May 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: Phantom of the Knight from The Learning Company

If your kids are fans of Scooby-Doo, that famous cartoon dog (first created 30 years ago by Hanna & Barbera), with his own daily show on the cable Cartoon Network, then you'll love this new adventure game, Scooby-Doo: Phantom of the Knight, for kids ages 5 to 10.  Join the Scooby-Doo and his gang of sleuths to help solve the mysterious disappearance of the castle's princess in this interactive and fun (but always spooky), adventure game from The Learning Company.

Although it's not really educational software (they called it "edutainment"), it does have some education 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 video with Scooby and his gang driving in their van (also known as The Mystery Machine), headed towards their next mysterious destination: the Joust for Fun family fun center and medieval-themed restaurant located in a Scottish castle. After driving through a fog as thick as "pea soup" and hearing a strange growling sound, they make it to the castle, and the adventure begins.  Their goal is to find the star princess of Joust for Fun, who has mysteriously disappeared.

This is a fun children's 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 the 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: Phantom of the Knight 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