Arthur mixes entertainment and education

Arthur's Computer Adventure
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Fans of Marc Brown’s Arthur series will be happy to know that Broderbund (now The Learning Company) has produced Arthur’s Computer Adventure. Arthur, D.W., Buster, and Arthur’s parents are all featured in this game package.

This package revolves around the story of Arthur’s computer adventure. This part of the program offers a narrator reading the story with the printed words highlighted as the narrator reads them. Arthur is obsessed with a sea adventure computer game on his mother’s computer. His mother warns that he is not to touch the computer while she is at work (our hero’s downfall seems inevitable when he is left at home with his friend Buster who eggs him on in disobeying his mother’s wishes.) After the unfortunate crashing of his mother’s computer during his forbidden game play, Arthur must deal with how he should resolve this dilemma.

There is also an option called Let Me Play with this story. This allows the person using the package not only the opportunity to hear the story, but also to hit clickpoints in the pictures on the pages of the ‘book.’ Many amusing things happen as a result of clicking on numerous points of each page.

The game offers five activities which relate to the Arthur story. One of the games is the deep sea adventure game that Arthur himself plays in his story. This game has three levels of difficulty and allows the player to act as a diver in search of treasures around the world. The game touches briefly on geography skills and gives a little insight into different cultures, a slight plus.

Another of the activities is a reading game called Treasure Hunt. It is presented on the screen in a game board-like fashion where up to two players are given the task of choosing word cards and having to do such tasks as picking which of three pictures matches the word presented on the card.

The math portion of the package consists of a game called D.W.’s Store. The player is to shop for D.W.’s toys and D.W. rings up the player’s purchases on her cash register. This game does offer a little bit of basic math skills in that the player must use some addition and subtraction skills in keeping track of the total cost of his purchases (this is all monitored by D.W.’s cash register, so if the player spends to much he is told to go to D.W.’s cafe to work to earn more money.)

There is also a hand/eye coordination module offered as an amusing Toy Copter game that has the player dropping water balloons from the copter onto targets.

The final game in the package is called Frankenfish. This game is supposed to promote creativity and also the learning of facts about tropical fish. The player is given four pictures at a time in which he can manipulate the heads, midsections, and tails of the different kinds of fish and create all new species of Frankenfish. The fish pictures can then be printed out in color or black and white.

Arthur’s Computer Adventure is noted on the packaging as designed for three to seven year old children. It offers practice in reading skills (through the book and Treasure Hunt game), very basic math skills in D.W.’s store, a very brief look at geography facts in Deep Dark Sea, practice of hand/eye coordination skills in the amusing Toy Copter game and some required use of creativity and learning of fish facts in Frankenfish.

This program is does not dive into any of these subject areas in any great depths, but it does offer the player the opportunity to get his or her toes wet in the different subject areas and also offers a lot in entertainment value.

It gets 3 ½ GiN Gems out of 5, because it’s better than the average children’s program, though it could stand a bit more detail in the subject areas it chooses to probe.

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