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Review: ItzaBitza PC Game for Kids

Bravo Margaret Johnson! She is the mom behind Sabi Games, whose team was responsible for developing this computer game for children age 4 and over called ItzaBitza.

When I was offered a chance to review this game, I knew my son Jake (who just turned 5) would be the perfect guinea pig. He loves to draw and is extremely computer literate for his age. He is also doing very well as a beginner in reading.

To summarize the game . . .

1) You can choose a boy or girl character called a "sketchy."
2) You must start in the one drawing that is unlocked.
3) You earn stars by completing a drawing of the objects asked of you.
4) You earn trophies for completing all the tasks contained in each star.
5) When you earn enough stars, you unlock the next drawing.
6) When you hold the cursor over any word, you will hear your "sketchy" read that word out loud.
7) Everything you draw is a component to the picture that can be moved or sometimes even animated.

I would like to first reveal what Jake thought of the game. After only 15 minutes of playing Itza Bitza, he was addicted. When I asked him what he liked best about the game, he said that his favorite part was drawing everything. What I think he meant was that he liked the challenge of the drawing assignments and the fact that his drawings became an important part of the picture. Often the pictures he drew were keys to completing a star challenge which got him closer to earning a trophy. I also think he loved the fact that he did not need someone to read the instructions to him. He could cruise along all on his own because he could read all the sentences by holding the cursor over each word.

Oh, and I can't forget to mention Jake's level of excitement every time he earned a new star. I would say that after each of the first ten starts he earned, he did a happy dance in his chair.

As for what I thought of Itza Bitza as a parent . . . I thought it was an ingenious way to bring the two sides of the brain together. What I loved about this game was that:

A) My son could play unassisted for the most part.
B) It is reinforcing his reading skills.
C) In order to succeed in this game, he needs to think and make connections . . . develop a simply strategy, if you will.
D) This game has no negative consequences for making errors unlike many other computer and console games.
E) The graphics are designed so that it has loose limits to what it will accept. Jake could try again and again to draw a tree until he drew one that was within the guidelines and was accepted by the program.
F) The drawing is based on using shapes. It will automatically close your shape for you.

The only thing I wished was different about the game is that, although it allows you to save your picture, it does not allow you to go back into a picture and pick up where you left off. So when it was time for Jake to go to bed, he had to stop playing and would have to repeat all his work for that particular picture tomorrow if he wants to earn more stars towards getting another trophy.

Overall, I have to say that this is one of the best children's computer games we've tried yet (and we have tried many). It can be downloaded for just $19.99 from the Itza Bitza website or purchased in a box from or other retailers. I want this team to develop a console game for ages 4+. There are hardly any console games out there that are rated EC (Early Childhood). So how about it, Margaret?