Beethoven Lives Upstairs
For kids’ enlightenment, Music Pen has taken the video Beethoven Lives Upstairs (BMG Interactive Entertainment) and made it into a CD-ROM that includes clips from the video, various activities, and music-oriented games. Unfortunately, none of it is very good. The video clips reconstruct key scenes from the story, which involves a boy, Cristoph, and a lodger in his home, Beethoven. Although the disc never makes it clear where or when this is happening – you’re thrown into the program without guidance, and are meant to figure things out as you go – the setting is Vienna, and the circumstance is Beethoven’s composition of the Ninth Symphony, its subsequent debut performance, and his death. The video is okay, except for the glaringly anachronistic language. The games on the disc take their inspiration from the video. In one scene, for example, Beethoven needs a pen to write down his latest flash of inspiration. You are then presented with a simple maze game, where you (as Cristoph) must find four pens and return them to the house. Other games are more closely related to music, and they work a little better; a spin on Tetris requires you to group similar instruments together, and a take-off on the Hollywood Squares teaches the difference between musical tempos like adagio, legato, and staccato. If the program didn’t run so slowly, these activities might even be fun. An art studio feature is extraneous and rudimentary. Although there are a few points of interest on the disc, there’s nothing that hasn’t been done better elsewhere.