Barney Actimates Imagination Island
© 1997 Microsoft Corp.
Win 95 (CD-ROM)
Teaches: Alphabet, counting, shapes, colors, etc.
There's no doubt about it– the best part of this whole package is the animated plush Barney doll who talks, sings and plays games with your children. He's great– fantastically responsive, and young children love him. He's also expensive ($110 for the doll alone). What's in qu...
There's no doubt about it– the best part of this whole package is the animated plush Barney doll who talks, sings and plays games with your children. He's great– fantastically responsive, and young children love him. He's also expensive ($110 for the doll alone). What's in question in this review, however, is an add-on option of Barney software that is used in conjunction with the doll. For an extra $65, you can buy a transmitter and CD-ROM called Imagination Island. With these add-ons, Barney functions as an off-screen narrator to the software, guiding children through the onscreen activities, giving prompts and encouragement. He also plays interactive games along the way. For instance, if your youngster squeezes Barney's hand during the alphabet activity, he will play one of several letter games that progresses (on and offscreen) only if the child continues to press his hand. Although the software's subject matter (colors, shapes, letters, etc.) breaks no new ground for this age group, there's a lot to do and testers found new layers of activity each time they played. The CD's five activity areas are engaging as well as educationally solid. Lead by Barney buddies like BabyBop, each game is multilevel, and also features an explore mode. Children can play with letters on the beach, count balloons with a wacky professor, and match animal sounds in the woods. There's a color activity, a shape game, and lots of singing and dancing all throughout the program. Also on the CD is a theater where kids can view video clips, and an excellent parents' resource area. Of the two Barneys we tested, one worked flawlessly with the software, the other had some speech hiccups. Most of our testers enjoyed the CD, although those not yet adept with the mouse needed help. Yes, we wish this package was cheaper, but price aside, it's of good quality.