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By WILLIAM LAMPKIN
© St. Petersburg Times, published August 30, 1999
Hasbro has taken a pair of long-popular board games -- Candy Land and Operation -- and transplanted them to the PC. Unfortunately, the patient isn't doing well.
Candy Land is targeted for ages 3 and up, while Operation is ages 5 and up. But both games seem to be geared toward the lower end of the age ranges.
Candy Land isn't challenging enough to hold my 6-year-old's attention for long, though her 31/2-year-old sister plays it occasionally.
Play is similar to the board game: You move your gingerbread man from square to square along the winding path based on the color of the candy you get. First player to the Candy Castle wins. There are eight diversions along the way where you can interact with characters and play gentle games. For instance, Mr. Mint and the Peppermint Forest give players a chance to make music by clicking on a variety of items on the screen; and in Jolly and the Gumdrop Mountains, you help Jolly catapult gumdrops back into the Gumdrop Mountains to stop the mountains' colors from fading.
While Operation is a bit too difficult for my younger daughter, her older sister can whiz through the 25 patient levels in less than half an hour.
Operation offers five hospitals -- main, prehistoric, haunted, space and rain forest -- with patients that match the location. Players choose either the classic Operation game where you use tweezers to remove parts such as the funny bone, wind pipe and spare rib, or arcade games related to the hospital the patient is in. Arcade games include Frog in the Throat, where you help a frog avoid falling food and get out of a patient's throat; Medical Melodies, a musical memory game; and Gasteroids, an Asteroids-like game where you blast indigestion bubbles with antacid. In multiplayer mode, only the classic tweezer game is available.
Neither of the games have much depth nor advance the board games very far. Though they are relatively inexpensive as far as computer games go ($15 to $20), you would be better off buying the old-fashioned board games. The board games give you a chance to play and talk with your kids -- a much more rewarding experience for everyone.
Platforms: Candy Land, Windows 95/98 and Macintosh; Operation, Windows 95/98.
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