Software Review: 'Pink Panther'

While I usually welcome the increasingly rare issue of an Israeli-made game for children, Compedia missed the boat with this one.

pink panther 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
pink panther 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Teaching kids about protecting the environment is a noble aim, as catching 'em when they're young is a good way to promote environmental-friendly behaviors. But, while I usually welcome the increasingly rare issue of an Israeli-made game for children, Compedia missed the boat with this one. Reducing air, water and even noise pollution, recycling, minimizing waste of potable water and other ways to protect our endangered environment could effectively be passed on to youngsters if the software designers had used a lot of imagination. But the developers seem not to have very much - or else they were lazy. With the pretext of basing it on the environment, they offer standard puzzles, mazes, shooting games and other tired activities without a drop of innovation. The Pink Panther doesn't say a word; you just send him on his scooter to another place to be "cleaned up." There are three of these locations, and each of them has two activities, plus an "album" with entries that turn from black and white to color when you have completed them. A recycling activity merely requires moving the arrow keys right and left to push the Pink Panther's wagon bearing one to four containers, each marked with a symbol for waste food, paper, glass or other garbage. You must maneuver the wagon so different objects falling from the top of the screen end up in the proper container. There is also a maze of leaky water pipes through which you must push the Pink Panther and turn switches to stop the spurts. An underwater shooter game requires pressing a mouse button to shoot at sinking garbage before it reaches pipes that suck in drinking water. One game - completely irrelevant to the topic - is a grid with numbers 1 to 4 on two sides; you solve simple addition problems by clicking squares where they meet to produce a number between 2 and 8. Today's five- to eight-year-olds are sophisticated and deserve more complex activities. For example, teach them not to pick wildflowers by presenting gorgeous photos and to take care of them as they "grow." Anyone could put on his thinking cap and devise more interesting ways to promote the environmental protection message among youngsters. Panther Varod: Shomrim Al Hasviva (Pink Panther: Protecting the Environment), a CD-ROM in Hebrew by Compedia, requires Windows XP and above and an 800 mhz Pentium PC or better, for ages five to eight, NIS 80.