Genre:   Adventure

Developer:   Ruske & Puhretmaier Edutainment

Publisher:    HEUREKA‑Klett Software, Viva Media (Tivola)

Released:  2001

PC Requirements:   WIN 95, 98, ME, NT, 2000, XP
Pentium PC 166 MHz, 64 MB RAM, SVGA-graphics card (16-bit), sound card, CD-ROM drive (8x speed), 120 MB free hard disk space

MAC Requirements: MAC OS 8.1, Power PC, 64 MB RAM, graphics card (32.768 colors), sound card, CD-ROM drive (8x speed), 120 MB free hard disc space





by Namma



Education + Entertainment = Edutainment

I believe that every adventure game has some degree of edutainment value. We have had to learn new numbering systems, interpret cultural symbols and patterns and even decipher representational sounds.  Games like Aztec, Egypt 1156 B.C., and Titanic: An Adventure Out of Time are examples of one type of edutainment game. They usually include an encyclopedia within the game, as an extra bonus. These in-game encyclopedias are usually informative and can add quite a lot to your enjoyment of the game, but since it isn’t necessary to use them to complete the game, I consider this type of game to be ‘lite-edutainment.’

However the elite of the edutainment games ideally focus on one subject, and you will need to use a particular reference source throughout these games.  For example, Nacah and Derek use specific verses from the King James version of the Bible as clues for most of the puzzles.  Over the past few years, Tivola has developed a line of edutainment games based on academic subjects.   And entertaining they are! 

Welcome to Biology 101

Bioscopia is a research compound where experiments were performed to provide robots with a new level of artificial intelligence through biological means.  The goal was to provide the robots with enough human traits so that they would be suitable for slave labor. But these experiments went amiss and allowed the robots to take control of the compound.  Most of the scientists who conducted these experiments presumably escaped.  One assistant boldly intercedes and cuts off the main energy source to the robots, prohibiting them from leaving Bioscopia.

Our part in the story begins with a young, enthusiastic scientist and her journey to find the Bioscopia compound.  Once she arrives at the compound, she inadvertently returns some power to the robots that then take her captive using poisonous gases.  She will need a special antidote to save her life.  You, the gamer, will need to discover what that antidote is and how to make it.  Now that the robots are functional again, they will attempt to prohibit your access to parts of the compound, so you will also need to figure out how to gain entry to those sections. 

As you step inside the Bioscopia compound you immediately get the feeling of being trapped, as a large metal gate slams shut behind you.  The surrounding area seems almost devoid of any natural beauty and has the appearance of having been abandoned quite a long time ago.  You are facing a myriad of old metal structures and huge brick walls that have unkempt ivy trailing over them. The concrete roadway is a cracked and weeds are creeping through.  Ahead of you is another large gate that is locked.  The street is lined with large boulders and metal barrels leading to a locked building. On the right is a rusty ladder that leads to a room that overlooks the compound. 

Pop Quiz

Seems like the typical adventure game; solve puzzles to advance the story and open new areas.  But in this type of edutainment game, nearly all the answers are included in a single reference source; in Bioscopia this reference source is the Big Brain.  The Big Brain is a computer containing information about biology.  It’s divided into five separate biology subjects; botany, cellular biology, genetics, human biology and zoology.  Using the Big Brain is fairly simple.  You choose one of the biology subjects, and then make a selection from one of the subcategories.  You can choose as much time or as little time as you wish to read each of the different topics.  Narration accompanies all the information in the Big Brain, and many of the topics have illustrations. 

There are a lot of puzzles that are multiple choice questions. When you are doing the multiple choice questions, you can either attempt to answer the question or visit the Big Brain to find the answer. There is no penalty for incorrect answers – this made it a lot of fun to attempt to answer the questions on my own.   Most of the other puzzles are mechanical and inventory types.  There are some sound and color-based puzzles, but there are no sliders, mazes, or timed puzzles.  The Bioscopia complex itself is a bit confusing, though, and you may want to map it out for your own convenience. 

Audio-Visual Aides

In comparison to some other games released the same year, the graphics in Bioscopia are simplistic, but are still quite good. Most details are clear, and I found very few spots that had even the smallest degree of pixelation or graininess.  I applaud the game designers’ choice to not make the game world totally indoors.  By creating an environment that allows for quite a bit of outdoor wandering, they were able to show details that helped immerse you deeper into the game.  Grass that grows wild, overgrown weeds, vines creeping along neglected paths – all added to my feeling that I really was in an abandoned compound.

What I found most appealing about the graphics was how well they were integrated with the sounds.  Watching the doors sliding shut or levers turning, the squeaking seemed to echo in the silence.  The sounds some of the buttons make when you push them makes it clear that they are made of a rubbery type of material.  Background sounds are realistic and abundant. The birds chirp gaily when you are outside, breaking the stillness, and lending an authentic air to the solitude of your surroundings.  While most locations do not have background music, the little music the game does have is very pleasant.  Speech is limited to the Big Brain computer and video sequences.  You have the option to have most of the lines of speech repeated to you -- I never had to because they were exceptionally clear the first time.   

Open Your Books

The game is played entirely from a first person point of view.  The game is a 2D photorealistic slideshow with several FMV (full motion video) sequences.  The recommended screen resolution is 1024 X 768, which allows the game to utilize about 75% of your screen. I would have preferred full screen instead.  You can play it in 800 X 600, but it feels as if you are playing in a very small window.  Installation is done from the first disc and the game is played entirely from the second disc so there is no disc swapping.

Menu options are accessible via a CD icon above the game window in the upper right corner.  These options include save, load, quit game, volume control, turning the narrator on/off and screen fade on/off.  The screen fade describes how the screens slide from one scene to the next.  Saving and loading are simple, and the game provides unlimited saves, as well as a warning if you want to overwrite a previous save. The only other option in the game menu is quick access to the Big Brain.

Inventory is easily managed and never cumbersome.  At the lower right, below the game screen, is a metal canister that holds everything.  One click on the canister and it will slide open to reveal everything you have.  Adding things to your inventory involves the typical drag and drop motion with the mouse.

Most of the navigation throughout the game is straightforward and completely mouse-driven.  There is the pointing finger for going forward, left, right, up, down and turning around.  An open hand indicates that some type of interaction can take place.  However, there are times where you may miss the difference between going forward and going up or down because the hand cursors are extremely similar.  This was only a minor annoyance, and did not happen often.  A slightly bigger annoyance was the lack of any indication of some hotspots.  These can be a bit confusing in the beginning until you become accustomed to them.   

Final Exam

You do not need to be a biology whiz to enjoy Bioscopia.  In fact you need no biology knowledge at all.  You only need to enjoy learning something new.  More than once I found myself looking for a particular answer in the Big Brain, but allowed myself to be sidetracked into reading more than I really needed to know at that point.  The information was a great deal more interesting than I remembered biology to be. I also found that the multiple choices questions were a good way to test my own level of basic biology.  They also occasionally provided humorous touches as in this example:

What significantly disturbs the ecological balance of the earth?

1) The clearing of the rainforest

2) Physical Education

3) Homework


If Biology had been this much fun when I was in school, I probably would have had significantly better grades. 

Final Grade:  B+


Recommended Edutainment Games:




Isles of Derek


Recommended Lite-Edutainment Games:


Egypt 1156 B.C.

Egypt II

The Egyptian Prophesy

Paris 1313


The Messenger

Titanic: An Adventure out of Time


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