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Kutoka Interactive  
Ditti & Dotto Preschool: Mother Nature's Visit
From: Kutoka Interactive
For: Macintosh, Windows PC
Genre: Educational, Family, KidTech
ESRB Rating: N/R (Not Rated)
Ditti & Dotto Preschool: Mother Nature's Visit
Though decent pre-schooler games are few and far between, you can always rely on Kutoka Interactive to deliver the goods. Ditti & Dotto Preschool: Mother Nature's Visit is the Montreal-based developer's latest in a line of tyke focused "edutainment" titles.
Posted January 27, 2009
By SHAUN CONLIN, EVERGEEK MEDIA
 
Built on the Quick Time platform (thus compatible with both PC and Mac) Ditti & Dotto Preschool - Mother Nature's Visit engages the wee ones in an interactive wonderland full of cuddly characters and ultra vibrant environments. Under the guise of preparing said wonderland for a celebratory visit from Mother Nature, players are faced with numerous, no pressure, point & click activities and multiple choice ordeals where "wrong" answers are met with a cheery, encouraging, "nope, try again!"

Ultimately, users learn age-appropriate basics of letters, numbers, colors and sounds by observation and association as well as shape, object, animal and pattern recognition as stuff is collected, reassembled and/or rewarded as a prize at the end of each activity.

However, though voice work and audio clues are crisp, amiable and clearly enunciated, it's not always clear when one is supposed to be observing and when it's time to click. For example, when Ditti asks "do you see something that smells good?" and you then click the exceptionally pretty flower, nothing happens.

As it turns out, Ditti was merely pausing in her crisp, amiable and clearly enunciated query; she then follows with "show me!" Only after that are you expected to click the flower (oh, and not the lemon, which Kutoka has decided does not smell good, even though every single disinfectant and detergent a tyke has ever come across is clearly emblazoned with imagery touting "Lemon Fresh Scent").

Essentially, the game is perpetually stuck in low gear and forces you to wait for every animation or audio clue to finish its little routine before the game will recognize a mouse click -- or space bar tap, sometimes --, and that can be frustrating for the preschooler that already understands what is required and wants to pick up the pace.

Conversely, there is one level that has you pressing the space bar to make Ditti jump up to capture a mushroom (good grief), but if one relies on the audio cue "jump!", you'll miss. Instead, you must press the space bar somewhere after "ju..." but before "...ump!" Weird.

Worse, since clicking the correct item/object/answer too soon is the same as no click at all, what follows is a dumb stare and a pregnant pause before the task at hand is reiterated -- and again all input is ignored until it's done repeating itself.

While this belabored lethargy is not a catastrophic defect (technically, it's a Quick Time shortcoming more than a design flaw), Ditti & Dotto Preschool: Mother Nature's Visit does end up inadvertently delivering long series of lessons in "wait for it."

Otherwise, it's wholesome, cheerful, engaging and rewarding edutainment. Lacking a second gear, sure, but at just 20 beans, well worth the price.

    TIP: In Ditti & Dotto Preschool - Mother Nature's Visit, know that deer eat leaves, which the game just assumes you know; it doesn't bother teaching dietary habits, it just grills you on apparent "common knowledge." In other words, parents should stay on hand while a tot is playing. Otherwise, the process of elimination suffices.

 
 
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Score:  3.5  (out of 5)