Play School, for the three-plus age group, consists with a selection of tiny games. Some are of educational use, others - well, they just pass the time of day.
When you first run the program, a few instructions appear on the screen, telling you which keys you can press, and what they do. Write them down or remember them, as no reference is made to the keys further on in the program.
You are then asked to press P to play the game. At this stage, pressing Shift-0 will set the level of difficulty. Alternatively, P will take you off to a party, where after several seconds gazing at a less-than-mouthwatering graphical cake, you are introduced to Superkid, the question master. He promptly asks for your name - you type in your name and press Enter.
On completion of all the introductory messages, you get a menu with six options. These range from simple addition problems to trying your hand at drawing. The first option is 'Counting'. A large box is drawn on screen and a number of objects appear inside. You must count them up and enter the correct number.
Superkid is watching you throughout your ordeal - his eyes occasionally blink - but, for the most part, he is cold and stony. He shows either displeasure (when answering wrong) in the form of turning his mouth down, or admiration (of correct answers) by grinning broadly.
You are given three chances to answer a question correctly. After a third failure the answer is displayed and the next question in a sequence of three is displayed. A correct answer merits a point in your favour; incorrect and it's face down.
After answering the three questions, either Whizkid will choose which set of questions you will try next or you will get to choose again (this seems to be at random).
Moving down the table of choices, we come to 'Find It!. A letter or number is displayed on the screen, and the child then has to search for it. This is a good way to teach children how to associate one thing with another.
The next option, 'Paint Box', is rather a limited drawing utility. Only one colour is allowed on screen (the child can choose this colour). Movement is via the cursor keys, so I'm afraid that you are restricted to straight lines (or crooked ones at least). It may hold children's interest for a while, but when they wish to improve on their designs, they will be stuck.
Item four is 'Match Up'. Six odd looking patterns are drawn on the screen; a further one is drawn apart from the previous six. The child is to match the seventh object with one of the other six.
The next item is not one of the smoothest, fastest arcade-action games available on any home micro. You control a Pacman lookalike, whose sole task is to eat any stationary objects in its path.
The last but by no means least of these options is 'How Much'. This sets a fairly reasonable little addition test for your primary-school kid. A box with a number of items appears; you must type the correct number as with 'Counting'. Then another box is drawn with objects inside. Do the same action as before. Then you must add the objects from both boxes together and type this total.
On the whole, this is a well-presented package, with some nice touches, especially Superkid with his flicking eyelids and mouth movements. The options available will no doubt prove valuable teaching aids for the youngsters, and more importantly, keep them interested.