The Little Wizard will delight young children


Whenever we feel the need to return to a kinder, gentler world, we test a piece of children's software. Usually these products stress sensitivity and respect for people, animals and the environment, teaching youngsters to be humane as well as human. When the program is as well designed as The Little Wizard, even an adult will find it entertaining.

Produced by Gizmo Gypsies for the early childhood market (ages 3 to 8), The Little Wizard follows the adventures of the title character, who lives with his animal pals in enchanted Eartail Forest. Yearning for a friend like himself, the Little Wizard departs on a journey to strange lands like Bugville and Slo-Mo Junction.

While we liked the color, music and games, we found the diverse interactivity of the CD-ROM made The Little Wizard irresistible. Much like other software, clickable objects abound and cycle through a series of responses. More unusual here is that, with another click, the player can activate a second, third, fourth or even fifth response while the first one is still running.

Children can choose to either have the story read to them or play within the story. The first option allows younger kids to hear the entire tale and see much of the possible action, while the latter, good for youngsters capable of using a mouse, allows them to experience everything and move at their own speed. Especially appealing was the ability to quickly go backward or forward to any segment of the story via a tap on the space bar that calls up a screen called "Pick-A-Scene."

Activities include The Interactive Music Scene, in which players contribute sounds to background music by pressing the A to Z keys. These also trigger movement on the screen. A tree associated with a letter will sway once that key is pressed.

The Cave Game consists of color or number stone tosses where the goal is to reach a specified total. It's a fun way to strengthen math skills. In Bugville, you can interrupt an animated sequence midstream and generate different animation, while in Normal Town you can make hidden butterflies soar.

The Snoring Game is a sound sequence-repetition challenge, while in Slo-Mo Junction you'll be asked to build a pictured block-like structure from debris on the ground.

And we liked the clickable animations so much in the Snoozy Juice Bar that we found ourselves wandering back there again and again. The Little Wizard might just be the product to keep your little one spellbound.

PC users require Windows 95, 486-66 MHz or faster processor, 16 MB RAM, 20 MB free disk space, 4X CD-ROM drive. Macintosh users require Power Mac or Performa, System 7.5.3 or higher, 100 MHz or faster processor, 16 MB RAM, 20 MB free disk space, 4X CD-ROM drive.

The Little Wizard retails for $29.95. To order, call 888-464-4966 or visit

Pub Date: 11/16/98

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