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Girls Software Reviews

Zero Zero
from Rhinestone

For Ages 8 and up

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:
Zero Zero Screen Shot PowerMac 6400/200 with 32MB and 8XCD
Pentium166 with 24MB and 12XCD

Description
Set in Paris at the turn of the last century, Zero Zero is filled with quirky surprises that delight even the veteran software user.

Our heroine, Pinkee LeBrun, is a wide-eyed street urchin with a peculiar penchant for fire that leads her to adopt a vocation as a timber seller and chimney sweep. As such, she traverses the historic city's rooftops, popping into establishments of interest Santa Claus-style. Her quest? To learn what life will be like in the quickly approaching new year: "nineteen-zero-zero".

Eleven venues exist amidst a nighttime backdrop of Parisian rooftops, offering a multitude of detailed environments to explore. Each setting is rich in new and unusual sights and sounds, some charmingly French, others uniquely turn-of-the-century. Users can choose to visit the Cinema, where they watch actual silent movies or complete a maze leading Le Cafard (the cockroach) to the theater, the Catacombs, where they encounter an accordion playing hobo, or the eccentric fashion-designer Poire’s studio, where they play an eyebrow-raising game of "Match the Panties". Each screen is filled with the kind of details that a child may overlook at first glance but discover on subsequent uses, making Zero Zero a program that can be experienced again and again.

Educational Value
As with most interactive story titles, this program features narrative with highlighted read-along text. Although much of the terminology is quite advanced for young readers, the story itself appeals to students of many ages. Unfortunately, the program does not include a glossary, an addition that would greatly boost its educational merits.

Good literature opens up new worlds for the reader, and Zero Zero is no exception. It enlightens as it entertains. It makes nineteenth-century Paris come alive for the student and challenges her to cast aside preconceived notions of everyday life, and briefly inhabit a faraway place in a long-ago time.

Kid Appeal
This program is fresh and new, both in story content and in illustrative style. It simultaneously confuses, delights and amuses.

At times our testers mentioned being bored by the program. It tends to become overly esoteric, almost as if the creators have included innuendo and jokes that only they can understand. For example, the toy store includes a shadow-play theater featuring "Goldilocks, Hamlet, the Bride of Frankenstein and the Three Bears." The meaning and humor of this section was completely lost on our testers.

For the most part, however, SuperKids' reviewers enjoyed the program's off-beat nature. Younger girls were content to superficially observe and explore, while older students viewed the content on a different level, picking apart dialog and applying the adventure's events and philosophy to their own notions about the next turn-of-the-century.

Ease of Install / Use
This program runs from the CD with no installation on both Windows 95 and Macintosh platforms. Some Windows 95 testers did encounter one minor glitch. Their CD-ROM drive designation is "M", a letter beyond the A-G range specified in the program. In order to run Zero Zero on their machines, these users had to change their drive designation to one in the A-G range, a simple enough task, but one that some were reluctant to undertake because of the impact on other programs they had installed.

Best for... / Bottom-Line
This out of the ordinary interactive story is a fun change of pace that will intrigue and amuse children of all ages and genders.

Education 4.0/5.0 Kid Appeal 4.6/5.0 Ease of Use 4.8/5.0
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 7.0 or later
CPU Type and Speed 486DX or faster any
Hard Drive Space none none
Memory (RAM) 8 MB 8 MB free
Graphics color (16-bit recommended) 256 color display
CD-ROM Speed 4X 4X
Audio Soundblaster or compatible Apple Sound Manager (incl)
Other Needs mouse

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