This particular Magic School Bus program fits the age profile of 6-10 better than other programs in the series. Certain segments, such as building a Mars Land Rover, will hold younger children's attention best, while all children will be interested in the creation of a postcard. Not only can the player change the background of the postcard, he or she has the option to write a message or use the characters as stickers.
In addition, the Mind over Mars game allows children to practice critical thinking skills. This might be too difficult at first for the younger set, but older children will handle it just fine. The arcade segment is more challenging and progresses through levels rapidly.
The obvious strength of this software is the information it provides on Mars. Facts and real photos of the Mars landscape are interesting and the visuals that support them (for example, the difference in air pressure on Mars and on Earth below sea level, at sea level, and above sea level) will capture the child's attention. Young children may enjoy repeatedly watching the egg and other items vaporize under pressure.
However, The Magic School Bus Lands on Mars is also limited. There aren't enough levels or variations for several games. Once older players have absorbed the information and have seen the photos a few times, they may only return to create postcards and print them out or to play the arcade game, Race Your Rover.
Graphics are good, but the sound could use some improvement. The robot in the Mind over Mars needs more variety in his comments. His remarks became boring quickly. Children familiar with the characters from the television show or book series may also be disappointed because the characters are somewhat static.
Graphics: Photographs of Mars are great. Screens are interesting but characters are fairly static until clicked on.
Sound: Easy to understand considering the amount of speech involved.
Enjoyment: Most children will be interested in the photos of Mars and the amount
of information given.
Replay Value: Certain activities will keep children coming back for more. Others lack
variety or depth and won't get played as often.
People who downloaded Magic School Bus Lands on Mars have also downloaded:
Magic School Bus Explores Inside the Earth, Magic School Bus Explores the Solar System, Magic School Bus Explores the Human Body, Magic School Bus Volcano Adventure, Magic School Bus Discovers Flight, Disney's MathQuest with Aladdin, Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? CD-ROM, Mario Teaches Typing
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