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Reviews of Software for Girls

Rockett's New School
from Purple Moon Media

For Ages 8 to 12

See also the Summary Rating Table for comparisons with other Girls Software programs, and the SuperKids Buyers Guide for current market prices of the PC and Mac versions.


Reviewed on:
Rockett's New School Screen Shot PowerMac 6400/200 with 32MB and 8XCD
Pentium166 with 24MB and 12XCD

Description
Rockett's New School is one of a series of new software programs from Purple Moon designed specifically for girls. It encourages young girls to explore relationships -- with friends, teachers and families. Set in "Whistling Pines Jr. High," it invites the user to step into the shoes of the 'new girl' at school. Rockett, our alter ego, must meet the challenge of life in a new town, at a school that is at once similar and yet very different from the one she previously attended. As she becomes acquainted with her new schoolmates, she must continually decide how to respond in a multitude of situations.

The program's storyline unfolds in a series of partially-animated stills, accompanied by character dialog. Action stops periodically as Rockett is faced with a decision. For example, where will she choose to sit in the crowded cafeteria: alone; with a friendly boy she meets in the lunch line; or with what is obviously the 'popular' (but scathing) clique. The user decides which option Rockett selects, thereby choosing the branch the story will follow. As the user sees the story unfold, based on decisions she has made, she has the chance at any time to click on a "back" arrow, and make a different selection.

Throughout the story, student lockers can be accessed to learn more about each of the story's many characters. When a locker is opened, personal information and secrets are given by the locker's owner. Journal entries, notes to and from compatriots and important possessions reveal each character's true feelings, as well as her or his connections with others in the story. Rockett's backpack, containing a transmitter which receives communiques from her blossoming social milieu, a sketchbook where she doodles and draws about her new experiences, her camera and photo album, and her private diary, is also available for perusal. Each new adventure takes the user closer to the end of Rockett's first day, where secret surprises await.

Ease of Install/Use
Rockett's New School installed easily on our review machines running Windows 95 and MacOS. "My twelve year-old installed the program by herself and with no instructions" was the astonished comment of one parent.

The mini-Adventures Guide included with the program provides helpful information for navigating the program, however SuperKids' child reviewers did not feel that it was necessary reading.

Educational Value
Although Rockett's New School does not teach or drill any basic educational fundamentals, it does encourage reading, while increasing the child's familiarity with the computer. Perhaps more valuably, it focuses on issues that enter into a girl's life in her preteen years. It addresses cultural differences and pride in one's heritage; families and how they interact; physical handicaps and damaging stereotypes among other things. It encourages girls to share their feelings and emotions with friends, and demonstrates how to listen and intercede when a friend needs help. ". . .my daughter learned to record her feelings in a journal," commented a particularly pleased reviewer. "It helped her learn to deal better with her often conflicting feelings."

Kid Appeal
The creators of this program recommend it for children ages 8 to 12, however our younger reviewers were not entirely comfortable with the subject matter. They found it too oriented toward clothes, social strata and boys. Older girls enjoyed the story and its diverse cast of multi-dimensional (and frequently eccentric) characters. They especially liked searching the student lockers for clues about each character's personality.

Our reviewers were disappointed by the program's abrupt and unsatisfactory conclusion. Purple Moon informed us that this program is "an episodic cyberdrama" and does not have a "specific end". Maybe so, but try explaining that to a 10 year-old.

Best for/Bottom-Line
Rockett's New School sets the stage for a potentially enjoyable series of computer software. It offers thoughtful insights for girls at an especially impressionable age. One concern some of our parent reviewers noted, was that, "The user doesn't get the opportunity to make some important ethical decisions for Rockett -- for example whether or not to read someone else's diary -- but does make a number of less important decisions." User's should also be aware of the program's episodic nature and abrupt termination, as this can be both confusing and frustrating.


See also the Summary Rating Table for comparisons with other Girls Software programs, and the SuperKids Buyers Guide for current market prices of the PC and Mac versions.



Children's Software System Requirements


PC

Macintosh
Operating System Windows 3.1; Win95 System 7.1
CPU Type and Speed 486/66 68040/33
Hard Drive Space 10 MB 10 MB
Memory (RAM) 8 MB 5 MB available
Graphics SVGA Graphics 256-color monitor
CD-ROM Speed 2X 2X
Audio 16-bit Windows-compatible sound card, speakers speakers
Other Needs mouse

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