Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 113 / OCTOBER 1989 / PAGE 114


Dinosaur alert! The pressure is on to save your friends and neighbors from prehistoric destruction. Professor T.Rex has invented a Time Transporter and unwittingly turned a dinosaur loose to terrorize your town. Now there's a crack in time and you have only one week to save your hometown in Return of the Dinosaurs.

Everyone relies on you to unravel the clues and to identify the escaped dinosaur by name, by period (Triassic, Jurassic, or Cretaceous), and by the place where it lived. Once you know which dinosaur is on the loose, use the Time Transporter to return the creature to his proper place in the past.

As you travel around the town, people send you messages laden with cryptic clues and hints about the dinosaur, plus a lot of town gossip you'd be better off ignoring. If you can decipher the information properly, you'll move to the next location without delay, saving time and money. With four graphics settings to explore, there are plenty of places to look. To get your next message, you might have to open a bank account, sit in the movie-house balcony, or talk to some men repairing a silo on a farm. You might even get to sail toy boats in the pond at Museum Park.

Send this wandering thunder lizard back home in Return of the Dinosaurs.

Jot down each clue about the dinosaur in your online electronic notebook. You'll need at least three pieces of information to identify the dinosaur at level 1 and more as you move up toward level 4. When you think you have enough information, consult the DinoFile database. Use the search and sort routines lo eliminate the dinosaurs that don't fit the clues. When all the facts are in, you should be left with just one name. Read about that dinosaur in (he database to find his proper period and place; then use the Time Transporter to send him home.

Don't think of Return of the Dinosaurs as just a graphics adventure game; it also offers significant educational value. The creatively written messages force you to read carefully and to think intuitively before taking the next step. At the lowest level, the messages are simple, requiring only modest inference. But as play progresses, properly interpreting the messages becomes much more difficult. Not only must you decide where to go for the clue, but you must also use indirect hints about objects you have to buy and places you have to visit before you pick up the next clue. A snarling dog, for example, implies that you should pick up dog food from the market. Use the food to lure the dog away from the person with the next message. If you make many mistakes or forget what you've read, you'll end up wandering aimlessly around town, and the week will end before you've returned the dinosaur to the past.

It's the DinoFile database that really sets Return of ihe Dinosaurs apart. This extensive database contains a wealth of data about 70 different dinosaurs. There are 15 fields of information, including diet, locomotion, size, weight, English name, and notes of interest. You can search by key words or by specifying your own search string. The Make the List Smaller option performs and searches, but or searches aren't supported. Among the other options are a handy Back Up command to undo a selection and a List option that lets you look through the fields manually. The DinoFile database remembers the results of your searches and sorts, even after you've returned to the play mode. This makes the program much easier for young people to use, and it comes in very handy if you forget the name of the dinosaur that has escaped while you are halfway to the Jurassic period.

To gather your clues, you'll need money. There's food to buy and buses and taxis to pay, and using the Time Transporter can be expensive. You can find money lying around, but the best way to earn cash is to use the DinoFile to answer questions for the local newspaper. That's not so easy, though. Solving the harder questions definitely requires a sophisticated approach to the DinoFile.

I have only two complaints about this otherwise excellent program. For some reason, there are 19 special-use keys, many with similar functions at different times. A more unified approach to the interface would make learning the program a whole lot easier for users of any age. Also, several of my testers found the use of nonstandard database commands in the DinoFile somewhat frustrating. While they did eventually learn how to get around in it, they spent a significant amount of lime on personal instruction.

Return of the Dinosaurs combines educational content with attractive graphics in an entertaining and exciting game. Using the DinoFile gives you plenty of practice in the sophisticated application of a database even as it provides information about dinosaurs. Return of the Dinosaurs will be a popular program with the young people in your house or classroom. Ask nicely, and they might even let you play!


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