Picks and Pans Main: Kid Stuff
Parents who object to the violence of the Joe toys may have to impose a blockade on this video game. But it does capture one of the line's more appealing qualities—its array of distinctly individualized soldiers.
The player (it's a one-player game, alas) chooses a three-man Joe squad for each of six missions, picking from characters such as Duke, Snake Eyes and Blizzard, all rated for such traits as stamina and punching ability. Joe fans will enjoy the weaponry and meeting such familiar Cobra villains as Destro.
While the play is a routine zap-a-thon, there are nice mazes, and having the right Joe on line at any given moment takes concentration. (Taxan for Nintendo, $44.95)
(THAD NOVAK, 11, says: It's great to be able to pick your squad, but it's too bad the figures look more like colored blobs than they do real Joe characters.)
THE LITTLE MERMAID
The game makers at CAPCOM are very proud of themselves for creating what they consider a girl-friendly video game. Kate Carcaterra, 9, doesn't understand "what the difference is." What does concern Kate is the difficulty of the game based on the Disney film. There's a "no die mode," but death comes fast with normal play, thanks to such evil sea creatures as Ursula the sorceress. Protagonist Ariel fights back by flipping her mermaid's tail. ("I love doing flips," says Kate.)
The graphics—Disney animation compressed into stitchery squares—are pleasing, but not enough for Kate. "I don't care what the figures are," she says. "I care how fun the game is. This is in the middle." (CAPCOM for Nintendo, $44.95)
YOUR BABY: A VIDEO GUIDE TO CARE AND UNDERSTANDING WITH PENELOPE LEACH
British child-development expert Penelope Leach uses a common-sense approach to the care and feeding, not to mention bathing, carrying and general understanding of your newborn. Starting with the trip home from the hospital, the 77-minute tape moves through the daunting first weeks of baby's, and your own, new life.
Leach's efficient style makes even the most frustrating of problems—getting baby to sleep through the night—seem survivable. But Leach, author of Your Baby and Child and a mother of two, saves her best advice for last, reassuringly warning against "making heavy weather" of these first six weeks. "They pass so quickly." (Sidney Place, $33.35; 800-877-0597)
BABY MASSAGE AND EXERCISE: A GOOD NIGHT'S SLEEP FOR BABY AND YOU
Here is a hands-on way to relax with your baby, if you are willing to take the time to learn the proper techniques and, more important, if your baby is amenable to being massaged.
Stressing the benefits of massage in baby-parent bonding, the authors explain routines parents can start when baby is 2 weeks old. The half-hour tape also features massages designed to alleviate the discomforts of gas and colic and has a list of relevant books. (activVideo, $24.95; 800-333-0901)
WATER BABY: EXPERIENCES OF WATER BIRTH
A form of "gentle birth," the water-birth method was first developed in the Soviet Union in the 1960s. Since then, this controversial birthing process has gained support in France, partly through the efforts of Dr. Michel Odent, whose water-birth clinic has been in operation since 1978.
This 57-minute tape shows four water births—birthing in water with little or no intervention—two of them at Odent's clinic'. Then focus shifts to the U.S., where in 1985 Dr. Michael Rosenthal, an obstetrician, opened a water-birth center near Los Angeles.
Critics say water birth can, among other things, delay a baby's access to emergency care. But strong arguments for the method come from mothers who describe their water-birth experiences as, variously, "luxurious," "comfortable" and "warm." (Point of View, $105; 415-821-0435)