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Problem-Solving Skills Software Reviews

Riven - The Sequel to Myst
from Broderbund

For Kids to Adults

See SuperKids':


Reviewed on:
PowerMac 6400/200 with 32MB and 8XCD
Pentium166 with 16MB and 12XCD

...my worst fears are realized, the damage is more extensive than I ever imagined. I must get everyone off Riven as soon as possible, before its total collapse. My dear Catherine, what will be her fate... I must act while there's still time. I must find someone... to send to Riven.

Riven Screen Shot Description
Riven is the much-awaited sequel to Myst, the best-selling computer game of all-time. SuperKids' review team wanted to know if it lived up to the promise of its predecessor, and whether it would be interesting to people who had never seen Myst.

Myst introduced a story about an author with the ability to write books so realistic, that they actually transported the reader to the fantastic worlds he had created. One of those worlds was the island of Myst.

Unlike the classic Dungeons and Dragons computer games that formed the model for most exploration and adventure programs, Myst and Riven are not about collecting and trading objects, nor about slaying monsters or martial arts blackbelts. Instead, they are about exploration, discovery, and solving logical puzzles.

Myst was highly regarded for its graphics when it was released in late 1993, as much as its captivating storyline. Riven is "way better" according to our reviewers who have used both. Riven includes three hours of animation that many of our reviewers felt was real video, rather than computer animation. It also includes a "spooky" sound track that caused an eight year-old tester to say, "Daddy, I'm scared - hold me WHILE I do this."

Educational Value
How does one weigh the educational benefits of a program that doesn’t fill the mind with facts and equations, but instead opens the mind and expands its horizons? Riven challenges the user to incorporate current observation with past experience and knowledge. Tying it to the concept of a book that is so well-written that it carries the user to another world is almost plausible to many avid readers.

Kid Appeal
“Radical graphics!” This comment, offered by one of our kid reviewers, nicely sums it up. Riven plunges the user into a mysterious world, complete with realistic scenery, eerie surroundings and spooky musical score.

Ease of Use
Although the five CD Riven installed without difficulty on our reviewers’ PowerMacs and PCs, testers on each reported difficulties in getting it to run properly. Graphics broke up at times, and machines ocassionally froze. Upon further investigation, we found several causes. First, Riven requires a computer matching or exceeding the product specs listed on the package, which are true minimums. Second, the computer must have current video drivers. (Out-of-date drivers are so common that Broderbund has worked out a 60 day free trial of a program called Oil Change that will automatically update the user's drivers.) And finally, some computers require an updated version of several Riven files, which are downloadable for free from the publisher, at http://www1.riven.com/discovery/support.html

Bottom-Line
If you or your child have patience, curiosity, and perhaps an unused week of vacation time, this program is perfect. It is definitely not, however, suitable for an easily frustrated child (or adult), nor one with a short attention span!

Educational Value= 3/5, Kid Appeal = 5/5, Ease of Use = 3/5

See also the Summary Rating Table for comparisons with other Problem Solving Skills 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 7.5 or higher
CPU Type and Speed 100 MHzPentium or faster 90 MHz PowerPC or faster
Hard Drive Space 75 Mb minimum 65 MB minimum
Memory (RAM) 16 MB minimum 9 MB minimum free
Graphics 640 x 480 high color (thousands of colors) 640 x 480 (thousands of colors)
CD-ROM Speed 4X or faster 4X or faster
Audio Windows compatible sound device
Other Needs Video and sound cards compatible with DirectX

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