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Review CornerSoftware
Zoog Genius: Math, Science, & Technology
Rating: Rating
The Bottom Line
This program presents learning quizzes in a game-show format that is packed with attitude and pop culture charm for "tweeners." It doesn't provide structured learning in its featured subjects, but delivers interesting facts and plenty of fun.
Award
Ages: 9 to 12   Subject: Math/Science   Brand: Disney Interactive
Review Sections: Product Overview  Technically Speaking  Skills Covered  Educational Value  Entertainment Value  Design  Replayability  Dollar Value
 
 
image Product Overview
Testing your knowledge has never been quite so fun. Zoog Genius is a new series of CD-ROMs that capture the spirit and attitude of the Zoog Disney cartoon series well, all the while stimulating children ages 9 and up to exercise their brains.

The Zoogs live in the Zeether — a world somewhere between the TV and the Internet. Characters are totally contemporary, with names like Browser (the dog) and Dotcom. Zoog Disney is described by Disney as "TV you can do." Kids are encouraged to go online, and their feedback through the Zoog Disney site is used to create the Saturday morning show. The new CD-ROMs have the same spunk and slightly irreverent attitude of the show, and they offer kids the chance to create their own questions in keeping with the interactive philosophy behind Zoog Disney.

Playing as if they are contestants on a funky television game show, kids select categories and answer multiple-choice questions for big points. High scores are kept, and totals are added to children's ZQ points. Players can select a short or longer game and choose to play with or without a friend. Question sets are an eclectic mix with math, technology, and science themes. Kids will especially enjoy answering the questions that feature computer and Internet themes — themes that are entirely relevant and interesting in their own lives. Three difficulty levels allow kids to adjust the program to a challenge level that is comfortable and appropriate for them.

The Zoogs poke fun in a playful way when kids are idling and keep interest levels high with fun-filled anecdotes. Animated cut-scenes as well as Weird but True Facts — FYI tidbits that are truly interesting — keep kids on their toes.

The game show format of Zoog Genius is not entirely original — in fact, there are an ever-growing number of products on the market with a similar format — but the series stands out nonetheless. Its contemporary attitude isn't overdone, the program is expandable with downloadable question packs, and it features a "create and delete" option that allows kids to personalize their game. Our 10-year-old tester particularly enjoyed this latter feature and spent plenty of time adding his own questions that he then shared with friends. Though the text-to-speech technology used for this editing function is imperfect, the results were often humorous and entertaining.

A second title in the series, Zoog Genius: Language Arts, History, & Geography, plays the same but features questions with a different focus.

Technically Speaking
Minimum system requirements are Windows 95/98/ME, Pentium 166, 32 MB RAM, 8X CD-ROM, and 80 MB free hard disk space. Mac users require a G3 processor 233 MHz, System 8.6 through OSX, 64 MB RAM, and 8X CD-ROM. A Java-compatible web browser is optional.

Skills Covered
Kids answer questions with math, science, and technology themes.

Educational Value
The program's quizzes not only test kids' knowledge, but many require drawing upon deductive-reasoning skills. The Zoogs provide feedback whether or not players answer the questions correctly, helping to boost the game's educational value.

Entertainment Value
Trivia questions and their categories are far from dry — the Zoogs deliver fun anecdotes along with the questions they pose, and their commentary is slightly irreverent but always clean and fun. Kids can play with a friend and "buzz in" for extra amusement, and any Zoog Disney fan will enjoy the game's animated cut-scenes and hip music.

Design
The keyboard-driven interface is simple to use. When a multiplayer game is selected, children must "buzz in" by hitting a hotkey on the keyboard.

Replayability
Downloadable question packs extend the life of the product and add to the fun. As well, the ability for kids to create their own questions adds a personal slant to the game that will encourage kids to return to the program over time.

Dollar Value
This CD-ROM carries a suggested retail price of $19.95 US.

Released: 2001
Reviewed: September 2001