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As part of the Mumbo Jumbo portfolio of games, the all-new Etch A Sketch, with the tag line of “The classic drawing toy comes to life!”, brings together drawing elements and arcade-style gaming. Etch A Sketch consists of four elements that can be accessed from the program’s opening menu. For fans of the original Etch A Sketch device, there is a computerised version that allows you to create your own masterpieces. The familiar left and right knobs are there and these turn as you drag on them with a mouse. Of course, if you prefer, there is a four-way compass pad available on the screen or you could opt for the cursor pad on your keyboard.
As with the original product, by manipulating both controls at the same time you can draw curves and diagonals. The computer version does add a few extra elements. You can replay the current drawing; save it; print it; send it as an email; or make it your wallpaper. Some examples are provided to help you get started and these can be embellished with your own personalised touches.
A second module, available from the menu, gives you access to a range of some colouring tools. These tools include a pencil, crayon, chalk plus fill and spray implements. The particular colour to be applied is selected by clicking on a rising stream of balloons. Unfortunately this module is limited in that it only allows you to work with various supplied outlined pictures. Some of these pictures are initially locked until progress has been made in the various games. As before images can be saved, printed or send by email.
In addition to the drawing and colouring modules, Etch A Sketch also contains a couple of games. The main game, entitled Knobby’s Quest, involves guiding Knobby through the Land of Aha in order to rescue his friend and put right the damage caused by Grizelda the Witch, Bearing more than a passing resemblance to the Pacman of old, Knobby is a perpetual-motion individual who needs a good deal of help and guidance.
You will need to draw lines that he can walk along to avoid obstacles. These lines, which often need to be draw precisely otherwise Knobby ignores them, do tend to disintegrate rather quickly. Lines can also be used to provide temporary protection from attaching creatures. Paths will need to be cleared by setting off dynamite and Knobby will need to be encouraged to jump between levels.
Status bars appear on screen giving an indication as to the level of magic ink available for drawing lines; creative power; and health. Points are awarded for collecting treasure. However be aware that once your lives are used up, the game will end.
The final mode is entitled Bounce. This is a version of the old Breakout game. You need to keep Knobby bouncing towards obstacles that need to be destroyed while avoiding various hazards. The direction in which Knobby moves is governed by the lines you draw on screen. As with the Quest game these lines are temporary and quickly disappear. Unlike the Quest game, Knobby’s lives are automatically replenished once they have been used up.
Although Etch A Sketch has been rated as suitable for everybody, the various modules and style of game play will appeal more to the younger members of the family. This product requires a Pentium II 600MHz processor, 256MB of RAM and 104MB of hard disk space running Windows XP/Vista. Available as an online purchase, Etch A Sketch has been priced at $19.99.
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