Old CD’s: Games, Encyclopedia, Apps.

Reviews About Old Software on CD-ROM from the 1990’s

Of Special Interest June 1996 February 2, 2009

Filed under: Book,Children,Dictionary,Educational,Encyclopedia,Games,Multimedia,Trivia — gamegoldies @ 7:16 pm
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Of Special Interest
June 1996

Bob Marley: Soul Almighty
Maurice Ashley Teaches Chess
Pete Townshend Presents Tommy: Then & Now

Maurice Ashley Teaches Chess
Simon & Schuster, Inc./Davidson & Associates

Mr. Ashley, ESPN?s chess commentator and a professional groomer of high school chess teams, sees chess as a contact sport ? and he teaches it with a vengeance. The qualities he recommends for success are “daring, courage, guts and ingenuity,” which puts an accent on excitement and a marked de-emphasis on boring old logic. The entire disc fairly oozes testosterone, which is fine with us ? usually it?s only accomplished players who understand how exciting the game can be, so it?s a pleasure to see Mr. Ashley communicating chess? potential in a visceral, if slightly silly, fashion. Chess problems are demonstrated with football play-type diagrams, and animations of football players often pop up, along with animations of rhinos (to illustrate the brute power of a rook), archers (to demonstrate the slicing slyness of the bishop), and many other action-packed illustrations. The program does a wonderful job of teaching basic and intermediate strategy. It will drill you on the movements of each piece, lead you through master games with insightful commentary, and even explore each concept (controlling the center, developing your position, exchanging pieces, etc.) through a series of increasingly difficult exercises. If you want to watch something again, simply choose “repeat” instead of “next.” In a matter of hours you’ll be prepped for a seriously competent game of chess against almost anybody. The disc?s tone is slightly incongruous with the game, and at times seems over-the-top, but we?re glad they erred on the side of melodrama instead of sterility. There?s also a chess program built in, but it?s only one player, which is a shame. Except for that oversight, Maurice Ashley Teaches Chess is a winner.

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Bob Marley: Soul Almighty
JAD Records/Graphix Zone

Finally, an enhanced CD that justifies this new medium. The disc, which would be worth noticing even without the multimedia, uses pictures, video, and ? best of all ? sizable chunks of text to enhance the audio experience. The music is all pre-superstar Marley, recorded in 1967-68 (it is subtitled “The Formative Years, Volume I”). This is Marley as more than just the definitive reggae artist; he is also a soul singer, showcased in four never-before-released songs and three new remixes. The multimedia portion of the disc has even more rare audio material, most notably an extremely uncommon recording of “Selassie Is the Chapel.” There are brief bios and interviews with people who knew Marley (including Peter Tosh), photo galleries by six different photographers, a glossary of Rasta terminology (which skillfully avoids mentioning the word marijuana; ganja is described as “the leaves of the cannabis plant”), and insights into the political and religious influences on Rasta culture. Everything on the CD complements everything else, and the overall picture holds together. This is less than a CD-ROM but certainly more than an audio CD, which is what we thought enhanced CDs were supposed to be in the first place.

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Pete Townshend Presents Tommy: Then & Now

After an eternity in development hell, Pete Townshend Presents Tommy: Then and Now is finally being released. The disc covers the rock opera from its inception in Mr. Townshend?s 23-year-old drug-addled mind to its realization as a double album, a worldwide tour, a Ken Russell movie, a vehicle for a comeback, and a Broadway show. Unfortunately, the disc covers most of this ground using video clips. It?s all fascinating stuff, but it?s still mostly video ? the CD-ROM fails, therefore, the live up to its billing as “The Interactive Adventure.” Featured celebrities include Jack Nicholson, Eric Clapton, George Martin, Tina Turner, and countless others. There?s a lot of great footage, including live Who performances, Mr. Townshend?s original audio demos of some very famous songs, clips from the film and the Broadway show, and interviews with behind-the-scenes contributors. All of the clips can be accessed through different menus; browse by year, by artist, by song, etc. However you end up getting to the clips, though, you?ll be doing the same thing once you reach them, which is sitting back and watching. A videotape would provide the same thrills with less eye-strain. A few perks ? lyric sheets, photos and drawings from Mr. Townshend?s collection, and assorted memorabilia ? still fail to make the experience satisfyingly multimedia or interactive. Tommy is worth seeing, feeling, and touching, but Then and Now fails to make the parable more vivid than the album did on its own over 25 years ago.

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