Clicks: Software reviews

Friday, October 13th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Too sugar-coated

Maker: Simon & Schuster Interactive
Rating: 2 1/2
System: Windows 95 or later/Macintosh
Suggested price: $19.95
More information: 1-800-223-2348;

I have to admit I love seeing the little M&M guys in action. This program is pretty basic, and, although amusing, I'm not sure how much math learning takes place.

Here's the plot: Just as Red and Yellow are ready to leave for a much-needed vacation, they receive word by phone that there's chaos at the factory because the M&M minis have stolen the secret candy formulas and hidden them throughout the factory. You quickly get the picture.

The future of candyhood is at stake, and since it was Yellow who left the minis in charge, it's up to him to save the day. The player enters the factory in Yellow's shoes and, using math equations, logic, even multiplication drills, tries to restore the factory back to chocolate paradise. The special effects are intelligent – churning chocolate and cascading candy will thrill players.

Parents, be aware that the software feels more like game play than learning, but maybe that's the point. The animation is spellbinding and action-packed, and will hook kids ages 5 to 10. Who knows, maybe they'll learn a little division.

– By Jean Nash Johnson, who is a staff writer for The Dallas Morning News.

A pleasure to drink in

Maker: Neohand
Rating: 3 stars
System: PalmOS
System requirements: PalmOS 3.0 or higher with 180KB of space available
Suggested price: $19.95

In Amy Reiley's Pocket Vineyard, you'll find the most basic terms such as merlot and fruity. But then, there are tannins and Sancerre, new terms for novices like me. All these are found in the program's 400-plus word glossary.

A very readable, basic menu of four sections greets you when opening the program: My Tasting Notes, Glossary, Vintage Chart and Food & Wine Pairing. While planning a grilled vegetarian dinner, I went into the Food & Wine Pairing section to see wine recommendations for the meal.

The suggestions were Pinot Gris/Grigio, Chardonnay and Chianti. Unfamiliar with Gris/Grigio, I returned to the main menu to pull up the glossary, and the definition confirmed that it would make a good match with dinner. Next time I get to the grocery store, you can expect to find me closely searching the shelves for Gris/Grigio.

I tried the Vintage Chart using a couple of bottles of wine from my refrigerator. One was a 1989 California Chenin Blanc – oops, the program starts at 1990 for this category. But the 1990 vintage had a verdict of "excellent," along with a brief summary. Strike two for my other bottle, a Texas wine. Texas wines are not included.

Are you already an expert on what to serve with each meal? You may find My Tasting Notes useful for recording all the wines you've tasted, along with information including the year, varietal, rating, pricing and whether it is worth buying again.

This is an easy program to use and has something for everyone, especially for the price. Connoisseurs may find some information too thin, but they can create notes and have them handy wherever they go.

– By Meryl Kaplan Evans, who is a process analyst and Web design consultant/educator.