The Magic School Bus Explores The Human Body

Developer/Publisher:  Microsoft
Year Released:  1994

Review by Sandy Ferguson (February, 1995)
busbod.jpgThis multimedia science adventure from the Microsoft Home Series in which Microsoft and Scholastic have combined to produce quality software for children is a sheer delight. Based on the Magic School Bus stories by Joanna Cole, and illustrated by Bruce Degen, it goes well beyond the electronic book.

Educational and fun, the game is based around a group of children going on a field trip with their wacky teacher, Ms Frizzle. However Arnold, one of her students, is reluctant to go so the bus drives off - but far from Arnold missing out on the field trip "Friz" turns him into one! She shrinks the bus down to the size of a biscuit and Arnold swallows it, along with his classmates, Ms Frizzle and, of course, you. Your only escape is by exploring his body and you need to inspect twelve different body parts before you know enough to do so.

After the state-of-the-art Multimedia introduction in which you meet your new classmates, the colourful science classroom in which you find yourself is captivating. It is multimedia at it's very best, eventful, entertaining and educational. You will be lost in a world of intrigue as the objects you click on burst into life. Fish jump out of bowls, science experiments animate, classmates talk to you, you become part of the action.

Journey of a lifetime
Next you're on the trip of your life travelling in three dimensions through Arnold's body With twelve body parts to explore, 12 science experiments, 12 games, and dozens of fact sheets and reports, this is a learning experience the traveller will enjoy immensely. The wild and wacky animations are superb. The young user although fully involved and immersed will never feel insecure as "Liz" an adorable animated lizard sits somewhere at the edge of the screen and just has to be clicked on for help.

Gurgling and squelching
The Body Map kept in the glove compartment informs the user what body parts they have discovered, so they can see which parts they need to visit in order to escape from Arnold's innards. Morphing the bus and the splat pages are enthralling, body parts float around and when clicked onto the splat page made various splatters, each with it's own gurgling squelching noise. The arcade style games available at each major organ will spur the interest of most young users.

This CD is aimed at the 6-10 age group, however I felt that the younger child would need substantial parental help, whilst children of a few years older than 10 would find this game fascinating, even though they would progress through the adventure much quicker.

Included with the CD there is a well thought out Passport with clear instructions for both loading and using the program. At the back of this document the Passport pages can be used to write and paste stamps of the visited body parts.

The Magic School Bus is a Microsoft flagship product in the area of goal oriented exploration, with the primary objective of establishing themselves as the premier supplier of software for this category. If this package is the indicator then they are backing a winner! rating:  

Copyright © Sandy Ferguson 1995. All rights reserved.

System requirements:
CD ROM, 486SX25 (33 recommended), 4MB RAM (8 recommended), SVGA, Mouse, Win 3.1