A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this computer game is based on the 2006 movie Charlotte's Web. It's a different game than the Charlotte's Web for the Nintendo DS and Game Boy Advance. The game offers a series of fun, mentally challenging games, but the onscreen instructions can sometimes be incomplete; refer to the manual. A nice feature is that the game uses the voice of Dominic Scott Kay for Wilbur, the same actor whose voice is heard in the movie.
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What's it about?
Gossamer threads from the 2006 movie version of Charlotte's Web are woven into the PC game CHARLOTTE'S WEB: WILBUR AND FRIENDS. This series of activity-based games follows Charlotte and Wilbur's story through movie still pictures. The game opens with Wilbur the pig (with the voice of Dominic Scott Kay, who voices Wilbur in the feature film) encouraging kids to play with him. In this petting pen, players can select food to give Wilbur, fill his water bowl from a pump, turn the cursor into a hand to pet him, and decorate the walls of his pen.
After Wilbur is happy in his pen, he introduces players to the Zuckerman Barn. There, kids will find six games. After playing all of them, they will unlock the county fair, which houses three more games that unlock the final location, which has one last game and three activities: jigsaw puzzles, a drawing activity, and a movie-trivia quiz.
Is it any good?
While the movie tie-in will draw kids to this software, the playability will keep them coming back. These games are an enticing combination of simple logic games, logic puzzles, and learning games. Kids will find a variation of the game where you pop matching colored balloons -- but this time they are popping colored spider eggs to help them hatch. They must move bales of hay within a maze to open up a path, find words in a spider web full of letters, and collect rings on a bumper-car rink by driving into others.
The game is best suited to kids ages 7 to 12. While younger kids could succeed at some of the games, others will frustrate them -- and they won't be able to unlock all the game's content. A minor weakness is that the onscreen instructions are sometimes insufficient. For those looking for a more traditional action platformer game, turn to Charlotte's Web for Nintendo DS and Game Boy Advance.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about which games and activities they like best. Parents might ask kids: If they were going to create an activity to play on the computer with Wilbur and friends, what might it look like? What sort of gameplay would they create? As with the movie, this game provides an opportunity to discuss friendships, and how friendships can exist between those who are very different.
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