Aladdin: Disney's Activity Centre

Developer/Publisher:  Disney Interactive
Year Released:  1995

Review by Rosemary Young (August, 1996)
aladd.jpgAmongst its basket of goodies this title includes a 'movie theatre' option where children can view half a dozen excerpts from the Disney Aladdin movie. To me they were magic (eeek, at my age!) -- and they worked a treat. Aladdin, the movie, has been put on my list of videos to borrow from the local video store and, if it was still showing at the theatre, I'd probably be on the lookout for a couple of children to borrow for an afternoon. So, if you let your children loose with this game, be prepared (if you haven't already) to also be on the lookout for the movie.

Fun and friendly
Similar to the Aladdin platform game released not so long ago, this children's game doesn't tell the story of Aladdin, it only borrows and builds on the idea to introduce a collection of children's games or 'activities'. Though there is nothing especially new amongst these activities the whole production is beautifully presented with quite delightful graphics and music -- not really surprising for something bearing the Disney name.

No child could possibly get confused or lose their way playing this game, and it couldn't fail to entertain any young Disney fan. There are hours of fun just waiting at the press of a mouse button. It's colourful, friendly and encouraging (no penalties for making a mistake, just the opportunity to try again) and in every screen there is a help function through which a cheerful blue genie will give clear directions to any hesitant player. It's just a pity this function stays activated until 'turned off' hence children will need to exercise some discipline to relinquish their willing helper. Also, it's a pity that the genie only has one title to his repertoire. 'Yes Master' is fine for addressing young boys, but young girls also deserve recognition.

Puzzles and games
Essentially this title is divided into four sections; the movie theatre, plus three other sections (the market place, the cave of wonder and the sultan's palace) where puzzles and games can be accessed by selecting the appropriate graphic. The activities themselves include picture puzzles and mazes, word games, music games and card concentration games. There is also a paint pallet providing an opportunity for children to colour in a selection of sketches of Aladdin characters. Although they are basically the same puzzles and games in each of the three areas, they vary in that the pictures, words or other objects are different. Also, for many of the activities such as the mazes, picture puzzles and card matching games there are three difficulty levels to cater for a range of ages.

Using this title there is plenty of opportunity for children to have fun whilst improving their painting or concentration skills, or for testing their spelling or their memory. The painting activities consist of a range of drawings for colouring with the paint set or with the crayon set, and include a paint by numbers mode and a join the dots mode. It's unfortunate that these drawings aren't quite large enough (it would have been better if they had filled a larger portion of the screen) because this has dictated that numbers in these latter modes are very tiny. Younger children, the ones who might benefit most by practising their basic numeracy skills, may have some trouble following them.

Marketed for children ages 5 and up, this title is certainly value for money. It's great fun and very easy to use, and comes with an excellent manual with step by step installation instructions for parents who are not familiar with computers. rating:  

Copyright © Rosemary Young 1996. All rights reserved.

System requirements:
486SX25, 4MB RAM, 10 MB hard drive space, 2xCD-ROM, DOS 5.0, Win 3.1, mouse.