When Dora’s Explorer Girls Dora Links Doll was announced it caused a lot of stir, because that meant Dora was getting older and many didn’t like that. But once her images were released, a lot of folks began to simmer down when they realized that yes – Dora was older now and that the Dora Links doll is a sophisticated doll, that Dora herself would be proud of.
The packaging is adorable and has Dora sitting on a plastic white chair with a white cardboard keyboard. In the background is a picture of the rest of the Dora Explorer Girls and a PC that obviously Dora is typing on. The back of the packaging contains images of Dora Links in action and screenshots of Dora’s online world. Unfortunately unpacking Dora is another story. You basically have to rip apart the pretty carton to free Dora and all her accessories from the packaging. Included is Dora of course, a brush for her hair, a stand, a white chair, a pocketbook, software, and a fuchsia USB cable to match Dora’s stand.
Once you unpack Dora you can sit her down or stand her up in the stand. That is your choice. Then you need to take out the tab on her back, so that she is no longer set to demo mode. Dora Links also comes with 3 AAA batteries – a nice touch and easily replaceable, you just need to unscrew the cover on her back.
After unpacking Dora, the next step was to install the software. The Dora Links software is only Windows compatible so those with a Mac are sadly left out but there is always VMware or Bootcamp. Installation of the software is quite long. I ran the software on Windows 7 and Windows XP and the software worked just fine on both. However once the software installed, you are prompted that new content is being downloaded from the web. This process took about 15 to 20 minutes to complete between downloading and unpacking within the computer. Once the all the updates were finally installed, I was given the option to ‘Play’ so I pressed the button and moved on to the opening screen of Dora. You have to create an account to play, so I did and then you are asked to plug Dora in. I did and nothing happened. I tried to proceed and yet Dora was still not being picked up. So I unplugged and re-plugged the USB again – still nothing. I restarted the computer and restarted the program this time with Dora plugged in and finally the option to explore Puerto Verde was unlocked. Word to the wise, don’t disconnect or reconnect Dora while the Dora program is running. For some reason it messes up the USB connectivity between the Doll and game.
Dora’s Online Game
Once you enter Dora’s world you enter her house and she goes through a brief tutorial about the town, the people, and most importantly her ‘D-mail’. You become immersed in Dora’s community and her friends that you meet along the way. Being Dora Explorer, there are mysteries to solve, places to explore, and disguises to dress up in. Kids can easily pick up some Spanish words just by her conversations with friends in the game. I also appreciated that the online world actually has a voice. Dora and her friends all TALK! Which I for one love. It opens up the game to many more kids of any age, even if they can’t read at the level that Dora is speaking. For me I just loved it because I’m lazy and can’t stand having to read lines and lines of text in order to proceed. This for me made the online game flow much better.
The crux of the Dora Links doll is the interactivity with the game. Go to the salon and you can change your hair style and length both onscreen and off. You can also go to your vanity mirror in your bedroom where you can change your earrings and necklace color onscreen and off. Finally you can change your lipstick, blush, and eye color onscreen and off by going to the cafe and applying a ‘disguise.’ Every change you make to yourself in the game is instantly reflected on the Dora Links doll connected to the computer. During dialog sequences Dora will talk in the game and then switch to talking through the Dora Links Doll on occasion too, truly merging both the online and real world together.
The game itself is totally safe for kids, so parents need not worry. It’s a totally closed world that only lets you interact with characters programmed to be there. There are endless hours of fun ahead with the new Dora Links doll. When not attached to the computer just push her necklace and the Dora doll will talk to you and let you know about something going on, on the online world. Mattel and Fisher Price will continue to update Dora’s online world through 2010.
Dora Links also has her very good friends the Explorer Girls to join her in the fun. They may not connect to the computer like Dora does but they do come with codes to unlock new worlds or items in the Dora Explorer online game. The only other item so far that also connects to your computer is Dora’s Puerto Verde School. By connecting it to the computer, this will unlock her school in Dora’s Online world.
Kids and adults will love this toy and I have feeling its going to be a holiday bestseller. Dora may have gotten older but she hasn’t lost her charm. Dora’s Explorer Girls Dora Links Doll retails for $49.99, each Explorer Girl retails for $19.99, and the Puerto Verde School will retail for $34.99. Expect more updates from Dora’s online world and clothes to dress her up in, in real life.
The Good: Great interactivity in real life and online. Super safe for kids. Being able to modify Dora onscreen and off is a first for any toy.
The Bad: The USB connectivity for Dora was a little wonky in the beginning. Don’t unplug or replug her while the program is running or she won’t be detected at all. The reset button saves the day.