Many children love to watch Dora the Explorer on television, but her adventures are really more at home in the form of an actual interactive computer game. Swiper's Big Adventure is essentially an episode of Dora the Explorer presented as a game. Will children enjoy taking a more active role in Dora's adventures? Read on to find out!
This Game Looks Better Than the Show
Dora and her friends look excellent in this game with an almost 3 dimensional feel without actually being 3D. The characters look exactly as they do in the show, yet in this game they have shading and smoothness that the cartoon lacks. The syncing between mouth movements and speech is spot on and nearly perfect. It's clear that a lot of effort was put into making this title.
The art style is faithful to the series and very colorful, which players will appreciate. The backgrounds are all very bright and interesting without detracting from the gameplay. Overall, the visuals in this game are impressive.
In this game, Dora and Boots come to the aid of a baby fox who is lost. To their surprise, Swiper the Fox wants in on this adventure and asks to join in on the journey. Fans of the television show know that Swiper is the closest thing Dora has to an arch enemy, and he lives to swipe her stuff, no matter how important it is to her current adventure. Swiper isn't really that bad of a fox, but he does tend to act pretty selfishly most of the time. Longtime Dora fans will be thrilled to see that Swiper has a heart and is willing to brave the unknown to help a fellow fox in need.
It's also interesting that Dora and Boots are so quick to give Swiper the opportunity to join their adventure. The storyline is educational in the sense that it's never too late to make the choice to be friends and work together, and nothing is permanently set in stone. Swiper will be back to his old swiping ways soon enough, and Dora will repeat the familiar refrain of: "Swiper, no swiping! Swiper, no swiping! Swiper, no swiping!". But for today, they are united by a common goal.
Players move through levels by using the arrow keys to move and the space bar to jump. Swiper is a pleasure to handle and is fast, springy and responsive, just like a shifty fox should be. Every area is sprinkled with tons of stars to collect and there are balls that Swiper can use to jump even higher than usual. In these platforming levels, players may choose to stay closer to the ground or keep themselves high up in the trees.
There are crows, bats and spiders to avoid, but bumping into them isn't actually a big deal at all. A single star is taken away for hitting an enemy and that's the extent of it. The "scary" animal enemies flee with an apologetic expression on their faces after accidentally taking away one of the player's stars, are they are really quite cute. There is absolutely no need to worry about small children feeling afraid of these creatures.
Interspersed within the adventure levels are obstacles that Swiper will need help getting around. These brief challenges are where the educational concepts are located within the game and solving these problems serves a practical purpose in the context of the storyline. Educational concepts include:
Additionally, Dora will say things in Spanish and then repeat in English which passively introduces and reinforces Spanish vocabulary, just like in the hit show. The educational value of this game is very high, yet it's also extremely fun at the same time. Children won't realize that they are learning; all they will think about is how much fun they are having.
Easy for Kids to Use
The game has text instructions and boxes, but Dora reads everything out loud as well, thus making it possible for non-readers to navigate successfully. The game even reads buttons out loud when a player mouses over them.
The Options screen is designed for children to use all by themselves. Dora patiently explains to kids how to adjust their monitor settings along with sound and other game options. Learning how to adjust the settings of a computer program in a safe environment is wonderful for building the foundation for good computing skills.
Impossible to Lose
The one con of this game is the fact that losing is impossible, even on the hard setting. There are no lives and no consequences for failing at a task. For example, at the beginning of the game Swiper is trying to swipe Dora's ball. Dora says that she needs to say "Swiper, no swiping!" before it's too late. Players need to click on the fox before he takes the ball, but the game simply won't go forward if the fox isn't clicked. It's impossible for Swiper to steal the ball at all. This may be good for kids with no mouse skills to speak of, but those children will likely have a hard time on the levels that require use of the arrow keys and space bar later on, so simplifying some parts of the game just to suit them might not have been the best idea. The game still manages to be a lot of fun though, even if the potential for failure is missing.
Minigames and Printables
As players progress through their adventure to bring the baby fox home they will unlock various gifts that can be accessed by clicking on Backpack. These mingames and printables are sure to keep kids excited about the game long after the game is completed.
Conclusion - Fun For Kids and Dora Fans
This game balances the need for educational value with the desire for purely entertaining gameplay beautifully. Swiper's Big Adventure will appeal to boys and girls alike with a fair amount of replay value.
Review by Alice Flynn
Alice Flynn is a gaming enthusiast and journalist from Los Angeles, CA. She is currently obsessed with obscure foreign dramas, making tofu taste edible and the latest, greatest computer games.
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