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SuperKids Educational Software Review. The parents' and teachers' guide to educational software
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Music Software Reviews


For Ages 8 and up

See also the Summary Rating Table for comparisons with other Music software titles, and the SuperKids Buyers Guide for current market prices of PC-only title.

Reviewed on:
SimTunes Screen Shot Pentium166 with 24MB and 12XCD

SimTunes is one of those wonderful programs that grows with the user. In essence, it is a paint program that doubles as a musical composition program--or vice versa. The user begins with a blank screen, or canvas and a variety of tools, paints, and patterns with which to decorate said canvas. The twist is that each colored dot applied to the design represents a musical note--from low C to high C. Now add 4 adorable little "bugz" to the painting. The bugz march across the screen much like Pacman. But instead of munching, these bugz make music when they contact a dot.

Each bug is a caricature of the musical instrument it plays. There are a dozen bugz in each of 4 different categories to choose from--some play standard instruments, like pianos and guitars; some play unusual instruments, like steel drums or cymbals; some play chords or riffs, some make sound effects, and some rival Scatman Caruthers in verbosity. The user chooses one bug from each group to create a quirky quartet.

At this point the creative mind is let loose. Some users choose to create non-drawings which sound like actual tunes, known or newly composed. Others choose to create intricate drawings that, when "played" by the bugz result in utter cacophony. With dedication, the user can even create the perfect marriage of art and music. Examples of previous SimTunes users' masterpieces can be found in the "Gallery". The possibilities are endless, and as with any artistic endeavor, beauty is in the eye, or in this case the computer, of the beholder!

Ease of Install / Use
SimTunes installs easily on Windows 95.

The manual, or "bugmaster's guide" is extremely complete and recommended reading to get the most out of the program. It not only details tools that the user might not discover unaided, but it also explains the specifics of creating a familiar tune (complete with accompaniment), thus allowing the user to more easily move ahead to advanced musical composition.

On-screen "help" provides pop-up captions that name the note that each color represents. This is very helpful when painting a known composition.

Educational Value
This program has little standard "school" educational value. It doesn't help a child master his or her times tables or decipher Shakespearean prose. It does encourage the child to explore, experiment, discover and create. It may spark musical ability or simply musical appreciation in the child. It will let the child express his or herself, and create something that is unique--something to be proud of.

Kid Appeal
SimTunes appeals to a child in the most delightful ways. Zany bugz elicit giggles and guffaws; fun tunes starts the toes-a-tapping; bright colors and 'mod' designs draw and hold the attention of young and old. Each successful new-tune attempt leaves the user wanting more. Move over kids, would-be parent-musicians will vie for time with this program.

Best for / Bottom-Line
SimTunes adds a delightful new face to the world of music. It is not meant to teach serious music notation nor is it an instrument tutorial. It combines music, art and fun, and the result is dynamite!

Educational Value = 4/5, Kid Appeal = 5/5, Ease of Use = 4/5

See also the Summary Rating Table for comparisons with other music software titles, and the SuperKids Buyers Guide for current market prices of this PC-only title.

Children's Software System Requirements


Operating System Windows 3.1; Win95 not available
CPU Type and Speed 486/66 or faster
Hard Drive Space <1 MB
Memory (RAM) 8 MB
Graphics SVGA 640x480x256 colors
CD-ROM Speed 2X
Audio Windows compatible 16-bit sound card
Other Needs mouse

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