Science & Nature
We looked at a beta version of Terratopia (Virgin Sound and Vision), an adventure game for kids 8-12 that also teaches about nature and the ecosystem. You play a TerraTrooper, one of the select few from earth who gets whisked away to Terratopia to earn the right to choose your own animal totem. Terratopia is an animated island full of regions that approximate earth ecosystems; you’ll explore a desert, a volcano, a rainforest, and more, solving simple puzzles along the way and learning tidbits of nature-oriented information from your spirit guide. The overall premise has to do with the other TerraTroopers, a whiny bunch of teens done in Saturday morning cartoon style. They are vanishing one by one – an ill wind blows through Terratopia, bringing with it elements of an Agatha Christie novel. By the time you’ve explored the island in its entirety you’ll have interacted with creatures ranging from dinosaurs to the Minotaur. As a way to make science interesting, the disc has the right idea; the artwork is very well done and the program runs smoothly, so kids don’t get turned off. Instead, they enjoy playing the game. As a learning tool, however, Terratopia is woefully skimpy. The education is limited to one-sentence homilies that are easily digestible but not very substantive. It’s hard to strike a perfect balance between fun and education and Terratopia errs on the side of fun.
– April 1996