Any parent who has had to sit through the seemingly interminable Big Cook Little Cook on television will perhaps view this educational CD-ROM as some form of virtual purgatory. After all, it’s a programme based around a fictional café staffed by the big and little cooks of the title, and with arguably the world’s worst business plan behind it. But that’s perhaps a conversation for some other time.
For now, this disc, which installs quickly and easily, is laced throughout with clips and animations of the two title characters as they put together a variety of recipes for the differing customers in their café. These are interspersed with activities designed for three-year-olds and upwards, and so we, in the spirit of exploiting the child labour laws, drafted in a three-year-old test subject who happened to be a fan of the programme, to put the disc to the test.
And he was impressed, albeit for a couple of hours only. There was plenty to hold his attention in the short term though, and the disc cleverly wraps its custom base around nursery rhymes, meaning the café’s clientele includes Little Miss Muffet, Humpty Dumpty and the Queen Of Hearts.
Each of these demands a different recipe and so the anklebiters are invited to join in with the aforementioned activities. These are, on the whole, quite well pitched and involve the likes of identifying ingredients, collecting goodies, counting, sorting things out and generally taking on a bite-sized task across three levels.
For the parent who really takes exception to the show, the inclusion of the odd karaoke version of Big Cook and Little Cook’s song will naturally make their ears bleed just at the thought of it. They may warm more to the fact that once a series of activities is completed and a customer served, a full recipe can be printed out to help make the item concerned for real.
Sadly there are only four such recipes to unlock, such is the limited depth of the CD-ROM, but our infant reviewer, on the whole, enjoyed the process of exploring what contributes to each of the undoubtedly delicious dishes on offer.
And, crucially, the whole package is only a tenner, which goes some way towards compensating for its ultimate brevity. Ten quid for a few hours of peace and quiet? Only a parent would be able to tell you if that offered value for money!
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