Clifford may be the ultimate dream dog — he’s a faithful, loyal and playful companion. But Clifford isn’t like any other dog. He just happens to be larger than most homes — unless you happen to live in a palace or happen to be a giant. And being extra-large is part of what makes Clifford’s adventures fun.
Children ages four to six can play along with Clifford, his owner and best pal Emily Elizabeth and an assortment of neighborhood friends in Clifford the Big Red Dog Thinking Adventures. Clifford the Big Red Dog has been entertaining children for more than 37 years. Clifford has become famous through his book series, offering more than 86 children’s book titles featuring the ups and downs of being a very large dog. After launching a successful animated television show on PBS this past fall, Scholastic Inc. has released two Clifford CD-ROMs: Clifford Thinking Adventures and Clifford Reading.
With Clifford Thinking Adventures, children are asked to aid Emily Elizabeth and Clifford as they get things ready for Clifford’s birthday party. Children are enlisted to gather party needs for the loveable, giant canine while problem-solving, being creative and using logic and reasoning skills.
After launching the CD-ROM, children are immediately asked to select a level of game play — either Easy, Medium or Hard. Next, players can choose four different jewels to be placed on Clifford’s birthday collar. The jewels become scattered throughout Clifford’s neighborhood and can be collected by visiting each of the activities. Clifford is later rewarded with the bejeweled collar at his party.
The adventure begins inside Emily Elizabeth’s bedroom. Children can use the mouse to click around and find where Clifford is hiding. The cursor appears as a large yellow arrow that sparkles near “hot spots.” The cursor also changes into items based on an associated activity, such as a “shovel” for digging or a “bottle of glue” for piecing a puzzle together. Each of the activities are accessible by clicking on the locations found on the neighborhood map or by clicking the mouse when the cursor becomes an arrow to move to another location.
Each of the items that need to be collected appear in a menu bar located at the bottom of the screen. Located to the right of the menu bar is a stop sign which allows players to quickly exit the game. To the bottom right of the screen, players will also find the map icon (which allows players to jump to another location) and Emily Elizabeth’s backpack (which can carry other helpful, collected items).
Children can play in the dirt while searching for paired objects with the digging activity. By clicking on the piles of dirt in Emily Elizabeth’s backyard, players can enter the digging activity to search for objects that “go together,” such as paper and a pencil or socks and shoes. Children practice memory and matching skills.
As children visit each of the neighborhood locations they will encounter problems that will require them to think of solutions. For example, at the park players need to determine why the hot air balloon is stuck in the tree or how to rescue the dog groomer, Elroy Kibble.
From the Bleakmans’ backyard, children can have fun grooming Clifford. Players can give Clifford a soapy bath, change the color of his fur or select a new hairstyle for him. Players can also take pictures of Clifford that can be saved in a photo album or printed.
At the market, Clifford accidentally knocks over Mr. Hamburger’s food display. Players are asked to sort like grocery items onto shelves featuring empty spots with the appropriate number of spaces. Players can fix the display sign by sorting and glueing puzzle pieces together. After fixing the display, players can decorate a birthday cake for Clifford. Children can add sprinkles, different colors of icing, food and party icons or letters and numbers to each cake. Cakes can be saved by taking a picture for the photo album or printed.
At the town square, Clifford accidentally causes a traffic jam after retrieving a woman’s lost scarf. Players have to think of a way to clear the jam, which may require Clifford to pick up cars one at a time and carry them to the correct destinations. As players select each car to move, a map will appear and the cursor will turn into Clifford carrying a vehicle in his mouth.
At the firehouse, players can help Pete the Fire Chief perform a fire drill. Players listen to Pete the Fire Chief and follow the directions to guide Clifford to the pretend fire.
At the beach, players need to guide a swimming Clifford through the water in order to rescue Loretta’s dog, Rocky. Players guide Clifford as he swims by moving the mouse left and right while eating fish sticks for energy. Waves and seaweed slow Clifford down and drain his energy. After Rocky has been saved, players can play a similar activity by allowing Clifford to swim out to a friendly whale. Children practice fine motor skills as they carefully guide Clifford through the water in these activities.
After all the necessary items have been collected, players can join Clifford and his friends at his birthday party. Children can click on each of the party guests for special surprises, such as a song sung by Emily Elizabeth. Clifford’s photo album can be viewed or printed.
At the party, players can also join in a canine soccer game. Children can select four dogs to compete against and then choose a level to play soccer. Players click the mouse to kick the ball and then move the mouse back and forth to block the opposing team from scoring. Children are able to practice fine motor skills and spatial reasoning through this activity.
Parents will appreciate the included parent’s guide featuring information about each activity as well as hints and tips for game play. Children are able to play this adventure game without parental assistance, which is a great way to boost confidence and computer usage skills by completing challenging activities independently. Children can easily click on the question mark icon when they need help. Games are automatically saved under each player’s name upon exiting the program, and saved games can be replayed later.
Clifford Thinking Adventures is available now at major software retail outlets at the suggested retail price of US$19.95.
System requirements include: PowerPC 120 MHz or faster processor; System 7.5.3 or later; 16 MB RAM; minimum 35 MB hard disk space available; 640 x 480 display with 256 colors; 4X CD-ROM drive; and optional printer.