E3: Scholastic intros new line of kids' games

Scholastic Inc. unveiled its new line up of kids' games and education titles at this week's E3 Expo in Los Angeles, Calif. The company has lined up new offerings featuring characters from popular kids' television shows as well as some original creations.

Scholastic Retail Software Vice President and General Manager Alan Waldman explained his company's approach. He said that many companies competing in Scholastic's market are focusing on the development of compilations. "We are building our portfolio by creating original software based on popular licenses," he said.

This year Scholastic will bring to retailers a variety of hybrid Mac/PC CD-ROMs -- which will run natively on Mac OS X, according to a Scholastic spokesperson.

Math Missions is a new, original series that debuts with two titles for K-2 and Grades 3-5 respectively. Both games ship this July. Math Missions: The Race to Spectacle City Arcade features basic math and problem-solving activities for younger players. Players explore activity areas throughout the city and build skyscrapers, sort toys at the toy store and count candy. Kids are rewarded with "money" they can use to play games at the Spectacle City Arcade.

Math Missions: The Amazing Adventure is designed for older kids. This game emphasizes more advanced, grade-appropriate math activities where kids help store owners save their businesses from the nefarious Randall Underling. Kids earn money they can use to open their own arcade.

Clifford Phonics builds on the popular PBS kids' show and book series Clifford: The Big Red Dog. Kids team up with Clifford and his friends at the Birdwell Island Carnival, where they ride the ferris wheel and cross the tightrope while practicing phonics, spelling and vocabulary skills. As they advance they can win prizes used to decorate a float for the Big Parade. Clifford Phonics hits stores in August.

The fall and holidays will bring other new games. I Spy Fantasy, coming this September, is aimed at kids ages 6-10 and builds on the popular I Spy book series. Players explore three different worlds looking for treasure beneath the sea, going on outer space missions, and invading a castle to rescue a princess from the wicked dragon.

Nickelodeon Cartoon Creator appears for kids ages 6-11. The title enables kids to create their own 3D animated adventures featuring cartoon characters seen on the Nickelodeon cable television network, including SpongeBob Squarepants, Jimmy Neutron, Rugrats and Fairly OddParents. Kids can pick from over 150 characters, backgrounds and props, record their own voice, and e-mail their finished works.

Dragon Tales: Learn & Fly with Dragons is aimed at kids ages 4-6. The game enables players to join the popular animated dragons from the PBS TV series while developing problem solving and early math skills. Players earn Dragon Badges and help their dragon friends to fly.

Little Bill Thinks Big is a title aimed at kids ages 4-6 based on the series created by Bill Cosby. Players help Little Bill make special surprises for his family as they develop math and thinking skills while launching a submarine, making cookies, visiting outer space and more.

All titles will ship to retailers nationwide on hybrid CD-ROM format for Mac and Windows, with a suggested retail price of US$19.95.

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