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ZX Spectrum 48K

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Rosetta McLeod
Chris Bourne

When I see games devised by Betty Root, as the two in this package are, I can be pretty sure that they will be worthwhile.

Miss Root is in charge of the Centre for teaching of Reading at the University of Reading, and is well-known to teachers for her educational games for young children.

Castles and Clowns is a package of two games which have been devised to help children from around four years of age to recognise initial sounds and letters of words, and in so doing gives players practice in finding their way round the computer keyboard. Each game can be played by two players or by one player against the computer, and both games allow the user to choose a speed of play from 1-9.

In King of the Castle pictures appear in the numbered windows of a castle the computer displays a number at random. The player must then enter the initial letter of the name of the object displayed in the window with that number. The correct choice closes the window and the winner is the first to shut all his or her windows. In Clowns, pictures are flashed onto the screen on either side of a clown, whose hat displays a letter. The player has to indicate whether the object flashed on the screen has a name beginning with the letter on the hat winning a balloon for the correct choice, and losing one for a mistake.

My assistants found the games quite challenging: King of the castle is especially tricky, as the players have to find their way around the QWERTY keyboard. Daniel succeeded at Levels 1 and 2, but thereafter the pace became too fast for him. In fact, even I was not much use at Level 9. One of the good points about both games is that they involve an element of chance as Well as skill, so children of different ages and abilities can play together


Control keys: in Clowns, A and ENTER are used. King of the Castle requires the players to use the keyboard to select the appropriate letter.
Keyboard play: very responsive at all levels. It is also possible to break out of the games at any point to return to the menu
Use of colour: simple, but effective
Graphics: again, simple but clear
General Rating: Good, well thought-out games which appeal to young children and have a clear educational aim.

Not Rated