Didi and Ditto
Company: Kutoka Interactive
Price: $19.95 MSRP
Kutoka Interactive bills itself as an edutainment software developer for children’s titles and I have to agree with their own assessment. My grandson Preston, who will be four in August of 2004, has been highly entertained, sitting once for over two hours mostly by himself navigating through the various activities. For an almost four year old with a limited attention span I would have to conclude that the software developers do indeed know how to keep children’s attention focused.
Didi and Ditto is an adventure game, where the players must complete a learning activity in order to add a fruit or vegetable to their carry sack. At the beginning the child is instructed to choose whether he wants to play as the female character (Didi) or the male character (Ditto). The game starts with a very well constructed flash movie where Didi and Ditto are playing Turnip Tennis. Along comes Zolt the Wolf who is very, very hungry. Zolt tries to steal the turnip, but through a series of mishaps involving, Didi, Ditto, and HipHop the rabbit, the turnip rolls into a tunnel. Zolt is a vegetarian wolf who would much rather eat fruits and vegetables than a beaver, so it’s up to the player to complete the learning activities and gather the food to save the sibling held captive by Zolt the wolf.
Learning activities include lessons in math, literacy, music, thinking skills and creative/artistic. The game is played on one of three levels; easy, medium, or hard. In addition to the learning activities there are activities which are there purely for entertainment. Characters such as Couki the dog, Hootdini the owl, Grumpy the bee, and Venus the chicken pop up in areas where they are not the main character, to add a certain silliness appropriate for this age level.
Didi and Ditto has been written specifically to reinforce what children are learning in kindergarten and as such much of the material is over Preston’s head. Even so, the software provides a great teaching tool for me as a grandparent. By sitting with the child through the activities I’m able to help advance both his cognitive skills and his computer skills. With three levels of difficulty from which to choose, some of the learning activities are still too advanced even at the easiest level for Preston, while others are within his skill range. Because there are so many activities in this software, and with the entertainment value it provides, I can easily see him using this program over the next two years to help him be well prepared for when he does finally enter kindergarten.
With all the interactive toys in today’s market, children these days are quick to learn. Preston has learned how to load the CD, start the game, and navigate to his prior game or choose a new one from his very first sitting. He has also learned functions on the iBook such as click and drag, which was rather daunting the first few times he tried it. Trackpadding requires a different skill than mouse clicking. So the other indirect benefit of this software is teaching my grandson computer skills.
There are a couple of very minor aspects of the software that I believe could be improved. In one of the games, the player is asked to spell a word which appears in the center of the screen. The letters are lowercase and, to my eye, very stylized. If a child is just learning how the lowercase letters look, this may be difficult for them. The other change I would suggest is that the developers make a separate English version for the US in which the letter Z is called “Z” and not “Zed”, as it is in the present version. While Zed is common usage in countries that speak “British English”, it is not the common form used in the US.
Didi and Ditto Kindergarten in a hybrid CD-ROM that is compatible with both Windows and Macintosh computers. Minimum system requirements for Macintosh are System 9/OSX; 300 MHz G3 or above processor; 128mb RAM; 800×600 and 24-bit color; and 280 MB of hard disk space. Flash 6 is also required. There is a well-written instruction guide for adults that explains how to navigate around the game.
I’m not a professional educator so my evaluation of this software is based on my grandson’s reaction, and he likes it very, very much. So much so that he asks to play it every time he is here. To ignore his videos and toys to play a fun learning game says a lot to me about the appeal of Didi and Ditto to the age group for which it is intended.
MyMac.com rating: 5 out of 5.