- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 21, 2008

Bob the Builder Can-Do Zoo (Brighter Minds Media and HIT Entertainment, $19.95) answers the question “Can we make learning fun?” with a loud “Yes, we can.”

Travel to Bobland Bay where tykes 2 years old and older find Bob and his crew in the midst of a creature crisis. The animals for the new Bobland Bay Zoo have arrived, but the park has not been built. So, the monkeys are in the playground, the elephants are in the opera house and the lion is hanging out in the mayor’s office.

The action starts with the child choosing from Muck, Roley or Scoop, and children will love that many of Bob’s friends make an appearance in the game.

It has been quite a while since I ventured into Bob’s universe, and there are quite a few new vehicle characters, including Packer the flatbed and Flex the cherry picker, both in Can-Do Zoo.

Game play expands over three levels. For the very young, Can-Do Zoo is great lapware for parent and child to explore together. Click the story and watch along as the narrator sets up the day’s building dilemma.

Challenges often include a lesson in sequencing as children first figure out what’s missing on Bob’s zoo blueprint, dragging the pieces in order.

Spud comes in next, and, Spud being Spud, mixes up all the tools and leaves them on the floor. The challenge is to sort the tools by type or shape and color and clean up the mess Spud left behind.

More matching play ensues when children need to push away fallen leaves - perfect for the autumn season nearly upon us - to find the tool hidden beneath or when they have to help Lofty find the right signs for the zoo.

As a parent, I always liked pattern games, and Bob the Builder Can-Do Zoo does not disappoint with a fun pair. One has children painting the slats on a picket fence to complete the pattern while the other introduces Packer. Players must choose the right building supply from the ground to finish the pattern on Packer’s flatbed.

Games played within the story mode allow children to follow along with the narrator, solving as problems need fixing, or as solo free-play, events. Each has three levels - easy, medium and hard - but games do not get significantly more difficult, just deeper. For example, on “easy” players match one animal shape while on “hard” they find the right match for four animals.

All of the action uses easy-to-understand verbal and visual cues. Additionally, once a task is complete, children receive stickers that can be applied to embellish the game’s static environments and complete masterpieces with buildings, vehicles and tools.

Graphics and audio are comparable to the cartoon and young fans will appreciate the constructive possibilities of this newest addition to the Bob the Builder franchise.

Game Bytes

Here’s an abbreviated look at some multimedia items for the entire family:

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