ALONE IN THE DARK 3 (I-Motion Inc.) Over 70 hours
of gameplay are included in this Western game. Your job is to
save a movie's heroine in the ghost town Slaughter Gulch. You
have no friends and many enemies all of whom are trigger-happy.
If you can avoid death, you must also solve puzzle after puzzle
in order to break the town's curse. Although this is a sequel,
no prior experience with the first two games is required. While
this runs on 386-33 machines, a rarity these days, it does require
592kb free conventional memory plus expanded memory to play and
35 megs of disk space to install.
ARTWORKS CUBE (Aztech New Media Corp.) This low-priced
collection of six CD-ROMs (plus a seventh upon registration) provides
all sorts of treasures for those interested in illustration and
graphics, all for less than the price of a single disc sold by
competing companies. Included are 25 watermarks and ghosted backgrounds,
100 photos of undersea life including fish, shipwrecks, coral
and plant life, 100 photos of exotic wild flowers, 99 photos of
gems, 100 TrueType Headline fonts, a photo morphing program, 1stdesign
which is a drawing program and a photo program which includes
200 photos, 30 effects, screen capture tool, support for many
file formats and an album manager. Worth having even if you only
use some of the many things provided. Use of this package is limited
only by your imagination.
BEAVIS AND BUTTHEAD IN VIRTUAL STUPIDITY (Viacom
New Media) The same type of animation used in the popular MTV
show is included here with all new animated scenes, four mini-games
and three music videos. Mike Judge provides the voices for Beavis
and Butthead as he does in the MTV cartoons. Try your luck at
scoring with chicks, messing with Anderson's mind, making Buzzcut's
neck veins stick out and trying to get into Todd's gang. You can
break stuff, kick butts and lounge in front of the TV being cool.
BLOODWINGS: PUMPKINHEAD'S REVENGE (MPCA Interactive)
This combination horror action and adventure game is based on
the film and includes 3D full-motion video from the film as well
as new footage specifically shot for this game. Includes five
stars from the film, the ability to fight and challenge Pumkinhead,
and changing elements so the game is different each time it's
played. Lots of digitized speech, 60 minutes of live action video,
a 16-bit soundtrack and both animated and realistic violence.
It helps to have seen the movie to enjoy this fully.
CAESAR II (Sierra On-Line Inc.) In this city-building
simulation you help build Rome. There's 256-color SVGA graphics,
a novice mode, a tutorial and history of the Roman Empire and
extensive city-building. You'll open trade routes, defend your
city from attack and launch bath houses. You can zoom in for close-ups
and watch 3-D animations of your city come to life. A solid game,
as you'd expect from Sierra, for fans of simulations and of history.
CARD STUDIO (Micrografx) This package will let you
make your own greeting cards, invitations, announcements, signs,
certificates and calendars. There's also an address book, the
ability to use any fonts already in your computer plus 40 more
supplied here, and there's samples of papers and envelopes to
use in your projects. Easy-to-use and well thought out.
THE CHAOS ENGINE (WarnerActive) Offering both one
and two-player action, this game challenges both your brain and
your reflexes. There are 16 levels full of puzzles to be solved
as you avoid traps and seek out secret passages. You must shoot
your way past many different types of monsters. Great sound and
soundtrack but a me-too kind of plot.
CREATIVE WRITER (Microsoft) Designed for kids, I
found this fun for adults too. It's a basic word processor that
is user-friendly, offers customized fonts, borders and backgrounds,
clip art and 20 levels of undo. For kids it also offers over 8000
"story starters" to get them to start writing. Makes
cute computerized stationary and makes writing fun.
CROSSWORLD (GameTek) Puzzle fans will rejoice when
offered this low-priced CD-ROM title with three different games
in it. There's "CrossWorld," which has crossword puzzles
from the L.A. Times Syndicate as well as a feature to let you
create your own puzzles. In "WordSearch" you create
your own puzzles where there is a list of phrases to look for
and you circle each phrase as you find it hidden in the puzzle.
In "Decoder," you must unscramble word lists and famous
quotations. Highly recommended as both a golden and a bargain
to a puzzle lover!
DESTRUCTION DERBY (Psygnosis, Ltd.) The idea here
is to wreck other cars while surviving in yours. You can play
a full championship season against such racers as the Suicide
Squaddies, Skum and The Optician. Great graphics and superb handling
with a Pentium processor.
THE DIG (LucasArts Entertainment Co.) Using the combined
talents of LucasArts and Steven Spielberg, this epic adventure
game has almost 200 locations to explore and hundreds of puzzles
to solve. Robert Patrick lends his voice, Industrial Light and
Magic lend their special effects, dialogue was written by sci-fi
writer Orson Scott Card and there is full voice and sound as well
as an original musical score. Beautiful graphics and a great challenge.
As is standard these days, a strategy guide to help you through
the game is available. A must if you like adventure games.
DUST (GTE Entertainment) This Western themed adventure
game offers over 40 hours of play and over 40 characters to interact
with. You can drink, cruise Main Street, , duel, talk to townspeople,
get poker tips, etc. Unlike most of these games, you have five
days in which to explore a Western town with no law. This leads
to less predictability and more options than in most adventures.
EARTHWORM JIM (ActiVision Inc.) This started out
as a video game and has been so successful it got ported to Windows95.
It's an animated, cartoon-style action game with 20 levels, including
one not in the videogame version. You'll explore secret paths,
hidden items, bonus power-ups and you'll bungee-jump, rocket-ride,
walk the dog, navigate an underwater pod and launch cows as you
play! Devotees of the game will also enjoy the bonus desktop kit
which works under Microsoft Plus! and provides sounds,
icons, wallpaper and more from the game. Amazing graphics, cute
plot, lots of challenge and all sorts of little touches make this
FULL TILT! PINBALL (Maxis) If you've played the superb
pinball game included with the Windows 95 Plus! Pack, here's
the full package it came from. If you haven't, but enjoy pinball,
run right out to grab this title. There are three games here,
each with 3D graphics, realistic ball movement, the ability to
handle four players and superb music, graphics, voices and sound
effects. Pinball has come a long way since the old video game
machine versions for Atari's 2600 and Nintendo's first machine.
This runs great on everything from a laptop to a big-screen monitor
and on older 486's as well as state-of-the-art Pentiums.
FUN 5 PAK (T/Maker) This CD-ROM contains over 500
pieces of cartoon clip art along with 60 in full color, 10 fonts,
an image browser so you can preview images and a conversion utility
that lets you save the images in many popular formats. This collection
includes five packages previously available separately. These
include: Beastly Funnies, Parties and Events, Bulletins and Newsletters
and On The Job. Lots to choose from here to spice up your correspondence,
flyers, newsletters, etc. This is a great buy if you'd use even
a few of the cartoons here.
GLIDEPOINT PORTABLE (Cirque Corp.) This is a stand-
alone mouse which looks and operates just like the one you've
drooled over which is made for Mac Powerbooks. Basically you
touch it instead of clicking repeatedly. Your finger controls the
mouse movements. You can pick this up for laptops or as a desktop
version which is 33% bigger or attached to a keyboard so it stays
100% still. I found that once in awhile it clicked something I
hadn't intended to, but after an hour I was so used to it I can't
imagine working with anything else instead. Simply one of the
best computer accessories I've ever invested in. If you hate your
mouse, or it's always getting full of cat hairs, try this!
GRAND PRIX MANAGER (Spectrum HoloByte, Inc.) Racing
car fans will love this game in which you manage a Formula One
racing team. You hire and fire staff, negotiate contracts, build
and test cars, deal with rule changes, manage race day and have
instant races. This very well-thought-out concept teaches players
this is a hard business and not just the exciting job fans think
it is. Beautiful graphics and lots of fun.
THE GROOVE THING (Big Top Productions) If you're
one of those people who loves psychedelic screen savers, this
program takes the concept to a new level. This "visual jam"
allows you to select a musical style and then manipulate hundreds
of sounds from 27 base soundtracks. You can command dazzling visual
imagery with your voice as well. Offers nine kaleidoscopic visions,
180 sound effect keys, six symmetry levels, limitless color sampling
and hundreds of line weights as well as tile size variation. Way
HEXEN (GT Interactive Software) By the time you read
this, a Win95 version of this elite game should be out.
I tested a DOS version which worked fine under 95. Made
by id Software, this sequel to Heretic offers the opportunity
to be one of three heroes. You walk, run, fly, pillage, inflict
pain and cast spells while avoiding death. Allows four players
via network, two via modem and can also be played alone. Superb
sound (I used this to configure my Soundblaster AWE32 PnP card)
and amazing graphics which were state-of-the-art until the release
of the more recent id Software game, Quake. A must for
fans of Doom and its many spin-offs.
HIJAAK GRAPHICS SUITE 95 (Inset Systems, Inc.) This
graphics package helps you create and edit graphics in over 75
file formats. It comes with a paint program, a sketch program
and 10,000 pieces of clip art. This suite version of the popular
stand-alone program lets you trace, do slide shows, scan and use
3D text. Ideal for ads, logos, letterhead, brochures, presentations,
web pages, flyers, etc. this is a perfect way to create, manipulate
and manage your artwork no matter how many other art programs
you already own. Works so well under Windows 95 that you
need only click your right mouse button to use it! A must for
people whose work or play uses graphics.
INDIANA JONES AND HIS DESKTOP ADVENTURES (LucasArts
Entertainment Co.) Designed to appeal to people who like adventure
games but do not have the time required to devote to them, this
superb package offers billions of game combinations designed to
last under an hour each. Set in 1930s Mexico, these mini-adventures
allow you to meet unusual characters and people, solve challenging
puzzles suited to all skill levels and the disk space requirements
are small enough to make this viable for laptop owners. An innovative,
great idea using a highly popular film character and theme. Well
ISLAND CASINO (GT Interactive Software) Explore the
El San Juan Hotel and Casino in this virtual vacation. Play any
or all of 25 casino games including seven types of slots, both
American and European Roulette, Baccarat, Blackjack, etc. There's
also a Las Vegas style room which offers 12 games. Unsure how
to play these? No problem. The disc includes a 30 minute full-motion
instructional video. Utterly realistic, superb graphics make this
enjoyable even if you're not that into gambling. And when you're
done winning or losing for the night, you can also explore the
island, order room service or tour the hotel's grounds. Impressive!
JACK NICKLAUS: THE TOUR COLLECTION (Accolade, Inc.)
This CD-ROM contains three products that work together to allow
you to play golf to your heart's content. There are several courses
included here, in 256-color VGA, and there's also a Course Designer
so you can tweak the game to your liking. This offers good screen
redraws, award-winning design and, of course, Nicklaus' name.
Golf fans will want to have this, especially if they only had
one or two of these three pieces before.
JACK THE RIPPER (GameTek) Using actual clues and
evidence from what's known about the famous killer, this game
lets you travel around London interviewing over 100 people and
suspects as you try to stop Jack before he kills again. There
are three levels of difficulty and multiple solutions so the game
stays fresh indefinitely. Absolutely one of my favorite games
of this type, both for concept and for making you feel you are
LION (Sanctuary Woods) This simulation game turns
you into a lion and lets you choose from 20 of them each with
different capabilities. There are 20 scenarios and you can play
solo or control several lions in a pride. Offers five difficulty
levels, 3D graphics, a safari into the wilds of Africa and the
chance to be either the hunter or the hunted. You stalk prey,
protect your kill, search for water, mate, escape poacher's
bullets, etc. Very unique concept makes this appealing even to
those uninterested in other types of simulation games.
MACHIAVELLI THE PRINCE (MicroProse Software, Inc.)
Here's a simulation game based on the life of 14th
Century Niccolo Machiavelli. You'll rule the world, acquire wealth
and power, trade goods with 40 cities, manipulate political and
religious institutions using bribery, slander and assassination.
You can play with an historical map or in a randomly generated
world and you can play alone or with up to three players via modem.
Includes a copy of the book The Prince. Ideal for history
fans of all ages as well as those experienced with simulation
MAGIC THE GATHERING: DESKTOP THEMES (MicroProse Software,
Inc.) Designed for Win95 users, this offers five desktop
themes based on the popular card game. There are 50 graphic images,
50 new sounds and dozens of cursors, icons and fonts too. You
can use the five themes as they are or mix and match them to make
your own custom one. Absolutely delightful to people who have
played the game and of interest also to fans of fantasy themes
or those bored with the ones that came in Microsoft's superb Plus!
MATERIAL WORLD (StarPress Multimedia) Those interested
in travel, photography, culture and world economy will enjoy this
global family album where you meet 30 typical families in 30 countries
which range from Bosnia and Haiti to Japan and Russia. Through
them you learn local customs and are forced to consider what it's
like to eat termites for breakfast in Thailand, to have two wives
in Mali and to take a swim in a sub-zero degree pool in Iceland.
Narrated by Charles Kuralt, this incorporates the work of 16
photojournalists who lived for a week with each of the families
chosen. Includes a database so you compare the countries and video
clips of each family and country. Made with help from the United
Nations Population Fund, this explores the gray realities of our
sometimes unfair world.
NORTON UTILITIES FOR WINDOWS 95 (Symantec Corp.)
I've always recommended this product and it's even more important
to use it with a new, unknown operating system. Symantec's tech
support people are simply some of the best in the business and
this program can help you save your data if your computer starts
to die or if you somehow screw it up. This offers system information,
the ability to make an advanced set of rescue disks, disk optimization,
and enhances the Recycle Bin for deleted files. This will probably
be worth every penny it cost the first time you need it.
PANIC IN THE PARK (WarnerActive) This interactive
adventure stars actress Erika Eleniak in a plot involving a set
of twins who fight for control of an aging amusement park. You
play a reporter who must help the good twin find the park's missing
deed. You encounter 30 characters, 3D environments, 200 possible
outcomes and a variety of games and puzzles in the park with increasing
skill level which you must solve to continue. Great visuals, game
play, concept and full-screen video. Includes three CDs.
PHONE DISC (Digital Directory Assistance, Inc.) Although
there are many CD-ROMs full of phone numbers sorted by location,
profession, etc., this is the only one to include a whopping 112
million listings on six CD-ROM discs! You can look things up,
call them, download the data, export it elsewhere, print it and
even use it to send mail. Ideal for salespeople who must prospect,
this also has relevance to direct mailers. Provides everything
from median household income information to Zip +4 to businesses
sorted by SIC code and GeoCodes. Has more listings than other
programs and the publisher claims it is faster than any other
too. Plus, when you purchase this you also get the next edition
sent to you free which is a rarity in an industry where the cost
of upgrades can bankrupt you. I'm not a big fan of programs like
this existing in the first place, but there is a demand for them
and this is very easy to use and well organized. A must if you
spend money calling directory assistance, buying mailing lists
or wasting postage to try to find the right people.
PUBLISHER CUBE (Aztech New Media Corp.) This superb
boxed set features six CD-ROMs (plus a seventh free for registering
the product). Included are 200 photo images usable as backgrounds,
25 watermarks and ghosted backgrounds, 4000 line art pieces of
clip art, 100 TrueType headline fonts, a desktop publishing application
called Pressworks, a conversion program to convert file
formats and Hutchinson's Multimedia Encyclopedia (1995 version).
Ideal for newbies just getting started with desktop publishing
and graphics, this low-priced collection also has merit for professional
who use photos and have a better idea of what they need. Most
companies sell a single disc for more than this whole set retails
for so to call it a bargain is an understatement. Also available
is a set called Artworks Cube (reviewed above), Multimedia
Cube (full of sounds and music) and a set called Productivity
Cube (business tools).
RAYMAN (Ubi Soft Entertainment) The PlayStation version
of this adorable arcade game hooked me as soon as I saw the box.
Generally, games that look great on the PlayStation disappoint
on the PC. Not so in this case as Ubi Soft has transferred the
killer graphics, sounds and fun with no changes or loss at all.
If anything, the game is actually improved. There are 70 levels
with 50 characters and the ability to save and continue for people
who have a hard time running and jumping through this. As you
play you pick up new skills which are then used to return through
places you thought you'd completed to find what you missed the
first time through. Words can't describe the psychedelic landscapes
and intense visuals so I'll just say that fans of PacMan, Mario
and Sonic haven't seen anything until they meet Rayman. A sequel
is already in the works and this is a must have if you like action
arcade games at all. I can't get very far in it, but after months
of owning this I am still impressed enough to keep trying.
ROAD WARRIOR (GameTek) In this action game you drive
a car which you must navigate through urban jungles and desert
as assault the enemy. You're armed with a flame thrower and a
Gatling gun. Superb graphics will hold your interest as you battle
everything from an evil mouse in a theme park to other vehicles
entered in a Death Derby competition where the last one alive
wins. Lots of animated violence and animated blood and gore.
ROBINSON'S REQUIEM (ReadySoft Inc.) This is a combination
survival and adventure simulation game where you play a trapped
alien who must escape. You control over 100 variables such as
stress, fatigue, body temperature, pain, disease and even hallucinations.
You travel across 3D landscapes trying to find food, water, clothes
and weapons while fighting off health hazards and numerous predators.
Good graphics and serious brain challenge.
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE GOES POLITICAL (Berkeley Systems,
Inc.) Just in time for the election, this CD-ROM offers nearly
300 full-motion video clips with sound from the TV show's best
political moments. There are also four arcade games and 12 puzzles.
If you're a fan of any character from Baba Wawa to Dan Akroyd's
Nixon to Dana Carvey as Bush, it's all here. Great installation,
flawless Win95 operation and the ability to relive all of
your favorite moments at any time.
STAR RANGERS (Interactive Magic) This space game
combines combat with strategy using state-of-the-art 3-D, SVGA
graphics. Your job is to plan where you will go, shoot your way
around and save the galaxy. There's a practice mode as well as a
full campaign mode. Good luck in your mission!
TOON WORKS (Microforum Inc.) Designed for children,
this will also delight beginning artists and cartoon fans. It's
a drawing program that teaches how to design, color, manipulate
and print cartoons. It comes with over 50 templates and 100 cartoon
characters and can be used to make greeting cards, posters, coloring
pages and calendars. Images can also be imported into other programs.
Has a great distortion tool which lets characters be stretched,
skewed, shrunk and exploded. Undeniably cute.
VIRTUAL KARTS (MicroProse Software, Inc.) This go-kart
racing game lets you compete with up to eight players using real
cities like Baltimore, New York and San Francisco and in three
possible courses of action ranging from practice on the track
to a single race to competing in the Virtual Kart Grand Championship.
You can customize your kart, pick everything from uniform to tires
to paint to chassis, and play any of three kart classes depending
on your skill level. Lots of options and the go-kart theme make
this more innovative than many other racing games.
VIRTUAL COP (Digital Entertainment) This unusual
game for Windows 3.1 has an interactive story line, live
action video, character interviews and tactile artifacts and blueprints.
Your job is to absorb all of these as you play the game. You play
a character who is now a cop who works on the most dangerous cases
but discovers he used to be a hitman in his past. I told you it
this is optimized for Power PC users but not
WEBCOMPASS (Quarterdeck Corp.) This is a search agent
for people who use the Internet and want to find things available
there more quickly. You enter a topic and can narrow down the
search to newsgroups or web pages. A series of abstracts is prepared
and you then glance it over and choose which documents you wish
to see more of. Offers the ability to create libraries of search
data and favorite sites, as well as the ability to run auto-scheduled
searches on specific topics. Kind of like having a personal assistant
who scours the Internet for you, this is well worth the money
if instead of using popular search engines you'd rather save your
searches in order to be able to reuse them again.
WEBSTER'S INTERACTIVE ENCYCLOPEDIA (Attica Cybernetics)
Designed for the whole family, this CD-ROM includes over 34,000
articles, 3,500 illustrations, 30 minutes of video, 150 audio
clips, a Timeline, a Quiz and a World Atlas. Back when I was a
kid this required a 20-40 volume set of heavy books! This has
a great search engine, an enormous range of subject matter with
over 20,000 cross references. The quiz is mostly for home teaching
as well as trivia buffs. Beautiful graphics, easy-to-use and certainly
portable. Well done.
WINDOWS DRAW! 4.0 (Micrografx, Inc.) This graphics
package includes a drawing program, photo program, media manager,
over 150 templates and over 15,000 pieces of clip art and 250
fonts. You can't go wrong with this quick and easy way to put
text onto photos or combine text and graphics to make a logo.
You can also make banners, posters, charts, maps, etc. and apply
special effects, fill patterns and layers to your work. Handy
for desktop publishing, routine office jobs or family projects.
WORD WAR 5 (Millenium Media Group Inc.) Although
this did not run at all under Win95, on two different computers
I tried it with, it's worth mentioning for those still running
3.1 as well as Mac users. Included are five games which can be
played in five languages and which offer five difficulty levels.
Spinning Letters offers 3D letters which spin while you try to
spell the word which fits the provided definition. Word Targets
has you build five letter words while the darn letters change
and you have to match colors too. Crossword requires that you
make five letter words that interlock with each other. Odd One
Out asks you to find the odd word out of five provided and gets
harder and harder while you're under the gun of a timer. Snake
is the most complex and challenges you to chain five letters together
to make words. An ideal choice for parents who want to acknowledge
their kids will play games but want them to learn something in
the process as well as for puzzle lovers of all ages.
YAMAHA YST-M15 POWERED MULTIMEDIA SPEAKERS (Yamaha
Corporation) Wow! If you never thought a pair of computer speakers
could make much difference in a computer's sound these will prove
you wrong as they did me. With a list price of under $100, these
10W per channel speakers are worth their weight in gold. I already
owned a pair of Labtec 3210's which sell for slightly more and
a pair of cheap Realistic speakers with no volume control. All
I really wanted was something capable of allowing me to adjust
the volume at 3 a.m. so that I wouldn't wake the neighbors. What
I got instead was a pair of speakers as powerful as those many
people use for their home stereos. The volume was so loud when
I tried the first Grateful Dead CD that it felt like I was at
a stadium Dead show with 90,000 people present. I had to turn
the speakers off while I searched for every possible way to lower
the volume in Windows, on the speakers and on the CD player.
I could easily invite a dozen or more people into the room these
are hooked up to, have the people all speak at once and drown
out their words with no problem with these speakers, perhaps not
even playing music at full volume! Once I adjusted things properly
I was able to accomplish my original goal and play the same CD
so softly that no one would ever hear it in another room or apartment.
Very impressive power here, with dual stereo inputs, headphone
jack and a great deep bass response too. These can also be used
with portable tape and CD players and any video games system with
an audio output jack. These speakers blow away industry's highly
regarded Labtec ones and will definitely not disappoint. Highly
recommended for both games and audio CDs.