Both of the programs on this cassette were written by WH Elliot, a teacher at Southway Junior School in Plymouth. To solve the problem of lack of funds for software purchase, most of the profits from the sale of Nightmare and Potholer go straight to into school funds. The programs are specially structured for classroom use with groups of children, and the screen text directs the children towards a variety of activities.
Nightmare is an adventure game in which the children have to rescue Princess Pru who is being held captive by Naughty Nora. After visiting a few locations, the players are given a task to complete. Tasks include creative writing - descriptions of the castle suing words such as battlements, sinister, portcullis and drawbridge, art work, solving codes, number activities, and even research to find out the capital cities of France, Turkey and Portugal. The idea is that each group of children will work at its own pace. and will spend a relatively short time at the computer before going off to complete an assignment.
The game is extremely enjoyable, and the colourful graphics hold the players' attention. In both of the games, note-taking skills play an important role. In Potholer for instance, the adventurers have to rescue their friends who are long overdue from a caving expedition, using the following equipment: a rucksack containing food, batteries, clothes and a first-aid kit, a knife with many blades, an electric lamp, a 20m rope, a life jacket, and a small spade. One of the first tasks in this game is to work out how to cross over a stream without getting the rucksacks wet, and a later problem has you working out how to get through a long passage which is too narrow to crawl through wearing them. Problems such as these are superb for getting children to think and to discuss their ideas with each other.
This adventure offers a wide scope for artwork, as the groups have to produce, for example, cave paintings of strange animals. If the players complete their mission successfully, they are invited to appear on television to tell their story.
I thought that both Nightmare and Potholer were marvellous programs for use both in the classroom and at home. The only reservation I have is that after completing each task away from the computer the players have to start at the beginning of the game again and work quickly through until they reach the point where they left off.
This could have been avoided by the inclusion of a code obtainable from the teacher on successful completion of an assignment, which would allow the children immediate access to the appropriate point in the game.