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Girls Software Reviews

Secret Paths in the Forest
from Purple Moon

For Ages 8 to 12

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


Reviewed on:
Secret Paths in the Forest Screen Shot PowerMac 6400/200 with 32MB and 8XCD
Pentium166 with 24MB and 12XCD

Description
Secret Paths in the Forest invites students to visit a magical treehouse where girls much like themselves await, eager to share their innermost fears and desires, and hoping for a little help as they pursue their individual paths.

Each of the seven characters encountered has a unique lament. The child of divorce misses her mother and resents her father's eager girlfriend. The recent Vietnamese immigrant who has worked hard to assimilate herself into American culture is constantly embarrassed by her old-world grandmother. The chess-champion feels that the other kids unfairly resent her. These are situations that at once represent none of us, and yet all of us.

Once acquainted with a particular character, the user can choose to join her on the winding forest path of her inner world. The world now entered is a serene and somewhat mystical world, a world to be explored, and a world in which hidden surprises and delights beckon. Along the way, 'Secret Paths Stones' are collected and stashed for safe-keeping. Some of these stones appear unbidden, while some must be coaxed into visibility by completing simple puzzles. The user must collect all of the character's stones to complete her journey. Once achieved, the user assembles the stones to form a 'Garland Necklace' and receives a meaningful, and thought provoking reward.

Educational Value
As is the case with Purple Moon's continuing Rockett series, Secret Paths in the Forest is not educational in the reading, writing, 'rithmetic sense. Its goal is to encourage girls to look at the emotional challenges they may one day face and learn coping strategies to draw from as they grow into womanhood. It shows girls that they have the ability to tear each other apart through jealousy, poor communication and a lack of empathy, or to support one another, to rejoice in each other's individuality and personal strength and to lend a hand when needed.

Kid Appeal
Although Secret Paths in the Forest is not fully-animated, it features pleasant, often soothing graphics, and sound-effects that were enjoyed by kid testers and parents alike.

Our young reviewers enjoyed the fantastical, magical feel to the story, identifying with the characters and their various plights. Many were disappointed by the dearth of clickables and the simplicity of the puzzles. Although some discovered that there is much more to the quest than they had originally thought, all clamored for more. "I sat down one afternoon and played until I had completed everything," was one tester's comment. "I wish I had saved some for another day."

Ease of Install / Use
Secret Paths in the Forest installed easily on Windows 95.

Program navigation is simple and straightforward, however on occasion our young testers had difficulty determining the goal of a particular puzzle. The printed "Adventure Guide" includes hints but they are often vague and perplexing.

Best for... / Bottom-Line
Not only does Secret Paths in the Forest provide a relaxing activity for girls to enjoy during their quiet, contemplative hours, but it introduces them to valuable friends and learning companions, while illustrating the universality and surmountability of each human's personal dilemmas. Not for a rough-and-tumble girl, and definitely not for boys!

Education 3.9/5.0 Kid Appeal 4.3/5.0 Ease of Use 4.0/5.0
5=Excellent, 4=Good, 3=OK, 2=Weak

See the Summary Rating Table for comparisons with other Girls software titles, 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 95 System 7.1
CPU Type and Speed 486/66 MHz 68040/33MHz
Hard Drive Space 10 MB 10 MB
Memory (RAM) 8 MB (16 MB recommended) 8 MB (5 MB available)
Graphics SVGA graphics
CD-ROM Speed 2x speed 2x speed
Audio 16-bit Windows-compatible sound card n/a
Other Needs mouse, speakers 256-color monitor, speakers

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