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The Learning Arcade

reprinted from Computer Shopper, August 1998

Crayola Magic Princess from IBM Corp. takes girls on a voyage through fashion history, with visits to four different epochs: Napoleon's French Empire, Ancient Greece, Medival England, and Old Japan. Each time period offers a closet full of historically acurate clothing with 72 virtual crayons-as well as a brief description of one of the era's famous women, such as Sapphos or Empress Josephine. Children can print out any clothing they decorate in either color or black and white, depending on their printer's capabilities. They can then cut out their outfits and use them to dress a 6-inch paper doll princess, which is included with the software. The program also provides "diary" entries from one fictional princess per time period. Players can pick stationary to color, decorate, and use for creating their own diaries.

Instructions are provided by a talking cat, who walks even the earliest readers through the various game options (although players have to be able to read to peruse the diaries and historical information). The historical facts are limited in scope, providing only the most cursory glimpse into the various eras, but this was clearly outweighted by the enthusiasm that our young testers displayed while exploring and decorating the clothes in the virtual wardrobe.

Magic Princess is recommended for girls ages 6 through 12, but it did not hold the intrests of girls older than 9 for very long. Even though its especially educational, Magic Princess is an entertaining and relatively inexpensive treat at under $10. If your children enjoy the program, you may want to buy the more expensive Magic Wardrobe for $30.

-Jennifer Bachman O'Brien

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