JumpStart Baby 
Teddy, a 2D cartoon teddy bear, is the host of JumpStart Baby: 2000 Edition. He comes bounding out of his house singing "Say hello to the sun" when the game is started, and takes the baby, or toddler, into his room where there are nine toys laid out on the bed. The interface allows the baby to use the mouse to select a toy, or wait until a particular toy moves and simply "hit" the keyboard. The option of leaving the baby alone at the computer seems a bit unusual, though, since normally babies get much more out of computer time when the caregiver or adult remains actively involved.
Each of the nine games incorporates music, a good way to keep a small child's attention. Each game also has a helpful icon that brings up a screen where Teddy suggests an age appropriate activity, with links to both the Baby Book and a dedicated website at www.education.com/jumpstart/, for those interested in related JumpStart programs. The Baby Book is actually a virtual baby book, not one of the nine toys. Parents can import pictures of baby's first smile, tooth or crawling experience along with a title and personal comments.
The best feature of JumpStart Baby: 2000 Edition is the ability to customize and personalize some, but not all, of the activities. Even so, the software isn't as complete as some similar games on the market and misses many opportunities to teach cause and effect. Without the personalization factor, the overall effect of the program would be fairly dismal. Only three of the nine games can be customized.
Family Tree is cute and shows pictures of Teddy's family on apples hanging from his family tree; the pictures can be replaced with family photos through the import feature. Baby World consists of pictures of babies from around the world and seems based in the well-known fact that babies enjoy looking at other babies. Each time the toddler bops a key on the keyboard, a new picture appears. There's no time limit, so the baby can view the picture until he or she hits the keyboard again. As in Family Tree, personal family pictures can be imported.
The telephone is the last of the customizable games, and is a relatively complex affair that provides babies with the opportunity to learn letters, shapes, and numbers from the telephone pad. The videophone leads babies in counting from 1 to 10 with the song " Ten Little Monkeys" or by singing the alphabet as letters appear on the video screen. If the baby wants to call someone, he or she simply hits a button on the phone, causing one of many animal cartoon characters to appear and say something cute. As in the previous two games, customization is possible through importation of pictures, audio recordings and videos.
One game does teach cause and effect through a hide-and-seek type scenario, where the baby hits the keyboard or mouse, causing Teddy to pop up and say "Peek-a-boo!" If the baby hits another key too quickly, something else on the screen will move, providing an appropriate response to the action.
Two games, Finger Painting and Frog Hopping, teach colors. Unfortunately, the former is not well crafted, while the latter is quite simple. In painting, each black and white picture fills in with a color when the baby hits a key, thus eliminating control over where the color appears. Additionally, once a picture is finished, the program automatically changes to the next one, denying the child a chance to view the picture or color it again. In hopping frogs, hitting the mouse button causes a little frog to hop to a colored bump in the frog pond where Teddy announces the color, but it's possible to bypass the announcement if another key is pushed too soon.
In Dress Teddy, the baby learns what clothes to wear, such as pajamas for bedtime, and boots, mittens and hats in the snow. In the Music Box, or song theater, just hitting a key will change who is singing, while Dancing Baby goes through the motions of four songs, including " Where is Thumbkin?," while infant gamers watch. Most of these are a bit too passive, as opposed to interactive.
The second CD in the software package is designed for play over the Internet and requires both players to have the same software. In summation, the strengths of the game include the opportunities to personalize the activities with pictures, videos and recordings, while the weaknesses include a singular lack of cause and effect teaching and less interactive gameplay with too much passive viewing. ~ Beth Taylor, All Game Guide
Attractive cartoon drawings, which will hold the attention of most babies or toddlers. ~ Beth Taylor, All Game Guide
Sound is clear with specific music for each game. Teddy's voice is warm, inviting and full of emotion. ~ Beth Taylor, All Game Guide
Because of the lack of depth in interactive modules, the customization feature makes the game more appealing than it would otherwise be. ~ Beth Taylor, All Game Guide
The game is built around repetition, something babies and toddlers enjoy. ~ Beth Taylor, All Game Guide
Instructions are clear and concise. ~ Beth Taylor, All Game Guide