Educational software for the Amstrad computer range is scarce, and what is available is very substandard. Caesar's Travels is one of those rare exceptions, being well packaged and presented - it looks and feels as professionally done as today's entertainment software.
Caesar's Travels comes in the form of a book written by James Mercer. Aimed at an age range of 3 to 9, it suits both pre-readers (obviously accompanied with an adult) and early readers. The computer cassette contains an abbreviated form of the story, but with the added advantage of animated action. Poor old Caesar has been kicked out into the streets for not doing his job properly: catching mice. You take on the role of this miserable cat. Via the keyboard input that you supply, different outcomes to the story may occur. The idea is that you find a new home for yourself. Naturally you have many adventures along the way - it's not all a bed of catnips.
Only eight keys are involved. This is an excellent idea, as it will not confuse and thus put off any youngsters. The number keys from 1 to 6 are used to instruct Caesar to perform certain actions. For example, pressing 1 will cause Caesar to run and pressing 3 will make the cat jump.
Two other keys are Enter and the spacebar. Enter is needed when answering certain questions that crop up from time to time. For example, a number of objects may appear on the screen - in one case nine sausages appeared. You must count them up, then press the correct number key (9 in this ease), followed by Enter. The spacebar is used to continue or start a new game.
To make things easier for a child, all the keys and their associated use are printed on a card which can easily be placed on the keyboard. The game itself is very good, the text appearing at the top of the screen while Caesar cavorts amid relevant scenery at the bottom. Once you have instructed Caesar what course he should take, he carries out his actions graphically before the next section of text pops up.
Overall, this is an excellent way to introduce toddlers to reading. They can see their words enacted on screen, and we all know a picture is worth a thousand words. The text appears on screen line by line, at a pace a youngster can handle. Times are played at various stages in the game, adding to the atmosphere and overall enjoyment.
AMSTRAD ACTION #15