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Review CornerSoftware
Imagynasium
Rating: four and a half stars
The Bottom Line
This impressive creativity program provides loads of unique tools for kids to create original songs, stories, and art work.
Award of Excellence
Ages: 6-12   Subject: Creativity/Art  Brand: SouthPeak Interactive
Review Sections: Product Overview  Entertainment Value  Technically Speaking  Design  Skills Covered  Replayability  Educational Value  Dollar Value
 
 
Imagynasium Product Overview
Developed in conjunction with Robert Redford's Sundance Institute, this software title is designed as a "playground" for the mind. It challenges kids to stretch their imaginations, get creative and resourceful, and have fun while they do all that. The zany guide Roxy's motto is: "If you can imagine it, you can create it" — and this may as well be the motto for Imagynasium. There are 3 main areas to explore:
  • Riff's Jingle Jungle is a sound studio where kids can create songs, song stories, and song poems. Players can use sounds from the "sound bank" or things they have collected throughout the program.
  • Freida's Downtown is the place for creating works of art in the form of collages that move and make sounds.
  • In Mondo's Curio Shop, players can create fantastic stories using words, pictures, and sounds. There are many backgrounds, characters, and sounds to choose from, and kids can watch their stories play like movies or read them like books.
Each of the 3 environments has a game to play, each with 3 levels of difficulty. Manhole Madness involves repeating musical patterns, Pix-O-Fax-O-Matic requires kids to add text to random screens from a story, and Humpty Dumpty requires players to study a picture then piece the picture back together again after the objects have fallen from their positions.

Collecting things is fun — when players find a collectible object, they can drag it to their "collector" and use these objects in their creativity projects. "Whacking" these objects (double-clicking on them) changes them into other forms — for example, objects transform into words.

When kids need a "boost", they can click on the Brain Boosters icon that gives help in 3 forms: help getting started with a project, seeing projects-in-progress in a different way, and finishing projects. Project Notes provide a notebook to organize ideas.

At The Big Screen, players can string together their projects from the 3 environments to create a show. The Takeout Stand contains "creativity to go" — printable projects and activity ideas. There are loads of them to choose from — kids can learn how to do toast painting and cream cheese cement sculptures in Food Art, make Wind Chimes, develop a Found Object Orchestra, invent new words in Wordworthy, and invent characters out of grocery items in Grocery List Game, plus a whole lot more. Players are told the activities may at first seem "odd", but they are encouraged to give them a whirl.

In general, the program has a very offbeat flair to it — the graphics are a bit grainy in patches, but for some reason, this only adds to the "feel" of the program. Kids are encouraged to be resourceful — a trait that many parents, who lament that our society is a throw-away one, will appreciate.

Help and documentation is plentiful — the jewelcase insert manual is informative, and the on-screen tutorials are outstanding. Along with helpful hints and instructions, an Info Station also gives a tour of the program. Kids will get a lot more out of the program if they stop in at this "station" first.

Technically Speaking
Minimum requirements are Windows 95/98, a Pentium 133 processor, 16 Mb RAM, and 4X CD ROM. It uses 30 Mb of hard drive space.

Skills Covered
creativity, music, art, story-writing

Educational Value
This program is exceptional at inspiring children to get creative and use their imaginations. It provides lots of very usable and often unique tools for children to work with. The addition of away-from-the-computer printable activities is a nice touch.

Entertainment Value
The hosts are unusual, in fitting with the whole theme of this title. Kids with a creative bent will be drawn to the original activities.

Design
Excellent "help" features help to make this program easy to use. The 3 games each provide a good range of difficulty levels. We would have liked to be able to "click through" some of the lengthy introductions, however.

Replayability
Kid testers were determined to collect objects, explore the factory, and, more importantly, create projects. This program provides plenty of options and opportunity to keep kids coming back for more.

Dollar Value
Suggested retail price is $19.95 US and worth every penny. This is a highly original and invaluable title.

Released: 1999