Ease of Install / Use
An unusual surprise was revealed when we opened the box. Although the box label indicated that Gus was designed to run on PC’s with Windows, the jewel case said that this was a hybrid CD designed to run on Macs and PCs. We tested it on both. Installation on the PC was relatively straightforward. After inserting the CD, we entered the Program Manager, clicked on Run, then Browsed our CD drive for the install.exe program, and clicked. The installer proceeded to add Quicktime for Windows (if you don’t already have it), and set up a Program Group called Modern Media. Once installed, subsequent use just required inserting the CD, opening Program Manager, opening the Modern Media Program Group, then clicking on the Gus icon. One caution - Gus is very slow on a 386 machine with 8 Mb of memory, resulting in synchronization problems between speech and graphics. As a result, we do not recommend Gus for this class machine.
Installation on the Mac was roughly comparable in difficulty -- once you discovered that you had to disable virtual memory. Unfortunately, the limited manual didn’t disclose this particular trick. Once that was done, Gus presented one more unusual requirement after we thought installation was complete: during the opening screen sequence, a menu popped up and asked, “Where is medium QTINTRO?” The answer to the question was found by scrolling down a short list of files presented, and clicking on QTINTRO. Gus requires 5 Mb of available memory, which as a practical matter means you must have at least 8Mb on your system (the OS will be using the remainder).
Balance of Fun and Education
Gus Goes to Cyberopolis contains an impressive number of activities, designed around the notion of exploring six different environments. After selecting a difficulty level, the user enters the town square of Cyberopolis. Six different buildings offer entrances to collections of activities: an aquarium, a library, a post office, a science dome, an international diner, and a subway. Within each of these buildings, multiple activities and branches to another 15 environments can be found.
Linking all these environments is either a simple or an annoying hunting game, depending on your viewpoint. Various objects, when clicked, reveal hidden animals called “Cyberbuds.” These critters then spout off interesting factoids before disappearing. When all the hidden Cyberbuds have been uncovered, a statue in the town square comes to life. Although labeled as appropriate for 3-8 year olds, we stretched the range from 2-10, and found value and interest even at those extremes.
This package was a nice surprise! The Gus series of Blasterware is frequently bundled with soundboard upgrade packages, or with new multimedia PCs. As such, we expected the sound and graphics to be reasonably glitzy, but our educational value expectations were low. Our reviewers were pleasantly surprised to discover instead an exceptionally interesting and useful collection of activities that their kids loved!
|Gus Goes to Cyberopolis
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