Take a beautiful rendering of a sweet children’s story about Christmas, add the vocal talents of Garrison Keillor, put some text at the bottom of the screen so young readers can follow along, and what do you get? Polar Express (Houghton Mifflin Interactive – ages 3-8), one of the more soporific titles we’ve seen. The book by Chris Van Allsburg puts a twist on the Santa-down-the-chimney legend by positing a “Polar Express,” a train that takes children to the North Pole on Christmas Eve. The artwork that brings the story to life on the disc is easy on the eye, but Mr. Keillor’s narration is perhaps a bit too easy on the ear – it’s hard not to feel drowsy as he murmurs on, and on, and on. You also get a storybook that is not interactive in the least, an unimpressive number of pages, and a total absence of extra features. Look at this one in a software store, and there should be no shortage of oohs and ahs; open it up on Christmas morning, and a half hour should exhaust its potential.
– December 1995