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CONNECTIONS

Reviewed by  Mr. Bill & Lela


British science guru James Burke believes that learning can and should be fun, and he started the PBS TV show 'Connections' to prove that point. The highly acclaimed series became a world wide hit with over 65 million loyal viewers, eventually spawning both a best selling book and the award winning sequel series, 'Connections 2', seen on The Learning Channel.

Burke also believes that computers are the ideal medium for education, even more so than TV, since they provide a virtual 'hands-on' interactive experience of the material, and he has created this great educational adventure game, based on his show, to demonstrate that point. We couldn't agree with him more.

The discovery of anything new (and the resulting advance in civilization) relies on the ability to be able to see the potential connection between two other things. As Burke explains it, we now live in a time and space 'web' of these interconnections which were made in the past. Any given object or event in our present day world is not there by chance, but instead can be traced back through history to all of the prerequisite ideas and events which led up to it. And to leave out any one of them from this 'chain' would result in chaos. To illustrate how it works, he presents us with the connections between certain world changing inventions and discoveries, and lets us experience first-hand the process of simple observation and logical conclusions which led to them.

As the game begins, Burke informs you that a disaster is imminent. Certain links in the chain of cause and effect are missing, and as a result there is a rift in the web and chaos threatens. He needs your help. You must travel back in time through virtual reality, tracing the links and repairing and replacing any missing ones, to make sure that each chain is complete. Of course in order to do this, it will be necessary for you to both find any missing ingredients or parts for the innovations and understand the inspiration which created them.

This is a 1st person, point and click game with inventory. It was produced for the Discovery Channel, and their high standards of quality show (they also published Byzantine). In tracing the historical connections, you will visit places as diverse as an Egyptian tomb, a Medieval castle and an Old West saloon, among others, and the surreal 3D virtual worlds are beautifully rendered and lushly detailed. The mood is upbeat and non-threatening, with occasional interjections of unexpected humor, and the 'live-action' actors are good.

As you would expect given the subject matter, the puzzles are varied and unusual, dealing with things as familiar as a #2 pencil to things as unfamiliar (at least to us) as an oscilloscope. All of the puzzles are interesting and fun and none are too difficult, but there is a built-in hint system if you should need one.

When you complete each chain, you move on to another realm. And as you complete each individual link in a chain, you are treated to a video clip from the TV show, detailing that particular item's historical significance and how it impacted civilization's development. For example, what is the connection between a common match and a modern TV set, or between a pencil and the Apollo moon landing?

It is a fascinating game, a mind-expanding experience that leaves you with new insights and appreciation for both science and history. Education that entertains ..... a better way to learn!


Full View Screenshot

Produced (1995) by Discovery Channel Multimedia.

Minimum System Requirements: Hybrid Win / Mac CD ROMs! (Hybrid means PC and MAC versions are on the same CDs.)

Where To Buy This Game:

Walkthroughs or Hints:

"Walkthrough" available here!


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