GRAY AREAS MAGAZINE'S SOFTWARE REVIEWS ISSUE 8

2000 TRUE TYPE FONTS & 5000 CLIP ART IMAGES (Walnut Creek CDROM)Windows users will delight in this varied collection to spice up documents. All sorts of fonts are included here from traditional to display to dingbats. Clip art ranges from borders to insects to maps to tools. There are also several font and graphic shareware utility packages. A great collection for either the person who has yet to invest in such add-ons as well as the die-hard collector like me. (Netta Gilboa)

5 FT. 10 PAK: SPECIAL EDITION (Sirius Publishing, Inc.) This awesome collection offers ten full version CD-ROMs for less than the average price of one program. Included are: Beyond Planet Earth, Hell Cab, National Parks Of America, Corridor 7, 1994 Sports Illustrated Almanac and Microsoft Multimedia Mozart, as well as other games, photo programs, etc. If you can't use all of these titles yourself, they make great gifts. It's a quality package and worth owning if even two of the titles appeal to you. (Netta Gilboa)

5 FT. 10 PAK: VOLUME 2 (Sirius Publishing, Inc.) This incredible bargain features ten outstanding CD-ROMs at one discount price. Included are Battle Chess Enhanced, Space Quest IV, 2000 Fonts, Sherlock Holmes Volume 1, Home Medical Adviser and more. With a retail price of under $40, you can see why we're classifying this as "highly recommended." (Netta Gilboa)

THE 1995 GROLIER MULTIMEDIA ENCYCLOPEDIA (Grolier Electronic Publishing, Inc.) Over six hours of multimedia are featured in this CD-ROM, which includes over 33,000 articles, 8,000 pictures, maps, animations and sounds. There's a timeline, fact boxes and a pathmakers section which profiles various movers and shakers like "Buzz" Aldrin and Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. It is easy to use, and much more portable than the 21 books one would have to consult the old-fashioned way. A valuable tool for all ages. (Netta Gilboa)

ABC GRAPHICS SUITE (Micrografx) CD-ROM owners luck out with this money-saving Windows package. It contains version 6.0 of Picture Publisher and version 6.0 of Designer. Also included are 30,000 pieces of clip art and a program called Instant 3D as well as a Media Manager tool. Together, this combination allows one to manipulate photographs and create illustrations. While you may be a novice, you can work with the same tools the pros use and create all sorts of easy effects without great effort. Highly recommended for those who don't already own this type of software and a real plus for those who own older versions or want the clip art, photos and fonts. (Netta Gilboa)

THE ADVENTURE COLLECTION (ActiVision, Inc.) Long before four-disc live action graphical adventures, ActiVision pioneered state of the art text adventures involving interactive fiction. These games have now been repackaged in a set of five collections. This box includes Border Zone, Cutthroats, Infidel, Plundered Hearts, Trinity, and two bonus games which are Planetfall, and Zork III. It's wonderful to see these available again and you delight in playing them for the first time in years or for the first time ever. (Netta Gilboa)

ALL-STAR BASEBALL (Accolade, Inc.) This works with either Win 3.1 or 95 and uses video footage of real sports stars for incredible realism. Features a TV-style interface, sound effects, instant replays, player and team stats and play-by-plays with Al Michaels and Tim McCarver. Impressive even to non-fans. (Netta Gilboa)

ARMORED FIST (NovaLogic) From the creators of Commanche, WolfPack, and Ultrabots comes the latest and greatest simulated tank warfare game. You can choose from American M1A2 Abrams, M3 Bradley IFV's equipped with thermal sights, Russian T-80 tanks, or BMP APC's equipped with image intensifiers. You get to engage your enemies in realistic 3-D environments and here the explosions as you blow them to pieces. This simulation game is the next best thing to owning your own tank. Highly recommended. (Christopher Schanot)

ART PARTS (T/Maker Company) Bored with traditional clip art? Here are trendy images of the sort you'd find in contemporary greeting cards. The disk version includes 100 images, while the CD-ROM has 500 plus a font called Regular Joe. Although the images include traditional objects like computers, hands, buildings and pets, the approach here is fresh and therefore useful no matter how many other packages you own. Impressive and innovative. (Netta Gilboa)

ART PARTS PART II (T/Maker Company) Here's the sequel to the above package with 375 additional illustrations. 100 of the images are hand-colored and there's a conversion utility included which will put the clip art into any type you need on the fly. An on-screen catalog helps you choose images quickly and the material offered is simply not available elsewhere. You'll find everything from a bottle of ketchup and a hot dog to movie reels, toilet paper and a cactus. As the box says, "wacky, yet somehow useful." (Netta Gilboa)

ASTROLOGY (Philips, 800-340-7888) Based on a Time-Life book series, Mysteries of the Unknown, this awesome program does everything a beginner would want an astrology package to do. You can create and view charts, look at the charts of 500 celebrities, learn more about astrology and check your compatibility with others. You'll be up and running in a matter of minutes and will have printed charts as fast as you can enter birth date, time and place. I found this accurate, amusing and by fat the best of these programs I have tried. Highly recommended if the subject interests you even slightly. You'd be amazed how often people want their charts done once you admit you are able to print one out for them so easily. (Netta Gilboa)

ATARI 2600 ACTION PACK FOR WINDOWS (ActiVision, Inc.) This CD-ROM contains 15 of those awesome Atari 2600 classic video games. Relive treasures like Freeway, Kaboom!, Pitfall!, River Raid and Grand Prix. Unfortunately, in order to transport the games to Windows, they only play in small windows on the screen and most of them require a joystick or keyboard commands. It's also ironic that one needs a 486/33 MHz or faster computer as well as WinG technology (included) in order to use this as the old Atari machines were quite archaic. Still, it's a pleasure to see the games transported at all. I still have my old shoulder patch for getting a killer score on Kaboom!. Glad to see people will once again be impressed. (Netta Gilboa)

ATARI 2600 ACTION PACK 2 (ActiVision, Inc.) Here are 15 more games originally produced for the Atari 2600 game machine. Included are Megamania, Stampede, Skiing, Tennis, Ice Hockey, Oink, Plaque Attack, River Raid II, Laser Blast, Dragster, Dolphin, Atlantis, Barnstorming, Enduro, and Keystone Kapers. I never played some of these in the old days, but I sure spent enough time playing Megamania, and Stampede to make up for it. (Netta Gilboa)

ATARI 2600 ACTION PACK 3 (ActiVision, Inc.) Designed for Windows95, this collection includes Breakout, which is to me alone worth the price of this. Also included are Yar's Revenge, Canyon Bomber, Double Dragon, Night Driver, Pressure Cooker, Combat, Checkers, Space War, Private Eye, StarMaster and Title Match Pro Wrestling. Rumor has it there is still a fourth collection coming! ActiVision is to be commended for giving gamers a chance to play their old favorites on their new equipment. I certainly played years of Breakout and am thrilled to have it back in my reach. (Netta Gilboa)

AVIATION ADVENTURE (Knowledge Adventure, Inc.) Learn everything you ever wanted to learn about flying as you search two encyclopedias, watch 3-D movies, see historical films and peel away the skin of ten different aircraft to get an inside perspective. Included are three games and a 3-D aviation adventure museum, which lists everything from aviation museums and exhibits to possible careers in aviation to an offer for a free subscription to Flight Training magazine. A very impressive collection which while ideal for children can certainly be enjoyed by adults too. (Netta Gilboa)

BATTLE BEAST (7th Level) Billed as "the ultimate fight game," this animated game allows fighting in cartoon form. Offering solo play, the ability to battle friends, modem play and network play, this features none war zones and over 8000 animation frames. You'll have to master over 100 battle moves such as reverse sweeps and roundhouse kicks, as well as being able to successfully wield missiles, lasers and flame throwers. Superb graphics, concept and gameplay. This makes fighting cute enough to appeal to those who eschew it. (Netta Gilboa)

BATTLEGROUND: GETTYSBURG VOLUME II (TalonSoft Inc.) In this historical strategy game you cover any or all of the three most crucial days of the Civil War. Scenarios include Culp's Hill, Devil's Den, Little Round Top and Pickett's Charge with variable command level as well as sound and video clips. Although there are other games which use the Gettysburg theme, this is now the one by which all others will have to be measured. (Netta Gilboa)

BLENDER This is a magazine available on CD-ROM. Each issue has numerous articles on celebrities, musicians, the Internet and lots of reviews too of music, games and shareware. I could never get this to properly play in my machine, but the parts that did work were superb. The interview with Traci Lords was worth the cost of the disc and I also liked pieces I saw on Matt Groening and Kristin Hersh. I was disappointed with the piece on Courtney Love's laptop which was definitely not made with her cooperation. But that's the magazine business for you. Things glitter on the cover and often have no substance underneath. Still, this idea of having a magazine on CD has turned into a genre and if we had the money we'd do one too. This is worth a look (especially if it plays without crashing for you) and maybe more depending on what's in the issue and whether those topics interest you. (Netta Gilboa)

BOB DYLAN HIGHWAY 61 INTERACTIVE (Graphix Zone, Inc.) Possibly the best CD-ROM on the market, this is a must to own if you're even a marginal fan of Bob Dylan. The program opens with a collage of Dylan memorabilia which the user can click on to interact with various moments of Dylan's career. Relive the coffeehouses of Greenwich Village, Hendrix performing a Dylan song, go backstage at the 30th anniversary concert or browse an interactive scrapbook with rare photos, images and memorabilia. There's also the only complete collection of his lyrics, albums and liner notes as well as previously unreleased songs and other rarities. Very impressive both for paving the way as a new technological trend that other celebrities will utilize, and for gaining the cooperation of Dylan and putting out a disk that's three times as good as it had to be to be marketed. (Netta Gilboa)

BREAKTHRU! (Spectrum HoloByte) From the creator of Tetris comes this puzzle game in which you click on bricks of the same color to eliminate them before the time clock runs out. You can guess that it's addictive, so much so that I actually didn't talk to anyone for two days until I'd entered impressive high scores in each of the four skill settings. Works great on a laptop and has multiple levels of increasing difficulty including bombs, spiders, soda cans and boulders which get in the way on purpose. Fun until you lose, and then you just have to click the start button again. (Netta Gilboa)

BRETT HULL HOCKEY '95 (Accolade, Inc.) Play hockey with lots of customization and a choice of seasons. Al Michaels does the play-by-play and statistics are kept on everything from passing percentage to one-timers to the three stars in each game played. You can check instant replays, set your lines for both offensive and defensive situations and play with 600 NHLPA pros. Good graphics and theme make this ideal for sports fans of all ages. (Netta Gilboa)

CHAOS CONTROL (I-Motion/Philips) This animated game is set in the future where you play an ace female pilot named Jessica Darkhill. Your mission is to save Earth, starting with Manhattan. You must defeat a virus, destroy the enemy's ship and beat a male opponent. Features easy installation, Japanese style animation and 3-D artwork. (Netta Gilboa)

CIVNET (MicroProse) This classic strategy game can now be played on the Internet. In this newest package you cam play solo, play against someone via modem or against up to seven people on the Net either through a LAN or over a BBS. There's a chat feature, Win95 compatibility, a map editor and the ability to create an online persona. This is a superb improvement to the already great game of Civilization. (Netta Gilboa)

CLOCKWERX (Spectrum HoloByte) One of the few CD-ROMS that does not require the damn disk after installation, this is another puzzle game which is utterly unique. It's your job to fix a clock by taking your spinning clock hand and moving parts while dodging oil globs, spikes, cannon blasts and wild clock hands. There are over 100 levels as well as four skill settings and a two-player mode. This one didn't grab me as much as BreakThru, but it looks like with a little effort this one could suck up your free time and pull you away from your responsibilities just as much. (Netta Gilboa)

COLONIZATION (MicroProse Software, Inc.) Finally, the sequel to Civilization is here! Colonization is set in the Colonial Era where you become one of four powers who set sail to discover the New World. Includes the ability to create your own scenario with a random map generator, customize games and choose from different levels of difficulty and play either the French, English, Dutch, or Spanish powers. Beautiful graphics, same interface and design principals as Civilization and the ease of play makes this a winner. (Netta Gilboa)

COMANCHE CD (NovaLogic, Inc.) Optimized for 486 and Pentium play, this CD-ROM presents the most realistic helicopter simulation ever made. Included are 100 missions in ten campaigns with many skill levels, multi-channel digital sound, point-and-shoot control and second generation voxel graphics including twelve Voxel Space environments. Voxel Space technology allows for 500 times more detail in screen graphics than traditional 3-D games. If you have ever wanted to fly here is your chance to do so safely. (Netta Gilboa)

COMMODORE 64 15 PACK (ActiVision, Inc.) Here's a collection of old games which were once hits on the C64. Similar to the Atari packs also reviewed here this lets people play their old favorites on their newer equipment. Since I never owned a C64, this gave me the opportunity to play some of the things I'd missed. One game called "Hacker" seemed realistic and in other games toys chase you, there's a 100-story puzzle, you play a lifeguard or a ranger in a game called "Park Patrol" and you can ride a magic carpet in yet another. A great value for the money and a real favor to old-time gaming fans. (Netta Gilboa)

CONGO (Viacom New Media) This excellent movie translation puts you in the action, solving puzzles to stay alive in an exotic jungle full of evil gray gorillas. There are 400 3-D scenes, full-motion interactive action sequences and the ability to use all sorts of tools and devices. You also get to communicate via satellite with Travicom, the company that hired you to come to Zinj and look for diamonds. However, if you've seen the film, I won't dwell on this part of the game. This unusual adventure game is worth a look if you like the adventure genre, the film or are intrigued by the certain impending blood and violence. (Netta Gilboa)

CREDIT CORRECT (Advantage Software Group, Inc.) According to this package, the odds are 1 in 2 that your credit files contain reporting errors. Included are forms and reference materials to help you contact the credit bureaus, understand your credit reports, and fight back by challenging inaccurate and unverifiable items. How well this works is more a function of what's wrong with your credit or credit reports than how well you use the program. Worth a look if you've been denied credit but don't know why, or if you'd like to challenge all of the legitimate bad entries on your reports in the hopes some of them will be taken off. (Netta Gilboa)

THE DAEDALUS ENCOUNTER (Virgin Interactive Entertainment, Inc.) This science fiction adventure game contains three CD-ROMs with acting by Tia Carrere and Christian Bocher as well as music by Ronnie Montrose. There's two hours of live action video, 3-D environments, three difficulty levels and a combination of complex puzzle solving, alien craft exploration and shooting. This game sets a new standard for graphics and multiple CD gameplay. Highly recommended. (Christopher Schanot)

DARK FORCES (LucasArts Entertainment Company) If you are a fan of the Star Wars movies, or if you just like a good action game, Dark Forces is right up your alley. Using a 3-D Doom like engine, it will at once impress you with stunningly realistic lighting and effects, as well as a first-person perspective on things. Your mission is to infiltrate the Empire, and fight against more Storm Troopers and monsters than you can count. This game will keep you trigger happy for hours. (Christopher Schanot)

DOONESBURY FLASHBACKS: 25 YEARS OF SERIOUS FUN (Mindscape) Over 9,000 Doonesbury cartoon strips are on this CD-ROM, along with the ability to search through them by character, topic, chronology, political figure, etc. As if that weren't enough, there's a bibliography and an animated trivia game too. You can also print the cartoons and use them to relive history. This has become one of my favorite CDs. (Netta Gilboa)

THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF CRIMINAL LANGUAGE (ZCI Publishing) This awesome CD-ROM features over 16,000 entries about criminals, criminal justice and the words used in the illicit underworld. Requiring no hard disk space, this program allows you to navigate easily and contains an index by subject, etc. There's a wonderful electronic glossary, 100 questions with explanations and the ability to print, save and link things. Everyone from Hitler to Manson to Capone is mentioned and this package offers lots of gray reading material. Highly recommended. (Netta Gilboa)

FAMOUS MAGAZINE CARTOONS (T/Maker Company) Available on both disk and CD-ROM, this package contains 100 or 500 (CD-ROM) cartoons which you can use in your newsletter, zine or personal correspondence. The cartoons work in all popular formats and cover themes such as business, psychology, work attitudes, health and relationships. Some of these cartoons have even appeared in our pages. Highly recommended both for print quality and wide variety of themes. (Netta Gilboa)

FAX-A-LAUGH (The Great Fax Cover Sheet Co.) Windows users will delight in this package of 50 cartoons ideally suited for fax cover sheets. Using a point and click interface you can choose a template, a cartoon, an address and add a message too. The cartoons are zany and entertaining. If the drudgery of the day includes sending faxes, why not add some pizzazz to the chore, and make the person on the other end of the fax smile? (Alan Sheckter)

FIRST AID (CyberMedia) Windows users may benefit from this program that fixes problems caused by other programs. If you've got printing problems, path problems, bad .INI files, misplaced drivers, missing application components or problem accessing your network, this will help. I installed it on my laptop and it correctly pointed out I was missing components in CorelDRAW which I had not installed to save space. It won't fix everything, but it's great at what it does set out to do. Very useful for new users, companies where lots of people touch the same computer and those of us who install things and delete them and then wonder why something else has stopped working. (Netta Gilboa)

FLEXOMATIC CLIP ART (Cosmi) Here are 500 clip art images in both black and white and color taken from Arts & Letters. It's able to be fully customized so that you can resize, stretch, rotate, flip, duplicate, etc. The images include people, arrows, stars, snowflakes and thought balloons. Best suited to people making stationary and personalized newsletters. (Netta Gilboa)

FULL THROTTLE (LucasArts Entertainment Company) This interactive heavy metal motorcycle adventure will get your adrenaline going. In this game you have to out-fight, out-smart, and our-run the trouble that's riding your back. A faceless legal system wants you for murder, and it's your job to prove your innocence. Impressive graphics, an awesome movie quality digital score featuring the Gone Jackals, and special guest star Mark Hamill. One of the best interactive CD's I have seen to date. (Christopher Schanot)

GAZILLIONAIRE (Spectrum HoloByte, Inc.) Create and run your own trade empire as you compete against six computer opponents and up to five humans. In this simulation game, you pick your ship, barrow from aliens, visit exotic worlds, and attempt to unload your cargo of moon ferns, lava lamps, diapers and toasters at a cool profit. There's a tutorial to teach you how the game works as well as weekly news updates you can refer to when playing. There are many games like this out there, but this one's more cosmic than most and was designed by people with a sense of humor. (Netta Gilboa)

GREAT ARTISTS (Attica Cybernetics Ltd.) Produced in association with The National Gallery of London, this CD-ROM provides information on famous artists. There's a timeline, 1000 color images, 500,000 words of text and 100 soundclips. There's also an atlas, 20 minutes of video and an excellent search utility. Very easy to use and offers the added feature of allowing you to explore and alter famous works of art in order to learn more about them. Useful. (Netta Gilboa)

HAIGHT ASHBURY IN THE SIXTIES! (Compton's New Media) This is without question my favorite CD-ROM. There's no shortage of archival material (2 CDs worth), or graphics (full cooperation was obtained from poster artists, musicians, writers, and anyone else of importance) or fun (there's a killer soundtrack, a game called "Drop Out," etc.). If you weren't there in 1967 this CD will make you feel like you were and if you are reliving old memories you'll find everything you remember and much you probably forgot the first time around. This is one CD that really went the extra mile to include everything they could instead of just enough to make a buck. A must if you like the Grateful Dead, remember hippies at all or just want to see what the 1960s were like. (Netta Gilboa)

HARDBALL 4 (Sport Accolade) This lavish, engrossing baseball game offers an optional MLBPA players disk. Together, they consume a whopping 30MB of drive space. This new version supports modem play, differing perspectives and lets you work with over 700 players from all 28 major league teams. Superb graphics and realism highlight this package as well as the added benefit that these players can't go on strike. Well done. (Netta Gilboa)

HARD EVIDENCE: THE MARYLAND MONROE FILES (PerfectHome) This CD-ROM presents an interactive, investigative challenge in which you ferret out the truth about Marilyn Monroe's death by taking on four separate identities. You become an investigative reporter, district attorney, county coroner, and police chief. These identities allow you access to classified documents and give you the ability to challenge witness testimony. This is one of the first CDs that Novell, Inc. is marketing to consumers. Well done. (Netta Gilboa)

ILLUMINATUS (Digital Workshop) Requiring no programming knowledge, this program allows you to do multimedia publishing. Included are over 200 templates which allow you with the push of a button to combine pictures, sounds and video files in order to make multimedia magazines, your own CD-ROMs or for promotions, incentives or training materials. All you need is a computer with Windows and this program. Very impressive, especially in an age where most software requires more hardware and disk space in order to accomplish way less. (Netta Gilboa)

KLIK & PLAY (Maxis) Have you ever wished you can make your own games or just change a few components of an existing one? This program provides sample games as well as parts, pieces, characters, backgrounds, music, sounds, explosions and animations. You can import other sounds and graphics you already have too. A good beginning package for someone not yet able to program, but with an interest in that direction. Also fun for novices who want an idea of what's involved. (Netta Gilboa)

KAI'S POWER TOOLS (HSC Software) Version 3.0 of this amazing plug-in package now offers computability with more programs as well as new effects. If you own the newest versions of CorelDraw!, PhotoShop, Matisse, Painter or Picture Publisher, and you work with photographs, KPT is a must to own too. It will tweak your photos into unbelievably vivid and psychedelic fractals, textures and gradients. This is as good as software gets and allows novice users to work at home with the same tools that a Warhol or Picasso of today with unlimited funds would surely utilize. This gets our highest recommendation. (Alan Sheckter)

KID VID GRID (Jasmine Multimedia) Hanna-Barbera fans will enjoy this moving puzzle game which includes ten full-length cartoons, allows for up to ten players, has 500 degrees of difficulty and has genuine sound effects. The idea here is to put scrambled episodes back together before the cartoon ends. It contains adorable graphics of everyone from Huckleberry Hound to Snagglepuss to Pixie & Dixie. Great fun for all ages. (Netta Gilboa)

KPT POWER PHOTOS (HSC Software) This collection of 11 CD-ROMs contains 500 royalty-free .TIFF images for desktop publishers who use photographs. There are five volumes which encompass sports, food, urban textures, natural backgrounds and outdoor scenes such as sky, water and landscapes. The images are unusually good and include things like graffiti, which are unavailable elsewhere. The package also makes it easy to create shadows, use picture frames, load objects into other images and add dimension to the photographs. Well worth having if you work in color or your work will allow you to make use of at least one of the previously mentioned categories. (Netta Gilboa)

THE LAST BOUNTY HUNTER (American Laser Games, Inc.) In this shoot-'em-up game you are a bounty hunter equipped with a six-shooter and shotgun. Game play is enhanced with the purchase of a PC game gun made by the same company. This contains live-action which automatically adjusts the game's difficulty level to your shooting skills. Also, the order in which you attack the four outlaws you battle changes the play action responses making for a different game every time. Impressive graphics! (Netta Gilboa)

LOONEY TOONS ANIMATED SCREEN SAVER (Berkeley Systems, Inc.) In one of the best collections of screen savers for After Dark, Warner Brothers characters come to life on your computer screen in twelve hilarious and adorable savers. Watch Sylvester chase Tweety, Marvin the Martian invade earth, Daffy Duck conduct a symphony and Elmer Fudd chase Bugs Bunny. Worth having even if you already have more screen savers than you know what to do with. (Netta Gilboa)

MECHWARRIOR 2 (ActiVision, Inc.) Owners of high-end systems (486/66 and above) will delight in the opportunity to play this fast paced, explosive game which takes advantage of their hardware. Set in the future, you customize one of fifteen robot war machines and choose from over twenty weapons which you fire at 3-D objects. Available for modem, network, or LAN usage. Very impressive. (Netta Gilboa)

MICROSOFT PLUS! (Microsoft) Although most PC users have upgraded to Win95, less of them have purchased this add-on package. I can't rave enough about it, and while I do feel it should have been included in the operating system to being with, I cannot urge you strongly enough to install this. First of all, there's help for Internet users so you can set up a PPP account painlessly. In fact, you can set up several. That alone is worth the upgrade price. For wallpaper fans there are 11 themed desktops such as Dangerous Creatures, Mysteries and The Sixties. There's also a System Agent, Compression Agent, Font Smoothing, Full Window Drag and a stellar portion of a pinball game called Full Tilt! (reviewed elsewhere in this section) by Maxis. At the least, this package makes Win95 fun and more personalized. At best, it can help you maneuver the Internet which is no small thing when, like me, you have accounts at everywhere from CompuServe to Microsoft Network to local providers. (Netta Gilboa)

MIND OF A KILLER (Cambrix Publishing) Here's a reference disc about serial killers. It's a great idea and includes everything you'd ever want to know about the subject. Think I'm kidding? There are four books included, 80 minutes of video about specific killers, 350 photos and an interactive map of serial killer sites around the world. There are excerpts from diaries, transcripts, opinions from top psychologists and the FBI and even a 3-D recreation done via computer animation of a famous crime scene. The disc installs flawlessly and works every time, no small thing in itself. If the subject turns you on or concerns you, this quality disc is a must to own. (Netta Gilboa)

MONTY PYTHON'S COMPLETE WASTE OF TIME (7th Level) Fans of the TV show will delight in this CD full of desktop toys and classic Python skits and comedy. Alas, this CD does not work well under Windows95. If, however, you are still running 3.1 then this should work fine. There's 30 sketches, six giant scenarios, a few games, wallpaper, icons, 20 animated screen savers and 40 lines of dialogue and sounds. A second Python CD is coming soon and will reportedly work fine for Win95 users. (Netta Gilboa)

MTV UNPLUGGED (Viacom New Media) This TV show features acoustic performances by today's hottest bands. The CD-ROM features 70 artists who've appeared on the show and has bios, rare footage and photos from more than 50 TV performances. With musicians like Lenny Kravitz, Eric Clapton, Sheryl Crow and Aerosmith, this is surely a winner. Three unreleased performances, artist rehearsals, exclusive interviews and information about each artist make this a valuable reference tool you'll use again and again. (Netta Gilboa)

THE MULTIMEDIA BIRD BOOK (Swfte International, Ltd.) In this children's game you learn to identify the calls, songs, and appearance of over 60 birds. You then compile your knowledge into creating a magazine about birds. Along the way children can witness video of nesting, hunting, and feeding.. Excellent for bird lovers who want to share their passion with their children. (Netta Gilboa)

THE MULTIMEDIA BUG BOOK (Swfte International, Ltd.) This children's game teaches kids about bugs by having them find 50 bugs in five habitats. You capture bugs by clicking on them and then can view photographs, listen to sounds and watch video clips. From time to time the bugs escape and if you can answer questions about its appearance, habits, or diet, then you get to keep it in your collection. If not, you have to go recapture it again. So impressive it makes bugs lovable. (Netta Gilboa)

PAPARAZZI! (ActiVision, Inc.) According to the box cover, Paparazzi are photographers who "stalk celebrities, shoot photos, expose scandal, win big!" In this game you try to earn money by shooting photos of all 24 celebrities without going broke or getting run out of town. Offers the opportunity to experience the pressures of deadlines, participate in hilarious game play full of drama, excitement and humor and offers twelve different locations to work in. Over 60 actors are included in this amazing two-disk with two hours of live interactive video and CD-quality audio. (Netta Gilboa)

PENTHOUSE INTERACTIVE VIRTUAL PHOTO SHOOT VOLUME FOUR (Penthouse) You play a Penthouse magazine photographer who gets to shoot centerfolds Tiffany Burlingame, Seana Ryan and Bonita Saint. You take photos, save them to disk, and can print, view and update your contact sheets. There's over 90 minutes of full-motion video here to help you achieve the exact look you hope to photograph and there's a good soundtrack to listen to while you're working. Well done. (Netta Gilboa)

THE PERFECT GENERAL II (Quantum Quality Productions, Inc.) This strategy game is unrivaled with it's strategic and tactical experience, stunning graphics, and easy-to-use interface. This gaming masterpiece provides you with a challenge and brilliance unsurpassed by it's piers. As you control the airpower, rockets, and tanks to lead your armies to victory on any one of the many thrilling battle fields. There are five levels of difficulty from novice to expert, taking you through historically and technically accurate encounters with the enemy. Modem and null-modem play capabilities allow you to play the competitor of your choice. This game lets you to master the intensity and difficulty of nations at war. (Christopher Schanot)

PITFALL (ActiVision) This was one of the first translations of a video game to computer game. It remains one of the best. It's a run, jump and climb game, the sequel to the one created long ago for the Atari 2600 machine. Designed for Windows95, this features 13 challenging levels and 256-color art with both animation and an original soundtrack. You play Harry Jr., tracking an evil Mayan warrior who has abducted Pitfall Harry. Along the way you encounter everything from crocodiles to waterfalls, skeletons, dark rainforests, Mayan spirits, lethal traps, etc. I couldn't get very far, but you're bound to do better. If you do, you'll also get to play the original game which is hidden somewhere in this one! Well done. (Netta Gilboa)

PIZZA TYCOON (MicroProse Software, Inc.) In this business strategy game you build and manage a pizza empire. You buy furniture, hire staff, fight off competitors, advertise, enter contests, and create pizzas. You must also build your empire across cities and stay profitable while dodging the Mob. Cute graphics, and an easy-to-understand concept with a surprisingly difficult challenge. Worth trying. (Netta Gilboa)

POWER GAME III (ActiVision, Inc.) This CD-ROM contains three top games for the price of one. Included are Super Tetris, Spectre and F-15 Strike Evil III. Super Tetris is an awesome sequel to the classic puzzle game, Spectre is a battlecraft survival game, and the other is a game in which you simulate a flying F-15 fighter. Good deal and something for everyone in the household. (Netta Gilboa)

PRISONER OF ICE (I-Motion Interactive) In this epic adventure game based on the writings of H.P. Lovecraft, you are an American agent of the Office of Naval Intelligence trying to recover secret cargo and thwart a Nazi plot. There are 150 settings, 70 minutes of music and a total of over 70 hours of gameplay. Lots of suspense, intrigue, horror and espionage here. (Netta Gilboa)

PROCOMM PLUS (Datastorm) This superb modem program is back, with all of the power of the last version as well as the addition of many more features. In version 3.0, there's now a Web browser, Internet news reader, support for Internet mail, FTP and Telnet, every fax option you can think of and, of course, support for over 1200 modems and anything you could possibly want to do with those modems. This package blows away the competition and if you don't want all of the features it offers you can opt to do only a partial install. If you're using Terminal or Telix or struggling with Internet connectivity, this will greatly improve your time online. (Netta Gilboa)

PRO-PINBALL: THE WEB (Empire Interactive) Run up to six balls simultaneously in this 3D pinball game with over 20 soundtracks to choose from. It has several play modes including Space Station Frenzy, Bike Race Challenge, and Ultimate Showdown. Finally after so many years without a good selection of pinball games on the PC there is a flood of new titles. Most people will want them all, but if you can buy only one or two this is a good choice. (Netta Gilboa)

THE PURE WARGAME (QQP Inc.) Airborne assault is the theme here in this new series that will have several volumes. Volume One, subtitled "Death From Above," features historical accuracy, authentic Battalion insignias, choice of arms and explosives and allows POW's, killed and wounded soldiers to count for and against each player. There are eight scenarios and each is described with code name, date and a map of the operation. (Netta Gilboa)

QWIRKS (Spectrum HoloByte) This Tetris-style game has little colored blobs which fall on the screen and need to be eliminated by you. They have eyes this time, and they're cute, but they still try to get the best of you nonetheless. This game has variable skill settings, multiple levels, two-player mode and everything else you'd expect, and from the minute you open the box until someone drags you off the computer you will be glued to this game if you're a Tetris fan. No, there's no new twists here, but this is cute and addictive and it grows on me each time I play it. (Netta Gilboa)

ROYAL FLUSH DIGITAL PINBALL (Amtex Software Corp.) Pinball players should already recognize Amtex's reputation for producing great computer pinball games. Along comes this new game, which is on CD-ROM. It contains spectacular graphics with an option to have the screen scroll or remain stationary. The game itself has Jokers wild, nine bonus rollover lanes, nine drop targets, three spot targets, and a bonus kick-out saucer. Your choice of VGA or SVGA. Don't miss it. (Netta Gilboa)

THE SCI-FI COLLECTION (ActiVision, Inc.) Part of a five set reissue of classic adventure games, this box includes The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, A Mind Forever Voyaging, Starcross, Stationfall and Suspended with two bonus games which are Beyond Zork and Planetfall. Without these games, today's graphical adventure games would not exist and it's obvious from playing them even for a few minutes that the success of a game is largely in its concept and your own imagination and not in seeing stellar video footage. (Netta Gilboa)

SHANGHAI: GREAT MOMENTS (ActiVision, Inc.) Faithful readers know I'm going to rave about this tile-matching game. This version offers a CD-ROM full of four game variations, nine multimedia tile sets, 150 video clips and 300 animations. You can now play and have tiles fall as lower ones are removed, slide entire rows of tiles to make a match, play with tiles that are face-down or play a timed game in which you try to clear the screen before additional tiles appear. This is an absolutely superb next step to a classic game and is different enough from the 3DO version that I find myself playing both. (Netta Gilboa)

SIMON THE SORCERER (Infocom)In this adventure game you play Simon whose "an adolescent with an attitude," and it is your job to go on a quest to save someone from the evil wizard. The CD-ROM contains lots of digitized speech and in your travels you'll encounter 40 characters including: beer-swilling trolls, a two-headed schizophrenic store clerk, werefrogs, swamplings, etc. Beautiful graphics, impressive sound and lots of humor in the style of Monty Python. Includes over 100 lavish scenes and provides a tough challenge in a humorous environment. (Netta Gilboa)

SPACE ADVENTURE II (Knowledge Adventure, Inc.) Those interested in outer space will love this CD-ROM that allows users to watch 30 movies, identify constellations, read 400 articles about space and exploration and consult an atlas with 200 years of printable star maps. This package answers everything from "Where did the moon come from?" to "When could you next expect to see Hayley's Comet?". Worth a look if this subject interests you as it communicates the subject matter better than any book or teacher probably could. Great care was made to make the package a visual delight as well. (Netta Gilboa)

SPIDER-MAN CARTOON MAKER (Knowledge Adventure, Inc.) This CD-ROM lets you work with three cartoons in order to play at being a director who supervises the incorporation of animations with sound effects. Beautiful graphics are possible thanks to the cooperation of Stan Lee as well as system requirements of 8 megabytes RAM and a 486 processor. It has educational benefits for children and can be fun for adult fans of the comic. (Netta Gilboa)

SPORTS ILLUSTRATED MULTIMEDIA ALMANAC 1995 EDITION (StarPress Multimedia) Here are over 30 minutes of video, 600 color photos, 500 sports trivia questions and all of the relevant stats and records. If that's not enough, there's an entire year of Sports Illustrated magazine included here too. For some reason a guide to buying diamonds is included on the disc too. Maybe it's a hint to the men who buy this that they should pay off their women to let them use it. (Netta Gilboa)

STAR CONTROL COLLECTION (Accolade) This CD-ROM offers both Star Control games which combine action, role-playing adventure, strategic challenge and arcade action. The games are playable directly from CD-ROM which means they require no hard disk space. In Star Control, you command a ship of your choice which you battle with to try to survive. In Star Control II, you attempt to explore and liberate more than 500 star systems. There are brilliant graphics of hyperspace, 3-D rotating planets and even fractal-generated planet surfaces. If that's not enough, it's even budget-priced with a suggested retail of $29.95. (Netta Gilboa)

SUPERKARTS (Manic Media Productions, Ltd.) This is one of the most advanced driving games I have ever seen for the PC. It's graphics and speed and overall performance rival that of it's coin-operated counterparts. Stunning 3-D graphics are generated in real time, even on a 386! With 16 challenging tracks and multiple camera perspectives, you wont get bored any time soon. You have the choice of either playing solo against the computer, or against a friend using the 2-player split screen. Even more amazing is that by using a LAN you get to experience the ultimate race with up to 8 players at the same time. (Christopher Schanot)

TAKE YOUR BEST SHOT (7th Level) Bill Plympton's animation is highlighted in this package billed as "twisted arcade games for twisted minds." Besides the games you get 18 screen savers, wallpaper, desktop icons and 200 audio clips which include explosive keyboard noises. There are four games, although to tell you the truth I got so involved with the first one I tried that I still have not gotten to test out the other three. I am addicted to "Head Shot" in which you shoot heads, which sometimes split as you shoot them, kind of like in Deluxe Space Invaders. I don't want to admit to how many times I have played "Head Shot," but I will say I highly recommend this package <grin>. (Netta Gilboa)

TANG-CHI (Capcom Entertainment, Inc.) This innovative puzzle game uses only seven pieces and manages to create over 50 puzzles you must solve with them. Although the game offers you several chances to cheat by peeking at how to solve the level, you'll soon run out of them and be a long way from completing this. Really difficult but worth hacking away at. When you finish a level, the piece you put together come to life with hi-res 3D animated scenes. Well done. (Netta Gilboa)

THIS MEANS WAR! (MicroProse) Here's a strategy game where you also blow things up. You create killing machines while building your empire. Then you must establish a military academy and battle enemies like a cult leader and a survivalist. Good luck! (Netta Gilboa)

TIMON AND PUMBAA'S JUNGLE GAMES (Disney Interactive) Designed for children, this set of 5 games holds some appeal for adults too. There's Hippo Hop (like Frogger), Jungle Pinball, Bug Drop (Tetris takeoff), Slingshooter and Burper. Offers the option of playing off the CD, doing a full install or installing only the game's most used parts. Well designed, cute graphics and very true to the characters used. (Netta Gilboa)

TOP GUN: FIRE AT WILL! (Spectrum HoloByte) Incredible graphics highlight this game based on the film. I'm usually not crazy about games based on hit movies, but this is an exception. There are 40 increasingly difficult missions to fly, live action scenes including the return of James Tolkan from the movie, and the ability to play with both head-to-head and network players. If you like flying games this is well worth trying. If you're not a natural pilot, there's a backseat Merlin who flies with you and advises your moves. Works well with Win95 too. (Netta Gilboa)

TOTALLY TWISTED SCREEN SAVER (Berkeley Systems) Even more screen savers from the folks at Berkeley, this time a weird collection of shocking psycho scenarios like Bungee Roulette, Flying Toilets, Phlegm Boy and Voyeur. In all there are 13 new savers, displaying new levels of humor, sarcasm and artistic merit in the After Dark collection. I found these more interesting to use than I thought I would. They are less predictable than scenes from Disney or the Simpsons family. These are perfect for Halloween, April Fools Day and anytime you're feeling mean, cruel, or vindictive. (Netta Gilboa)

TRANSPORT TYCOON (MicroProse Software, Inc.) In this business strategy game you operate a transportation empire. Choose between rail, road, air and sea networks and cope with disasters such as mine collapses bus and air craft malfunctions, etc. This offers the opportunity to experience ruthless competition or play in a non-competitive mode. There are lots of games like this but this one supports Pentiums, head-to-head play via direct link, and the opportunity to explore all kinds of transportation including futuristic monorails. (Netta Gilboa)

TRIAZZLE (Berkeley Systems, Inc.) Here's the popular triangle-shaped puzzle imported into your computer. Subtitled The Rain Forest Addition, this offers the chance to assemble butterflies, frogs, turtles and insects. Offers multiple levels of difficulty, a variety of backgrounds and even a bonus After Dark module. Highly recommended for puzzle fanatics and nature lovers alike. (Netta Gilboa)

UNINSTALLER 3 (MicroHelp, Inc.) The idea behind this is that after you've installed and tested numerous pieces of Windows software, you're likely to end up with a lot of unneeded files consuming precious hard drive space. UnInstaller identifies those useless files as well as help files, sound files, .ZIP files, clip art, etc. On my laptop it told me 72 out of 540 megs could be safely deleted. I chose to be more conservative and deleted 12 megs. Still, that's enough to justify the purchase price of this. On my desktop, it found 178 megs out of approximately 900. It deleted the files fine, but apparently the program is incompatible with those large IDE hard drives which trick your BIOS and Windows into believing they're not what they are. Thus I deleted it after using it once and Windows worked fine again. In all, I gained the equivalent of a small hard drive's worth of space in under an hour by using this. Highly recommended, especially if you're not as committed to keeping all your wallpaper, screen savers, fonts, sounds and clip art as I am. (Netta Gilboa)

UNNECESSARY ROUGHNESS '95 (Accolade, Inc.) This enhanced CD-ROM version includes the first ever Super VGA graphics in a football game. One or two players can play 28 actual NFL teams under 1994 rules and with over 1400 NFLPA players. Play-by-plays are provided by Al Michaels and there's a new camera feature that literally puts the football in your hands. Well done. This is for football what Links is to golf. (Netta Gilboa)

VID GRID (Jasmine Multimedia) Rock 'n roll videos combine with jigsaw puzzles as you try to unscramble one of nine videos while it's playing and before the music ends. Included are Jimi Hendrix, Metallica, Soundgarden, Aerosmith and Van Halen. Up to ten players can compete with five levels of play and 500 degrees of difficulty. An innovative concept that's also entertaining. (Netta Gilboa)

WAR AT SEA (QQP, Inc.) This collection includes three previously released games on one CD. They are: The Lost Admiral, The Grandest Fleet and World War II. All are older DOS games, but offer a good value for the money for fans of the war strategy game genre. In each of these you engage in battle while trying to achieve victory. Prepare to try to regain your title of Admiral, avoid ending up in Davy Jones' locker and wage war for control of the entire South Pacific region. (Netta Gilboa)

WARCRAFT: Orcs & Humans (Blizzard Entertainment) Manage your own medieval stronghold in this superb simulation game. Players can compete via modem or network as well as in person and can be either noble humans or evil Orcs. This game has digital speech, awesome graphics and the ability to control unique creatures such as demons, elementals, necromancers archers and spearmen. Highly innovative and unlikely to bore you as it offers two dozen scenarios with almost that many again that are customizable. (Netta Gilboa)

WEBTALK (Quarterdeck Corp.) The idea here is to use the Internet for voice conversations thereby avoiding long distance bills. You can imagine the benefits to families who now call internationally! Of the dozen or so of these programs that exist, this one has the best vocal clarity and comes with two licenses (so you can find

someone to talk to right away) and a microphone. When you log onto the web page which allows users to link up with each other you'll find dozens of people, from all over the world, who are eager to chat with you. Some have poor accents, some are boring, but some are interesting enough to keep you logged in all night long. Women are somewhat of a rarity and are in great demand to talk to so if you are a single female looking for unique conversations, this is ideal for you. I found the quality of callers above average and didn't have anyone try to phone sex me either. While I'm sure I could have found a partner for this if that was my aim, people looking for phone sex would best get Internet Phone which has many channels devoted to this and everything else such as warez. Highly recommended. Send me email if you use Webtalk and see this. (Netta Gilboa)

THE WORLD ENCYCLOPEDIA OF 20TH CENTURY MURDER (ZCI Publishing) Read about everyone from David Koresh to Jeffrey Dahmer to Leopold and Loeb in this 5000 page (32 volumes) multimedia CD-ROM. Included are 900 photos, 1100 hypertext cases, 100 self-test questions, an electronic glossary and the ability to search by murderer, victim, type of murder, etc. Very useful for everything from insight into crime throughout history to finding information not covered by other sources. Well done. (Netta Gilboa)

THE WORLD ENCYLCOPEDIA OF CON ARTISTS & CONFIDENCE GAMES (ZCI Publishing) A whopping 3000 pages (22 volumes) of data is presented here on everything from art fraud to embezzlement to inheritance scams. Search by types of fraud, perpetrators, or victims or read about 60 well-known con artists or access any one of 250 photos. This is the place to turn to learn about counterfeit money, the Shell Game and white-collar crimes. A great exploration into a very gray world. (Netta Gilboa)

YOU DON'T KNOW JACK (Berkeley Systems, Inc.) The idea here is a trivia game ideal for parties. Aimed at fans of high-culture and pop-culture, these delightful questions (800 of them) accommodate just 1, 2, or 3 players or larger groups of 4-225 players in a tournament setting. The game has attitude and spunk and creativity and more. It's not just another trivia game. If you become addicted, there's already an add-on pack of 400 new questions called You Don't Know Jack Question Pack. Lots of fun that will provide dozens of hours of new questions for you. (Netta Gilboa)

ZEPPELIN! (MicroProse Software, Inc.) In this strategy game, you command a global airship empire. You have the chance to develop and harness new technology, compete with rivals and competitors, create and operate your own company, and speculate in the stock and future markets. Even the screen is full of realism as you view a CD-ROM full of old photographs and images that appear yellowed with age. Combines history, knowledge, technique and fun. (Netta Gilboa)

ZIG ZAG (American Laser Games, Inc.) In this puzzle game, you choose from a traditional version or one of several quests such as Shark Dive, Outrigger Canoe, Sacred Grounds, etc. Your job is to guess both correct letters and locations in puzzles based on words. For a correct letter, you score a "Zag." If you guess both the letter and location, you score a "Zig." Addictive. (Christopher Schanot)