Electron User

Read Right Away 1

Author: Rog Frost
Publisher: Highlight
Machine: Acorn Electron

Published in Electron User 2.11

Highlight Software aims this pack at five to eight year olds and it's designed to help develop reading skills. There are two programs on the tape, and each can be played by an individual or by up to four people in competition.

The first game is called Splashdown and the idea is to collect a letter to complete a three letter word. You have a boat with two letters already in it. When an aeroplane flies over, flashing in your colour, you must press a letter that will complete a word.

If correct, the letter drops into the boat, which then sinks. Sink five boats and you are the winner. Any player who completes five words in the same round is a winner, and is rewarded by having a submarine pull a "win" banner to his name.

This program is well constructed and seems to have a good vocabulary. Different skill levels refer to the number of permitted mistakes. There is also an option to give each player the same two letters - all of which make a different word when completed.

One other very useful option is the choice of which of the three letters is missing from a word. The graphics are pleasing and good use is made of double-sized lettering. A good program.

The second program, Firefight, is probably aimed at the eight year olds rather than the fives. You play the part of a fireman who must rescue a girl from a burning house. To reach her you must cross some burning gaps. These can be bridged by selecting the appropriate two letters to complete a word.

There are four gaps to fill, and then the fireman can reach the girl and carry her to safety. As in the first game, there are good graphics and double-height text and a useful range of consonant blends to practice with.

One gripe with this program is the use of cursor keys, which are too near BREAK. This is a bad mistake in software designed for young children.

A problem with both programs is that the auto repeat is left on. Again, youngsters are inclined to be heavy-handed on the keyboard and this little bug can cause frustration.

Overall, though, this is a good package. It appeals to children, and people looking for educational software could well consider this one, especially as there are three more packs in the series. These aim to develop word-building skills with six to eleven year olds.

Rog Frost

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