July 1999 — Volume 4, Number 1
Lawrence Productions Inc., 1995
1800 South 35th Street
Galesburg, Michigan 49053-9687
- 486 DX or faster
- Minimum 8Mb of RAM
- 3Mb of free hard drive space
- Sound Card (Sound Blaster or 100% compatible)
- SVG video card
- Windows 3.1 or higher
- Double-speed CD-ROM Drive
- 040 processor or faster
- 8Mb of Ram
- 3Mb of free hard drive
- 13 inch or bigger monitor
- System 7.1 or higher
- Double Speed CD- ROM drive
Enter the gates of Zootopia and you will discover a fascinating world of animal adventure. Zootopia combines live-action video, animated cartoons, realistic sound effects, music, and a creative collection of data-base materials that make learning about real animals an adventure – and at times – very humorous. As you travel through the zoo you will soon discover this is a magical, mystical zoo whereby the animals are talking to you, running radio stations, auditioning for the theatre, and handing out their business cards. The object of the zoo adventure is to choose one of three 3-D paths through this magical zoo and to leave the zoo. This animal adventure requires you to remember all the animal facts you learn along the way, or to take notes, because at the end of your path you have to pass an animal quiz to exit the zoo. Zootopia requires you to use the mouse constantly as you travel along the different paths and stop at different animal kiosks to learn about each animal.
Your adventure begins by traveling in a helicopter to visit this zoo on a long-forgotten island only inhabited by animals. Unfortunately, you enter a storm and you land on the island sooner than expected. You must now enter the gates of Zootopia to begin your adventure. As you travel along a path and stop at the kiosks, you will meet familiar and not-so-familiar animals from different parts of the world. They will tell you where they are from, what they like to eat, and how they spend their time. Along the way, you will encounter the Blues-Singing Frog, the Swan with the Nightclub Act, Bob the Lion and the host of a talk-radio show and many other interesting and talented animals. At several kiosks animals will even sing to you and you will end up singing along. You can enter theaters, mysterious buildings with a large selection of animal-reference material (including video), and you can also build-a-beast by dragging different animal parts onto a clipboard. There are also bridges to cross and tunnels to explore where you learn about the inhabitants there. You can also choose to leave your path momentarily by clicking on Videos and choose a video segment of certain animals. In addition, click on Map in the Extras to see the entire map of Zootopia, to see how far you have traveled, and all the other different animal kiosks there are in the zoo. After you have successfully passed the animal quiz at the end of a path, you can choose to leave the zoo and the island via helicopter, or start all over – and you can always go to the Library in Extras to review material anytime before or after the quiz.
The navigation is pretty straightforward. The user is required to click sections of each path to move forward, backwards or sideways. The animal icons, door openings to buildings, and tunnels are very visual. The forward and back buttons look familiar and require no special instruction. Navigating the path itself is a little confusing because you can end up going around in circles especially when you are trying to pass the fire-bellied toad kiosk. The “Help” function explains the purpose of the adventure and the different icons.
Zootopia can be used by students who know how to read and for those who are just beginning to read. However, to pass the quiz at the end of the path requires the student to have read along the way and to remember important facts or take notes.
For those students who cannot read they will still enjoy a modified trip – much like how a child would enjoy an actual visit to the zoo: travel along selected paths, stop at different animal stations, have parents or an older sibling read about the animal, or listen to an audio story about the animal. Zootopia is fascinating for the reader and for the non-readers because it involves reading, listening, watching video clips about animals and looking in front of you to see what is ahead – and don’t to forget that in Zootopia you can go forward, backwards or simply stop like in a real zoo.
I enjoyed and used Zootopia, as a tool in a computer lab. However, learning how to travel and pass different animal kiosks could be frustrating because you might end up going around in circles. In addition, this game does not allow you to print. This could be a disappointing especially after you just made an interesting animal.
Nevertheless, the animal database is varied and students will learn some new interesting facts about animals they are already familiar with, and will also learn about animals they may never have heard about. Traveling through the zoo is captivating and students will be enthusiastically sharing whatever new information they have just learned with the teacher, other students and their parents.
This program was developed for children from ages 8 and older. However, younger children as young as 5 years old can enjoy it too as the animals are from all parts of the world and the program itself is very entertaining, exciting and interesting.
Stanislaus County Office of Education, California
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