The Mystery Squad And The Dead Man's Message (Chestnut) Review | A&B Computing - Everygamegoing

A&B Computing

The Mystery Squad And The Dead Man's Message
By Chestnut
BBC Model B

Published in A&B Computing 5.04

The Mystery Squad And The Dead Man's Message

I don't usually review adventures here, as you know. I certainly don't often look at educational games. And now I know why.

If this is the standard of 'exciting and original game' designed for 9-14 year olds in our schools, then we might as well cancel all computer studies right now.

Based on a series of books by Martin Waddell, this adventure offers you a text story running in the bottom third of the screen with poor visuals in the top two thirds. The 'game' consists of scrolling through a chapter of the story and then answering simple multiple choice questions. Score a maximum 70 points and you receive a 'Sherlock Holmes' detective rating.

I won't go into quite how awful this is - the graphics are awful, the story facile, the questions almost insulting and the programming by Colin Chappell, devoid of any imagination.

No, what gets me annoyed is the sheer incompetence of the whole package. I don't consider 9-14 year olds particularly clever or analytical, but I certainly don't expect them to be treated like six year olds which is the impression I get from this release. After all, a fair number of letters I get to this column are from that age group and I can't see any of them doing anything more with this game than throwing it straight in the bin.

Perhaps you'll claim that I don't understand educational software. Perhaps I don't. However, I understand enough to know that it should inspire, it should excite, it should interest.

It certainly shouldn't include in the documentation the following sentence: "as well as providing good reading practice". Good reading practice might suggest "as well" as a more likely start to the sentence. Enough said?

Dave Reeder

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