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Review CornerSoftware
Eddie & Minx: Waking Up the Magic
Rating: Rating
The Bottom Line
Although there are a few design problems and the multimedia is limited, this program is easy to use and contains a fun and engaging story line.
 
Ages: 7-up  Subject: Adventure  Brand: Birchtree Multimedia
Review Sections: Product Overview  Entertainment Value  Technically Speaking  Design  Skills Covered  Replayability  Educational Value  Dollar Value
 
 
image Product Overview
This is an interactive storybook centering around a delightful story about 10 year-old twins, Eddie and Minx. The story is endearing and engaging, which is a good thing, because the multimedia is limited.

Eddie and Minx live on a rather lonely island with their Aunt and Uncle and a wacky parrot friend named Paprika. There is a secret about their parents that they are very curious about, and the plot centers on their quest to uncover this mystery. The problem is that they would have to break one of the 10 rules of the island to do so, the "no snooping" rule. Despite the threat of banana stew as punishment, they decide to investigate. Their quest takes them around the world discovering new lands and people, and learning about wildlife.

The characters are lovely and well-developed. Minx is the more cautious and pensive of the twins. Eddie, on the other hand, is very excitable and impatient.

After each chapter, there are a few games to play. Kids do various activities which include answering multiple choice questions about the chapter just read, memorizing country names from a map of the world, solving problems, learning facts about islands, telling time, and more. There are 48 games in all. Kids are required to get everything correct in any given game, or they are forced to do the entire game over again.

The volume of the narrator is quieter than the sound effects, so in order for this game to be a pleasurable experience, you have to adjust the volume frequently. I would have liked to see clean page breaks — as it stands, most of the time the narrator stops mid-sentence at the end of each page. The multimedia is very simplistic — there are approximately 3 illustrated scenes for each chapter, and the interactivity is limited, with over-use of the same sound effects for different animations. Animations cannot be clicked through, which is a shame for some of the longer ones.

Our kid testers were interested in the story and relatively motivated to go through the program. They didn't like the fact that they got bumped back to the start of each educational activity for making as little as one mistake. However, the simplicity of the program didn't bother them much.

Technically Speaking
Minimum requirements are a Pentium 90 processor with Win 95, 8 Mb RAM (16 Mb RAM recommended).

Skills Covered
reading comprehension, vocabulary, research skills, geography, distances, matching, telling time, science and nature, sociology, memorization, geography, numerical ordering, alphabetical ordering, navigational and directional skills, problem solving, puzzle skills

Educational Value
The educational activities generally involve memorizing facts and being tested on them. We would have liked to see a more exploratory approach to these activities. As it stands, the program penalizes for making even one mistake in a series of questions, so kids do not feel free to experiment with their answers. Through listening to the story and playing the activities, children will learn quite a bit of vocabulary and facts about the world.

Entertainment Value
The story line is delightful and interesting. The animations and sound effects are limited in appeal.

Design
This program is very easy to use. Kids simply press on the Back or Forward buttons to navigate the program. Some design problems were noted above and include an inability to click through animations and a lack of clean page breaks. Additionally, the sound levels are unbalanced, requiring a lot of adjustment of the volume at various points in the program.

Replayability
There's a good amount of content in the game — a total of 17 chapters to the story and 48 activities. Many children will be motivated to work through the entire game just to hear what happens to the likable main characters.

Dollar Value
The suggested retail price of $19.95 US is quite fair.

Released: 1999