McGee at the Fun Fair. (computer game) (evaluation)
by Beth Ann Murray
When we last saw McGee, he was making himself at home on Katie's farm, gathering eggs and watching Aunt Thelma milk the cow. But lately, your child may have been asking, "What else can McGee do?"
Lots! McGee is back with a new adventures, this time at a fair that he visits with his parents and his friend Tony. Fans of McGee and his antics will love this new story line, which opens with Tony, McGee, and his parent at a city square, watching an old man sketch. When the man turns his paper around, McGee and Tony see funny pictures of themselves! But if your child clicks on the old man again, a different picture may appear.
It's impossible to select something that doesn't react. Initiate action on the main screen by selecting icons. Move the mouse the highlight an icon, press the mouse button, and--presto!--a clown juggles! A lady plays her guitar!
The game's appeal comes in part from its support of sound systems. I used the Covox Speech Thing and was delighted with the authentic-sounding giggles of the children at play, the sound of inflating balloons, and the noisy slurps of McGee and Tony eating Popsicles.
Of course, parents like software for children to have an educational element, and McGee at the Fun Fair doesn't let us down. Children will learn to manipulate a mouse and interpret an icon. They'll learn cause and effect and how to maneuver through a series of commands to reach a desired goal.
One of the beauties of McGee at the Fun Fair, and of all the earlier McGee adventures, is that they're truly for children who cannot yet read. Since all action starts with teh click of a mouse button on an icon, and because the movement of the cursor is limited to the bottom of the screen, even children with limited dexterity should have little trouble making the program do what they want it to do. The icons can also be selected with the arrow keys, so if your child has a mental block against mice (just like some adults!), this program is a good choice.
Unfortunately, I'm afraid these very advantages may limit the game's appeal over time. My three-year-old, who is fairly computer literate, tired of play fairly quickly. He replayed some of the animations again and again and liked certain sound effects, but after about half an hour, he'd had enough. Luckily, I have a one-year-old coming up behind him who hasn't gone much beyond banging wildly at the keyboard, so we'll just save McGee for him.
The beauty of a recurring character like McGee is that he's already familiar, and all parents of young children know how important that can be. Now that there are three different stories, I'm sure that children will eagerly await the next adventure of McGee.