The Magic School Bus Explores Inside the Earth
What’s the difference between an activity and a game? If The Magic School Bus Explores Inside the Earth (Microsoft/Music Pen – ages 6-10) is any indication, an activity is a game that’s strong on education and weak on fun (if you thought the key was goal orientation, give yourself partial credit: some activities can be won or lost, while others are non-competitive). The Magic School Bus is chock-full of educational activities, each illustrating a different geological phenomenon. None of them are very enjoyable. Race bats through a cave (to learn about stalactites), play around with the pressure and heat of a volcano, drill for oil, dig for coal, or put sample rocks under a magnifying glass. Help complete a rock exhibit by finding different kinds of minerals, and travel around to the different locales being discussed in – yes – your magic school bus. The artwork is mediocre but the interface is good nonetheless, primarily because there are so many icon links to all the different activities. The content suffers from being a bit too educational; whenever you might start to forget that you’re actually learning, the program reminds you by becoming stiff and boring. This is another CD-ROM that is preferable to class, but just barely. A sense of humor would be nice – remember Cartoon History of the Universe? That disc managed to be educational without adopting the tone of a middle school textbook, which is more than we can say for the latest The Magic School Bus disc.
– August 1996