Young children familiar with David Kirk's Miss Spider books or the television spin-off will immediately feel comfortable with the world created in this video game because it resembles the world depicted in the books. Kids play with the vegetarian Miss Spider in her magnified world of lush vibrant vegetation.
Miss Spider's Harvest Time Hop and Fly features four games presented in 24 levels. They can be played within an adventure game, and once unlocked, as standalones. The games introduce kids to the basic skills needed to play video games, including how to use a four-directional game pad to navigate in side-scrolling and vertical-falling games. Children will also learn how to jump over objects, perform super jumps, stomp through objects, jump onto moving platforms, and control a flying character.
In addition to these basic gaming techniques, Miss Spider's Harvest Time Hop and Fly introduces young children to some of the unique gaming aspects found on the DS system: blowing on the microphone to make something happen on the screen and using the stylus to draw and tap objects during game play.
Kids find the 24 levels by directing Miss Spider down pathways on a map. Each has its own entrance; but some levels are locked until the easier ones are won. Kids play the games to help Miss Spider and her family gather enough fruits and nuts to survive the winter. For example, in one game, players control a spider as he floats down from the sky, all the while collecting hovering fruits and missing obstacles. By blowing into the microphone, players can make the spider rise back up to grab missed fruits. In another, players draw circles around hanging fruit to make them fall on the ground for collection, while at the same time they tap obstacles to make them disappear.
If parents are willing to help read the instructions and tutorials, this video game is a good introduction for kids as young as 5 years of age because it gradually introduces basic gaming techniques. For example, in the side-scrolling platform game, children start by controlling a character named Bounce as he jumps over stationary objects. As the levels get harder, kids learn how to make Bounce jump from one stationary platform to another. About halfway through the levels, they advance to making Bounce jump onto moving platforms.
The Bottom Line: A gentle, slow-paced video game that is perfect for young children new to gaming. By playing Miss Spider, kids will be able to graduate to the more robust and sophisticated worlds of Mario, Yoshi, and others.
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