PURPLE MOON: SECRET PATHS IN THE FOREST (Friendship Adventures for Girls)
Secret Paths in the Forest (made in 1997) is a title by Purple Moon, which specialized in games for the young female market. The most famous of these is probably the Rockett series. The game is recommended for girls ages 8 - 12. I feel, however, that a child of 5 could enjoy this game with the help of an adult or older child, and I am an adult and I enjoyed the game
This game will play on Windows or Mac machines.
Minimum System Requirements listed on the back of the jewel case (which is actually cardboard and plastic, with the small plastic overhang that many DVD cases now have):
Windows: 486/66 MHz, 8 MB RAM (16 MB recommended), 10 MB available hard disk space, Windows 95, SVGA graphics, 2x CD-ROM drive, 16-bit Windows compatible sound card, mouse, speakers.
Macintosh: 68040/33MHz, 8 MB RAM (5 MB available), 10 MB available hard disk space, System 7.1, 256-color monitor, 2x CD-ROM drive, speakers.
I played this game on Windows XP with absolutely no problems. I installed the game normally, then right clicked on the game icon and chose the compatibility function for Windows 95, 256 colors and 640 x 480, and it worked fine. I'm not sure if you have to use the compatibility feature or not--I just did it because it made sense to do so.
The game is entirely point and click with the mouse. There is an "adventure guide" manual that fits in the very cute little pocket of the jewel case which describes the gameplay. The game is on one CD-ROM (purple, of course!).
The game is called an adventure for girls, and that is exactly what it is. We start off with a treehouse, which can be redecorated including the pillows, style of treehouse and surrounding countryside by clicking on an icon in the upper left corner that looks like a windchime that holds different sorts of chimes (feathers, shells, etc.). On the floor of the treehouse, we find a box with two drawers. The top drawer holds a special book that describes the gameplay, with symbols located in the game and their meanings. For instance, the cursor is a ladybug that changes color over an item that can be examined, or a puzzle; a butterfly cursor will show you the way to other areas in your journey; and a heart cursor will show you special scenes. The second drawer holds a friendship box that contains little black and white representations of each of the seven little girls you will meet during your adventure. Later, they will be seen in color when you have met them. They are surrounded by little impressions in the velvet of the box, which will hold a necklace made of gems. Later on, if you leave the game, the gems will go in this box and you will be able to tell if there are more gems to obtain. There is a purple pouch with drawstring that will hold your gems for you as you travel down the paths.
During the game, we meet seven little girls who are a rainbow of diversity in culture, race, and social situations. We choose a girl and take her path, and along the way we have opportunities to hear more of her story. We have to solve little puzzles along the way, too, in order to collect gems for a necklace for each girl. When we have collected all of the gems and have given the girl her necklace, she comes to a conclusion about how she can deal with her problems in a constructive manner. Just before this conclusion, however, we are treated to an animated folktale for each girl (not necessarily from their own culture, but from different cultures all over the world, from Russia to Africa and in between). Although there were times when the association between the moral of the folk tale and the girl's story was not completely clear, usually the folk tale spoke to the girl's situation. For example, one girl's problem is that her older sister is great at everything and she feels that she is not good at anything. She and her sister and mother fight because of this. The folk tale that was told after her story was a Native American one that had to do with two sister bears who fought constantly and disrupted their community, and the journey they took together into a cave that changed their lives and caused them to live in harmony.
There are two types of graphics in this game. The treehouse and its surroundings (which are seen during our walk down the girls' paths) are in the watercolor painting-type graphics that are similar to the newly released game "Remedy." The girls are drawn in cartoon-style graphics and there is no lip-synching or anything like that. Their stories are told in a sort of frame-by-frame cartoon style. The folk tales are also in a cartoon style that is frame-by-frame, but the art styles are in tune with the culture of the folk tale.
There are hotspots on the paths that cause ambient sounds like insects, water and wind. There are sound effects here and there for events (like fruit falling from a tree), and also the voices of the young girls. I was very impressed with the voice acting of the young girls, which did not seem forced or artificial. The adult voices in the folk tales are also very good.
The puzzles in this game are not meant to stump an adult, although there were a couple of times when I wasn't sure what to do next. Most of the puzzles involve listening and looking at the environment and figuring out which items in the environment can be manipulated. For instance, you might move an insect to feed a hungry bird. There are other types of puzzles in each story that can be made slightly more difficult by clicking a flower bush at the lower left-hand corner of the screen, and increasing the number of flowers from one to two. This sort of puzzle involves things like clicking on flowers and realizing that they light up and make sounds in a certain order, and then clicking on them in that same order to win a gem. One very funny thing that happens is that after a puzzle has been solved it can be solved again and again, but instead of a gem we get an (often puzzled-looking) hedgehog that rolls in and does different things depending on how many times he has arrived in the puzzle. In addition to the puzzles, there are swirly areas in the path that can be clicked on to hear and see another part of the little girl's story.
This game is a wonderful game for little girls who are starting in adventure games, or for women who love folk tales and remember what it was like to sit in a treehouse and tell stories with friends. As long as you don't expect too much from the puzzles, this game gets an A.
There is a website mentioned (www.purple-moon.com
) on the jewel case; however, when I checked this I was redirected to everythinggirl.com, which apparently handles Barbie, Polly Pocket and other similar websites. I didn't see Purple Moon anywhere, so I'm not sure if they are in business any longer.