The brightly structured world of Thomas the Tank Engine and his friends will appeal to the orderly side of pre-schoolers as they help rescue a derailed engine, put it back on the tracks, spiff it up and get it back to work. If your older toddler glows when told he or she is helpful or a hard worker, this CD-ROM will put them in junior train-engineer heaven. The story begins with an engine named James eagerly heading out to get more coal for the other engines, but things don't go quite as planned; James has an accident on a sharp corner because he's being too hasty. Kids get to help rescue James and restore him to his shiny, bright-red self by completing eight activities that will test their problem-solving skills, spatial abilities and deductive reasoning. They must find James, properly assemble crane gears to get him lifted back onto the track, collect coal, find the proper parts and install them on James by listening to whistles, looking at train parts and then putting everything in its place. Once James has a full tank of water and a full bin of coal, kids get to drive the repaired engine. This is the best part of this friendly CD-ROM, as it demonstrates to little locomotive fans how steam engines work, from shovelling coal to goosing the throttle.
Each activity has three levels, and Trouble on the Track also has clickable surprises interspersed throughout each activity, something that earlier Thomas offerings lacked. Kids can visit Sir Topham Hatt's office to see and print their certificates (they get one for every level of each activity they complete) or various pictures that they can colour, turn into puzzles, or simply hang on their walls. Everyone from the Horrid Lorry to the Troublesome Trucks is here, and Thomas the Tank Engine fans will enjoy this program as it gently chugs along. (Ages 3 and older) --Anne Erickson
This CD-ROM allows children to enter the play world of Thomas and his friends, and help them get ready for the big festival on the Island of Sodor. They can get Thomas ready for the journey at the engine shed, clear the tracks, make music on the bandstand and help bring passengers to the festival. Seven engaging activities, rich 3-D animated graphics and printable certificates of completion are designed to keep little Thomas fans interested. Opportunities abound to practice colour matching, shape sorting, counting and more. And fans won't want to miss new video sequences featuring Thomas and his friends.