Kid Riffs (IBM) is aimed at children 5 to 11, but a couple of years at The Berkeley Music School would make using this powerful tool more feasible. What begins as a simple, primary-color outdoors scene with five cartoon houses becomes excessively convoluted as soon as you enter any building. The slew of options includes (but is not limited to) choosing your octave(s) on the keyboard, choosing your family of instruments, choosing an instrument itself, choosing your type of scale, choosing whether or not to include half-steps, using songbooks, choosing a genie’s assistance, recording and playing back, and choosing different time signatures and drum kit pieces. A knowledge of octaves, scales and mirrors is almost pre-supposed by the program, which does teach as it goes, but which contains so many options and highly technical musical flairs that it’s easy to become lost. Using the software without the manual is something like trying to learn to play an instrument without a teacher, even though Kid Riff the rabbit is always onscreen to offer help. It’s hard to fault a CD-ROM for being too resourceful; it’s easier to suggest a maturing of packaging, animations, and target audience. Any consumer who would be interested by the manual, which is in the form of a coloring book, would be unlikely to make much progress in the program itself, unless they were a child prodigy (in which case Kid Riffs is the disc for them).
– October 1995