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Parents need to know that this incredibly well-made preschool game is both entertaining and educational. Players are made to feel as if they are truly taking part in both the preparation for and celebration of a Chinese New Year festival. Children over six will likely find the game far too easy, but for the intended audience or preschoolers or kindergartners, “Ni Hao, Kai-Lan: New Year’s Celebration” is perfectly set up.

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

In “Ni Hao, Kai-Lan: New Year’s Celebration,” Kai-Lan, the young Chinese-American heroine of her own Nick Jr. animated series, helps her friends and grandfather prepare for a Chinese New Year festival. They go through every step of the holiday. Preparation involves such activities as shopping for food, preparing traditional dishes, coloring and cutting out paper lanterns, and practicing a song with a band (which they later perform). When the celebration begins, they take part in a dragon boat race, a parade in which they carry floats, a dance, and a fireworks show. They even help clean up afterward.

IS IT ANY GOOD?

“Ni Hao, Kai-Lan: New Year’s Celebration” is one of the best DS games created for preschoolers. The dawn-to-night format, which begins with Kai-Lan waking her friends and ends with her washing dishes (which is actually fun), is genius. Not only does it make kids feel like they’re really taking part in this marvelous cultural celebration, it also spices up the gameplay with a lot of variety. Helping the grandfather shop for ingredients is a sort of I Spy game, while helping him prepare the meals calls for Cooking Mama-style gameplay. The fireworks display involves tracing shapes with the stylus, while rowing in the dragon boat race becomes a rhythm game. It’s all super-easy, but as the average Kai-Lan fan is still learning the alphabet, that’s exactly how it should be.

RATING AND CONTENT

Recommended for ages 4 and older

Quality: 5 out of 5

Educational value: 5 out of 5

Positive messages: 5 out of 5

Positive role models: 5 out of 5

Ease of play: 5 out of 5

Violence and scariness: 0 out of 5

Language: 0 out of 5

Consumerism: 1 out of 5 (Are products/advertisements embedded? Is the title part of a broader marketing initiative/empire? Is the intent to sell things to kids?)

GAME DETAILS

Platforms: Nintendo DS, Nintendo DSi

Price: $29.99

Developer: 2K Play

Release date: November 5, 2009

Genre: Preschool

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