BODY WORKS (Software Marketing Corporation, available for IBM, $69.95) Remember how boring Anatomy was? I only wish this program had been around back when I was in grade school. Here's your chance to master the inner workings of the human body complete with animations, sound, a datbase and quizzes. A complete health section also covers first aid, fitness, sports injuries, common illness and nutrition. Not an exciting product for most of us, but a good use of computers and handy if you get the urge to know which part of the brain controls motion and when twins are formed. (Netta Gilboa)
COMPUTER WORKS (Software Marketing Corporation, available for IBM, CD ROM and disk versions) New computer owners may wonder how exactly the machine processes information and saves data. This program presents colorful animated graphics to guide you through the inner workings of your monitor, disk drives, printers, CD ROM, mice, etc. There's also an in-depth history of the computer begins as far back as the invention of the abacus. A related topic section covers artificial intelligence, virtual reality, multimedia, computer viruses and hacking. There's also lesson plans, quizzes, a pop-up notepad for taking notes as you go and an on-line bookmark to allow you to tag any section and refer back to it later. Think of this as a kind of doctor's guide to the computer body. It's a shame this isn't bundled with every new PC sold. Highly recommended for new users of all ages.
CORELDRAW! 4.0 (Corel Corporation, Windows (coming soon for Mac), CD ROM and disk) CorelDraw! was the first computer program I ever saw. The salesman typed my name on the screen and changed the colors, fonts and perspective. I was blown away and settled on IBM instead of Mac as a result. Both versions 3.0 and 4.0 are available simultaneously. 3.0 is cheaper and somewhat less powerful. 3.0 is also way less buggy. Version 4.0 is mandatory if you own a CD ROM drive and collect either fonts or clip art. While version 3.0 has a whopping 250 fonts, version 4.0 provides 750. Version 3.0 offers 10,000 pieces of clip art. Version 4.0 gives you 14,000. Without a CD ROM, you can't really use these, but you can still produce color art work. We do our covers using this product. We're running version 4.0 and would be less than honest if we did not disclose that it has a major problem processing some tasks that version 3.0 performed. We are unable to open three covers at a time in order to produce an ad. The program crashes. It's highly unlikely you'll ever try to do anything anywhere near this complex as our three covers contain some 12MB of data and some 40,000 objects. By the time you read this there'll probably be an update which fixes this and other problems. Whether you decide on version 3.0 or 4.0, CorelDraw! is worth far more than you'll pay for it. Highly recommended, but save frequently. (Netta Gilboa)
DAY OF THE TENTACLE (Lucas Arts, available for IBM disc-$59.95, and CD ROM-$69.95 with free hint book) This graphic adventure game has you traveling through time with three outrageous characters to stop a mutated purple tentacle trying to take over the world. Awesome cartoon-style animation, over 100 sound effects and even the voice of Richard Sanders who played Les Nessman on WKRP In Cincinnati. The CD version talks throughout the game while the floppy version features a "Talkie" introduction. Of interest to both adults and children, I found this really cool. (Netta Gilboa)
THE DISNEY COLLECTION SCREEN SAVER (Berkeley Systems, available for Mac & Windows) Each screen saver collection from the makers of After Dark gets better and better. This standalone product does not require After Dark, but works perfectly with it if you have it. There are 15 awesome Disney displays to prevent having images burn-in, causing permanent damage to your monitor because it was left unattended. The savers include Mickey as the Sorcerer's Apprentice, puppies from 101 Dalmations who frolic across your screen, Goofy (who organizes your desktop) and the characters from Peter Pan who fly and swim on your screen. There is the Cheshire Cat who appears and disappears and also savers with themes from Beauty & The Beast, Little Mermaid, Pinocchio and several others. We have no shortage of screen saver packages to choose from. This is surely our favorite. If there's a soft spot in your heart for the Mouse and his friends, this is a must!
DOODLE-MATION (Screen Magic, available for Windows, $29.95) If you like to draw as a way to relax, this product lets you "doodle to your art's content." It installs in two minutes and provides a pallette of shapes, colors, high resolution graphics and VCR-type controls to freeze and restart patterns. If you like anything you've doodled, you can add sound to it and save it as Windows wallpaper. Very cute if you have 2MB to spare. (Netta Gilboa)
EIGHT BALL DELUXE (Amtex Software Corporation, available for IBM and Mac, $59.95) Pinball's the theme here and this game incorporates multi-channel digital sound, three flippers and full scrolling screen real-time animation.You can swing open the back glass of the "machine" to adjust sound, playfield incline, bumper voltage and more. The playfield includes options for skill shots, corner pocket saucers, a roll-over button, bank shot targets, drop targets, A-B-C-D lanes and a way to light up spot targets to say "D-E-L-U-X-E." Amtex even went to the trouble of including a real pinball flipper in the packaging.(Netta Gilboa)
THE ELECTRIC ALMANAC (Matrix Software, available for IBM) This package contains a number of programs which have in common the theme of timing. There's an astrology chart wheel, astrology forecasts, astonomy tables, moon tables for hunting and fishing, a perpetual solar and lunar calender and basic Chinese I-Ching and Tarot information. Believers in the saying "timing is everything," can use this program to determine when to plant, apply for loans, schedule job interviews and play the lottery. A good beginning for someone interested in almanacs or the occult. (Netta Gilboa)
FONTOGRAPHER (Altsys Corporation, available for Mac and Windows) A good font collection can still leave you frustrated. For example, some of the fonts we use for headlines are missing things like apostrophes. Along comes Fontographer to solve this and other problems.
First of all, Fontographer allows you to create fonts from scratch. Second, you can combine two existing typefaces to make a third. Also, you can take an existing font and modify it to make it bolder or thinner. You can even change an italic font that's too light The possibilities are endless. Now instead of letting fonts frustrate you, you can edit or redesign them to your liking. Simply amazing if you have the use for this. (Netta Gilboa)
IRON HELIX (Spectrum HoloByte, Inc., available for Mac & Windows, CD ROM only) This breathtaking science fiction strategy adventure game was designed to take advantage of CD ROM technology. More than 3000 separate movies totaling a full hour of animation are rendered here in 3D. In this game, you play a ship developed for biological research and thus carrying no weapons. In a race of wits and time, you must speed through corridors, shafts and chambers of an enormous maze-like starship. Windows users get to explore two secret rooms which include a plot twist not available to Mac users. Iron Helix is one of the best games of the year because even if you don't like this genre, the graphics will suck you in on their own. (Netta Gilboa)
KAI'S POWER TOOLS (HSC Software, available for Mac-$199.00 and Windows-$99.00) Last issue we raved about Gallery Effects. This competing product differs because it has the added power and capability to actually generate an infinite variety of fractals, blends and textures.
In order to use this software, you must already have Photoshop, Fractal Design Painter, Photostyler, or Picture Publisher. They also recommend a 486 or Pentium processor and a 24-bit color graphics card.
There are 33 add-on filters including 3D Stereo Noise (which creates 3D pictures from gray scale images), Page Curl (which simulates the effect of a page being peeled back with a highlight running along the center of the curl and a shadow being thrown from beneath it), and Sharpen Intensity (which when applied to an image yields stronger contrast and brighter colors). In addition, there are six U.I. filters which have the power to generate new effects as well as apply any of the preset effects that are provided with the program. These filters include Gradient Designer, Texture Explorer (with 100 preset textures), Julia/Mandelbrot Sets Fractal Explorers, Gradients on Paths and Style Setup.
This complex package is super easy to use. It's surprisingly light on disk space and works right out of the box without reading the manual. If you use any of the specified packages, this add-on is highly recommended. (Netta Gilboa)
MATINEE (Access Softek, available for Windows, disk-$49.95, and CD ROM-$59.95) This screen saver offers full-motion video. The disk version offers 38 video clips and the CD ROM version includes over 250. Categories range from monsters to cartoons to sports to bikinis and biceps. Not only can you create your own backdrops, but there is a feature which allows you to double check your selections before activating them. Drag and drop movie clips from the movie library to the movie film strip and your new screen saver is now ready to go. Unique! (Netta Gilboa)
METRO IMAGEBASE ON CD (Metro ImageBase, Inc., available for Mac and IBM, $149.95) This clip art package contains 2000 .TIF images There are 11 categories: art deco, business, computers, cartoons, fashion, borders, headings, holidays, religion, sports and miscellaneous. I found the borders section the most amazing with over 400 full-page backgrounds I could use to make my own letterhead. The quality of the images reproduces perfectly and this is some of the highest quality clip art available. This package is ideally suited to anyone who makes ads, flyers, their own greeting cards, or desktop publishers. Easy worth several times its cost if you use clip art. (Netta Gilboa)
OLD DREADFUL NO.7 (Bitstream Inc., Mac &Windows $32.25) This display font is certainly unique. Combining cats, spigots and other shapes, this font is ideal for party invitations, garage sale signs and informal letters. No matter how many fonts you have, this one is totally different. We think the Q is worth the price alone. You're sure to find a favorite too. (Netta Gilboa)
ONE TWENTY EIGHT (PIXAR, available for Mac & Windows, CD ROM only, $299.00) This collection of photographic textures is useful for people designing ads, presentation slides, brochures, magazine covers, etc. You can use them as backgrounds or use them to fill in the letters of large text. The categories offered are fabrics, wood grain patterns, bricks, stones, roofing shingles, etc. When you think of bricks probably one image comes to mind. Yet if you go look at bricks, there are subtle differences between different walls built with them. Recognizing that, there are 15 brick selections here. The same depth and variety holds true for the other categories. There are 28 grains of wood as well. If you have a use for these images One Twenty Eight is an exceptional value which won't steal hard drive space either. (Netta Gilboa)
PAGEMAKER 5.0 (Aldus Corporation, available for Mac & Windows) You're holding in your hands the proof that this program works. This issue of Gray Areas was produced using Pagemaker 5.0. Pagemaker 5.0 makes pages when you need something that gives you more precision and control than a word processor. This new version lets you open multiple documents to "drag and drop" photos and text between the documents. It also has more than 20 Aldus Additions including the ability to push a button and get a Drop Cap, sort pages, create a color library, etc. There are new filters such as support for OLE, TWAIN and to import files from Ventura. The only we hit was trying to turn text sideways for photo captions. Other than solving that, I was able to layout this issue without opening the manual. Probably the hardest thing new users experience with this program is figuring out that the command to get it going is "Place." New users tend to look for "Import" or "Open." The Place command "places" text and graphics, and you can't run the program without it. Tons of improvements make this our choice for magazine production software.
PHARMASSIST (Software Marketing Corporation, available for Windows, $69.95) It's impossible to get through life without being prescribed medicine. If you're curious as to what you're taking and how it combines with other drugs, this program can help. Covering everything from allergy pills to pain killers to insulin, there are hundreds of full-color illustrations and information on thousands of legal and illegal drugs. Related information is provided on first aid, vaccinations, abuse hotlines, etc. While this is obviously no replacement for a doctor, it can be very helpful at two in the morning. Recommended (Netta Gilboa)
PLAYBOY ELECTRONIC DATEBOOK (Playboy Enterprises, Inc., available for Windows, $59.95) If you've been meaning to pick up some sort of personal scheduling program for your computer, or if you use some dry, simple planner, this colorful datebook brings Playboy's pages to life. The datebook includes over 50 Playboy Playmates, classis Vargas girls, the Femlin and many celebrities including the famous nude Marilyn Monroe. For many, the high-res graphics alone make this worth the investment. Yet, the datebook offers an address book, a built-in audio alarm for important events, five different views such as day, week, month, as well as the ability to print each view in many sizes. Worth a look if looking at a few pretty girls might get you to your meetings on time.
PRINTER'S APPRENTICE (Lose Your Mind Development, Bryan T. Kinkel, 506 Wilder Square, Norristown, PA 19401, available for IBM Windows) Enjoy fonts? You'll love Printer's Apprentice. I can't rave enough about this small but powerful utility. If offers four different specimen sheets for every font in your library. You can use printed keyboard and character charts to search for the perfect dingbat. You can also generate a list of all the fonts in your system in their natural type faces. We find the ability to select a font and see its true file name extremely helpful. If you use service bureaus, this can be a time saver. There are many other utilities that seem similar, but accept no substitute. This is the best we've found. (Netta Gilboa)
PUBLISHER'S POWERPAK (Owl Software, available for IBM, DOS-$79.95, Windows-$99.95) While the Windows version of this program competes directly with Adobe Type Manager, people using DOS-based word processors can greatly benefit from this. Working from directly within WordPerfect, WordStar, and Microsoft Word or Works, users get 30 typefaces and dramatically improved print quality. A catalog inside the box offers additional typefaces. (Netta Gilboa)
REBEL ASSAULT (Lucas Arts, available for IBM CD ROM only, $79.95) Based on Star Wars, Rebel Assault contains over 400 megabytes of intense action. There are 3D graphics, dramatic voice-overs, movie footage from Star Wars, original video footage and even the Star Wars score as performed by the London Symphony Orchestra.
You play Rookie One, an aspiring rebel fighter pilot. You can be male or female as you go through 15 extensive and varied levels. Thankfully, there's a passcode system that lets you return to where you left off and there are three skill levels too. Impressive. (Netta Gilboa)
RETURN TO ZORK (Infocom, available for Mac & IBM, CD ROM and disk) Over a decade ago I owned an Atari 800. Zork games were legendary. They were text adventure games where you imagined yourself in mazes, caves and tunnels. Return To Zork brings the same superb plot twists, but adds the state of the art graphics you'd expect in a game released today. This adventure game combines a cast of Hollywood stars, over an hour of spoken dialog, a superb soundtrack with over 180 original compositions and offers the ability to change your conversational tone, snap pictures and tape record conversations to review later as needed.
If you played any of the original three adventures, you won't have to be convinced to explore this one. If you missed them, the new Return To Zork will still delight you even without knowing its cult classic history.
SAM & MAX HIT THE ROAD (Lucas Arts, available for IBM disc-$59.95, or CD ROM-$69.95 with free hint book) This graphical adventure is a detective comedy based on the underground Sam & Max Freelance Police comic books. Sam is a dog and Max is described as "a hyperkinetic rabbity thing" who are hot on the trail of a runaway carnival bigfoot named Bruno.
This is a game that can be appreciated by people of all ages. It's a winner. Besides the sellar animation and verbal humor, there are screen savers built in so you can take a break for food or work. There are also integrated mini-games like Car Bomb, Highway Surfing, Wak-a-Rat, Sam & Max Dress Up and Sam & Max Coloring Pages. Very impressive. (Netta Gilboa)
SIMFARM (Maxis, available for Mac and Windows, $49.95) If you enjoyed SimCity, you'll love its "country cousin" SimFarm. Players build their choice of farms from a small, specialized organic one, to a large, profitable business. You purchase equipment, farm buildings, fertilizer, pesticide, seed and livestock. Water your crops and feed animals while fighting natural disaters like locusts, floods, droughts and tornados. All the while, the bank is trying to foreclose on your land and you must try to build a financial hedge in case future prices slide. If you're lucky, your farm will succeed. If you're not, your farm will end up on the bank auction block. Original, addicting and educational too. (Netta Gilboa)
SPORTS WORKS (Software Marketing Corporation, available for DOS, $49.95) If you like sports trivia and history, this product is for you. There are over 200 full-color graphics plus animations on over 120 different sports. Each has information about the rules, equipment and playing fields. There is a very impressive history of the Olympic Games and a sports trivia quiz. Other related topics covered include sports medicine, and athlete's salaries. Whether your interest is in cricket, croquet, polo or pole vaulting, or good ol' American baseball and football, Sports Works will teach you something new. (Netta Gilboa)
TETRIS GOLD (Spectrum HoloByte, Inc., CD ROM only, available for Mac, Windows & DOS - all 3 on the same disk!) You remember Tetris. If you own a computer you've probably spent all too many nights trying to complete rows in order to have some breathing room. Tetris spawned Welltris and then Faces...Tris III, and then Wordtris, Super Tetris and Tetris Classic. If you have them all, they're consuming plenty of disk space. If you're missing some or all, your life is incomplete. You can't imagine my delight at seeing this release. As an added bonus it includes an IBM DOS prototype version and a Windows-only video interview with the Tetris creator, Alexey Pajitnov. Highly recommended, whatever it turns out to cost.(Netta Gilboa)
THE TINIES (Inline Design, available for Mac & DOS, $59.95) This colorful arcade game contains over 100 levels and 11 different landscapes. Your job is to stop the Tinies from invading Earth. You manuever them around walls, arrow shoots, traps, not to mention each other while they turn cartwheels, make faces and tap on the glass, trying to get out. It's one of those games that will have you saying "Just one more minute..." as dinner gets cold and people wait for your attention. Fun for the whole family.
TYPESTRY (PIXAR, avilable for Mac and Windows, $299.00) If you have a varied font collection, here's a way to get totally new use from it. Typestry takes your existing fonts "both Type 1 and TruType" and gives you 3D results from them. Ideal for dazzling color logos, letterhead, magazine covers, ads, presentations, brochures and greeting cards. Typestry brings professional effects into the homes of the average person. All you do is type in your text, select your font, choose a bevel, turn the word into an object and place your word-object where you want it. Then size and rotate it, select Looks, choose special effects and render the picture. The only thing left to do is show all your friends.
Typestry uses rendering software in this package called RenderMan. It was used to create the beautiful ballroom scene in Beauty And The Beast, the metal cyborg in Terminator 2 and other effects in The Abyss, Young Sherlock Holmes, Tin Toy and Funtastic World Of Hanna Barbera. The price might appear hefty at first, but if you create even one "masterpiece" with it, it's seems a bargain. (Netta Gilboa)
UFO (Software Marketing Corporation, available for Windows, CD ROM and disk, $59.95 (CD ROM), $49.95 (disk) Here's your chance to explore the world's largest collection of UFO photos, videos and text. There is information on 1200 documented sightings (only 500 in disk version) dating back to 1000 B.C. The program assumes you are a believer and provides much information to document specific sightings, UFO events, and contact/abduction reports. A must if you are a fan or want to know more.
UNNATURAL SELECTION (Maxis, available for IBM DOS only, $49.95) This ground breaking game is the first battle strategy game based on artificial life. You become a genetic engineer who uses selective breeding and mutation to develop artificial creatures called Theroids, in order to fight similar monsters created by a fellow scientist gone mad. You have to protect nine islands from hordes fo enemy Theroids. There's no end to the challenge as you can opt touse injections that encourage fighting, eating and mating behaviors in the Theroids or boost their speed, strength, stamina and vision levels. You can also zap them with mutation which causes them to evolve and/or sort them to eliminate the weekest ones. What's unusual about this game is that it starts with no guns, tanks or bullets. You have to breed your weapons. Needless to say, it has incredible sound effects, speech and graphics and even offers digitized film and clay animation footage. Good luck! (Netta Gilboa)