Heinemann
1983
Educational
£9.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

67
Roger Keane
Chris Bourne

This package contains two games, Punctuation Pete and Word finder. Wordfinder provides three separate smaller programs, the first being the wordfinder itself, a sort of mini-Thesaurus with about 1,000 words in it. The theme is travel and the screen presents you with a list of words related to various forms of travel. From this list it is possible to investigate similar words, find similar words and make connections between words. The wordfinder is then incorporated in the following two games, Anagrams and Hangman. Anagrams mixes up the letters of the words in wordfinder and asks you to unscramble them. It is possible to interrupt, go to the wordinder and search for the word if you get stuck. Amazingly, even the most obvious of words can cause confusion.

What would you make of C-C-L-E-Y7 It took ages to discover CYCLE. Hangman is a guessing game where you must create the chosen word from nothing, with the computer placing correctly guessed letters in the right place, or drawing one more line of a hanged man for incorrect ones. This guides children to the use of vowels as major building blocks. It is possible to give up and see the correct answer.

Punctuation Pete presents the problem of punctuating quite long pieces of prose. Seven lines are displayed on screen, usually a very short story. Punctuation Pete can be made to walk along the lines, and by using the punctuation keys of the Spectrum, the correct punctuation may be added where it should be. On the higher of the three skill levels, this will include quotes for speech with all the attendant problems of whether full stops or commas come before or after the quotes. When a piece is completed, Pete will return to the top of the screen and point out any mistakes, which may then be corrected. Afterwards, he will return to the top and check every line, jumping for joy if everything is correct.

The game contains many neat touches; Pete is very well animated for instance. It is essential to change lower case letters into capitals where required, and when this operation is carried out, Pete gives the offending letter a casual kick with his foot to alter it.

CRITICISM

Wordfinder presents some tough problems and looks like being a real aid to learning the meaning and association of certain types of word. Punctuation Pete is just marvellous. The polish on this piece of software is evident, and the animation of Pete himself should delight younger children, and amuse adults. In fact the exercises provided should prove valuable to adults as well, and this is not a patronising game at all. The back-up booklet provided in with the package contains 18 pages devoted to the history of writing, comments on writing stories, place names, playing with words, code breaking and the simple background to printing. Despite its rather high price, Punctuation Pete is a worthy game with probably more usefulness as a learning aid than many so-called educational games.

COMMENTS
Control keys: punctuation keys, well described in book
Use of colour: simple
Graphics: very good
Sound: none
General Rating: A little pricey, but an excellent program.

Not Rated