A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Kids can learn basic preschool skills, such as shape and color identification, pattern matching, and counting. Plus, Dora counts in English and Spanish and throws in a smattering of other Spanish words. Kids need to listen carefully to the spoken directions. Simple controls enable preschoolers to handle the game on their own. And the game gives great feedback, letting kids know where they may have gone off course and waiting for them to get a puzzle right before moving on. From the simple-but-solid lessons to the preschooler-friendly presentation, Dora's Big Birthday Adventure is a winner.
The game is filled with positive messages. Dora stops to help everyone she meets. She takes time to think about her friends and family. She applauds and encourages the player throughout. And more.
Positive Role Models
Dora and Boots are friendly, likable, polite, and helpful heroes who respect and admire their family and friends. They are intrepid, curious, and always interested in learning. They're about the best role models you can find.
Ease of Play
The game is designed incredibly well for preschoolers. While it is set up so that there's no way to lose, and no real repercussions for making mistakes, the game makes sure you still need to eventually find the right answers and make the right choices before it allows you to move on.
Violence & Scariness
In one scene, the villainous witch shoots lightning bolts at Dora while she rides a unicorn. If you fail to block the bolts, the only result is that the unicorn rears onto its hind legs for a second. There are also some flying monkeys that could possibly seem scary to very young children.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Dora's Big Birthday Adventure is a video game adaptation of the Dora TV show's 10th anniversary special. It follows the same plot as the show but adds in its own interactive aspects in the form of mini-games. We reviewed the DS version and this game is incredibly well geared toward preschool players and encourages them to use all aspects of the Nintendo DS including the touch-sensitive screen and the microphone. It also contains quite a bit of educational content masked within entertaining games.
Is It Any Good?
Dora's Big Birthday Adventure may be far too simple of a game to keep anybody over five entertained, but for preschoolers, you don't get much better than this. Everything is explained verbally -- no reading required. The games and activities within are designed to prevent kids from failing or getting frustrated, but don't let kids move on without making the correct answers and choices. There's a ton of variety among those activities, too: Running and jumping, playing music, putting puzzles together, finding hiding places, matching shapes, shouting words, blowing on bubbles, and much more. And once the story is over and you've finally made it to Dora's birthday bash, you even get a handful of bonus party games to play.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.