BBC Balamory (2004)
Publisher: Avanquest Software
Platform: Windows 98, Windows Me, Windows XP
Release date: 27th February, 2004
- 5 great games and activities:
- Edie’s Delivery Dilemna - help Edie pick up the fruit around the village
- Archie’s Word Wonder - choose the correct letters to generate stories
- PC Plum ‘Investigates’ - investigate and learn about various things in Balamory
- Penny and Suzie’s Shopping Spree - collate customer’s orders and add them to the basket
- Josie’s Hide and Seek - Look for Josie who is playing a hiding game
- Balamory video clips
- Number paint pack featuring the characters, themes and locations from the programme
- Develops a wide range of skills encouraging learning through fun and interaction
What's the story in Balamory? Invite your kids to join Miss Hooly, Pocket & Sweet, PC Plum, Archie, Spencer and Edie Mcredie in virtual Balamory and they will learn as they play. Based on the popular BBC TV children's programme, the BBC Balamory CD-ROM opens with the colourful introductory song viewers know so well. Children are then presented with a variety of games to test basic pre-school and early years skills.
For younger children (3-4 years) the favourite will no doubt be Josie Jump's Hide and Seek game, where they must find Josie in a field of people, then click on her to make her jump. Equally rewarding for the smallest players is Spencer's Colour Challenge, where youngsters use basic mouse skills and number recognition to match colours with areas of the drawing--a kind of virtual colour by numbers.
All players will love Edie's Delivery Dilemma, which involves Pac-Man-like gameplay as youngsters work against the clock, using the arrow keys to direct Edie's bus around the town and picking up fruit dropped by the delivery van so that Pocket & Sweet can sell it in their shop. PC Plum Investigates asks children to sort through the evidence that is all mixed up on the policeman's desk, so he can sort out his cases--tasks such as "click on the things that are the same colour as the sea" make this game accessible to most players.
Slightly older children, (4-6 years) might like to try Archie's Word Wonder, where they must fill in the missing letters on words so that Archie's Word Machine can produce words for Miss Hooly's stories. The only criticism here is that words are sounded out by name only, and not phonetically, but otherwise this is a fun, testing game. Children of school age will also enjoy Pocket & Sweet's Shopping Spree--a fun shopping game that involves helping Penny and Susie put together all their orders, then adding up the cost at the end. If players tire at any point, they can take a break with one of six Miss Hooly stories.
The production quality is superb: colours are bright and images crisp and the clips from the show run perfectly. Each game is introduced and narrated by the corresponding character from the show, with original voiceovers, and the games are fun, educational and pitched perfectly at the target age-range. There are three difficulty levels for each task, to avoid frustration and aid development. Help is on offer on every screen, and children as young as three or four years old, who possess basic mouse skills, will be able to play the easier games unaided, and the others with assistance. Instructions are read out and printed on-screen, so children can follow as they listen, thus developing valuable reading skills. Great thought has obviously gone into matching characters with tasks, and the variety of games played and skills tested makes this a fantastic all-round package. --Lucie Naylor