January 2004

Cyber News and Reviews is a monthly column published for parents, teachers & business owners featuring kids educational software reviews, business software reviews (small business & home business), games and entertainment articles, a free resource since 1995.


Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat and Barbie Beauty Boutique from Vivendi Universal Games

By Howard Berenbon

Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat from Vivendi Universal Games

Now, you and your kids can enter the interactive world of Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat with this great new video game from Vivendi.  For those of you who saw the recent movie of the same name, with Mike Myers as The Cat in the Hat, you’ll recognize his voice as you direct Mike (I mean The Cat) through the surrealistic maze to confront creatures, capture objects and pick up points as he moves from level to level.  In fact, it offers 20 levels of pure video game entertainment with great 3-D graphics, music and sound effects. 

Now for a quick synopsis: Conrad and Sally (kids) are stuck in their house on a rainy day.  From nowhere, The Cat in the Hat enters with his red crate (filled with Seussian magic).  Unfortunately, the magic escapes, transforming their house into a weird world of wacky creatures and live inanimate objects, thus the adventure begins.

Since this a graphics intensive game, installation took a few minutes.  In the process, it tests your PC’s performance to make sure it can handle the speed and graphics.  My machine, a 550 MHz Pentium, just barely passed with a warning that it was just under the speed requirement, but would still work.  And they were correct.  After hitting the on screen PLAY button, it started my first ever Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat, video game adventure.

You begin in the house, controlling The Cat, with keyboard arrow keys and the mouse.   Your goal is to capture the missing magic by entering into household objects transformed into portals to worlds created by The Cat’s escaped magic.   You’ll start in the grandfather clock.  As you move The Cat through each level, you’ll have him jump and spring into the air, bounce and rocket to platforms and walkways and run through tunnels.  He’ll encounter obstacles to overcome and keys to win.  The visuals are impressive with moving backgrounds, and great perspectives, and The Cat’s comments are very funny.   If you need help, you can stop and have the Fish give you some advise.

Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat sells for $22.99 and will run on any multimedia PC, Pentium II 600 MHz or faster, 128 MB RAM with Windows 98/ME/2000/XP and a 12x CD-ROM drive.

Barbie Beauty Boutique CD-ROM from Vivendi Universal Games

In the early personal computer years and even somewhat recently, girls were left out when it came to PC games and activities that would interest them.  Now, for the past few years, thanks to companies who are kid concerned, like Vivendi Universal and Mattel, we have had a series of great girls games and activities including the Barbie doll theme.  Barbie Beauty Boutique CD-ROM is just one of a series of new Barbie software titles kids will enjoy.  My 9-year-old daughter Becky loves anything Barbie.  Girls, and maybe a few boys, ages 5 and up, will enjoy interacting with Barbie and her friends for a fun day of beauty makeovers.  Kids will work hairstyles, do makeup, apply facials and dress Barbie and friends in a variety of cloths and accessories.   Definitely a fun day for just about any girl who loves Barbie, and most girls do. 

After a quick installation from a single CD, and signing in, you’re on your way to a fun day with Barbie.   At the boutique you have a choice of four areas: Hair Square, the Nail Place, the Beauty Bar and the Fashion Spot.  To begin, choose one of the 3 Barbie pals to makeover:  Barbie herself, Christie or Teresa.  Then choose one of 8 events your pal will participate in:  Movie Premiere, Awards Show, Special Birthday Party, Day of Beauty, Dream Date, Modeling Assignment, Wedding Day or New Year’s Eve Party.  Now, to start, click on the Boutique Map button and you’re on your way for a day of makeover fun.

Barbie Beauty Boutique CD-ROM sells for $24.99 and will run on any multimedia PC, Pentium 266 MHz or faster, 64 MB RAM with Windows 98/ME/2000/XP and a 12x CD-ROM drive. 

Software Companies Mentioned

Vivendi Universal Games
4247 S. Minnewana Ave.
Fresno, CA 93725
Phone:  310-649-8004