Reader Rabbit 2 is a solid piece of educational software which really helps younger children become better readers, although it's not without its flaws. The Learning Company obviously steeps its software in an educational -- as opposed to an edutainment -- background, which is good. Parents should know that this package will work on reading skills without extraneous games bogging down the process. This is good news for them, although their kids might be less than thrilled.
The animations are so-so in this game. They certainly could have been better, although some would argue that flash and style are not the point of educational software, and they would be correct. From watching my 7-year-old playtester, however, I'd say that the Reader Rabbit packages don't really hold his attention overall. They're certainly not as engaging as the latest Putt-Putt adventure, which makes me wonder if perhaps The Leaning Company should have invested more on the graphics side. Not so much as to drown out the content, but enough to keep kids engaged in an age where they demand more. If the software is too dry, it will remind them of school and make them much less likely to want to play with this at home. The best of all possible worlds is something where they're so engaged that they don't realize they're learning. Reader Rabbit 2 straddles the line between the two.
There is some content on the CD for parents as well. It explains what skills the software addresses and how they can best use it with their children. This is a big plus in the parental confidence department, since many educational packages seem to be created by people whose only experience with education was when they went to school. There are four levels of difficulty in each area, which is helpful to use as children master the easier problems and need something more challenging.
Each of the games is fun, and the music is lively and upbeat. Rewards are given based on how many problems the child solves, although how many tries they take isn't factored into this. Given the fact that this is for home use, though, I suppose it's good enough that kids are working at each problem until they get it right. The best one is the Alphabet Dance, where the little creatures do a brief dance number after they're placed in the correct alphabetical order. The worst one is the Word Mine, which doesn't have much in the way of a reward animation.
A lack of intuitiveness in the interface is this program's biggest flaw. Reader Rabbit introduces each section and goes through a sample exercise, but he doesn't explain where the child should click to make it work. The worst offender in this category is the Vowel Pond, where there is no way to figure out how to make the next fish come out of the tree trunk without some trial and error. The actions needed to make each activity work are fairly simple, however, so once they're mastered they should come back to mind quickly the next time.
Overall, this is a worthwhile product for any parent with a beginning reader in the family.
Graphics: Mediocre at best.
Sound: Adequate. A bit on the tinny side.
Enjoyment: Kids will like it, but how much? It's heavier on the education than the entertainment.
Replay Value: Four levels and plenty of exercises to go through, so it should keep kids coming back for more.
Reader Rabbit 2 is a game in the award winning Reader Rabbit series by The Learning Company. When the town of Word-Ville is running out of words Reader Rabbit and his mouse friend Matt try to collect words from four different activities: Vowel Pond, Word Mine, Word Patch and Alphabet Dance. Children ages 6-8 learn about Phonics, Letter Recognition and Alphabetizing skills.
People who downloaded Reader Rabbit 2 have also downloaded:
Reader Rabbit 3, Reader Rabbit, Reader Rabbit's Kindergarten, Reader Rabbit's Toddler, Reader Rabbit and Friends: Let's Start Learning, Reader Rabbit's Reading 1, Reader Rabbit's Reading Journey 1, Reader Rabbit's Ready for Letters
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