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New Videogames of 12/19/1997: Frogger and Ariel's Story Studio

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CALL IT THE MOPPET SHOW: seven standout CD-ROM games that will captivate and educate the kids—and might even teach their parents a thing or two.

PICKLE’S BOOK Artist Thoru Yamamoto’s delightful interactive story- book follows the misadventures of Pickle, a sprightly, hapless prince who lives in a kingdom of friendly clickable characters (a violin-playing cat, a flying fried-egg guy). Kids and parents will giggle at Pickle’s singsong nonsense. A

CHAOS ISLAND: THE LOST WORLD Set up base camp and hatch your own fearsome raptors in this strategy game featuring animated versions of Jeff Goldblum, Julianne Moore, and other stars from the movie. Not as confusing as other games in this jungle-busting genre, Lost World is quite a specimen. A-

ARIEL’S STORY STUDIO Timed to meet inquisitive and acquisitive instincts aroused by the rerelease of Disney’s classic animated movie The Little Mermaid, Studio lets Ariel wannabes imagineer their own stories, with musical interludes featuring such familiar tunes as ”Under the Sea.” A cool word-exchange function lets kids sharpen their vocabulary skills. A-

FUN WITH ARCHITECTURE For your Frank Lloyd Wright in the making, FWA is a comprehensive interactive ”book” that teaches basics of architecture. A drawing program helps youngsters create and print fantasy buildings by borrowing from a colorful catalog of shapes and landscapes. B

FROGGER The beloved early-’80s arcade game leaps into the ’90s with fancy 3-D graphics and some new warts, notably the dopey heat-seeking tongue. Fortunately, the elegantly simple goal of the original Frogger—hopping across swamps and highways unscathed—is still the name of the game. B

CROC: LEGEND OF THE GOBBOS Saturn and PlayStation owners can’t play Super Mario 64 on their consoles, but they have the next best thing in Croc, a shameless knockoff of last year’s Nintendo hit. Steer a cutesy crocodile through a colorful waterworld to save the Gobbos from evil wizard Baron Dante. Never mind that Croc is primevally formulaic: The mudflat frolics will swamp the kids with fun. B

NIGHTMARE NED Help yo-yo-slinging Ned—a cross between Charlie Brown and the rascal from Calvin and Hobbes—escape cartoon worlds haunted by over-the-top figments of his worst nightmares. Though the game is a snoozer for older boys and girls, the slow-paced action and enchanting animation make it a charm for the younger set. B-

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