Dinosaurs & High Tech-- Dinosaur Adventure
by Alan Zisman (c)
1993. First published in Our Computer Player, July 16, 1993
from Knowledge Adventure
4502 Dyer Street
La Crescenta, CA 91214 USA
requires PC compatible w. VGA graphics
CD-ROM player or floppy drive version
CD-ROM version requires 500k hard drive space
floppy version requires approx. 8 meg hard drive space
List price, $79... locally available for about
Dinosaurs and high tech.
It's a funny marriage that seems to everywhere this
summer... primitive life forms meet 20th century hardware.
You've seen it in the movies, as 'Jurassic Park' tops
the charts. And if you've got a personal computer, you can see it on
your home screen as well.
Dinosaurs on computer aren't new... Design-a-saurus
has been letting kids built their own customized Thunder Lizards even
glorious CGA colour. And Eco-Saurus has used friendly, animated Zonk to
let your kids learn to save their planet. Dino-Wars even made battling
reptiles into a sort of arcade game.
But for combining pre-historic education and glorious,
full colour graphics and animation, it's hard to top Dinosaur
from Knowledge Adventure.
For the last year or two, this company has been
putting out a series of software products that they've taken to calling
"Multimedia without the CD-ROM"... the original Knowledge Adventure,
Sports Adventure, Science Adventure, and Space Adventure.
Dinosaur Adventure is the newest in the bunch, and
true to form, you can get it in the floppy disk version. If you can,
however, opt for the version on CD-ROM.
For one, you'll save multi-megs of hard drive space...
the CD-ROM version takes a mere 500k on your disk, instead of the 8
or so otherwise required.
As well, you get digitized sound... music and voice.
If you don't have a sound card, you may find this more of a
however... the music's okay, but the voice is difficult to understand.
But with a sound card, and a child, it's a blessing. While the product
is aimed at anyone with an interest in the terrible lizards, the
digitized speech makes it a real winner for the younger set.
The earlier Knowledge Adventure offerings stuck to a
standard interface; you got a screen with a big picture in a frame, a
time-line to choose when, a rotatable globe to choose where, a text
and a line of icons. This let anyone quickly move to the era and
location that they wanted to find out about.
Dino Adventure has that to, but in this case, it's
just one of a series of options. As well, there's a read-aloud
about primitive life. Aimed at pre-schoolers or early readers, a child
can read along with the voice, and turn pages backwards or forwards at
their own pace.
There are two memory games: in one, you pick the
dino-picture that matches the given name, while the second works in
reverse... find the name to identify the picture. The digitized voice
tells you what you've picked, which is a big help for some of those
names ("Can we say ALBERTOSAURUS, boys and girls?")
My favorite is the movie room. Here, you've got a
choice of a bunch of very realistic, high-quality dinosaur video clips.
Tyrannosaurus action shots! Flying Pteranadons! And not a teenie window
on the screen like in Video-for Windows. Even with a standard VGA card,
you get a large, 256 colour movie on screen.
Despite the name, like the other offerings in the
series, this is an adventure in a very abstract sense. If you're
for fast-paced arcade action, look elsewhere... Knowledge Adventure
wants to make learning an adventure.
And it is... in the main Dino Adventure window, the
one with the globe and timeline, you can never really be sure where the
hyper-links are going to take you. But with the high quality graphics
and sound, and the well-written text, you're sure to find something new
and interesting. (And if you REALLY just want to get a particular fact,
there is a LIBRARY icon, which lets you open up a card catalogue, and
pick information from an alphabetical list. Boring, but effective).
After playing with Dinosaur Adventure for a while, you
or your child will know more about dinosaurs... and best of all, you'll
have learned it without 'studying'.
(Note from the year 2003): The above
article was originally published in 1993, as a review. A decade and
later, I've gotten a series of emails from Dino Adventure fans hoping
that I could sell them a copy of this software or direct them to a
place where it is still available. While I have reviewed software since
1991, I am not a vendor of r any products. I suggest to everyone
looking for copies of older software to check at eBay
or at OldSoftware.com.If you
check on my Files webpages, you'll find links to a number of (mostly
freeware) downloadable software, some of which may be good replacements
for older programs.
-- AZ (September 15, 2003)