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Some $3 billion worth of licensed products - from TV cartoon shows and clothes to toys and bedsheets - have been sold since Dora the Explorer was first broadcast as an animated TV show in the US seven years ago. The series appears not only on Israel's HOP cable channel in Hebrew and English, but also abroad in French, Greek, German, Italian, Indonesian, Malay, Portuguese, Dutch and other languages.
Dora, a little girl with dark bangs, is teamed up with a monkey named Boots and goes off to explore the world. In these two disks, which have been translated in Hebrew with a mix of English in the same sentences, they travel to a "lost city" in South America and, less exotically, to return the books in Dora's backpack to the local library. While young children rave over the TV show and the products, these computer games - which can be completed in less than an hour and have low replay value - are a disappointment.
Both games can be played at three levels of difficulty and entered in two ways: for free play with any game, or in a set order with your progress from previous sessions saved. In the "Lost City" adventure, Dora and Boots find themselves in a forest with shining yellow stars hiding partially behind the trees. The child must click on the stars, which are then counted in Hebrew and English and stored for later use. The next game presents pigs wearing different-colored life jackets that have to be clicked and placed next to a ship of the same color. Next, the two help Mother Boga-Boga to put her numbered infants in a 10-seat baby carriage according to the proper sequence.
In the next game, the two are placed at the bottom of a "number pyramid," and you have to click on the number you are told to rise higher and escape. The final game presents the lost city itself, with window shutters that open and close rapidly but give enough time to the player to click on the same image that is requested. Finally, black-and-white line drawings from the game can be printed out to be colored in later. Ho-hum!
On to the Backpack game, which is even more uninspiring. Dora begins at home with 10 different-colored volumes that you have to click and put in her backpack. Instead of a forest, they go to a flower-filled garden that poses some lame surprises when you click on different objects. Next stop is the troll's bridge, where the ogre insists that you place geometric figures like stars and half moons into a wooden wall to earn the right to cross over it. They reach the "chocolate tree" whose leaves fall and can be collected. How do they pass a giant rock in their way? Watch the little flags with numbers and click on the requested ones to reach the apex.
Hatfani, the sneaky fox (known as Swiper in the original story), who wears a blue thief's mask and gloves, suddenly grabs the backpack when Dora nears the library. Keep an eye on four bushes, one of which is the hiding place for the bag, and click on it to return it to her. Then off to the library to return the volumes to the librarian, an eight-armed octopus: This number is fortunate, as she offers eight different books; you click on the suitable book cover that suits the announced theme. The "dessert" is that various characters and objects can be dragged onto a page in Dora's sticker notebook and printed out. There is no innovation here. What a bore, even for a three year old!
Parents should ignore their kids' pleas for yet another Dora product. Instead, they should dust off their storybook-reading skills and buy one to spend "quality time" before putting them to bed rather than spending NIS 149 on each of these humdrum and uninspired Dora games.