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Now there is KidStuff for OS/2 new from Aviar, a long time OS/2 developer
of REXX applications. KidStuff for OS/2 is written in Object REXX and won't install
unless Object REXX is installed and enabled. Their Order Form http://www.oops-web.com/KS/order.html
states that Warp 4 is required (I assume that is because Warp 3 doesn't come with
Object REXX?). The game's README1.TXT states the following requirements:
- OS/2 Warp version 4.0
- Object REXX as default REXX
- 25 Megabytes available disk space on an HPFS drive
- CD ROM Drive (but since you're reading this, you must have one already.)
- Pentium 150MHz or faster
- 64 Megabytes of RAM (or more). 128 MB is much, much better.
- Standard OS/2 Multimedia
- 800 x 600 x 65K resolution
I tested KidStuff initially on a Toshiba laptop 2545XCDT, with an AMD K6-2 366, 64Meg of RAM, Warp 4, FP12, S3 MX-5 video at 1024X768x64K colors and a track point. When I decided to get some professional assistance from my children ( Alex 2 1/2 and Katie 6 ), I switched over to an Aptiva K6-2 233, 32 Meg RAM, Warp Server ebusiness, Elsa Winner 2000/Office 8Meg at 1164x976x64K colors and a 2-button Logitech mouse. The reason for the switch was that the children couldn't work the track-point well and I also didn't want them messing with my laptop. :-)
One problem I had with Alphabet Zoo and SoupKIDchen was that they didn't seem
to be quite finished. They provided a means to customize the games with your own
images and sounds, but at the time I had no way to create images or sounds myself.
Neither of these appeared to have gotten any updates beyond the initial release.
KidStuff appears to be more polished and there is already an add on module available.
The install creates a folder on the desktop with 10 program objects. One is the
Preferences object where you can customize the stories with the name of your child,
a primary caregiver and a secondary caregiver. You can also select the largest number
to be used for the addition/subtraction problems. You can also change the lists
of 'Frown' words and 'Smile' words, which are used in the 'Warpo the Clown' episode.
The Optional PlusPak1 adds four additional games.
Warpo the Clown - Warpo looks more like a snow man to me, but my 2 1/2
year old was captivated by the image, and he kept calling it 'Hippo'. This game
isn't really playable by my 2 year old, since it requires some dexterity with the
mouse, but he keeps being drawn to my office asking to play the 'puter'. This was
the reason I had to move KidStuff/2 to a new machine in another room. He loves the
crisp sounds, bright colors/images and the animations in all the games. Warpo's
image is used as the background for the KidStuff folder. His module involves matching
words to his facial expression. Two words are displayed and if Warpo is smiling
you pick the 'Smile' word, if he is frowning you pick the 'Frown' word. These words
are editable in the preferences so you can add words your child may be familiar
with. As you correctly select the words, you get points and Warpo the Clown's expressions
change and a pleasant tone is sounded. Get 10 right and Warpo goes through a series
of face changes and a cheerful tune. Make a mistake Warpo frowns, you lose a point
and a 'whoops' tone is played.
"I Can Add" and "I can Subtract" are math games where two
numbers to be added or subtracted are displayed, and three possible solutions are
shown. Click on the correct solution and you get a little song and the screen counts
off showing stars, flags or other images work out the problem on the screen. My
6 1/2 year old daughter is really into math now, and found the games to be fun.
You can adjust the difficulty level of the math problems by setting a value in the
preferences settings. This setting controls the largest number to be used in the
The other music module is My Orchestra, which allows you to select any of 10
musical instruments which displays an animated image of the instrument and plays
a short musical piece. I suppose this teaches the child to associate an instruments
name with it's image and sound.
Connect the Numbers: This is the same Connect the Dots game that all small children seem to enjoy. You select one of 23 different puzzles, and the numbers appear in the window. You have to click on the next number in a sequence to form lines connecting points, which when done creates an image. At the end a tune is played and the line drawing is changed to a colorful image.
I'm Different: Four images are displayed and the child picks which is the different one. Starts out making it easy by having the odd image in a different colored box. As you proceed it gets a little tougher as it stops giving the colored box clue.
I Can Draw: Not quite Corel Draw, but a simple drawing application where you create lines in one of eight colors by clicking on spots of the drawing screen. You can select 3 different line widths, and whether to make a connect the line drawing, spokes of a wheel drawing(called Star mode) or filled circles. There is an Eraser function, Wipeout function, and Undo, as well as the ability to Save and Get drawings. Reminds me more of an electronic Etch-A-Sketch then a true drawing app.
What Am I?: This is the neatest module in the Plus Pak. This progam requires
some basic spelling aptitude. It displays an image asking what the item is. The
child then types in the word for the object. The child has to complete the spelling
of the word (3, 4 or 5 letter words). When they get the correct spelling, the program
goes through a colorful movement of the correctly spelled word while playing a tune.
This game teaches spelling and keyboard use. this was one of my daughter's favorites.
Couple of very small peeves were shutdown and replay of the numeric games. Whenever
you select shutdown, most of the games go through a song and dance(well a lot of
moving images). This is fascinating for children, but the wait for an adult is interminable.
An option to quickly shut down a game without the theatrics would be nice. This
is covered in the README2.TXT file with the following:
Due to the multi-threaded nature of these programs, the
"Shut Down" buttons need only be clicked once. If you
click more than once, it will repeat the Shut Down
procedure as many times as you click.
If you wish to exit a program in a hurry, bring up the
"Windows List" and use it to "Close" the program.
My other minor problem was that you have to select "Again" to go to
the next math problem. Makes more sense that if you got the correct answer, it should
move on to the next problem automatically.
Also a help screen for each app might be useful. As I pointed out I couldn't
figure out what the buttons were for on the "My Music Machine" app, nor
was it completely intuitive that to play a selected midi file you had to select
the PlayBack button. For the most part though the games didn't require any preparation
to play. The README2.TXT file was helpful, especially about customization of specific
modules, and mentioned a couple of 'gottchas' like the
It would be nice if there was some sort of volume control for the game. I had
to turn up the sound volume on the speakers for the game, but then my system sounds
were way too loud. Twice my test machine (An Aptiva - K6-2 233, 32 Meg RAM, Crystal
chipset) lost sound and my kids lost interest in the games and kept bugging me to
fix the sound. This didn't happen on my laptop running Warp 4, Fixpak 12, where
I initially installed KidStuff/2. Not sure if it is related to the Crystal driver
on the Aptiva or the fact that there was some weird interaction between Object REXX
and Warp Server ebusiness I was running on the Aptiva. The music/sounds are very
creatively combined with the use of colorful graphics, and that helps to hold the
kids interest. The sessions are cleanly designed, and straight-forward, without
a lot of the clutter I see in other children's games. If you have kids between the
ages of 3 and 7 this set of games will not only keep their interest but teach/improve
some learning skills.
Finally I'd like to see the install process be loosened up to not require that
the KidStuff directory be directly off the root. I for one don't like a lot of
directories in a partition's root, preferring to move them to sub-directories grouped
according to function(ie. KidStuff should go under E:\games). Also it should not
be required that the KidStuff folder be on the Desktop for the Plus Pak objects
to be built in the folder. I like a clean desktop, and move almost all objects
to sub folders.
KidStuff for OS/2, $34.95 ordered by telephone/mail form on website; $37.07 from
Mensys website http://shop.mensys.nl/cgi-bin/db2www/mns_art2.d2w/report?catname=KIDSTUFF&username=&i1=&o=&x=9874.435l
KidStuff for OS/2 PlusPak, $15.00 ordered by telephone/mail form on website; $15.95 http://shop.mensys.nl/cgi-bin/db2www/mns_art2.d2w/report?catname=KIDSTUFF&username=&i1=&o=&x=9874.435l
The Alphabet Zoo by: Second Story Productions, Inc. (no web page found)
Kid AlphaPro for OS/2 by: NEGC Software. $15.00 http://www.bmtmicro.com/catalog/alphapro
Soup KIDchen by: Widdow Works. $22.00 http://www.bmtmicro.com/catalog/soupkidchen/