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by Rick Smith (December 1994)

Computer software titles are becoming more subject and content oriented rather than utility and process oriented. The "edutainment" portion of the computer software industry is becoming as diverse as the book publishing business. Some of these recent releases make excellent gifts for the upcoming holidays.

America's Civil War - A Nation Divided from Software Marketing Corporation, takes you through an interactive tour of the War Between the States. You can watch history unfold through videos of re-enactments, period music, spoken speeches along with 1200 photographs including many from the Matthew Brady collection. Information can be searched by many political, strategic, tactical or weaponry criteria such as date, name, event, blockade, invasion, Confederate victory or troop movement. [available in PC Windows format]

If 130 years is not far enough back in time, how about several hundred million years? Dinosaur Museum, also from Software Marketing Corporation, presents life-like dioramas and exhibit skeletons, along with detailed information about different dinosaurs of the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. [available in PC and Mac format]

For a simpler view of the "Dino"-saur Age from Image Smith, an interactive coloring book based on that modern Stone-Age family, the Flintstones is a fun choice. This product is part of their Yearn 2 Learn line for children (and big kids too).

If the past isn't your interest, help save the human race in 2094 from a mutated virus called Superbugs, In a manner similar to Fantastic Voyage (without Racquel -- but that's a different CD-ROM altogether), Bodyworks Voyager - Mission in Anatomy, also from Software Marketing Corporation, helps you learn about the human anatomy. You must pass a quiz on one of the body's ten systems before you get miniaturized in order to carry out your search and destroy mission to wipe out the Superbugs. Also included is a medical database that provides information about the body's systems and organs including verbal pronunciation of each body part.

Fox Interactive, a division of Twentieth Century Fox and a major operating unit of Fox, Inc. is currently creating and acquiring entertainment and educational properties for development into interactive multimedia software to be distributed by Fox Video. (How's that for vertical integration!)

Fox Interactive is combining their talents by releasing interactive games in conjunction with related releases in the conventional media. The Tick is one of Fox Interactive's first entries into the video game market, based on Ben Edlund's cult hot comic book and the Fox Children's Network cartoon. This 44 level game with "wobble" environments, large characters and bonus section make this title have the look and feel of a real arcade game. [available for 16 megabyte Sega Genesis / Super NES]

With the release of Twentieth Century Fox's movie, The Pagemaster, Fox Interactive will be concurrently releasing a video game based on this live actor / animated feature film starring Macaulay Caulkin. This 68 level game combines three stages (Adventure, Horror and Fantasy) complete with high quality music, digital sound samples and smooth animation that gives the game a "movie" quality [available for 16 megabyte Sega Genesis/ Super NES / Nintendo Super Game Boy (only 18 levels)]

In this continual merging of the entertainment and computer industry, 7th level is combining Hollywood's creative talent and advanced production techniques with software engineering expertise. They have recently signed comic Charles Fleisher (voice of Roger Rabbit) to a three year agreement to help create, write and narrate an interactive CD-ROM title "The Universe According to Virgil Reality" and might be available for a late 1994 release. Fleisher will deliver the voice of Virgil, a wacky science professor, in this title which combines animation, full-motion video and original music to help children and adults learn more by giving them fascinating pieces of information and challenging their imagination. These products are under development, the demonstration was excellent!

If you prefer police-based television and want to become part of the action, Crime Patrol, from American Laser Games, provides a multi-level challenging, live-action thriller which lets you assist law enforcement officers deter criminals, gangsters and terrorists. With its non-linear interactive action and random outcomes, this game should give many hours of suspenseful play [available for PC - 386-25 minimum, CD-ROM, SoundBlaster, DOS 3.3 and Mac LCIII minimum, 4 megabyte, double speed CD-ROM, System 7 - 3DO version coming]

Copyright 1994 Rick Smith All rights reserved.

   
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