20 Puzzles for Fun

Review of CD-ROM Title : Art Puzzle

Paris:- Tuesday,4. June 1996:- Last Thursday I went to the Marché St. Germain to see what the 'Fête des 20 Ans du Multimedia' was all about. On the rue Félibien side there is a small hall, with an auditorium above, and in the hall were several multimedia stands.

The purpose of the 'Fête' was to show the French titles for the 5th Möbius International Prize, to be held in Paris in September. There has been a pre-selection and 41 titles have been chosen to compete for international recognition.

The CD-ROM title, 'Art Puzzle' volume one, is not one of the selected titles. Yet, Mme. Veronique Leroi had rented a stand, equipped it with her own Macintosh, and was showing the title she conceived, Art Puzzle.

 artpuzzle1.jpg (16k)

artpuzzle2.jpg (14k)

Mme Leroi worked with professionals to transform her idea into a product, and she was presenting it - in its commercial package, in its 'jewel' case, demonstrating how it worked and selling it on the spot for cash: 199 francs, all taxes included.

She was doing this by herself in a setting that was crammed to the - real - rafters with every conceivable official organization of the state and all the big commercial editors - in short - the top of the French multimedia establishment, as well as several international organizations. If I can mix genders here a little bit - this is in the realm of David and Goliath with Mme. Leroi as 'David.'

Art Puzzle is pretty simple, like all good ideas. There are five categories - music, animals, scenes, dance and children - and each contains four works by master painters. You pick a category, you click forward or backward to pick a particular painting, and when you click the puzzle-button the painting falls into puzzle-pieces, outside of the picture window. You use the mouse with a 'hand' cursor to move the pieces into the blank picture area. If a piece is the wrong way around, you double-click it to rotate it 90 degrees. If the piece is near its correct location, it snaps into place with a little 'bip' sound.

I called on my official eight-year-old 'tester' for an evaluation and he had no trouble figuring it out - without using the available 'Aide.' While doing the puzzle, he could choose to see the whole picture by clicking on its icon in a window, somewhat like looking at a puzzle box lid.

By guessing, I would say each puzzle contains about 50 pieces, but it is not a simple matter to put together 'Cheval Attaqué Par un Jaguer' by Henri Rousseau, with all its detailed vegetation. This was challenging enough for my tester to declare, "It's a great game."

tester.jpg (16k) When the puzzle is complete, a 'citation' appears in one window and a 'commentary' appears in another. If you click on the commentary, details about the painter appear in the window. All of the text is in French. It is possible as well to view all the paintings with the citations and commentaries, without doing the puzzles. When you do this, you can also 'zoom' the painting to a larger size.
The program runs smoothly, on my Mac at least, and during the test there were no unpleasant surprises, other than an occasional color-palette shift. The musical accompaniment is well-done, continuous and is non-distracting to serious puzzlers.

Mme. Leroi told me that foreign-language versions are planned as well as additional volumes. I salut Mme. Leroi for her idea and the perseverance in getting it produced - especially since it proves that an independent producer can compete with the biggest, most established, super-capitalized multimedia multinationals - and put a good product on the market that sells for about half the going rate. I'm sure my 'tester' would salut Mme. Leroi too.

artpuzzle3.jpg (13k) The 'Art Puzzle' CD-ROM will run on both Macintosh and Wintel computers. For Mac, a 68040 processor, system 7 and QuickTime are required. For Wintel, a 386 DX processor with Windows 3.1 and a sound-card are required.

Either one requires four Mo of RAM, with eight recommended. The Wintel version is compatible with Windows 95. The QuickTime system extension is included for both versions. Both platforms require 14-inch monitors with 256 colors and double-speed CD-ROM drives.

After my recent rant and rave about the CD-ROM 'Musée d'Orsay' not running on Macs with 68030 processors, I can see now that the faster '040 chips are necessary - at least for the continuous sound effect - and the new QuickTime-VR. Older Macs can support the latest system extensions of QuickTime and the Sound Manager, so I don't know if this CD-ROM would not play on them (it has no QT-VR scenes) - unless it was specifically programmed not to.
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