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Children's Software Review of:
Click & Create with Mia

 

Click & Create with Mia box

Larry Grosskopf is a Clinical Psychologist at the San Antonio State Hospital, with interests in computers and technology. He and Marta have two children, daughter Zoë, age 9, and son Jackson, age 7. For questions, contact him via e-mail.

From the May, 2003 issue of PC Alamode Magazine

Click & Create with Mia arrives in a box with a CD and an 8 page instruction booklet. Kutoka Interactive, is a company from Canada that produces the Mia line of products. Mia is an animated talking mouse who wears pink overalls and likes to explore the world. She may or may not be familiar to our readers, but she already has a reading, math and science adventure published by Kutoka. The new and most recently released product is designed to let children explore their creative side with help from Mia and her sidekick, Scary, also known as "Boo". There are all kinds of ways to be creative with this software and I will attempt to show how useful this tool can be in this review. 

In order to run this software on your computer, you need to have at least a Pentium II class Celeron or better CPU, with 64 MB of RAM and a Windows 95, 98, ME, 2000, NT or XP operating system. Video graphics needs to support at least 800 x 600, 24-bit True Color resolution and sound should be a 16-bit, SoundBlaster or 100% compatible card. For installation or to run the program from the CD, your CD-ROM speed should be at least 6X. A printer is recommended and I would strongly concur that to achieve the potential this program offers you will want to use a color printer with the program. 

The software is divided up into 5 separate sections; within each one you can express your individualism and artistic talent. Each time you make your first entry into a section, Mia appears and provides a synopsis of what to expect. You can also benefit from the Tutorial at the opening of the program, which demonstrates some of the useful tools that are ready and available for your use. Mia also gives you an example of some of the things you might create. If you tire of the Tutorial, or don't want to listen to any more of it, you simply hit the space bar to exit. One very effective feature is the help tool. When you are using the program, if you are not sure of what some of the tools are or how they work, you can hit the "?" icon and you will get an explanation (See Figure 1). If you click on the name associated with the tool, Mia will give you a verbal explanation of the icon. 
Paint Section Screen

First, there is a Drawing section, which provides step-wise instructional information for how to draw plants, animals, robots and other things. Here is where you can put your creativity to use and pretty much draw anything your can imagine. Your drawings may be simple or very complex, depending mainly on your manipulation skills and your patience. The auto correct tool makes it easier for kids to draw proper straight or curved lines. 

The next section is the Paint area, in which you can select from a vast color array and use one or more of the many tools such as brushes, pencils, markers, erasers and a roll-along rubber stamp tool, among others. You can start from scratch or add to projects that you may have started in another section. 

Third, you have a Projects section, which lets the user design and create his or her personal greeting cards, journal or diary pages, postcards, stationery or even posters utilizing the Mia family of characters and backgrounds or your personal creation. One thing I noted in evaluating this program was the quality and scalability of the characters that Mia provided were better than those I have typically seen in similar draw/paint software programs. 

Fourth, the Shapes section challenges you to take geometric shapes and use them creatively. You start with a blank slate and then organize, combine, rotate and designate the placement of these shapes to get just the right "look" for your invention. You can alter the color of the shapes or change the background color at your pleasure. It was kind of fun playing in this section. 

Finally, and last but certainly not least is the Multimedia section. This is such a fun adventure, as it begins with you selecting a background from a number of choices. Then, you drag your background onto your screen and it fills up your workspace with the picture. Next, there is a variety of animated characters for you to choose from. Once you have chosen them, you place them in the picture and you can then manipulate them, changing their position, angle, perspective or size. Once your screen looks the way you want it to look, you then make it sound the way you want it to, add music from among 6 musical styles. Once your music is selected, you can adjust the rhythm, bass, beat or melody, either separately or together. Finally, click the play button and you will hear the music and be able to see the characters animatedly dancing away. 
Multimedia Section Screen

Once you have created a drawing or design, you can transfer it to another section of the program, where it can be edited and modified using your imagination as your guide. If you want to print the results out, you can and children (at least mine) generally love to print out what they have created. This is a truly interactive and fairly intuitive program that has excellent built-in help and tutorials. Children will enjoy playing with this software and will be learning things as they do. 

Click & Create with Mia is rated for boys and girls ages 5 and up. Personally, I give this game/adventure a good "educational" and an outstanding "fun" recommendation. It is a real winner in the adventure and edutainment categories. Often, when I see children's software, I think of it in the lowest common denominator, in other words, the youngest child is the target audience. With this program, however, even my 10 year-old daughter, Zoë gets a kick out of using it. It may be available in local retail stores but is definitely available from the Web site kutoka.com for $19.95.


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