Arthur is an 8 year old aardvark created by children's book author and illustrator Marc Brown. In Arthur's Sand Castle Contest, he enters a castle-building contest while visiting the beach with family and friends - the goal in this game is to complete a castle using pre-made blueprints or your own imagination. This requires a certain amount of planning, as you have to collect the ingredients to make bricks: sand and water.
To collect sand, you control Arthur with the mouse in an arcade-style game. As his dog Pal digs up clumps of sand, you move Arthur and his bucket across the screen with the mouse, catching the flying sand. Sometimes, Pal will dig up crabs that inflict a painful nip and cause Arthur to lose his sand, and sometimes he'll find special items that Arthur needs to make bricks. Pushing the spacebar causes Arthur to jump over crabs on the ground. When the bucket is full you have the option of filling another. Depending on the level, each bucket of sand can be worth 3 or more bricks.
To collect water you move Arthur across the hot sand through a maze of beach towels until he reaches the water's edge and can fill his bucket. There are dogs, crabs, and large bathers to avoid, puddles of water to soothe hot feet, and french fries to renew Arthur's energy. Success at collecting enables cut-scenes in which Arthur's friends bring him pretty rocks and shells they've found, to use as decorations.
Arthur's friend Brain has stumbled upon an old junked Sno-Cone machine, which he has managed to convert into a sand castle brick-making machine. If you bring him the sand and water to feed into it, his machine will mold it into bricks for you. Moreover, if you collect particular items that Brain asks for he will exchange them for specialty bricks. Finding an old shoe, for example, may allow you to make a crown-like brick; finding a milk carton may open up a pyramid-shaped brick, etc.
At the sand tray, drag and drop bricks from Arthur's wagon onto the grid in free building or follow the blueprint you've chosen, poke window holes, add decorations and flags and pour water for a moat. When you are done, use the whistle to call over the contest judge, and if your castle passes muster you'll make it into the local paper!
Arthur's Sand Castle Contest is intended for children aged 4 - 7 and exercises learning skills; critical thinking, creativity and problem solving.