The Sydney Morning Herald from Sydney, New South Wales, Australia on December 13, 1997 · Page 194
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The Sydney Morning Herald from Sydney, New South Wales, Australia · Page 194

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Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Issue Date:
Saturday, December 13, 1997
Page:
Page 194
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Kids www.smh.com.auiconkids.html Anne Glover chooses the best children's software titles to fill stockings this Christmas. I '4 Li "JOR children, Christmas just can't come quickly enough. Parents, however, find it is hurtling towards them at a frightening rate. Christmas preparation also means the start of the long summer holidays. A time when siblings spend too much time together; when cousins, neighbours and friends of friends lob in, each with a bunch of kids, all of different ages and with diverse interests. At such times, the home computer can be a source of conflict in some families, but if you select flexible software it can draw people of different ages and interests together. Many of the following programs will work well with a diverse group of kids and even an adult or two. JUST FOR THE UTTUES Bananas in Pyjamas - It's Fun Time is the hottest program for the preschool set this Christmas. Giggle along and tickle along with B 1 and B2. Take a trip to the beach and learn about sun safety or just sing out of tune with those cute teddies. The most entertaining animal program on the planet is Amazing Animals from Dorling Kindersley. Preschoolers will delight in playing spot the animal, before collecting fascinating facts about stick insects or sharks. Meanwhile, Mum or Dad will almost certainly be stumped by the Pixelator challenge (we need to guess the animal before the full picture appears). It's much tougher than it sounds. There is a great mixture of games and learning in this one. A PET FOR CHRISTMAS If it's a pet without the mess you're after, or a Tamagotchi without the tears, Fin Fin has arrived to save you from all the furry pet commitments. This adorable aqua-coloured dolphin, with wings, responds to the children's attention and, happily, is not at all offended if the computer is switched off for weeks at a time. There are no poos to clean up or funeral services to attend, just an endearing computer pet who stays where he is told, well sometimes anyway. ADVENTURE TIME Another adorable computer character is Putt Putt, a little car that takes the kids on a fun-filled trip around the countryside. Putt Putt Travels Through Time is the latest release in the series. A small group of children (and parents) can puzzle over which way Putt Putt should turn and how we can possibly remove obstacles in his path, such as a dinosaur's tail. Putt Putt exercises those thinking skills within the fun of a game. A similar adventure for older children is titled Spy Fox in Dry Cereal. The Fox stars in an interactive cartoon where the kids help find the answer to the world's latest crisis - there is no more milk left on Earth. To avoid the fate of eating dry cereal - almost worse than eating Brussels sprouts - the kids search high and low, then travel to the strangest of places to resolve the crisis. ACTION AND AGGRO If it is action the kids are after, and they have a thirst for blood, Lego Island is certain to entertain as they zip over other Lego characters in their quest to catch a crim. It's Lego like you've never seen it before Lego on steroids. Build a little, but drive and crash a lot more. Streets of Sim CHy provides more driving action. Select a car with missiles attached or drop the odd bomb as you swerve to avoid the oil slick. Goosebumps - Attack of the Mutant is also full on, with in-your-face action for kids who like to punch it out. Based on the Goosebumps book of the same name, there is no reading here, but plenty of action. Kill or be killed will be your motto in this new Goosebumps adventure. FOSSILS, ROCKS AND DINOSAURS Dinosaur fans have a swag of programs to select from. Chaos Island puts the kids in charge as they collect, hatch and train a team of fighting dinosaurs. They set up base camp, collect their supplies and get on with their task, hopefully surviving attacks from other dinosaurs and human hunters. It's based on The Lost DEAR SANTA Bananas In Pyjamas - It's Fun Time, ages 2-5. $49.95; distributed by Dataworks, ph 03 9764 8344. Amazing Animals, ages 4-8, $59.95; Roadshow Interactive, ph 9552 8700. Fin Fin. ages 4-14, $79.95; Dataflow, ph 9417 9700. Putt Putt Travels Through Time, ages 3-6, $49.95; GT Interactive, ph 9950 1555. Spy Fox in Dry Cereal, ages 5-9, $49.95; GT Interactive. Lego Island, ages 6-10, $49.95; Scholastic New Media, ph 02 4328 3555. Goosebumps - Attack of the Mutant, ages 9-14 (0FLC age 8 rating, low-level animated violence), $59; Microsoft Suppliers, ph 9870 2110. Streets of Sim City, ages 8-13, $89.95; Electronic Arts, ph 9955 7744. Chaos Island, ages 9-14 (0FLC age 8 rating, low-level animated violence), $59; Adorable: Putt Putt Travels Through Time World and here we are only a few steps from extinction. Devils Canyon, on the other hand, will suit dinosaur fans with a more scientific interest, but still within the structure of a game. The Magic School Bus Explores in the Age of the Dinosaurs allows younger children to collect a bunch of fossils and learn more about their favourite prehistoric animals. Kids who collect stones everywhere they go - and always have a couple of "very special" rocks in their pockets, that eventually end up in the bottom of the washing machine - will appreciate Earth Quest. They can learn all about rocks and minerals without ripping holes in their shorts. JUST FOR GIRLS Barbie girls also have a series of programs to select from, including Barbie Magic Hair Styler, to get Barbie's hair just right, and Barbie Fashion Designer, to plan the right gear for that "dream date". Crafty kids will enjoy using the computer to make their own "shrinky" necklaces and bracelets with Super Jewelry Kit. It will make a great party activity with a group of friends, (make sure you have an inkjet printer and an adult around to operate the oven). Ariel's Story Studio is also bound to be popular with girls. They can read Ariel's story or build their own beautiful storybooks, then play games or create a gorgeous grotto that changes over time. Other girls (and boys, too) will appreciate more the challenge of The Logical Journey of the Zoombinis Deluxe, where they help cute little characters to cross tricky bridges and swirling whirlpools. This is thinking skills at its best. The "deluxe" version is a newer release, but is almost the same as the original (so don't buy both). FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY The Carmen Sandiego series is very popular with families. The latest - Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego - is no exception. The kids can travel to Ancient Egypt, Mongol China or Shakespearean England in search of Carmen's notorious nabbers. Just like the hugely popular Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego 3.0, the players need to read to collect clues and play the game. So it feels like a game but the kids are developing their literacy skills and thinking hard as they play. It is also a program where children younger than the target age range will understand the game play. While they may not be able to play on their own, they will still love to be in the team and a part of the action. Riven is a mind-blowing game for a few family members to tackle as a team, or for holiday visitors to put their heads together over. When one player is stuck or feeling very frustrated, a bunch of players is likely to come up with a plethora of options. Anne Glover is a teacher, consultant and autJior of Computers and Your Kids ($19.95 from ABC Books). Microsoft Suppliers. Devils Canyon, ages 7-14, $59; Scholastic New Media. Magic School Bus Explores in the Age of the Dinosaurs, ages 6-10, $49; Microsoft Suppliers. Earth Quest, ages 7-14, $89; Roadshow Interactive. Barbie Magic Hair Styler, ages 4-10, $54.95; Dataflow. Barbie Fashion Designer, ages 6-12, $69.95; Dataflow. Super Jewelry Kit, ages 7-12, $49.95:- Saratoga Software, ph 03 5122 3382. Ariel's Story Studio, ages 4-10, $69.95; Buena Vista Entertainment, ph 03 9823 7800. The Logical Journey of the Zoombinis Deluxe, ages 8-14, $69.95; Dataflow. Where in Tone is Carmen Sandiego, ages 9-adult, $79.95; Dataflow. Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego, ages 8-adult. $69.95; Dataflow. Riven, ages 9-adult, $89.95; Dataflow. WSlr(pO(a)W . Mois .:' ' SMH DECEMBER 13, 1997 icon 17

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