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Madeline Thinking Games


by Lisa Karen Savignano

The biggest problem with Madeline Thinking Games is Madeline herself. Or, more precisely, her voice. After listening to it for more than five minutes in a row, you'll dread it like most people cringe at the thought of fingernails down a blackboard. It also has something to do with what she is saying. Madeline only has two to three phrases of congratulation per game, and listening to them over and over and over again gets awfully tiring.

The other problem is that while there are three difficulty levels to most of the games, the gap between the easiest and hardest levels isn't really that much in some games, while in others, the hardest games are unduly hard. In a word, it's uneven.

There are six rooms in the house (four downstairs and two upstairs) and one game that can be played out in the garden. Each house room has two games, with the exception of one of the upstairs rooms, which has only one, and the music room downstairs, which has three activities.

Not all of these activities can actually be considered educational, though many of them do exercise children's minds. For example, the music room contains a piano on which players can play in two octaves, an art table, and a movie projector that shows players four quicktime movie song clips from the Madeline television cartoon.

And upstairs, one of the rooms allows players to decorate it as they wish. While it may be artistic, it is not something which children will be called upon to use in school.

The other educational games are far more interesting, including the games in the kitchen, where players assemble ingredients for cooking meals out of those displayed, and must get items for the picnic basket according to the instructions given.

If the thought of listening to Madeline's pseudo-french accent for hours doesn't make you cringe, you can rest assured your child will enjoy this game, which uses innovative tasks to teach recognition and discrimination, among others. Otherwise, you may want to give this a miss, at least for now, or invest in a good pair of earplugs.

Graphics graphics rating

Kind of sloppily colored, but that fits in with the graphics from the Television show.

Sound sound rating

You'll want to kill Madeline after 10 minutes of listening to her, and her remarks repeat too many times to make this a fun listening experience.

Enjoyment enjoyment rating

Kids who enjoy the TV show will enjoy these games.

Replay Value replay rating

Uneven higher levels may be too eay or conversely too hard for some players.

Documentation documentation rating

Nothing to write home about. Adequate.