April 2003

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.


Zoombinis Island Odyssey from The Learning Company and Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis from Vivendi Universal Games, Inc.

By Howard Berenbon

Zoombinis Island Odyssey from The Learning Company

If you and your kids are ready for an imaginative and creative educational adventure then Zoombini Island Odyssey is a must-have title from The Learning Company.  Kids ages 8 and up will solve science, math and logic puzzles as they direct the cute Zoombinis through 7 activities in their goal to restore the island home and save the wildlife, including those little Zerbles who desperately need help.

The Zoombinis, who once lived on the island, returned to save the day after those nasty Bloats destroyed the island's natural habitat.  Kids will find 7 challenging puzzles (each with 3 levels) to help restore the island.  Arcade-style games with great graphics and sound effects enhance the play.

After a quick installation from a single CD, and you sign in, click Play to start the adventure.  You'll find yourself at the main menu where you assemble 12 Zoombinis for the adventure.  You now have the option to go into the practice mode or start the adventure.

First create your Zoombinis by selecting their eyes, with or without sunglasses, feet, with or without wheels, propellers and springs and various hats for your journey to save the Zerbles.  Then click on the Map symbol to start.  The activities include vaulting your Zoombinis onto cliffs by studying gear ratios (The Catapult), recognizing patterns in hieroglyphs to open doors (The Wall), create genetically adapted Zerbles for survival (The Barn), combine astronomy and modular arithmetic to help caterpillar metamorphosis (The Planetarium).  Other activities include The Greenhouse where you grow the Snozzleberry seedlings, the food of the Zerbles, and The Garden where you transplant and grow your seedlings into fruit bearing Snozzleberry bushes.

Becky really enjoyed the adventure, spending several hours over three days glued to the computer screen solving the puzzles.  She said she especially enjoyed the activities at The Planetarium because she was learning some astronomy in school.

Zoombinis Island Odyssey sells for $19.99 and will run on any multimedia PC, Pentium 200 MHz or faster processor, 32 MB RAM with Windows 98/ME/2000/XP and an 8x CD-ROM drive.  It also runs on a Macintosh Power PC, 233 MHz or faster with 32 MB RAM and an 8x CD-ROM drive. 

Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis from Vivendi Universal Games, Inc.

If you and your kids are fans of the movie series Jurassic Park, then you'll want to play this very new PC game of the same name by Vivendi Universal Games and Universal Studios.  Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis lets you take the role of the character Dr. John Hammond to design, build and run your own Jurassic Park.  The game offers excellent 3-D graphics and realistic sound effects all with arcade-style game play.  It even includes some phenomenal music by the Melbourne Symphony.

After a quick installation from a single CD, you'll be building and running your own Jurassic Park filled with dozens of dinosaurs and visitors who may need rescuing.  It begins with a high resolution fly-by overview of the park.  Then you're taken to the main menu where can jump on in and start your park design, or just play a few of the pre-programmed missions.

If you're interested in simulations, you'll love this software.  It allows you to build your Jurassic Park from scratch.  You select your island's characteristics: shapes, trees, mountains and rivers.  Then you'll add the contents with an allocation of $60,000.  Build security features, construct paths around the park, add attractions for the guests with services and amenities and add environmental features.  All these activities cost money, so you have to watch your budget.  You'll also need to add the dinosaurs.  You do this by hunting for dinosaur fossils.  Then you take the fossils to your genetics lab to extract the DNA and create the animals.  If you think that this is too much work you can skip the design and run any of the 12 missions offered in their pre-fabricated amusement park

Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis sells for $29.99 and will run on any multimedia PC, Pentium 400 MHz or faster processor, 128 MB RAM with Windows 95/98/ME/2000/XP/NT 4.0 and a 4x CD-ROM drive.  DirectX 8.1b and compliant video card required. 

Software Companies Mentioned

The Learning Company
500 Redwood Blvd.
Novato, CA 94947
URL learningcompany.com
URL zoombinis.com

Vivendi Universal Games, Inc.
4247 S. Minnewawa Ave.
Fresno, CA 93725
Phone: 1-866-341-0879
URL universalinteractive.com/