has his own laptop computer. It was brought home from work as the catch on the case no longer worked and was useless in a business environment but for my son it was ideal as he got to learn a lot more about computers, mouse control and general knowledge by having access to his laptop all the time. Following on from this we have steadily brought him a variety of games that will run on his PC, allowing for fun and educational times. One of the CDs he got was from the Disney Hotshots range and was the 101 Dalmatians Interactive Storybook and Print Studio.
As it suggests there are two sections to this game, the first being the interactive story and the second being the print studio. My son prefers the story section and will always click on here first if he fancies playing and very rarely on the print side of things.
The story basically starts with a page from the book and some text underneath. Pongo, the male Dalmatian from the story, reads aloud to you the words that form the beginning of the story. You can either follow along with this, watching each word highlight as Pongo speaks it, or a simple click on the background will end the speaking part, allowing you straight access to the interactive side of the picture. You can click on pretty much every item in the room you are in, for instance on the first page you see Roger (Pongos owner) in bed with Pongo waiting for him to wake up. If you click on the snooker ball shelved above his head it will roll off and clock Roger on the head. This is a very small example of the things it can do and my son has great fun seeing what surprises lay in store for him as he discovers new items to click on.
Once you have exhausted the interactive fun on the page you are on, you can go through the door and you will find yourself on the next page of the story. Again it will be read aloud to you if you chose it to and then you can click again on lots of new interactive items to make you laugh and keep you entertained. It follows on in this vain right through the story until the end. However the game doesnt end there, as within each page there are hidden games for you to play. For instance on the first page if you click on the window in Rogers bedroom it will take you to a game where you have to match the owner with the dog, and there are different difficulty levels depending on your childs age. This again follows through the game and each page holds a different secret game or activity. As well as hidden games you get songs to learn and the text at the bottom of the page (telling you the story) gives you the option of a dictionary and thesaurus when you click on them. For instance if the word fabulous is in a box and you click on it, it will give you a few more options of words that mean the same, like marvellous, which I find really helpful in teaching my son new words and vocabulary.
There are two options to either have the story read to you with no interaction from the user or to have the story told to you as described above but allowing you to explore each page as you go. Chances are the story will already be familiar with your child which is why you have brought the game so I find it is always better to go with the interactive option allowing your child the freedom to find their own pace and way with this game. My son certainly prefers doing this anyway.
The print studio is simply a separate area to click on when starting up the game and this will allow your childs creative side to come out. You can customise banners, bookmarks, posters and lots more with pictures based on the Dalmatian theme, along with colouring sections for them to do with a virtual paint set etc. This area is very entertaining for me as even as a grown up I love this kind of thing but my five year old son hasnt really taken to it at all, preferring to be more interactive, knocking Roger out with snooker balls. Typical boy! He has been playing this game for about a year now and this ties in with the manufacturers age recommendation of 4-9 years old, although I honestly think that my son will be bored of this game way before he reaches 9, however if you have brought it at a later age it may well suit the older child better as they will not have got used to all the games and therefore will appear fresh to them.
One thing I will mention is the ease with which you can install this. I am a bit of a techno-phobe and always worry I will completely mess up the computer when I try and do anything vaguely technical but for this game all you need to do is insert the disc into your computer, and follow the instructions which appear on screen. It is so easy and I was very pleased with myself after installation was complete in less than 3 minutes. Another positive about it is that it does not require the latest mega bucks computer to run on and it will be just as happy running on Windows 95 as it is on XP without suffering in speed or flow. The minimum spec machine you would need to run this game is a Pentium 133 mhz with just 16 megabytes of ram.
For £4.99 from most PC game retailers (PC World offer a 3 for 2 at the moment on these) I think it is an absolute bargain and his collection of Disney Hotshot titles is slowly growing.
Listen to the story, read along with Pongo, Perdy and their pups, or go straight to your favourite place in this interactive adventure. All sorts of surprises lie in store; click on a word, character or a picture and you'll discover a wealth of games and activities with multiple skill levels. Just let your imagination run free and this classic story springs to life in a whole new way!