"Welcome to Ping and Kooky's Cuckoo Zoo! We are proud to invite you into our premises, where you can learn about animals from all around the world, living side by side in our five habitats, which have been built especially to fit their needs. I am your tour guide Ping and this is my friend Kooky. We will take you for a ride on our train, traveling with you through the zones. Enjoy your stay and don't miss our famous parade before you leave. Have a nice day at our park!"
This is how an announcement for this game would probably sound. And it includes almost everything important about the game. Ping & Kooky's Cuckoo Zoo is a game that was designed for small children from ages 3 to 7. It was released by EA*Kids in 1993. As there is no real goal, you can move freely through the different areas of an animal park, take a look at the animals living there and learn about their names. In addition, there are also some small educational games like Hide & Seek, Alphabet, and Counting games, which are very easy and suitable for kids of pre-school age.
There are five different areas in the game: Savannah, Rain Forest, Farm Grounds, PolarPark and Cuckoo Fest. The first four zones each contain a range of animals which are commonly found in each respective environment. The player can click them and hear Ping saying their names. In addition, each of them shows some funny animation. Last but not least, the Cuckoo Fest area lets you listen to some melodies, which are squeaked by several animals from the other areas. Having done so, you are also allowed to play your own songs by clicking on them. While traveling through the park, the game switches to respectable 3D graphics. You are looking out of the front windows and can see from the trees and surroundings, in which area you currently are. Whenever you enter a new part of the park, Ping moves in for a moment and explains what kinds of animals are living there. Now all you have to do is to press the 'Stop' button and open the doors.
Well, that's about all for the game, except for the nice graphics and good sound with lots of speech, which is also worth mentioning. If you rate this game, you really have to consider the age of the kids, for whom it is designed. In my opinion, it fits this really young group quite well: it looks nice, is very easy to handle, and there is not too much content overstraining the player. Therefore I rate this game 4, which is maybe a bit optimistic but by all means arguable.
Ping & Kooky's Cuckoo Zoo is nothing to keep you addicted for hours, but it is worth an afternoon together with your kids to let them explore the park and maybe get used to computers a bit, in a playful way.
Pong & Kooky's Cuckoo Zoo is the last release in EA*Kids' quality but short-lived product line designed for young children. This preschool title features nice background graphics and animations, recorded speech, and over 15 mini-games scattered cross the zoo. Kids can drive a 3D train through the zoo, stopping whenever they wish to take a closer look at animals. Attractive cartoon animals and fun mini-games will entertain preschoolers while they learn about animals. The education element is not as good as Broderbund's acclaimed The Playroom series - the focus is more on having fun. But still, if you are looking for a small edutainment title about animals, this final EA*Kids product is well worth a look. Too bad the enhanced CD-ROM version was cancelled in beta as EA shifted its focus to produce - you guessed it - more profitable sports games.
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