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spacer all reviews > > > early reading software

Arthur's Computer Adventure

Broderbund

Ages 3 to 7

Rating Scale
5 = great,    1 = poor
Educational Value
3.8
Kid Appeal
4.0
Ease of Use
5.0

Arthur's Computer Adventure Screen Shot System Requirements

PC / Mac Price Survey

Product Support

Arthur's Computer Adventure is the latest in the long line of successful Living Books titles, including several we have previuously reviewed: The Cat in the Hat, The Tortoise and the Hare, Green Eggs and Ham, and Stellaluna. Like it's predecessors, the program is based on a well-known character or story, this time Marc Brown's incredibly popular "Arthur" of PBS fame.

In this story, Arthur is dying to play his new computer game on his mom's computer (sound familiar?), but is told not to, because she needs it to do her taxes. When mom has to run into work, Arthur and his friend Buster ignore her instructions -- and suffer disaster when they crash the computer and are unable to resuscitate it.

Educational Value
Virtually all of the so-called "interactive book" programs follow a similar model: a narrator reads a short text passage shown on the screen, with the words highlighted as they are read. The user can then proceed to the next page, or stop and explore a delightfully illustrated page with the mouse, clicking here and there to discover cute animations. Some of these animations lead to extended activities. Educational value is typically derived from exposure to the story and the development of a fascination with the written word -- and these activities.

In Arthur, Broderbund has increased the number of words shown per screen, but decreased the total number of reading pages, apparently in favor of increasing the number of activities. Our seven-year old tester was comfortable reading the story, but disappointed in it's brevity. Our parent testers were similarly disappointed, but also noted that although the number of activities increased from the three found in a title like Green Eggs and Ham, to five here, "only two of them seemed to have a meaningful educational value." Those two provided practice with counting and change-making skills, and matching words with pictures. Other activities focused on arcade-game, hand-eye coordination skills. Not a total waste for new computer users, but of limited educational value.

Kid Appeal
Arthur is a popular character with children in this age group. As a result, Arthur's Computer Adventure has significant shelf and package appeal to kids. One of our parent reviewers noted that "although my daughter was initially anxious to try out the program, the next day she had re-discovered an earlier Arthur title [Arthur's Teacher Trouble] and was using it, instead. She told me it was more fun." Another theorized that the new title "had more game appeal, but less story appeal."

Our testers reported repeat usage focused on the three less academically focused activities: a helicopter water balloon target practice exercise, a create-your-own-fish mix-and-match, and a scuba diver treasure hunt.

Ease of Use / Install
Arthur runs directly from the CD on Macs, no installation required. As with the other programs in the Living Books series, this program is self-explanatory; none of our users reported the need to even open the manual.

Users with older CD-ROM drives beware: loading time between screens is a little long if you're computer only has a 2X drive.

Best for... / Bottom-Line
Arthur's Computer Adventure is a fun title that will be appreciated by almost any child in this age range. But it's not the strongest entry in the Living Books product line.

See SuperKids' comparisons with other interactive book software titles, and the Buyers Guide for current market prices of the PC and Mac versions.

System Requirements
PC: Windows 3.1 or Win95, 66 MHz 486DX or faster cpu, 8 MB RAM, 640x480 256 color display, 4X or faster CD-ROM, Windows compatible sound device

Mac: System 7.1 or higher, 68040/25 or faster cpu, 8 MB free RAM, 640x480 256 color display, 2X or faster CD-ROM (4X or faster recommended)

Reviewed on:

  • PowerMac 6400/200 with 32MB and 8XCD
  • Pentium166 with 24MB and 12XCD
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