How Would You Survive?
How Would You Survive? (Grolier Interactive – ages 7-12), based on the book series of the same name, contains three sections: Ancient Egyptians, Vikings, and Aztecs. Each section has an animated main screen, big enough that you have to scroll a ways to see all of it, that can be explored through pointing-and-clicking. Each section also offers resources, in the form of icons on the bottom of the screen, that will educate you about what it was like to live in these societies. As you explore you’ll watch some narrated slideshows, read a fair bit of text, and look at a lot of pictures. Then, when you feel ready, you can take the How Would You Survive? test, which asks multiple-choice questions. Calling this disc good or bad doesn’t seem quite fair; it accomplishes exactly what it sets out to do, which is respectable, if not ambitious. Some corners have been cut along the way – when your guide talks to you, a picture of a little girl has only the lips moving; when the program changes screens it sometimes turns into gray mush, and you have to move the pointer around to restore the resolution – but it is still preferable to a program like, say, Forrest Gump, which wastes a huge amount of money on a vapid idea. Unfortunately, good intentions and a competent execution do not ensure a whole lot of fun, and How Would You Survive? actually isn’t much fun at all. It’s better than a bad teacher, and a lot worse than a brilliant one. If your kid likes anything computer-oriented, he or she will probably get something out of this. If you’re looking for an innovative use of multimedia that will make learning fun, look a little harder.
– August 1996