Discovery. (1991 Compute Choice Awards) (evaluation)
Imagine a computer-created world so large you could explore it for months without becoming bored. Add a network of secret passageways; a variety of quirky, yet endearing characters; a seemingly endless supply of surprising details; and a point-and-click interface even a four-year-old can master. Wrap it all in state-of-the-art graphics and punch it up with support for the popular sound boards.
The result might well be the Manhole from Activision--a delightful game that isn't really a game. There are no points to tally, no final objective to win, and no rules to follow. You just click on the object you want to examine or the direction you want to explore. A hallway with several doors can take you to a mountain range, an underground river, or a dragon's lair. Click on the dragon's remote control, and the TV shows pictures of other locations. Click on one of the pictures, and you'll be instantly transported there.
Like Alice in Wonderland (on which this program is loosely based), the Manhole is both grand in scope and devilishly clever in its details.
Super Solvers Midnight Rescue!
Problem solving is one of the hardest skills to teach, and arguably, it's best left to human instructors. However, Super Solvers Midnight Rescue! from The Learning Company soundly squelches that argument.
Among its many strengths, the program has a wonderful plot that will appeal to even the most reluctant readers. The town of Shady Glen has been plagued by a practical joker named Morty Maxwell (a.k.a. the Master of Mischief). The only people who can stop Morty are the children who make up the Super Solvers Club. And all you have to do to become a member is boot the program.
Solving the game's puzzle and defeating Morty require the collecting of clues, which in turn requires careful reading and analysis. But quick reflexes are also called for, as Morty's robot henchmen try to keep you from your task.
Super Solvers Midnight Rescue! deserves its high praise. It enhances some of the most important skills your kids will ever have to learn--reading comprehension and logical reasoning.
Time Machine Earth
The PC, it has been said, is a window on the world. This strikingly original and little-known program offers a window on all the faces our world has shown throughout hundreds of millions of years of history--and projects those faces billions of years into the future.
Our planet's features, Time Machine Earth teaches, are in constant motion. Huge tectonic plates shift and grind as continents tear apart from one another, resulting in vast land masses grumbling their way toward new configurations. Time Machine Earth makes tectonic movement come alive, giving you the opportunity to move through eons, viewing the world from a variety of different perspectives. Shifting plates can be overlaid, continents viewed close-up or from far out in space, with the Earth as a solid or hollow globe.
An easy-to-use interface makes travel through time simple. Good, if brief, documentation includes a reading list for further exploration. Time Machine Earth, available in both personal and classroom editions, breaks (almost literally) new ground in educational software.
Comptom's MultiMedia Encyclopedia
Long touted as one of the great potential products of the computer revolution, electronic encyclopedias began to come of age in 1990. The most notable of these, Comptom's MultiMedia Encyclopedia (CMME), combines text, sound, photos, and other graphics to produce an interactive educational experience that is delightful as well as informative.
Complete on a single CD-ROM disc, CMME provides a variety of tools for harvesting its treasures. The index reveals topics by key words, by concept, or by reference. Leave a bookmark to retrace your research trail. Notes can be taken, pictures can be viewed, and snippets of great music or notable speeches can be played.
The price of the product, along with the sophisticated hardware required to use it, virtually ensures that for the time being (CMME will reside in classrooms or, more likely, libraries and media centers. We hope students will be able to use the product individually, rather than as a group, for CMME is at its best as a self-paced learning tool. With its variety of approaches to the body of information it contains. CMME is all but inexhaustible, helping to fulfill the promise of both the electronic encyclopedia and CD-ROM itself.
DeluxePaint Animation was a double COMPUTE Choice winner this year--a first in our history. This is a rare program that offers the same kinds of benefits to business, creative artists, students, and children. To see how this super application can make you a winner, too, read the description under the Desktop Presentation/Video headline.