Dinosaurs & High Tech-- Dinosaur Adventure

by Alan Zisman (c) 1993. First published in Our Computer Player, July 16, 1993

CD-ROM version
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 $40-50.

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 in 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 Adventure, 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 megs 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 distraction, 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 box, 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 storybook 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 long 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 looking 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 more 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)


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Alan Zisman is a Vancouver educator, writer, and computer specialist. He can be reached at E-mail Alan