Magazine article Technology & Learning

Castle of Dr. Brain

Magazine article Technology & Learning

Castle of Dr. Brain

Article excerpt

Hardware: MS-DOS computer (640 286 or better microprocessor) with a hard disk. Two versions available: VGA and EGA/Tandy. Supports most popular sound boards. Emphasis: Interdisciplinary, problem-solving. Grade level: 6 and up. Publisher: Sierra On-Line, Inc., PO Box 485, Coarsegold, CA 93614; (800) 326-6654. Package includes: Either 3.5-inch or 5.25-inch high-density disks, instruction manual, Fantastic Book of Logic Puzzles. Price: $49.95.

Mr. Spock would love Castle of Dr. Brain. Designed to test the analytical and problem-solving skills of players ages 12 and up, this adventure game requires players to use simple logic to navigate the doctor's bastion of brainbenders.

Sierra On-Line, well known for its entertainment software, is billing this program as one of its first entries into the home education market And some teachers may find that it has a place in schools as well. Dr. Brain uses the same sorts of graphics, sound effects, and navigational challenges that make Sierra's other adventure games so popular. In addition, many of the problems players encounter have a distinctly educational flavor.

You begin your endeavor at the front door of the castle, "armed" only with a set of icons that can be controlled with a keyboard or mouse. Select the eye icon to "look" at objects (a text message appears on the screen with information about the object in question); choose the hand when you want to perform a task.

The first challenge is to gain entry to the castle, which looks about as easy as ringing the doorbell (hint: it almost is, but there's more to it). Once inside, players visit various hallways and chambers filled with word games, math challenges, and other puzzles. In the entry hallway and adjoining rooms, for instance, the players must solve three math puzzles (a magic square in which every row, column, and diagonal adds up to the same number; a set of equations to be completed; and a game involving moving numbered tiles into a specified order) before they can move on to a clock room with too much time on its hands.

Challenges faced in other rooms include programming a multi-limbed robot to perform simple tasks; guiding other robots through a maze using on/off switches; identifying constellations on a star-filled screen; and completing wordsearch puzzles and cryptograms. As students play, they progress through four levels, traveling from one to the next by navigating through a three-dimensional "elevator" maze.

When a player is stumped by a particular puzzle, the good doctor suggests buying some clues by dropping a "hint coin" in the on-screen slot. …

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