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Children's Software Review:

John Deere: Busy Days in Deerfield Valley (CD-ROM)

PC Software Review: John Deere: Busy Days in Deerfield Valley
Children's Computer Game for the PC

By Deere & Company

Our Recommended Age: Ages 3-6

Our Rating: B+



about our reviews:
All reviews at Edutaining Kids are independent and impartial. Our children's software reviews are designed to help parents and caregivers find the right computer games for their kids. Evaluations and ratings are based on educational and entertainment value, age appropriate content, and innovativeness.

Based on John Deere children's books, which in turn is based on real John Deere Machines, this computer game for young children features an assortment of activities that allows children to interact with bulldozers, loaders, graders, and more. These machines have personality--each character has a name and expressive eyes, and has something to say, too.

Some of the activities are free-play, such as the one pictured at the top of this review. This interactive screen allows kids to point and click for simple activities (such as moving flower pots) and introductions to the various machines. Each character introduces itself and tells kids what it can do. For example, Luke Loader lifts, Eddy Excavator digs holes and trenches, and so forth.

Two of the games--the best of the bunch--actively develop kids' thinking skills. "Fix the Bridge" (pictured directly above) involves helping Luke Loader re-build a bridge by finding the correct bridge piece from a set of four. Kids must complete the bridge against the clock, but it's a lenient clock! This game is strong because on "normal" and "hard" levels, kids view the pieces at a different angle and must use their brains in order to find the piece that fits. Color coding is removed on the "hard" level.

Another activity that has educational value is pictured directly above and involves selecting pipes, also color-coded, and placing them where they belong before Danny Dozer fills in the hole. On the "hard" level, kids view the color first and then it is hidden, which forces them to use memory skills. At first, we were surprised that after only one mistake, kids have to start again from scratch. However, this fact actually motivated kid testers to want to play again and again.

One activity, Help Build the Library, involved rather tricky controls for the targeted age group. Kids need to direct Danny Dozer in order to clean up a construction zone, and getting him to the correct spot was found to be a real challenge. Again, this fact actually motivated children to keep on playing. Sandbox Play Zone is a simple free-play activity that allows children to select a machine and perform actions such as lifting rocks and dirt, dumping the load somewhere else, and cleaning up the piles. Kids need to use the spacebar in this activity. Finally, Surprise Delivery involves leading J. T. Tractor through a maze as he collects flower pots. 

Design features that we liked include difficulty levels that can be selected globally and adjusted for individual games as well, and a sign-in feature that allows kids to pick up where they left off. System requirements are reasonable. However, we have a few complaints with the game, the largest being its written directions. We are unsure why a game designed for young children who are not yet fluent readers doesn't include audio instructions and help. We also found gameplay a little slow and choppy despite playing on computers with more than adequate system requirements. Finally, the reward system involves unlocking coloring pages. Unfortunately, these are printable coloring pages--not interactive ones.

Pros:

  • The game's puzzles offer a very good workout for the young mind.
  • Relatively low system requirements.
  • Multiple difficulty levels.

Cons:

  • Problems with instructions and help: they are not spoken, and children in the targeted age group are not yet fluent readers.

See also: More screenshots from the game

Our Rating:

B+


more information:

For more information, user reviews, or to buy: John Deere: Busy Days in Deerfield Valley

Reviewed: October 2005

Comments? Email us

Other Guides, Reviews, & Articles at Edutaining Kids:


see also:

Gift Guides for Preschoolers

Fun & Learning with Digital Cameras

 



John Deere: Busy Days in Deerfield Valley


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