Advice Etc.;roming the Galaxy

Article excerpt

On shelves of computer and entertainment stores is an avalanche of CD-ROM titles. I offer a diverse look at products that may have you pulling out your wallet at your local Best Buy.

Illusion by Byron Preiss Multimedia Inc. and Simon & Shuster Interactive. Hybrid for Macintosh and PC. (Minimum system requirement for Mac: Macintosh or Power Mac required. 68040 or 66 MHz processor, 8 MB RAM, 8 MB free disk space, 2X CD-ROM, System 7.0+, 256 colors. For PC: 486 66 MHz or faster, 8 MB RAM, 8 MB free disk space, 2X CD-ROM, 16-bit sound card, 256 colors, Windows 95, mouse, $29.95.)

This is the third release in the Scientific American Library series, and it answers the question, "Why don't we see things eye to eye?" Through 50 games and 3-D illusions, users explore the biological, physical and psychological phenomena of visual perception.

The title helps the user investigate motion, color, light, form organization and shape memory through individual information rooms. The rooms contain illusions; interviews with people who deal with vision and perception, such as a cinematographers and race car drivers; and plenty of reference materials.

The program was created using two Scientific American texts, "Perception" by Irwin Rock and "Eye, Brain and Vision" by Dr. David H. Hubel, a Nobel laureate in medicine. Each of these texts is fully contained within the CD-ROM.

As you explore the various rooms, the cursor shape changes to indicate whether the object being passed over represents a reference material, interview or illusion.

The illusions in the program are the most fun, particularly after you learn what is being seen. Many are interactive, which helps users of all ages to understand better what they are seeing.

One area in which I spent a great deal of time was Brain and Eye. An interactive, virtual 3-D eye helps reveal how the physical structure of our peeper affects perception. This area is filled with lots of reading and learning, but it's not boring, and the CD-ROM breaks the information down in an easy-to-understand format.

As users work with Illusion, they also will solve the Illusion Challenge, which unlocks a World Wide Web site filled with even more visual puzzles. Also, complete help and index menus are readily available.

Illusion is a graphics-rich and colorful addition to any family's CD-ROM library.

Codename: Tenka by Psygnosis (for the Sony PlayStation, one player, memory card option, Rating: M Mature - title is suited for ages 17 and older, $49.95)

Doom, Quake, Alien Trilogy, Area 51, Diehard Trilogy and Turok: Dinosaur Hunter are just a few of the amazing first-person shooter titles this game is up against. …