July 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.


Shrek 2 The Adventure Continues from AcTiVision, Didi and Ditto Kindergarten from Kutoka Kids and Mondo E-Journal Software from My World Software, Inc.

By Howard Berenbon

Shrek 2 The Adventure Continues from AcTiVision

If you haven't seen Shrek 2, the surrealistic and incredibly funny animated fairytale sequel to the loveable and original Shrek movie, it's a must. And if you loved the movies, featuring Mike Myers as the Ogre Shrek, Eddie Murphy as Donkey and Cameron Diaz as Princess Fiona, then you and your kids will love the video game for the PC (rated E for Everyone), by the same name, from AcTiVision. You'll find great graphics, animation, music and realistic sounds, while you interact with Shrek and friends.

After a quick installation from a single CD you'll enter the world of Shrek 2 which beings with the storybook. Then you'll enter the main menu to start your fairy tale adventure. Click on an empty game slot to begin. You find yourself in control of Shrek using the mouse and keyboard arrow keys. You can also use the mouse to look up and down, and rotate 360 degrees. It will help you find objects that may be out of your immediate view. Shrek will jump if you click on the right mouse button, and punch with the left mouse button. Donkey is there too, and will follow you, but more importantly, he'll offer helpful hints when you least expect it. Your immediate goal is to collect gold coins and advance from level to level. Some of the coins are easy to get, while others are floating out of reach, requiring some complex climbing and jumping to collect. Getting Shrek to move where you need him to move may take some practice. Eventually, you'll use the coins to buy potions to improve Shrek's strength, and for dealing with The Bad Guys (like Itsy Bitsy Dust or Wee Me Shrink Drink), redeemable at Fairy Grandmother's Potion Drive Thru. You an also restore Shrek's health by grabbing Hero Energy Bars and four leaf clovers when you find them.

In your journey through this magical world of Shrek, you meet "The Good Guys" including Shrek (who you control), that loveable Donkey, Puss in Boots (new to the tale) and the Giant Gingerbread Man (now he would make some big dessert). You'll also meet and interact with "The Bad Guys" including the grumpy and not so bad, Peasants, the Bandits (they try to steel your coins), Hazmat Elves (they work for Fairy Godmother), the tough Knights, dangerous Trees, Snapdragons (thorny plants), Bats, Spiders (speedy, with a bad attitude) and last but not least, Fairy Godmother. If you like 3D adventure games, and especially the Shrek movies, then roaming around the countryside with Shrek and friends fighting the bad guys will be lots of fun for kids and adults (like me) who loved this fractured fairytale. This is the PC game version, but it's also available for most of the video game machines including the Sony PlayStation 2, the Nintendo GameCube, the Nintendo Game Boy Advance and Microsoft's Xbox.

Shrek 2 The Adventure Continues from AcTiVision sells for $29.99 (rated E for Everyone) and will run on any multimedia PC, Pentium III 450 MHz or faster, 128 MB RAM with Windows 98//2000/ME /XP and a 4x CD-ROM drive.

Didi and Ditto Kindergarten from Kutoka Kids

Enter the world of Didi & Ditto, two animated beavers, and their wacky adventures with funny characters and purple wolves. The software begins with the two beavers running through the forest, with one captured by the hungry Zolt the Wolf. Fortunately, Zolt is a vegetarian and with your help, you can free your beaver friend by feeding the wolf vegetables you gather nearby. This is the first educational game with the beavers Didi and Ditto, in their series of grade-based software, produced by the makers of the Mia the mouse educational titles.

After a quick installation from a single CD your kindergarteners (ages 4 to 6) will meet Didi and Ditto in their world for an educational game adventure. To begin, enter the number of players (up to 4) by picking a vegetable or fruit and select either Didi, a red animated girl beaver, or Ditto, a boy in all blue, to play. Then choose a play level (1 to 3) and you'll find yourself in the main menu with a graphics overview of their world. To begin, pick an area in the forest with a click of your mouse, and you'll send the beaver (either Didi or Ditto) to that area and the adventure begins. Here, you'll enter into houses or buildings to play the arcade-style activities so you can win fruits and vegetables to offer the wolf. Clicking on other areas of the screen can cause animals or insects to appear, greeting you with a joke or two.

The 3-D graphics are impressive, and the activities are numerous, designed to help any kindergartener have some fun while learning math, language, music and art. Kids will spend hours glued to their computer playing this fun-filled educational CD.

Didi & Ditto Kindergarten sells for $19.88 and will run on any multimedia PC, Pentium II 300 MHz or faster, 128 MB RAM with Windows 98//2000/ME /XP and a 12x CD-ROM drive. It also runs on a PowerMac G3 300 MHz or faster with 128 MB RAM and a 12x CD-ROM drive.

Mondo! E-Journal Software from My World Software, Inc.

Kids (ages 9 through 15) who want to keep an electronic journal on their PC can use Mondo! E-Journal Software, new from My World Software, Inc. in Lyme, CT. With Mondo! E-Journal, kids make a digital record of everything they do. It allows you to combine photos, text, graphics, music, sounds and even videos in a journal format for viewing. And it allows for password protection so your kids can keep their journals from their parents' eyes. Becky, my 9-year-old daughter, said, "It's a really good program." She likes to draw and write, and a journal that allows other than just text is the perfect match for her creative needs. She's been using it non-stop, two days in a row, since our installation. For Becky, "really good" translates into "excellent." We highly recommend Mondo! E-Journal.

Mondo! E-Journal Software sells for $24.95 on CD or $19.95 for a download, and will run on any multimedia PC, Pentium 200 MHz or faster, 32 MB RAM with Windows 98//2000/ME /XP and a 4x CD-ROM drive.

Software Companies Mentioned

AcTiVision, Incorporated
3100 Ocean Park Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA 90405
Phone: 310-255-2000

Kutoka Interactive
1001, Rue Sherbrook Est
Bureau 400
Montreal, Quebec Canada H2L1L3
Phone; 514-849-4800

My World Software, Inc.
PO Box 656
Lyme, CT 06371
Phone: 860-434-3051