April 2002

Cyber News and Reviews is a monthly column published for parents, teachers & business owners featuring kids educational software reviews, business software reviews (small business & home business), games and entertainment articles, a free resource since 1995.


Scooby-Doo! Showdown in Ghost Town from The Learning Company

If your kids watch the Cartoon Network, now on your local cable television system, then you've had to hear them talk about the new Scooby-Doo cartoon show (first created 30 years ago by Hanna & Barbera) on that station daily.  Now, the Learning Company has a series of 'edutainment' adventure CDs by the same name.  The newest Scooby-Doo CD is Scooby-Doo! Showdown in Ghost Town, for kids ages 5 to 10.  A phantom faceless rider, on horseback, is terrorizing the town of Los Burritos, and your goal is to help Scooby and friends stop the phantom and solve the mystery.  As you investigate, you'll meet suspects, collect clues and solve puzzles.  You can even throw pies at the ghosts. And that's fun to do with or without a mystery to solve.  Although it's not really educational software, it does have some educational value: kids will solve puzzles using logic and deductive reasoning.

After a quick installation from CD, you'll sign in and choose a difficulty level. The game offers three levels:  Spooky, easy, for kids ages 5 - 6, Spookier, medium, for ages 7 - 8 and Spooktacular, hard, for ages 9 - 10.  Each time a new game is played, you'll find a different adventure with new clues and new villains.

Next, you'll see a desert scene video with the infamous phantom riding a horse, and then Scooby and his gang driving in their van (also known as The Mystery Machine).  The gang decides to stop at the next town down the road, Los Burritos, for a snack, and the adventure begins.  The town ends up being a spooky-looking deserted, Western style, ghost town, where they hear a moaning sound after exiting the van.  It's now your turn, and you direct Scooby-Doo and friends into action searching the area for clues to solve the mystery.  You shouldn't have trouble finding out where the moaning is originating.  If you take a stroll into the saloon, you'll find a man chained up in a chair, and not a ghost.

This is a fun childrens game, and both my kids (Sarah is 10 years old and Becky is 7) really love playing the game.  Sarah and Becky said they liked it as much as "Jinx at the Sphinx," and for the same reasons: it was funny, fun and mysterious.  Unfortunately, the graphics weren't as impressive as some other educational games I've reviewed, but that didn't bother my kids.  They said that it was like watching a cartoon, and "it's the game play that's important," not necessarily the graphics.  That was a direct quote from Sarah.  In fact, they're laughing when playing this game, and that's a good sign.  To me, it's more like an interactive cartoon with animation and sound effects, and doesn't compare to some of the other PC games offering more sophisticated graphics and animation.  This is an adult's opinion, and not really shared by the millions of kids who love the Scooby-Doo cartoons.  In fact, a new Scooby-Doo movie is coming out the summer of 2002, and we'll be the first on our block to see it.  Sarah and Becky both love games and animated movies with their favorite cartoon characters, and they think Scooby-Doo is the greatest (their words, not mine).

Scooby-Doo! Showdown in Ghost Town sells for $19.99 and will run on any multimedia PC, Pentium 166 MHz or faster, 64 MB RAM with Windows 95/98/Me/2000 /XP and an 8x CD-ROM drive. 

Howard Berenbon

Software Companies Mentioned

The Learning Company
6401 Kaiser Drive
Fremont, CA 94555
Phone: 510-792-2101-
URL: learningco.com