Ni Hao, Kai-Lan is a new cartoon TV show on Nick Jr. Little girl Kai-Lan and her animal friends learn about friendship, getting along, and helping others, as well as snippets of Chinese culture and language on the show. On the new Nintendo DS game, it’s the Chinese New Year! Help Kai-Lan, her grandfather, and the rest of their super critter pals get ready to go, go, go celebrate the holiday!
In Story Mode, your child will use the stylus, touch screen, and microphone on the DS to play mini-games to help Kai-Lan get ready and celebrate the New Year. The game reinforces good habits as one of the first things they’ll do is scribble and tap the screen to help Kai-Lan scrub and clean up her room. Later on they’ll play a similar game when it’s time to clean the dishes after the New Year dinner.
Other skills involve shape, color, and object recognition as you help Kai-Lan’s grandfather shop for clothes and food for the holiday, color paper lanterns, and tap the right shape to march in a dragon parade. Some of these activities show things that you and your child can do in real life, like cutting out lanterns and making food such as dumplings and almond cookies. It would be neat if there was a Web site you could go to for printing out the paper lantern patterns or recipes from the game. I got a little hungry after seeing them make those cookies!
Reading skill isn’t necessary as all the instructions and dialogue in the game has spoken voice acting from the cartoon characters. And if your child makes a mistake, Kai-Lan encourages them by saying “not quite” and letting them attempt again until they get it right. So young gamers won’t need help from older ones here. And you can save right in the middle of Story Mode at any time. Heck, after playing this game, even I learned a few things about how people celebrate the Chinese New Year.
The game is a bit short, but kids do learn by repetition. And they can play each game separately in Free Play Mode. As a bonus, in Free Play Mode your child can use the stylus to scribble and color with Kai-Lan. Some of the stylus controls involving tracing and circling were not as responsive as I would’ve liked for them to be, but since the game is so forgiving it’s not much of a problem. A little blurb about safety would’ve been nice in the fireworks mini-game. Ni Hao, Kai-Lan: New Year’s Celebration is rated EC for Early Childhood.