by Linda Schreiber
Alpha Blox will appeal to adults as well as children. It is a double purpose program. First, it reinforces the alphabet sequence for youngsters. The "game" is to locate all the letters of the alphabet in the correct order, beginning with 'A' and ending with 'Z'
It is also a "concentration"-type game. The letters are placed randomly behind the different blocks. None of the blocks are marked. By pressing the arrow keys, you can move the crosshairs over a different block. To see the letter under the block, press the space bar. Do not use the shift or control keys for the arrow keys. The program is designed for small children who might become confused by the need to combine keys to make the cross-hairs move.
The game is designed for one or two players. When the game begins, the first player 'looks' for the 'A' by placing the cross-hairs over a block and pressing the space bar. When the 'A' is found, two points are added to the score. In a two-player game, after a successful move the player can look for the next letter. Each time the correct next letter is found, points are added to that player's score. Points are increased by two after every correct letter, so if you found A, B, and C without a miss, you would accumulate ten points. If you miss a letter, the point value returns to two for the next player. No points are subtracted from a player's score for a wrong letter.
When a letter is found, the block becomes 'empty' and the letter will move to the bottom left of the screen. Only the score of the person that is playing will be displayed.
When all the letters have been found, the player with the most points wins. In the single player version, that player's score is shown on the screen. Educationally, Alpha Blox has several advantages. It rewards letter recognition and exercises spatial and sequential memory, at which many children are quite as capable as adults. In a competition between parent and child, the parent needn't always cheat to lose. Also, the scoring makes it possible for many points to be scored late in the game to make up for failure to score early. As a result, Alpha Blox should be truly fun for small children to play with grown-ups or older children.