by John Foster illustrated by Korky Paul
narrated by Harry Enfield & Sandy Toksvig
ISBN 0192683934 Oxford University Press
Enter the dragon's lair at your peril! Explore the labyrinth of tunnels and you'll find every kind of dragon you can think of - and some you'd sooner not think of. Pet dragons, dragons chasing teachers, with the vet, playing the banjo, purple dragons, and fiery dragons. Once you reach the lair, hear a song about your chosen dragon - with the text on-screen you can sing along too! "DRAGONS!" lets you choose how and where to explore: click on the library door to hear lots of funny poems being read aloud, go straight to the main screens for the click-and-play musical numbers, or spend your time in the labyrinth of tunnels. The disc also doubles up as an audio CD, so you can listen to your favourite songs again and again.
"DRAGONS!" has plenty to amuse and entertain young children as they discover that dragons are not always what they seem.
My 22-month-old son, Samuel, was in fits of laughter over Dragons. He roared with delight as water sploshed, flame puffed and bats squeaked in the cavern - good sound effects throughout and lovely, scribbly drawings with lots of jokes - and he bounced with delight when the Spiky dragon tramped through the maze of tunnels to select a poem door.
The maze leads to six screens with poems and music, as well as games of varying complexity. Another door leads to a library, where you can pick books off the shelf and hear the poems read.
But opinions were sharply divided among testers. Samuel and the adults loved it, while the older children - the target audience - were less impressed. Katie (aged five) and Tim (aged nine), the scourges of the test-driving section of their local software shop, only tested "DRAGONS!" as a favour, and have not glanced at it since.
They had no problem loading it, and could get on with it by themselves without help, but they found the Dragon's lair "stupid", and were frustrated that they couldn't guide Spiky through the maze themselves. The songs and poems were listened to with polite interest, but nothing more.
They finally gave up when the poem called Dragon Birth crashed the machine - which the CD-Rom did repeatedly on everything except the minimum installation. Samuel's joy, meanwhile, knew no bounds.
GUARDIAN ON-LINE SECTION 1 AUG 96, MK