________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 13 . . . .March 3, 2006

cover

Didi & Ditto First Grade: The Wolf King.

Montreal, PQ: Kutoka Interactive, 2005.
1 CD-ROM, $29.95.

Minimum System requirements:

Windows:
Windows 98, 2000, ME, XP
CPU: Pentium II
RAM: 128 MB
Video & Sound: DirectX Compatible
CD-ROM: 12X
560 MB of hard disk space

Macintosh:
OS X 10.2, 10.3, 10.4
CPU: G3 - 900MHz, G4 - 700 MHz, G5
RAM: 128 MB
Video: 800 x 600
Sound: Standard Macintosh
CD-ROM: 12X
600 MB of hard drive disk space.

Grades 1-3 / Ages 6-8.

Review by John Dryden.

*** /4

   

excerpt:

In this story, the wolves have invaded Jako's Valley and to avoid having their homeland destroyed by the wolves, the animals have accepted the Wolf King as their ruler. The animals must work hard to fill the demands of the King and his Lieutenants. They feel as if they are being treated as slaves!

This can't go on! Didi and Ditto have a plan. They know the Wolf King believes that wolfes [sic] are more intelligent than the other animals of the valley.

So, they go see the King and make a bet with him: if they can prove to him that they are more clever than his Lieutenants, the King and his wolf pack will have to leave the valley alone. At first the King looks really angry but then he starts laughing, convinced that the beavers will never win such a bet.

So, he accepts. However, there is one condition: only one of our two courageous beavers can go. And he warns them: if they don't succeed, the beaver left behind will become his personal slave for ever. Now, the beavers really need your help to pull their risky bet off!

 

Kutoka Software has created a fun program with some very cool characters and games that provide a good "edutainment" experience. When the game starts, the player is treated to what the developers have touted as a "feature-film quality" short animation introduction. It lives up to the stated quality. Once the player has watched this, s/he must choose whether s/he will be the male character Ditto, or the female character Didi (both beavers).

     The player must choose from a map which area s/he would like to go to challenge the wolves and win the Royal Medallion and the Royal Flag. The animations are excellent and entertaining. As the player arrives at each area, the mouse is used to discover the wolf and the accompanying 'medallion' or flag challenge activity. While searching the area, the mouse pointer changes from purple to yellow indicating a 'hot spot' to click. Each activity area is well stocked with oodles of fun. There are many entertaining characters embedded in this game, and I found I was looking forward to finding them in each area. Each character is described in the game manual which is found on the CD-ROM.

     The weaknesses in this product are few. The most obvious to me (but not to the children who sampled this game) is that the advertised 'feud' is with the wolves. In each area, the wolves are not the only characters who must be bested to win the Royal Flags. "Friendly" characters ask for help in order to complete their own jobs for the King, and in return they give the player the Royal Flag. It doesn't really fit the "best the wolves to win" concept that the game is based upon. However, the activities are entertaining as well as challenging, and this apparent paradox of having to"earn" the Royal Flag from "friends" does not ruin the experience whatsoever. There are a couple instances that seem a little odd - like the wolf who says "I am excellent, watch this." and the wolf just stands there and performs nothing. I found that some of the activities take too long to complete, and that, even if you make no mistakes, the wolf character may win the competition which then forces the player to play the same 'too long' challenge again. In the music and spelling activities, the players could use the game controls to complete the challenge (a combination of keyboard and mouse could be used in the spelling activity), but this took too long for the attention span of the players. It was here where I was asked if they could play a different area.

     Unfortunately, this is not a realistic 'whole class' game. It is not made to be an exclusive educational product where kids would come in to the computer lab and everyone would access certain subject areas to work on. It is made to be, and is an excellent, entertaining, educational game. On a stand alone system, this game is well suited to individual learners. The Wolf King is extremely well suited to individual players who need learning extension or practice on a particular skill set, and it will be a very well liked game by the kids in the targeted age range This is an excellent game for home users who want to have a safe, fun educational experience for 5 to 7 year olds (my sample group had an eight and a nine year old in it - who both liked it). The production quality is unmatched, and Kutoka has really done a great job in coming up with an original story.

     The teacher mode provided with the program is a good way to help players quickly get to the activity they may need to work on without 'playing' the game or spending a vast amount of time clicking around the activity areas. The teacher mode also allows for the activities to be played according to subject area with an easy to use interface divided into the clickable buttons of Reading, Math, Science, and Creativity (music and colour). The player just has to click on the subject, and the activity selection screen will adjust accordingly. There is a rating system of carrots (1 to 4 carrots - 1 being "you had difficulty acquiring the skills" to 4 being "you acquired the skills very easily"). The results are recorded on the main 'teacher mode' screen. The only challenge here, as mentioned before, is that a player can play an activity perfectly, but still be beaten by the wolf (there are a couple activities that rely on 'chance' type rolls or spinning style letters). This would be recorded negatively in the activity main screen. The game can be played in three levels. Level one is the easiest, and three is the most challenging. The CD-ROM instruction manual describes the differences between the three levels along with the description of each activity. For example, at the farm:

LEVELS 1 AND 2:

In levels 1 and 2, identify illustrated words which contain precise phonemes and those which begin with specific letters.

LEVEL 3:

In level 3, identify illustrated words: some holding precise letters, made of one syllable, made of two syllables, made of four letters or ending in precise letters.

     The different levels can address individual learners who really enjoy the game, but who might need more of a challenge than other children.

     The variety of educational activities is highly commendable. The developers have gone to some length to ensure that not only different subject areas are covered, but they have truly brought out diverse activities to challenge the player. Dominoes, for example, are used in the science activity area to challenge the player in 'life science.'

     There are two ways to have your game saved. There is an 'auto-save' feature which activates any time a player quits the game. There is also a manual save feature which is safer if there are multiple users playing.

     The Wolf King is worth a look!

Recommended.

John Dryden is a teacher-librarian at Khowhemun Elementary in Duncan, BC.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.
 

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