Adventures with Pooka and Bartok

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Type of Product
Anastasia: Adventures with Pooka and Bartok is a children's game based on the film, Anastasia. It is designed to challenge, educate and entertain. It is illustrated with more than 60 hand-painted scenes and original animation, including backgrounds from the movie. It also features original voice-over tracks from Meg Ryan who stars as the title character's voice in the movie. Price: $34.98 but I have seen it for as low as $14.95 at the Fox Store online. Fox Interactive
User Level
Anastasia is designed for children, ages 6-12. It has activities that reinforce a variety of exploration, problem-solving and logic skills. There are multiple options and outcomes for each activity, and various responses from each of the characters.

Story Line. In Anastasia, you help the orphaned Anya journey from the back alleys of St. Petersburg to the glistening streets of Paris in her quest to unlock the mystery of her true identity. Like most orphans, Anya has long wondered about her real family, whether she still has any living relatives and where they might be. Now that she is finally old enough to leave the Russian orphanage where she was raised, she can set out to solve the mystery, starting with her only clue: a pendant she has worn since childhood which reads, "Together in Paris." Anya can't complete her journey without your help. As her faithful puppy Pooka, it will be your responsibility to help track down the items needed to get her through each stage of the adventure. But you need to watch for the evil minions of Rasputin. They are everywhere, waiting to foil your efforts and send you into the depths of the underworld where only your wits and instincts will get you out again. You need to pay attention to Bartok. While he's not exactly on your side, he sometimes spills helpful hints.

The Diary. After you start the program, you will see Anya's diary. You click on the cover to open it. Each diary entry introduces a different chapter of the adventure and contains information that you may find useful. To hear Anya read the text, you click on the picture. On the right side of the screen is the diary's bookmark, showing four different options: Save, Load, Quit and Help.

The Adventures. Following each diary entry is an interactive adventure. During the adventure segments the bookmark will display items that Pooka has acquired. There are five adventure locations with different goals:

St. Petersburg
Goal: Find out where Dimitri is.
Tip: The fortune-teller will help you. . .for a price.
The Palace
Goal: Find Dimitri in the palace.
Tip: Can you find the secret door?
Train Ride to Paris
Goal: Find materials to create new passports.
Tip: The luggage car is somewhere around here...
Aboard the Ship
Goal: Wake up Dimitri so he can save Anya.
Tip: What's that cork doing on the floor?
Goal: Find where Bartok hid the ballerina's slipper.
Tip: If you get frustrated, just vent it!

Underworld Challenges. Pooka occasionally takes a wrong turn. If you happen to run into a minion and wind up in the underworld, you still have four ways of getting out. Each cave contains a different arcade-style challenge. Select one, defeat the minions within, and you will be returned to your place in the adventure. If you lose, you will be sent back to try again or to select a different challenge.

      1. Doggy Dodge--You are trapped at the bottom of a chasm. At the top, Bartok flies back and forth, trying to drop rocks on you. If he hits you three times, you lose. To win and escape, you must make Bartok drop the rocks in such a way that you can climb up to the exits located at the upper right and upper left of the screen.

      2. Minion Mosh Pit--You are stranded in a pool of lava, with the rocks around you arranged in a pattern. If the minions surround you, you lose. To win, you must eliminate all of the minions by jumping over them.

      3. Hidden Maze--A maze separates you from an exit on the other side of the cave. After a few seconds, the maze disappears and a minion appears. If the minion catches you before you can make it to the exit, you lose.

      4. Skull Toss--Minions are advancing toward you from the slime. If they reach you, you lose. To win and escape you must use your pile of skulls to knock all the minions back into the slime.
Personal Comments
The graphics, animation, and sound are great. There could be more clickable items and clues, though. Some of our young reviewers had difficulty getting around. Young children need more clues so they don't get frustrated and give up. It is a worthwhile program for children who loved the movie and characters and want a challenge.
System Requirements
Processor: 486/66
Operating System: Windows 3.1/95
Memory: 4MB (8MB total)
Hard Disk Space: 3MB minimum installation
Sound Card: 8-bit digital sound, 8 note synthesizer, MIDI playback
Screen Resolution: 640 x 480, 256 colors

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