Top Secret Decoder
The Top Secret Decoder Ring gets a makeover in Top Secret Decoder (Houghton Mifflin Interactive – ages 8-12), a simple but entertaining program for kids that really only lets you do two things. First, encode your own messages; type them in, choose a code, and voila! Second, decode other messages, provided by the computer or a friend. There are a few other twists, but that’s the main idea, and the surprising thing is that it’s so entertaining for so long (it’s also pretty educational, but they don’t harp on that, so we won’t either). There are a lot of codes on this disc, from the very simple to the fairly complex to the devilishly creative. Take the Challenge and you’ll attack ten levels of coded messages, with the skill level increasingly steadily – sometimes, it seems, almost exponentially. The graphics, the sounds, and the host are all very ordinary, but that doesn’t mean this isn’t a unique and fun program, especially for boys of the right age. We wish that the messages encoded by the computer were a little more creative; more often than not, they concern codes themselves.
– December 1996