Appletell reviews Dora’s Big Birthday Adventure for Mac OS X

Sections: Education / Reference, Games, Mac Software, Reviews

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Dora's Big Birthday AdventureGenre: Children’s Education
Format: CD
Developer: Nova Development
Mac Publisher: Nova Development
System Requirements: Mac OS X v10.4, 512MB RAM, CD-ROM
Review Computer: 3.2GHz Intel Core i3 iMac, 4GB RAM, 512MB Radeon HD5670 graphics card
Network Feature: No
Processor Compatibility: Universal
Price: $19.99
ESRB Rating: E
Availability: Out now
Demo: N/A

As a parent, I’ve never been a fan of young Dora. The kid yells too much. She and that blasted monkey just can’t hold a conversation without shouting at each other or, worse, at my kids. And why are they so dumb about maps? One of my proudest parenting moments was when my then four-year-old daughter yelled back at Dora, “Okay, we get it! Just go!”

But the kids are more willing than I am to forgive (or tolerate) this constant shouting, so although they never watch the show anymore, they’re happy to play the games. One of the latest for the Mac is Dora’s Big Birthday Adventure from Nova Development.

The story is your typically fun Dora nonsense. Dora and Boots are stuck in a storybook, and they have to get out in time for Dora’s birthday party. To do so, they’ll need to collect crystals which were stolen by a witch or some such thing and give them back to the Wizzles who can then free her. So, Dora sets out on her adventure, which plays pretty much like a TV episode; visit a location, get past an obstacle by speaking Spanish or something, move on. That’s good, since young gamers will already be familiar with the concept.

Dora's Big Birthday Adventure

The story’s just there to drive the games along, most of which are well done. They’re basically a collection of Flash-style games (in fact, you can play the bulk of them online), but they come together well to challenge young gamers without frustrating them. It was rare that my kids had to seek my help.

There are a total eight games with three levels each. It’s only an hour or two of gameplay, but kids won’t mind playing through it multiple times. They also won’t mind the educational aspect, as the game teaches numbers and letters, phonics, colors and shapes, music and art, and (of course) Spanish. It also works with memory skills and problem-solving. All of this is cleverly hidden by games that involve bubble repair, giant snake monsters, tree dancing, etc.

Dora's Big Birthday Adventure

You expect education from a Dora game. What you don’t expect is actual gameplay, and in that regard I was pleasantly surprised by Dora’s Big Birthday Adventure. If the gameplay is boring, kids will lose interest. With this Dora game, both my four- and six-year-old were happy to work their way through the whole thing.

Dora's Big Birthday Adventure

In fact, if any of us had a real complaint about the game, it would just be Dora herself. The only thing worse than listening to her shout at you for half an hour strait is listening to someone shouting at you through a nasally impersonation of Dora. I don’t know who plays Dora in the cartoon, or even if it’s been the same actress throughout the show’s run, but if it’s the same person who plays her in this game, she had a terrible cold and a vendetta against the developers that day. This is not the kind of voice you can stand to listen to for more than 10 minutes, so parents, plan on giving your children some alone time at the computer.

And that’s fine, because the game is playable without your help, and that’ll make the usual Dora game rewards that much more rewarding.

Dora's Big Birthday Adventure

Dora’s Big Birthday Adventure is a fine entry in the series. It plays like an episode of the TV show, so you and your young gamer(s) will know what to expect. It’ll help them develop their preschool skills, and they’ll have fun doing it.

Hopefully, though, they won’t pick up on all the yelling. Dora’s been in these situations many times now. She really should be able to just settle down and get things done by now.

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Dora's Big Birthday Adventure review

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