August 2000

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.

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Who Wants to Be a Millionaire 2nd Edition from Buena Vista Interactive and Compton's Learning Astronomy from The Learning Company

Who Wants to Be a Millionaire 2nd Edition from Buena Vista Interactive

So, you say want to be a millionaire? Well, with the help of ABC and Disney, and Buena Vista Interactive, you can try to win a virtual million with their new interactive CD, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire 2nd Edition.

This CD has all the realism of the new ABC game show of the same name. You'll find yourself as the center of attention in the "hot seat" with Regis Filben, the host, prompting you with some of his funny one line jokes as you chose the correct answer.  This is an important moment in your life (it would be if you were really on the show deciding to answer the million dollar question), and you'll hear that dramatic game show music while you decide your fate.  Will you win, or lose?  It's up to you.

Once you decide on either A, B, C or D (by pressing the key), Regis will ask those five words made famous by this very successful ABC nighttime television game show, "Is that your final answer?"  Of course you're seeing a video of Regis with one of his many prerecorded responses.

If you haven't seen the show, it's quite simple to win the million dollar prize, or so it seems.  You begin with the $100 question and move up in quick increments toward the million dollars.  For each question, you're given four possible answers. with only one answer correct.  So you must choose wisely, especially when you near the million dollar mark.  If you need help, and you will, I guarantee it, you have three lifelines to use along the way.  You may call a friend, ask the audience or reduce the four answers to two.  When you reach a plateau amount, either $1000 or $32,000, you are guaranteed to go home with that prize, even if your next answer is incorrect.  In this case, you could win a virtual $32,000.   But, if you're good enough, that may be an incentive to call ABC and try to quality for the real game show.

The CD game is somewhat different than the game show. When the question appears on the monitor, you have 30 seconds to answer.  Not so with Regis live.  He'll give you all the time you need, and then joke about your delays.  The next difference is the question difficulty.  In the show, the first three or four questions are usually quite simple, but not so with the CD game.  I've seen easier $32,000 questions asked on the game show.

Even with the differences, this is a fun and challenging CD game for anyone (kids must be accompanied by and adult because the questions are difficult).  You'll find great graphics and sounds, with a virtual Regis, on video interacting with you during and after each question.  The music is the same as on the show, creating suspense as you are challenged, question, by question, to win the virtual million dollars.  Don't forget to use your lifelines.  They can really help.   You'll even get a chance to meet some of Regis' friends when you select "phone a friend."  And the interaction between Regis and his phone friends can be very amusing.

Who Wants to Be a Millionaire 2nd Edition sells for a street price of $39.99 and will run on any multimedia PC, Pentium 133 or faster running, 32 MB RAM, a quad-speed (4x) CD-ROM drive and  Windows 98/95.   It will also run on a Power Macintosh with a G3 processor,  32 MB RAM and a 24x CD-ROM drive.  For more information contact Disney Interactive/Buena Vista Interactive at 1-800-900-9234.

Compton's Learning Astronomy from The Learning Company

Are you ready to explore the Universe, visit the planets and learn just about everything 21st Century scientists know about space, the final frontier?  Then, you'll want to buy Compton's Learning Astronomy from The Learning Company (also called RedShift Deluxe).  This is an excellent 2 CD, 3-D, multimedia astronomy course with everything you'd want to learn about the Universe, from its beginnings to theories on what the future may bring.

Designed for anyone ages 16 and up, it offers great graphics and sounds, with virtual reality simulations, more than 60 narrated tours, thousands of photos and even a planetarium you can control.  Study the distant stars, asteroids, comets and known deep sky objects like galaxies, gaseous nebula, globular clusters and more, with the latest information collected by Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Russia's Space Mission Control Center.

With Sarah (my 9-year-old daughter) at the controls, we started with the Story of the Universe, an impressive animated history of astronomy, and then advanced to manipulating the planetarium.  It's easy to see what the night sky looked like back in Ancient Egypt, or adjust the year to display the position of the stars in the next millennium.   The ability to change the sky for a particular region and date is impressive.  Also, you'll be surprised to find that you can view the stars from any planet, moon or asteroid with various options like viewing on or above the object selected.  And while you're viewing, you can record what you've done using the movie recorder tool.  Then you can show your friends your discoveries.

Other neat features include access to Penquin's Dictionary of Astronomy, Hipparcos and Tycho star catalogs, maps of the planets and online information access for the latest updates and discoveries.  This is the ultimate astronomy research tool even Sarah found fun and fascinating.  In fact, she spent over an hour exploring the Universe before returning to her latest favorite books, the Animorphs.

Compton's Learning Astronomy sells for street price of $29.99 and will run on any multimedia PC, Pentium 100 or faster running Windows 98/95 with 16 MB RAM and a four-speed (4x) CD-ROM drive.  For more information contact The Learning Company (a division of Mattel, Inc.) at 1-800-716-8506.

Howard Berenbon

Software Companies Mentioned

Disney Interactive/Buena Vista Interactive
500 S. Buena Vista St.
Burbank, CA 91521-8432
Phone: 1-800-900-9234

The Learning Company
6493 Kaiser Drive
Fremont, CA 94555
Phone: 1-800-716-8506