Personal Computer News


Author: Bryan Skinner
Publisher: Genesis
Machine: Spectrum 48K

Published in Personal Computer News #108


After his successful television programme and pop-up book, Jonathan Miller has now lent his name to computer software: Bodyworks from Genesis Productions. The package consists of seven programs on two cassettes, a colourful wallchart and an instruction booklet.

Bodyworks is for anyone who wants to learn more about how their body works, though it's more suitable for the classroom. It promises an exciting voyage of discovery around the human body, with stunning graphics, animation and games. One cassette covers cells, digestion, respiration and circulation; the other, nerves, muscles and a marathon simulation.

The programs are surprisingly simple, and take little longer to go through than to load.

Body Works

I started with the nerves program, designed to illustrate how the nervous system controls and co-ordinates the body. There are no explanations - nowhere are you told what a nerve is or why we have them, so you're taken straight into the transmission of a nervous impulse. Lay-people are likely to find the terminology and graphics difficult to follow. But the highlighting and the replay facilities do help you follow what's supposed to be going on. Reading the booklet helps; it contains more information than the software.

The graphics are hardly stunning, with their simple animated illustrations of complex mechanisms. The so-called 'games' are more boring than informative. In short, the software suffers from a lack of imagination.

The marathon simulation is designed to show how activity affects heart and breathing rates, body temperature, lactate production and so on. It's explained better in the booklet than any of the other programs, but completely failed to capture my interest. And I was very surprised to discover that a male smoker aged between 56 and 65, who is also 30 per cent overweight, can sprint at 16 miles per hour for over a mile - I know I couldn't!

All in all I was very disappointed with Bodyworks. The graphics aren't good, nor is the software particularly informative. It might be useful for O Level or CSE revision, but I've seen much better. For £15 you could buy a comprehensive and illustrated book (or two!).

Bryan SkinnerClare Gurton

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