Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Wrapping Up CD-ROMs for Christmas A Monitor Guide Recommends the Best Titles for the Computer-Philes on Your Gift List

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Wrapping Up CD-ROMs for Christmas A Monitor Guide Recommends the Best Titles for the Computer-Philes on Your Gift List

Article excerpt

CD-ROMS get better every year. The 1995 versions use richer sound and video to enhance the text in the program. We've selected titles based on their content.

Some of the newest releases take advantage of Windows 95's "auto-play" feature. They start right up when inserted into the machine.

But better features require more power. Unless otherwise noted, these programs should run on an IBM-compatible computer running Windows with at least 4 megabytes (MB) of random-access memory (RAM). There are plenty of programs for Macintosh-users too. (Look for the .) Prices listed are what you can expect to pay in stores.

EDUCATION

3 TO 6 YEARS

Math Ace Jr.

(Magic Quest)

Youngsters join Bit Bot the Robot in his submarine for a variety of games designed to strengthen their arithmetic skills. Skill levels range from basic counting and becoming familiar with clocks to multiplication through 12s and money handling. A neat undersea treasure hunt helps with learning geographic direction. Older children will enjoy this too. Packaged with five other programs as the "Kids' Fun and Learning Pack." DOS version available. $29.95

6 TO 9 YEARS

Spellbound/Outnumbered/ Gizmos and Gadgets/

Midnight Rescue

(The Learning Company)

We've never seen a Learning Company CD-ROM we didn't like, this one included. These four package have young "supersolvers" testing their budding skills in spelling, math, mechanical, and reading comprehension against the "Master of Mischief," who is always trying to do something nefarious, like painting the school with disappearing ink. Excellent on-line help gives new players tips as they play their first few games. Appeals to older children too. $45 each.

9 TO 12

What's the Secret? (Vol. 2)

(3M Learning Solutions)

Based on the PBS series "Newton's Apple," this will appeal to older children and adults. The volume covers flight, how the brain works, glue, and an Arctic adventure. The flight section is especially good, with a mini-flight simulator, a flying school, and clear explanations of the principles involved. "What's the Secret" makes liberal use of video clips from the TV show. $50

Alien Tales

(Broderbund Software)

This wacky outer-space game show teaches critical reading skills. Quizzes are based on selections from classic children's books and presented with intelligent humor. Broderbund again shows that good CD-ROMs can teach and entertain at the same time. $40

Explorers

of the New World

(Future Vision Multimedia)

Human acting combined with computer graphics give youngsters studying early American history a detailed look at the lives of Columbus, Cortes, and Magellan. "Explorers of the New World" also gives less detailed looks at the lives of dozens of other European explorers in the New World. The Cortes segment does a reasonable job of addressing the moral issues of colonization. $45

ADULT

Beyond the Wall:

Stories Behind the Vietnam Wall

(20th Century Fox Home Entertainment)

This is a moving, dignified tribute to American soldiers who gave their lives in Vietnam. Beautifully designed, the program describes various aspects of the war, as well as the building of the memorial, including letters from soldiers, along with video clips, testimonials, photos, and newspaper clippings about them. The best part is the virtual tour of the memorial. It's one of the most touching experiences ever captured on CD-ROM. Requires a powerful 486 computer with at least 8 MB of RAM. $45

Other Notable Titles:

For Preschoolers: Let's Explore The Jungle; Macintosh WiggleWorks: Story Pack 2 (Apple Home Learning).

Ages 9 to Teen: Leonardo the Inventor (Future Vision Multimedia); National Geographic Geo Bee (National Geographic); Microsoft Ancient Lands (Microsoft). …

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