Sports Adventure. (data base) (Software Review) (Evaluation)
by Scott A. May
For a taste of the future from the comfort of your own home, explore the interactive world of Sports Adventure, where the magic of CD-ROM comes alive on your hard drive. It's the second installment in a promising series from Knowledge Adventure, whose self-titled debut put a fascinating new twist on our notions of multimedia.
Sights, sounds, and detailed information about almost every aspect of professional sports are only a mouse click away. From historic events to little-known trivia, the program allows users to pursue myriad paths of interest freely. People, places, dates, and events are dynamically linked and instantly accessible. Let curiosity be your guide.
The term multimedia is actually a misnomer here, implying the use of multiple input devices. Instead, the program is completely self-contained--a hypermedia system utilizing more than 6MB of specially compressed data. For now, the software engine offers only preset connections within a closed architecture. The publisher hints that additional modules will soon be available, as well as the capability for users to create their own data links.
A large picture window, bordered by a baroque gold frame, occupies most of the main screen. Every picture tells a story, revealed in a scrolling sidebar display. Category buttons at the top allow users to jump right into their favorite sport: baseball, basketball, football, hockey, tennis, golf, or boxing, or the Olympics. Below this, a revolving wire-frame globe lets you zoom in on countries or cities. You can even pinpoint dates, from 1869 (the invention of baseball) to 1996 (Olympic hopefuls), on the horizontal time line.
Much like the human thought process, navigation within the system can be both logical and randomly motivated. For example, click on the basketball category, and you might get information on UCLA coach John Wooden, the only person to be inducted twice into the Basketball Hall of Fame. Clicking on Wooden's picture takes you to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and a screen where you'll read about his numerous school records. Clicking on the words sky hook will take you to the index heading Strange Techniques.
Sometimes the program moves in mysterious ways, branching off into random directions with seemingly no correlation. Clicking on a picture of Tommy Aaron, for example, might send you to Jake LaMotta, Jose Canseco, or Chris Evert. Luckily, a handy U-turn button lets you back up if you get off track.
A help screen lets you rummage through the card catalog for a particular topic. Because of the immense number of entries, however, this is a slow, tedious task. Want to look up Wayne Gretzky? First, wade through dozens o. screens--one at a time. Be sure of your selection, because the U-turn function doesn't apply to the card files. A word search or bookmark option would improve this area immeasurably.
Text descriptions are ample and intelligent, sparked by a welcome sense of humor. No source of reference is given, so facts must be taken at face value. For most applications, this shouldn't present a problem. All text can be sent to the printer for offline reading.
Only a small percentage of the topics contain sound files, which are limited to brief digitized sound bites illustrating the selected sport. Examples include the telltale thwack of a baseball, the swoosh of a golf swing, or the roar of an Indy 500 car.
Despite the almost deceptive packaging, picture quality is limited to 16-color EGA. The producers claim future upgrades will support VGA or Super VGA. Although far from photographic in quality, the photos are fast-loading and attractive, culled from such sources as Sports Illustrated and the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Sports Adventure offers a gold mine of entertaining information. Anyone with a desire for knowledge should partake of the wealth. SCOTF A. MAY
IBM PC and compatibles; 512K RAM; EGA or VGA; hard drive; printer and mouse optional; supports Covox Speech Thing, Disney Sound Source, Sound Blaster, and compatible sound boards-$79.95
KNOWLEDGE ADVENTURE 4502 Dyer St. La Crescenta, CA 91214 (800) 542-4240 (818) 542-4200
Circle Reader Service Number 364