Mixed-Up Mother Goose. (educational software) (evaluation)
by Eddie Huffman
Nothing brings classic literature to life liek colorful illustrations. Combine these with the lessons of a nursery rhyme and events in a child's own life, and you have an unbeatable way to educate and entertain at the same time. Mixed-Up Mother Goose, an adventure game aimed at preschoolers, does just that. Combining inspired graphics and ease of play unlikely to frustrate even a four-year-old, it draws a child in and allows him or her to learn by playing a game. Type in a name, select a representative animated character, and almost immediately a child is winging into an extended adventure astride Mother Goose's goose.
The yarn-spinning spinster herself greets the child outside her cottage, asking for help in straightening out her mixed-up rhymes. Mary can't seem to find her little lamb, and Jack and Jill need their pail before they can make an ill-fated uphill climb. Those and 16 other rhymes must be set right before the game can end. Just by going through this process, a child can't help but learn.
After the child's name has been typed, no further typing or complicated keystrokes are required. The character is maneuvered using a joystick, mouse, or arrow keys. An object is picked up simply by walking up to it; the nursery rhyme characters speak when approached. Doors open automatically.
Besides providing an elementary, engaging introduction to the personal computer, Mixed-up Mother Goose teaches problem solving, object recognition, and even map reading as the child winds his or her way through fairy tale territory with the help of a colorful poster. Of course, there's also a boost to reading skills and appareciation of rhyming and wordplays as the rhymes unfold. For children who have never read Mother Goose before, this game might well be an enticement to seek out the stories.
Best of all, though, Mixed-Up Mother Goose is fun. The characters are vibrant and distinct, meandering through a colorful landscape strewn with pumpkin houses and castles, lost candlesticks and wandering fiddlers three. Lost objects usually appear relatively close to their owners, preventing frustratingly long travels. Simply changing scenes often unveils unexpected delights--whether it's the old woman's shoe or the crooked man's little crooked house.
The creators of Mixed-Up Mother Goose have pulled off an impressive feat: old-fashioned storytelling that holds its own in the age of Nintendo and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. For educational value in a pleasing package, this is one wild goose chase worth completing.