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Reviews

The following reviews are provided by independent reviewers. The opinions expressed are their own and are not influenced by Ohio Distinctive Software, Inc., or any of its employees.

Captain Smartbeard's Scholarly Sea Adventure (2)
ChemRacer 2713: The Legend of Kid Chem (2)
The Daily Fundamentals
Farmer Greenfield's Virtual Harvest (4)
Gary the Swamp Frog's Great Geometry Adventure
The Great Galaxy Grid Game
Magnificent Marlena's Mind-Bending Magic Show
Master Gecko's Home Row
Mazequest: Tales of the Wandering Grammarian (2)
Professor Eggword's Discovery
Quadrinarian Word Find (2)
Robob's Cubetronic Quizimajig (2)

Customer Testimonials
Captain Smartbeard's Scholarly Sea Adventure
Reviewed By: GZ Kidzone
Rating: 7 / 10
Review Date: 10/29/00

Ahoy, matey! Ye have earned quite a reputation for being the smartest landlubber in town! Aye, ye have! That's why Captain Smartbeard has sent ye this special invitation to join him and his crew on a lively adventure in the search for pirate's treasure!

Seems the Captain has some treasure maps that once belonged to Bones McNalogy but neither the captain nor his crew can figure out the special symbols on those maps! Captain Smartbeard is willing to make ye a secret honorary pirate if ye will agree to help! So, what say ye, matey? Are ye ready to board the ship and sail the high seas? Of course ye are!

The adventure unfolds at the main menu. It is from this menu that you can choose the level of difficulty you wish to play. Clicking the up and down arrows will change the level from 1 to 27. You can start at any level and then adjust up if the level you are playing is too easy or down if the level you are playing is too hard.

You can move to five different areas from the main menu: Yo Ho Ho and a Pile of Math, Landlubber's Same Game, Relationships Ahoy!, Pollywinkle's Potpourri and Smartbeard's School.

You might want to visit Smartbeard's School first so that you can see what topics are covered in the other areas and to learn more about the different topics. These topics include: Exponents, Order of Operations, Square and Cube Roots, Synonyms and Antonyms, and Analogies. You can read each section yourself or follow along as each topic is read to you. Remember, you can always return to the school at any time to review any of the information found there.

Yo Ho Ho and a Pile of Math features math exponents from picture association up to square and cube root questions. Landlubber's Same Game covers synonyms (words that mean the same thing) and antonyms (words that mean the opposite). In Relationships Ahoy! you will find questions dealing with analogies (how one word relates to another). Pollywinkle's Potpourri features questions from all the other three topics and you will never know what kind of question you will get until it pops up!

Each time you answer a question correctly, you will receive a piece of one of Bone McNalogy's treasure maps. Complete an entire section and you can help Captain Smartbeard and his crew sail their ship to the X marked on each treasure map. Be careful though because sea monsters and whirlpools lie between your ship and the treasure! Reaching the treasure helps you earn gold and add to your score. Every pirate wants the highest score possible so they can add their names to the list of Legendary Pirates!

Captain Smartbeard's Scholarly Sea Adventure can be played by any number of players, but each will have to play one at a time. Individual games can be saved and loaded again from the main menu. If you want to quit playing the game, just click on the quit button and you will be given the options of saving, printing and leaving the game. This is an easy way to keep track of individual progress.

Ok, matey, the rest is up to you! Captain Smartbeard and his crew are waiting for you to unravel the mystery of Bone McNalogy's treasure maps! Hope I see you on the high seas of adventure!

Note to parents and educators: Captain Smartbeard's Scholarly Sea Adventure is a learning software which can be played on an individual basis by any number of players. Adjusting the difficulty level will allow play by the youngest school age child to the junior or middle school age child. Tracking of each child's progress can be kept by both saving and printing the progress before exiting the software.

Captain Smartbeard's Scholarly Sea Adventure
Reviewed By: Kids Domain
Review Date:12/2000
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Description:
Ohio Distinctive Software helps children prepare for placement tests through Captain Smartbeard's Scholarly Sea Adventure. Every pirate is after the same thing...treasure. To find all the pieces to Old Bones's map answer questions correctly and plot an accurate course on the high seas. Answer enough questions correctly and your name will be listed with other legendary pirates.

Solve exponents, order of operations, square and cube roots, synonyms and antonyms and analogies. With twenty-seven levels to complete your brain will get quite a workout.

Features:
* Four Games
* 27 Levels Per Game
* Save/Load Option
* Music On/Off

Technical Aspects:
It loaded easily. Features Clear audio, music can be a bit annoying but may be turned off. Visually a bit choppy but seems to be due to the 3-D animation. The hearing impaired can play easily.

Report and Conclusions:
Captain Smartbeard's Scholarly Sea Adventure is a great game, but unless your child is really knowledgable three may be a bit young to start. Level one is more matching than anything else, but you need to be able to count. To give an example of level twenty-seven the program will ask for a synonym of mansuetude; choices being: rubescent, surreptitious, conglomeration and gentleness. This program has great longevity, is definitely challenging enough, and at $12.00 is an outstanding buy.

ChemRacer 2713: The Legend of Kid Chem
Reviewed By: Children's Software Revue
Rating: 4.3 / 5
CSR Issue: 1/01
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If you think that memorizing the elements of the periodic table and their associated facts is a boring pastime, think again. This game is very fun and you'll come away knowing more about chemistry than ever before. Game play alternates between an arcade racer challenge and an "identify the element" game. First, your racer must capture another racer (you do this by scooting your racer around with the mouse until it hits another racer). Then, you get a clue about a particular element. You also get four possible answers. You must use the clue to identify the element, but if you can't, you can "buy" another clue. Each clue costs you a point, so you'll need to use these sparingly. Sample identification clues include: "This element is a solid at room temperature." and "This element is bluish white." Points are awarded for correct answers, games can be saved and high scores are kept. This would be a very nice game for science classes.

ChemRacer 2713: The Legend of Kid Chem
Reviewed By: Kids Domain
Rating:
Review Date:10/2000
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Description:
Play as Blaze Avogadro (female student of ChemRacer trainer Rusty Alkali) and race in the Elemental Derby League in the year 2173. Kid Chem, the greatest ChemRacer in history, has just retired so there is an opening for a new champion. Start with the EDL Training Series. Each series requires moving your ChemRacer with the mouse to catch competitors in an open area by driving up to them. Each opponent represents a particular chemical element and catching them unlocks its basics - name, symbol, number in the Periodic Table and atomic weight.

The Pro Series is similar. In this case catching another ChemRacer results in a multiple choice question asking you to identify its element from a set of 4. Hints can be accessed but reduce the score (the last hint is the symbol itself, which makes it easy to deduce the answer). The Super League is the same as the Pro Series, except that action is timed. An announcer entertains with tv commentary during the 'race', which is more like a free-for-all. The racing game gets irritating after a while but you don't actually have to move the mouse - eventually a competitor will be caught anyway.

There are 20 levels of play, and higher levels provide both information and questions at a more advanced level. For example level 10 indicates the number of neutrons in an atom of an element, and level 20 asks questions such as what element is used to strengthen stainless steel.

The Gallery includes character and opponent bios, information on racing tracks and a Trophy Case. Track and opponent information is unlocked by progressing through the races. Games, their progress levels and trophies, can be saved and loaded again. The Glossary includes excellent (though brief) overviews on Atoms, Protons, Electrons, Neutrons, Isotopes, Elements & Compounds, the Periodic Table, and Element Families - a very useful part of the program.

Features:
* Teaches characteristics of 109 elements
* Glossary tutorial
* Trophies to be won
* Gallery elements to be unlocked
* 60 levels
* 20 racing tracks
* Games can be saved and re-loaded
* Tracking report can be saved or printed
* Introductory sequences can be interrupted
* Music can be turned off

Technical Aspects: I tried the program on a Pentium II with Windows 98. There was no installation required, the program simply started from the Run command in the Start menu.

This would be suitable for someone with auditory difficulty - they would only miss music and verbal repetition of text on the screen.

Report and Conclusions:
The age range indicated for this title is 3 and up. However the only part accessible to younger kids is the free for all racing, which is not enough in itself to make purchase worthwhile. Nor would I recommend it as a teaching tool for the Periodic Table and the chemical elements, though the Glossary overview is very nice. Information is simply presented on each element captured in a race, and my son (10) barely read it and then guessed answers in the Pro Series.

Where ChemRacer 2713: The Legend of Kid Chem is strong is in its provision of drills and reinforcement of the fundamentals of chemical elements. It would be most useful for a child who is already studying chemistry, as another path to understanding and memorizing the information. They should be encouraged to review the Glossary content as well.

The price is definitely right and this title can provide strong reinforcement of basic chemistry studied at home or at school.

The Daily Fundamentals
Reviewed By: GZ Kidzone
Rating: 8 / 10
Review Date: 1/16/01

This program is simply adorable as well as learning fun for your young ones. My youngest daughter fell in love with its mascot and the activities themselves. Not only do they learn but have a great time doing it!

The program opens up with a menu of choices of activities. You start out by entering the date as it is a daily journal and keeps track of the activities you have finished for that day. The music reminds me of Romper Room and is very appropriate for the program itself. It is heard throughout the games, although the option to play without music can be used. I think though that the music really lends a lot to the program itself and suggest you keep it on and I think you will enjoy it as much as the young player themselves.

Your daily activities include Math of which you will have to solve 5 problems. A daily word that has you match up the correct definition. Besides other activities such as the daily scramble, a cute word game, you also have activities such as printing a page of mazes and coloring pages. The one activity I thought was a stand out was the homework planner. This allows the child to keep track of work he or she has to do for class. This is something parents especially will appreciate.

One other feature that stands out is the daily journal. This allows the child to write their innermost thoughts on what is on their mind. This is a great tool not only to help develop expression but also writing skills. When they are done writing they hit the finished button and are brought back to the main menu. As each activity is finished you will find a big yellow checkmark next to it on the main menu. Another feature which children will enjoy is the sound effects by the mascot himself. He sits on the corner of every activity page and makes some of the cutest sounds I have heard on a children's program. He also moves around in his little square and when one activity is finished he ends the session by saying "looks like we're all done here!". It will emit a smile from any age, I guarantee. This program has so many pluses to it, that it is hard to pick just one. Mostly though, it really helps a child learn and be entertained at the same time and that is always a winning combination.

Farmer Greenfield's Virtual Harvest
Reviewed By: The Review Zone(Reprints Rights Granted to Ohio Distinctive Software)
Rating: Best of 2000
Review Date: 12/2000
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Howdy, neighbors! You're in for a treat because you and your kids get to find out what it's really like to farm by helping blue-eyed Farmer Greenfield grow his virtual harvest!

The amazing thing about this software is its price---$10 gets you a unique, science CD-ROM which provides users with a very cool way to learn about botany, resource management, and gives some real insight into the brainpower it takes to be successful at growing crops. Of course, there's real physical strength needed to raise crops, but this gives kids an insight on the thinking-skills involved from growing crops to harvesting them.

There are 10 levels of game-play which range from beginner to advanced. Replayability scored well with our kid testers, who seem to play this non-stop for hours, if allowed!

Whether kids are practicing basic math by figuring out how much money or water they have or applying common sense by predicting the weather and how it will affect their crops, this virtual harvest software is a hoot!

The CD-ROM ran well on my iBook and iMac and didn't even require an installation. It should also run on most Windows and Mac systems (including older operating systems) without a hitch.

The music is great---if it gets annoying, there's a button to turn it off! The background music helps set the mood for this software. With a little imagination, it's easy to envision that you're in the middle of a field and it's your job to help make the crops grow! It's those nail-biting decisions that pay off in the long run, after all.

Feel free to fidget with many high-tech gadgets and gizmos including a blue button with two red arrows which lets you propel ahead in time by an entire day. Although not realistic, it helps kids with short attention spans.

You can also slow down time or speed it up--take your choice! Handy information screens helps remind kids about watering, bugs, and blight.

There are virtual rain gauges which tell children whether they have overwatered or underwatered the crops, as well as two different ways to water the crops, depending on your water allocation. Kids can earn points and buy irrigation systems and water pumps as they progress in the software.

Sure, crops will die on you and it's sad (the first time) to see 'em wilt. Never fear, there's a handy compost bin which helps these sick plants get better. Yep, only on a CD-ROM!

The "Veg O Lux" is where it's at to find out more about plants, fruit and veggies, tools, and landscaping. It's also the place where you can barter for plants. You can only "buy" plants that are highlighted in color, otherwise you'll have to wait until you get to that level. When you want to make those all important purchases, you'll have a chance to answer a question (about plants, of course) and get a whopping 50 percent off on the price of that plant. Mooooove over, Wal-Mart!

Kids can also phone a neighbor for friendly advice, what else? Don't tell Regis about this phone a friend thing..it's totally cool.

Is this CD-ROM really for kids? You betcha! Although the manufacturer of this software recommends it for ages 3 through adult, I'd suggest this software for kids ages 8 through adult, as the navigation isn't intuitive enough for younger kids. The tutorial is great, and it also helps to print it out to have it as a reference next to the computer.

My testers and I learned many things about growing our own virtual crops while playing this title. In the Glossary and by answering questions when buying plants, we learned to identify a variety of flowers, plants and vegetables (from basic appearances to detailed scientific information) along with their scientific names, facts about each plant's height, maturity time and required water and soil type.

For many reasons, we are proud to include Farmer Greenfield's Virtual Harvest among The REVIEW ZONE's Best of 2000 winners. Not only is this a fun-filled way to learn about growing living things, playing this software helps children (and adults) develop deduction, reasoning and strategic thinking skills, as well as utilizing math in practical problem-solving activities.

As Farmer Greenfield would wisely say, "Remember, water doesn't grow on trees"! This environmentally-friendly CD-ROM would fit nicely into the elementary science classroom, home school or home.

Farmer Greenfield's Virtual Harvest
Reviewed By: Kids Domain
Rating:
Review Date: 9/00
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Description:
Develop a green thumb with Farmer Greenfield's Virtual Harvest by Ohio Distinctive Software. Lessons about botany, math, resource management and the variability of weather, blight and pests are learned while growing a virtual garden of various flowers and vegetables.

Features:
* Wide assortment of flowers, vegetables, gardening tools and landscaping items
* Ten levels of difficulty
* Comprehensive glossary
* Student tracking feature (included with teacher's edition)
* Tutorial
* Farmer Greenfield's pithy advice on gardening

Technical Aspects:
Installation is as easy as putting the CD in the drive. The game ran like a charm on our older Power Macintosh (603e) system running OS 8.1. Ohio Distinctive Software is not known for state-of-the-art graphics, but that is more than offset by the wide range of systems that their games may be played on. Graphics are clear, colorful, interesting and appropriate for the title. The sound is interesting and appropriate as well, and the background music can be disabled if it becomes annoying.

After reading the user manual or having gameplay explained, hearing impaired users would have no problem playing Farmer Greenfield's Virtual Harvest. Although the help function and comments from Farmer Greenfield would be unusable, all other functions of the game have on-screen written comments and instructions.

Report and Conclusions:
There are still many older computer systems in use in homes, day care centers and school systems. Since many of these systems are still in use because their owners can't afford to upgrade, it follows that the owners probably can't afford expensive software either (in the rare instances that compatible titles can be found). Kudos to Ohio Distinctive Software for its line of reasonably-priced educational games compatible with operating systems back to Windows 3.1 for PCs and OS 6 for Macs.

Our whole family is enjoying Farmer Greenfield's Virtual Harvest. Although my twelve-year-old daughter complained that it was boring after just a little gameplay, ten minutes later she was delighted to be growing a zucchini. (She does not like zucchini, but grew it for my special benefit.)

Ten levels of difficulty provide challenges for a wide age range, and the variable nature of weather, blight and bugs provide virtually unlimited replayability. In the lower levels, blight and bugs do not appear, making gameplay much easier. My three- and four-year-old pre-readers needed quite a bit of help, however.

I highly recommend running the tutorial and visiting the glossary before starting the game. The glossary provides identification, virtual harvest time, actual harvest time and interesting facts about the various plants. These facts come in handy when purchasing plants from the Veg-o-lux; when the gardener selects a flower or vegetable to plant, he or she will get a 50% discount on the price by correctly answering a question about a plant. Questions at the higher levels are quite difficult, but all of the answers are available in the glossary.

After several days of play we have yet to come to the end of a game. Farmer Greenfield tells us that the object of the game is to grow and harvest as many plants as possible. In either the teacher guide or read-me file I read a statement that the object is to grow one of each type of flower and vegetable. The game might also stop if a gardener ran out of points, but given the structure of the game, that seems unlikely.

The only improvement I would suggest is an on-off switch for Farmer Greenfield's comments. He can be at times distracting and annoying. Aside from that, Farmer Greenfield's Virtual Harvest is well worth the $10 price.

Farmer Greenfield's Virtual Harvest
Reviewed By: Children's Software Revue
Rating: 4.3 / 5
CSR Issue: 1/01
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This nifty little program lets kids plant, grow and harvest their own onscreen gardens. It's a simulation-style game where you begin with a few points, buy seedlings at the Veg-O-Lux and plant them. You must control the water, and check for bugs and blight. If you do things right, your plants will grow and you can harvest them, in turn earning more points with which to buy more seedlings and cool stuff for your gardens. It's very compelling. Along the way, if you answer plant identification questions correctly, you can get your seedlings for half price. There's a narrated plant glossary where you can brush up on your knowledge of botany. Ten levels of difficulty ensure replay, games can be saved, and an onscreen teacher's manual is available. This program is well suited for classroom use but is interesting enough for home use as well.

Farmer Greenfield's Virtual Harvest
Reviewed By: GZ Kidzone
Rating: 8 / 10
Review Date: 10/9/00
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Hey, kids! What's your favorite flower? How about your favorite vegetable? What kind of fruit do you like best? Have you ever wondered how flowers, vegetables and fruits are grown? It takes a lot of hard work and a lot of help from Mother Nature to become a good farmer! Would you like to see how it is done? All right then, let's mosey on over to Farmer Greenfield's Virtual Harvest and see what kind of farmers we can become!

Ohio Distinctive Software has provided four options on the main menu: Play Game, Glossary, Tutorial and Exit. Before you jump into playing, you might want to check out the glossary. Here you will find pictures of all the things you can grow. Clicking on one of the icons will give you all kinds of useful information on growing that item...like how much water is needed and how long it takes for that item to grow to harvest time!

The Tutorial will give you a complete rundown on the game menu and how to use each icon. Spending a few minutes here will help you get a good start on becoming a successful farmer. For extra hints and helpful tips, click on the radio icon or the telephone icon.

You begin Farmer Greenfield's Virtual Harvest with 5 points which you can spend at the "Veg O Lux", the one-stop shopping center for all your farming needs. There are four categories of items from which you can choose: Plants, Fruits and Vegetables, Tools and Landscape. Once you click on the item you wish to purchase, you will be asked a question. Answer correctly and the cost for your chosen item is cut in half!

Farmers rely heavily on Mother Nature to provide sunshine and rain, but sometimes she will give you too much or too little. You begin the game with a limited amount of water and compost. You can use these items for your crops as they need it, but be sure to use them carefully. As Farmer Greenfield will occasionally remind you, "Water doesn't grow on trees!" It is up to you to keep your crops growing in the proper ranges, so be sure to continually check the health of your crops so you can give them what they need for them to grow to their full potential.

When your crops reach harvest time, you drag them into the harvest basket where they are sold and you are credited with more spending points! Then it is off to the Veg O Lux once again to buy more of what you need. A farmer's work is never done so the best time to start is NOW! See you in the fields!

Note: Farmer Greenfield's Virtual Harvest plays directly from the CD-ROM drive on both IBM and MAC computers. If the game does not work correctly on your computer, you may need to increase the Virtual Memory. This is done by clicking on the apple in the top left corner of the menu screen and choosing Control Panels. Increase the Virtual Memory by 4MB at a time until the game works correctly on your computer.
Gary the Swamp Frog's Great Geometry Adventure
Reviewed By: Kids Domain
Rating:
Review Date:10/2000
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Description:
Gary the swamp frog needs your help! When Gary left the swamp to learn more about geometry in order to build homes and bridges for the swamp, Professor Shapewise came into the swamp and took control of all its inhabitants. Your job is to help Gary free his "mind controlled" friends and save the swamp from the control of Professor Shapewise. Learning about geometry is the key! Gary the Swamp Frog's Great Geometry Adventure provides children of all ages an entertaining way to practice identifying shapes and objects, calculating volume, area, and perimeter, and solving word problems.

There are five areas of play in the swamp:
* (1) Shape Wreck - Objectives: Identify 2-dimensional shapes and 3-dimensional objects; learn math and geometry terms; develop strategic thinking abilities; and develop spatial skills.
* (2) Perimeter Castle - Objectives: Calculate the perimeter of different shapes; learn math and geometry terms; solve word problems; develop strategic thinking abilities; and develop spatial skills.
* (3) Area Pond - Objectives: Calculate the area of 2-dimensional shapes and surface area of 3-dimensional objects; learn math and geometry terms; solve word problems; develop strategic thinking abilities; and develop spatial skills.
* (4) Volume Valley - Objectives: Calculate the volume of 3-dimensional objects; learn math and geometry terms; solve word problems; develop strategic thinking abilities; and develop spatial skills.
* (5) Shapewise's Fortress - Objectives: All of the above skills are required to navigate in the fortress. You must master Games 1 -4 before you can enter Professor Shapewise's Fortress.

Features:
* Promotes the development of math, geometry, and problem-solving skills
* 75 levels of game play (5 areas with 15 levels in each topic area)
* Questions vary from basic to advanced difficulty, providing challenges for all ages
* Progress tracking available

Technical Aspects:
Gary the Swamp Frog's Great Geometry Adventure ran smoothly in a Windows 98 environment on both Pentium I 166mz and Pentium III 600mz machines. You must run this particular program from the CD. General help messages are available at any time during play by clicking on the "question mark" located near the lower portion of the screen. Background music can be turned on and off by clicking the "musical note," also near the lower portion of the screen. Unfortunately, I was unable to print the progress tracking due to a system error, a problem I have yet to remedy. The game is set in an adventure format and is certainly filled with bright images and interesting characters.

Report and Conclusions:
Gary the Swamp Frog's Great Geometry Adventure will really test your knowledge of geometry! From the most basic questions about shapes to very complicated calculations of volume, this geometry game will provide challenges to children, adolescents, and adults.

The game incorporates a couple of different themes: (1) Move Gary the frog around the swamp to catch and free his "mind controlled" friends while avoiding the professor's goons, and (2) answer geometry questions located in the five areas of play to advance onward to the fortress. Because of these many ongoing activities, there were several times during play that I found the on-screen tutorials and glossary to be quite helpful. The glossary provides clear definitions and examples of shapes, polygons, perimeters, area, and volume. Furthermore, there are useful explanations regarding how to calculate perimeter, area, and volume. I would strongly recommend, however, printing and reading the manual to get a better sense of the objectives of this software. The manual is available in a variety of formats, including HTML, PDF, and notepad.

The activities in Gary the Swamp Frog's Great Geometry Adventure promote skill development as you work your way toward the goal of entering Professor Shapewise's Fortress. The levels of play and increasing difficulty of the questions support children's growing needs and will likely challenge parents and adults as well!

The Great Galaxy Grid Game
Reviewed By: Kids Domain
Rating:
Review Date:8/2000
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Description:
Hey, Space Kid! Ready for the wildest trip through space ever? Well, we now have the technology to send one special space kid to all the places we had only dreamed of going - and it could be YOU! But don't think this is going to be easy because first you've got to get through some nasty looking space traps and later, you'll need all the logic and brain power you can muster. Good luck! Next time we meet, you could be an experienced Space Commander.

Features:
* Carefully choose your way through the grids to the space ship and look out for red holes.
* Gather information about the planet you'll be visiting.
* Locate probes and analyze their data.
* Work your way up through the ranks to Space Commander.

Technical Aspects:
We had no problems with installation or gameplay on our iMac DV-SE, which has 128M RAM. It would likely run fine on much lesser systems, even those old 486 series sitting in the garage. The graphics appear on a black background, and the interface makes it easy to maneuver.

Report and Conclusions:
If there's a space buff at your house, they'll love this program! My 6 year old son, Ryan, was amazed that he could "do it" and finagle his way through the grids to the planets and learn more space facts. What he didn't know is that he was practicing logic and higher thinking skills while he picked up information about the solar system.

The company includes the Teacher's Manual on the disk for parental convenience, and all-in-all, presents a nicely structured activity balanced with basic content regarding the planets of our solar system. Geez, all that and a great price, to boot. :)

Magnificent Marlena's Mind-Bending Magic Show
Reviewed By: Kids Domain
Rating:
Review Date:9/2000
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Description:
Marlena the magician challenges you to six thinking games:
* Repeat-O-Rama - repeat a given sequence
* Amar-O-Taeper - repeat the sequence backwards
* Eliminate Extras - find the item that was not in the first sequence
* Hide and Sequence - complete the sequence by memory
* Time Flies - complete the sequence by memory, but with a time limit
* Mathemagic - complete the sequence by deducing a pattern
With 20 skill levels to each game, these games are designed to challenge players of all ages.

Features:
* Memory-matching, mathematical series, and logical progressions
* Six games
* Multiple skill levels
* Tracking for parents and teachers

Technical Aspects:
This title ran very well on our Celeron 533. It also ran on our 486, but loading time was much slower.

Report and Conclusions:
Personally, I found Marlena to be less than charming. When bested by the player, she sometimes has a cross expression and says "hmmph". I would have preferred a more upbeat character.

However, virtual personalities aside, this title offers some great thinking challenges for all ages. My children (ages 6 & 9) have not played it as much as Robob's Cubetronic Quizimajig, but they still can't resist calling out answers over my shoulder when I challenge Madam Marlena.

Master Gecko's Home Row
Reviewed By: GZ Kidzone
Rating: 8 / 10
Review Date: 1/16/01
This is one of those programs, which are not only learning tools but also just plain fun all around. The object of the program is to teach typing to those who are just beginning to learn the keys to those who would just like to brush up on what they already know. The difference between other well-known programs and this one is the fun factor involved both for young and young at heart.

You know you are in for a treat from the moment the program open up. You are introduced to your instructor Master Typing Gecko and this is one instructor "you gotta love!". Strongly resembling a Martial Arts instructor, this is one Gecko you will never forget. He tells you how you can master the art of typing through practice and repetition but have fun while you are doing it.

There are various games to choose from to accomplish this goal. There are the standard tests where you repeat keys you are given. After finishing this drill you are given your score (I don't think I'll mention mine but after this review will go back for some more training!). You can than go back and try to better your words per minute or go on to another game. One that I really enjoyed is another similar drill but this one has something special, Master Gecko himself! This brought tears of laughter to myself and my daughter as some of the acrobats he does when you miss or get a key right is just hilarious. He somersaults and when you are typing fast the somersaults at a dizzying rate. This is a have to see!

There is also a maze of which you complete by typing the keys given on what looks to be a bug (not sure here). The bug has four keys, which looks like wings. Each wing has a different key, which you must type to move him up, down sideways or straight. The goal is to type correctly and get in the right direction to collect a golden scroll. Once you collect all scrolls you have won the challenge. This is a game inside a game and those who play will enjoy both parts. This is one of the best learning tools for typing I have seen in a long time. The Master Gecko himself lends to the fun while the tutorials teach the fundamentals of typing for those of us who could sure use a refresher course to those who have always wanted to learn.

Mazequest: Tales of a Wandering Grammarian
Reviewed By: Kids Domain
Rating:
Review Date:9/2000
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Description:
Improve your grammar skills by answering questions about infinitives, gerunds, verbs, adverbs, prepositions, past participles and more of the same, while working your way through mazes.

Tales of a Grammarian is a simple quest, wherein the protagonist must sally forth on the King's behest, encountering various creatures on the way through the mazes. Each creature must be pacified by answering questions correctly, which will also earn the player points that can be spent in the magic store for added advantages against the creatures.

Features:
* Grammar questions
* Mazes
* Maps
* Different levels of difficulty
* Practice area
* Grammar definitions

Technical Aspects:
Installation was simple enough, but running the game sometimes presented problems, mainly in the realm of "lags" during play, especially when starting a new quest. The graphics are bright and cheerful, but the speech is difficult to understand at times. Also, the text's font is somewhat difficult to read.

Report and Conclusions:
This program is a nice way to practice grammar, with lots of variety in the difficulty levels, ranging from verbs and nouns, to split infinitives. The definitions of the parts of speech are complete, and easily understandable. There is no pressure from a timer, or being eaten by a creature, or other hazards.

The mazes aren't anything special, but then, not many mazes are. The mazes can be increased in size, but as this is tied together with the difficulty of the questions, it means that only advanced students will be able to play the larger mazes.

This is not a game that kids are going to beg to play, but neither is it one they will avoid playing. If you have children who need additional practice in grammar usage, I recommend this title for its good review questions, and for the price.

Mazequest: Tales of a Wandering Grammarian
Reviewed By: GZ Kidzone
Rating: 9.0/ 10
Review Date: 10/26/00
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This is the story of Blit, the wandering grammarian, who begins his adventures in the Mazequest as a lowly page. Grammaria is a land ruled by a fairy King who needs someone to venture into the various areas of his kingdom on quests to find objects that have been lost or that the King would like to add to his collection.

The adventure unfolds as Blit is awakened from his sleep and taken to the town near the Fairy Castle. You might want to take the time to visit a few places on the main menu screen before proceeding to the castle to receive your first quest. Arabella, the king's daughter, will be glad to take you on a complete tutorial of the places you will visit in Mazequest: Tales of the Wandering Grammarian. You can enter or leave the tutorial at any time so if you have a question later you can always return to this area.

The main menu gives you access to the Fairy Castle, the Museum of Fantastical Creatures, the Magic Shop, and the Library. Entering the Fairy Castle will allow you to meet the king and receive and finish your quests. The only way you can enter the game mazes is through the Portal Room while you are in the castle. Choosing the Portal Room will take you to a maze menu with lots of different areas you can enter, like the Bubble Reef, the Astral Labyrinth, Peekaboo Garden, the Lair of the Forgotten Knights and many more!

The Museum of Fantastical Creatures will allow you to view all the creatures you will meet on your quests. There are so many different creatures here, like Beetle Buggy, Jarogenie, Grammar Hound, Alphabetataurian and Lionstrosity! Boy, some of these creatures look really scary but don't worry because all you have to do when you meet them in the mazes is to make them your friends! Answer the questions correctly and they will soon be friends! Answer incorrectly and they get scarier!

There is a very friendly troll who runs the Magic Shop. He has magical items to sell you, but you will have to use experience points because there is no money to spend in Grammaria! You can also sell any items you no longer want in this shop, and you may have to do that to keep from dropping items in the mazes. Blit can only carry 16 items, so judge very carefully what you want to keep and what you need to sell or drop. When you sell an item, you will receive experience points that can help you earn promotions. You don't always want to be a lowly Page, do you?

The Library is where you should head if you have a question about any area of grammar. This is also a good place to practice your grammar skills! Better to make a mistake here than in the maze while you are facing one of those fantastical creatures!

You will also find a place to change your level of play on the main menu. Selecting a particular level will determine the topic of grammar to be tested, the size of the maze, and the number of creatures in that maze. For example, Level one's topic is The Alphabet, the size of the maze is a 4x4 grid and there is only one creature. In Level 5, the topic is Pronouns, the grid in 20x20 and there are more creatures. Level 10 has a 32x32 grid and the topics are Verbs in the Future Tense and Positive and Comparative Adjectives. The highest level is 20 which has a whopping big 60x60 grid and combines all the concepts of grammar from the entire game. Remember, that the number of creatures increases with each higher level!

Don't overlook the Save, Load and Quit buttons on the main menu. You should always save often so that you can maintain your highest level without worrying about a power failure or something like that. The Load button allows you to play a game you saved earlier and the Quit button is for exiting the game.

Well, adventurer, that is about all the information I can give you. The rest is up to you! I know you can do this! I bet the next time we talk the King will have presented you with top honors! See you in the Mazes!

Note to Parents: Mazequest: Tales of the Wandering Grammarian is a remarkable learning program designed by Ohio Distinctive Software. There is no violence and no blood and gore. If a child answers too many questions incorrectly, he/she is simply "scared" from the game by the creature they have encountered. This returns them to town where there is the option of lowering the level of play or visiting the Library to find out more about the topic giving them trouble and to practice their grammar skills. A child can also opt to leave a maze at any time by selecting the Retreat button on the gameplay menu. This is software that will encourage a child to learn while having fun!

Professor Eggword's Discovery
Reviewed By: Kids Domain
Rating:
Review Date:10/2000
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Description:
While travelling through the jungle Professor Eggword happened upon some unusual eggs. He devised a way of hatching the eggs to discover the mystery inside them. He has created a machine that with your help can hatch these eggs. While you hatch the eggs, you will be improving your spelling and vocabulary skills.

In the first game, great for the beginner, start by listening to the letter spoken and then locate it on the keyboard. After a series of correct answers the egg will hatch finally, displaying one of the amazing creatures Professor Eggword discovered. As you go through the levels the game becomes more challanging. It progresses from letters of the alphabet to spelling words spoken with their definitions.

The second game is for those of you that can read and have finished the first game, "Odd Word Out". Presented with a definition of a word and four choices, your job is to eliminate the three that are wrong leaving the correct definition.

Features:
* Manual is located on CD
* Large database of words
* Great for all ages to learn typing skills as well as spelling
* Computer voice is very clear for easy recognition
* Teachers edition helps track progress of students
* 2 games with plenty of levels to grow with the student's skill levels. (Game 1: 28 levels, Game 2: 25 levels)
* Save game feature
Technical Aspects:
Does not come with an install or setup to install the program onto your computer. Insert CD and browse for the Eggword.exe file to run directly from the CD.
Report and Conclusions:
For those of you looking for an educational program without all the shoot'em up and extras that can distract from the purpose behind an educational program this is a great addtion to your software library. Learning to spell and read with animated rewards along the way will keep the students' attention. Curiosity of what might be in the next egg will motivate them on to the next level.

Not only will they learn language skills, this program will also stimulate keyboarding skills. I plan on introducing this program into my curriculum of teaching computer skills to preschoolers. They can use the first game to learn the alphabet as well as help reinforce keyboarding skills.

I love the simplicity, and that children can sit alone and progress at whatever speed they feel comfortable with. A great educational piece that will grow with your children as they develop their reading skills, ensuring that this piece will be around for a while.

Quadrinarian Word Find
Reviewed By: GZ Kidzone
Rating: 8.5 / 10
Review Date: 10/25/00
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Alert! Alert! We have just received an emergency call from the deep space! We need volunteers to join our rescue squad! Are you tough enough...fast enough...and can you spell well enough to become an Expeditioner???

It seems that the Quadrinarians have been losing words and their meanings from their vocabulary! What a catastrophe! If we don't act quickly, the Quadrinarians will lose their ability to communicate!

It is up to you, Expeditioner, to venture forth into the unknown regions of this planet to search for and find the lost words! It won't be easy, you know. Every word is hidden in a big block of letters. Only you can save the Quadrinarians from their horrible fate!

Listen carefully to the little space alien on your screen. Don't you wish you had four arms like he does? He (or is it a She?) will explain exactly what you must do. Don't worry about being nervous and missing part of what is said though because you can always press the question mark to have the instructions repeated.

There are levels of difficulty from 1 to 22 in the lower left corner of your screen. You can adjust the level to find the one best for you. You will also be given the choice of playing with words or the definitions of words. The missing words can be found in the huge cube full of letters that appears on your screen. The word may be written in a column or a straight horizontal line...or it may be written diagonally! When you find the word, just click your mouse on the beginning and ending letters and you will rescue the word for the Quadrinarians!

When you choose to play with words, each word that you must find is pronounced by the cute little alien and then appears and travels through the box at the bottom of the screen. While you are searching for the word among all those letters, you will hear the definition to the word. Wow! What a great way to add to your own vocabulary!

When you choose to play with the definitions of words, you will hear the definition and then it will appear and travel through the box at the bottom of the screen. Listen carefully so you can find the word that matches that definition!

Oh! I hear the countdown beginning! It's time to strap yourself in and prepare for the trip into deep space! Hope to see you onboard the ship! I think you are perfect for the job of Expeditioner! Three...two...one....BLAST OFF!

Note to Parents: Quadrinarian Word Find is a learning software produced by Ohio Distinctive Software. It is perfect for any child who needs to improve his/her spelling and increase his/her vocabulary. This software's difficulty level can be adjusted to continually challenge each player as he/she becomes more proficient at spelling and vocabulary. The fun aspect will help any child learn easier and faster.

Quadrinarian Word Find
Reviewed By: Kids Domain
Rating:
Review Date:10/2000
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Description:
As the title suggests this is a word find game, much like the paper and pencil versions that kids bring home from school. It provides different variations on the theme, dressed up in a great variety of colorful backdrops from the Quadrinarian world. You see, these poor aliens have mislaid words and meanings and it's up to us to help them find all the precious words that have disappeared from their vocabulary and to restore the greatness of their language.

Start by selecting either Word Watch or Definition Expedition. The former is basic word find from an array of letters. Level 1 of each game asks for a letter to be picked out of a 3x3 array. By the time you get to level 22, it's a 10x10 array and you have to pick out a long word. The word and its definition are read aloud by the Quadrinarian guide.

There are different (though not very different) game formats. Freeform Find is the standard word find. Beat the Clock is timed. Reach the Top seems to require completing a specified number of rounds. Two Player Word Rally is a competitive mode (except that the second player was never given a turn).

Definition Expedition addresses the same set of games but with one difference. In this case the word is not given, only the meaning. In level 1 you are told 'F is for fish' and need to click on 'F'. Level 22 asks for words by definitions such as 'a solid vertical surface in a room' (for 'wall') and you click on the W and L (beginning and ending letters of the word). This is harder than the simple word find in Word Watch.

The games can be customized - the number of words to be discovered in each game, the number of rounds per game and how quickly words must be identified.

Features:
* Single and 2 player modes
* 22 levels of play per game
* Report on game progress

Technical Aspects:
I tried the program on a Pentium II with Windows 98. There was no installation required, the program simply started from the Run command in the Start menu.

The customization has to be redone for each game, it is not remembered by the program. There seemed to be a (rare) timing problem so that answers that were correct would be indicated as incorrect. The two player mode did not appear to work (the game did not give the second player a turn).

This would not be suitable for someone with auditory difficulty as it relies on verbal definitions of words.

Report and Conclusions:
Quadrinarian Word Find provides good practice in spelling and in identifying words to fit a meaning - especially useful for kids who need vocabulary practice or who have difficulty in word finding. But you do have to like picking words out of an array of letters, because that's the only mode of play and the variations are not very different from each other at all.

The weakness of the title is the lack of variety in the games themselves. Its strength lies in its reinforcement of words and their meanings, the range of word challenge provided through its 22 levels, the appealing backdrops of different places in the Quadrinarian world, and (last but not least) the fact that it is well priced! This is not one that most kids will want to work with for long periods of time, but is a useful addition to an educational software library for word finding practice and vocabulary development.

Robob's Cubetronic Quizamajig
Reviewed By: Children's Software Revue
Rating: 4 / 5
CSR Issue: 1/01
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Although we weren't really sure what was going on at first, this compelling logic game quickly landed us hook, line and sinker. On the main game screen, Robob (a robot, of course) presents a series of successively more challenging visual puzzles. You are charged with rotating a cube to find matching shapes to the ones on the puzzle. It starts out easy and gets tricky fast as you end up having to rotate shapes to make them match (not always a simple matter), and you have to earn more shape pieces by solving codes actually simple math problems. High scores are kept and games can be saved. There are no fancy bells and whistles, but this is an addictive and challenging game.

Robob's Cubetronic Quizamajig
Reviewed By: Kids Domain
Rating: Gold Award
Review Date: 9/00
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Description:
Robob invites you to play his wondrous contraption, the Cubetronic Quizimajig. This amazing gizmo provides puzzles for all ages, with the puzzle pieces arranged on a cube. Some pieces may need to be turned in order to correctly fit into the puzzle. Be prepared to break some mathematical codes to get more puzzle pieces.

With 30 levels, the puzzles range from very simple basic shapes for young children to complex picture puzzles that will even challenge adults. The mathematical codes correspond to level difficulties, providing simple math problems (2+1) on lower levels and increasing to more complex problems (9x9+3-1) on higher levels.

Robob provides plenty of encouragement during gameplay, responding with "Yep" for correct answers and "Nope" for incorrect ones. Visual clues also identify incorrect answers. For a correctly completed puzzle, Robob rewards the player with a robotic dance and verbal praise like "Wow" and "Funky".

Features:
* Promotes mathematical, spatial and critical thinking skills
* 30 levels provide challenges for all ages
* Tracking feature
* Positive reinforcement
* Great price!

Technical Aspects:
We had no problems running this program on either our Celeron 533 or our 486 dinosaur! Of course, the loading time and animations were obviously slower on the 486, but still adequate for play.

The graphics are crisp and colorful! Audio consists of funky music that can be turned on or off, verbal cues and praise from Robob that are reinforced visually and audio directions accessed by clicking on the question mark button. With someone to translate the audio directions if needed, a hearing-impaired child could easily enjoy this title.

Report and Conclusions:
My family found this to be a simple, yet entertaining game that provided challenges for everyone. By simple, I don't mean that the puzzles are easy to solve, but rather that the interface is very straightforward and easy to use with no clicking from screen to screen.

I was delighted by the very basic way that mathematical and spatial skills can be practiced in such a fun way. The music, graphics and animations are first-rate and quite appealing. My 9-year-old son spent hours with the program the first time he sat down to it and has returned to it several times.

Gameplay automatically begins at level one, but players have the ability to change to any level. After correctly completing a puzzle, the level automatically progresses. I tried level 30 to see what the top end of the puzzles would be like and found it to be quite challenging!

This title also features a very handy tracking system. By clicking Save upon exiting the game, the player's game information is saved, so that parents and teachers can access information such as: score, number of puzzle pieces played correctly and incorrectly, percentage correct, and how long the game was played. It even lists all of the math problems presented along with the answers given by the player.

I highly recommend this game to anyone who loves puzzles or to families or classrooms who are looking for a fun way to practice critical thinking, math and spatial skills. Robob's Cubetronic Quizimajig is an excellent value!
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Just ordered for the 3rd time (maybe 4th?-losing track; need to play more with Carnival Math!) in a few years; the kids games are great. I actually cajole my niece into letting me keep some of them at my house so I can play them, then we trade! Blit is the cutest. Got my last order in the mail so quickly I couldn't believe it.Thanks again for such wonderful, educational, fun and just as importantly, affordable software.
P S Your web site is great too.
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My husband and I have purchased your products before. Our first purchase, several months ago, was a 4-CD package that included Robot Challenge, Air Explorer, Carnival Math & Fantastic Word Gizmo. My 8 yr-old son just loves them & when you informed us about the availability of GEO Runner, we purchased that, too. We just received it today & have not yet installed it, but I'm sure it will be a success.
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