Mr Tickle has a problem. He is in little bits all over the screen. Well, that's not too bad. We can soon put him together. Mr Grumpy has problems too. The regenerated Mr Tickle keeps tickling him. Mr Lazy's problems are worst. A long red worm keeps eating through apples which then fall on his head. In the end they all get their own back on Mr Tickle. The gang of four go after him!
That is the storyline behind this set of four programs aimed at 4 to 8-year-olds. It may sound trivial but it certainly is not. The plot stimulates and involves the children in decision making and planning. The educational objectives are well defined and are met by the activities that the programs demand.
The theme of the package is left, right, up and down. In the first program, the user has to move a gate either left and right or up and down to line up with parts of Mr Tickle. The only keys used are the cursor controls and RETURN. Graphics are good and produce comprehensive non-verbal cues for the user.
The second program allows the user to control Mr Tickle's long tickling arms and attempt to tickle Mr Grumpy. This time the child has to plan the actions and enter a short list of instructions such as "urd" (up-right-down) to guide Mr Tickle's arms to Mr Grumpy's nether regions. Again the cursor keys can be used or the letters U, D, L, R. If your tickling ability isn't too good then Mr Grumpy tries to place chairs in your way.
Mr Lazy appears in the third program. You control a worm that has to climb a tree and eat a particular apple. If successful, the apple falls onto the head of an unsuspecting Mr Lazy. Again, a set of instructions are entered and then carried out. I feel that this game is easier than the second, but that is a minor criticism as a parent or teacher can decide which order a child follows the programs. I found this program extremely difficult on a black and white monitor but fine in colour.
The final game, similar to Fox and Hounds, is played on a chessboard. The user controls four different Mr Men and attempts to trap Mr Tickle. Mr Tickle does not play the game too well and so it should be possible for most children to succeed in trapping him.
There is a comprehensive manual for an adult to read to the child. The sound cues can be switched off. I really enjoyed going through this package and so did the children I tried it on! This is the type of educational software I would like to see entering the home market.