Saving Ancient Egypt a Learning Adventure

Article excerpt

Byline: Joe Szadkowski

In a world of violent video games, where dexterity of the thumb and index finger is infinitely more important than flexing the cerebrum, there must be a place for children and their parents to interact and actually learn something from that overpriced multimedia computer/gaming system. Take a deep breath and enter the ROMper Room, where learning is a four-letter word - cool.

Sethi and the Crown of Egypt takes children on a thrilling adventure balancing plenty of action with the exploration of amazing treasures and lands from an ancient civilization.

This easy-to-load program starts with a fun dance by Pepi, the pet lemur of the lead character, Sethi, a young Egyptian country boy with a daredevil streak.

Taking place in 2549 B.C., the story tells of the Pharaoh Geffram, who has lost his influence with the gods as a plague ravages his subjects in the village of Memphis. The subjects are suffering under a curse that is bringing hordes of crop-devouring locusts.

To break the curse and restore order, Sethi must find three symbols of the Pharaoh's power - the cross with whip, the false beard and the double crown. If he fails, the evil god of darkness will take control.

Sethi, with the player's help, begins his journey by exploring five main locations - the village, the temple, the Nile River, the quarry and the pyramids. Graphics are beautifully drawn, and pages can be panned for an immersive feel.

Sethi is able to find or create up to 16 items necessary to solve the mystery and find the Pharaoh's symbols in four village workshops. The workshops include a place to put together a series of hieroglyphics and decipher the ostracas - fragments of pottery used by scribes to practice hieroglyphics - and another area to delve into the art of mummification.

Along the journey, a secret underground passage helps players travel between key locations and workshops, though I found it much easier just to use the map.

Players must constantly look for items that can be used to solve puzzles. The first item Sethi needs, one of four chunks of ostraca, is given to the boy during the opening sequence.

As junior archaeologists explore and talk to characters, they learn about the mythology of Egypt. Even before the adventure begins, players should take the guided tour that explains how to navigate the panoramic screens and how to take photos and notes and store them in an album along with notes about the places visited and what was learned.

Though the game has an age range of 6 to 9 years, I found it to be informative and interesting enough to present a considerably enlightening challenge for anyone in the family.

Sethi and the Crown of Egypt (Montparnasse Multimedia, $29.95). Hybrid for Macintosh and Windows systems.

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