Spring 5758/1998 Vol. 58 No. 3
Bytes & PCs
Getting Your Words' Worth
By Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein
I have studiously avoided reviewing games and kids' stuff. But when I received an unsolicited copy of The Jewish Hero Corps (IBM/Mac, Jewish Multimedia Center, 914-426-0400, $25), the cover art looked so attractive I decided to install it for my children. It was a good decision.
"The Jewish Hero Corps" is actually the title of a series of CD comic books, only the first of which has been published. Everything about it has the feel of the "real thing." The music could have come from a feature film; the voices are varied and professional. Best of all, the visuals are exciting and a delight to any kid (and to some of their parents who may recall the comics they read as kids, if they will admit it!)
The quality is no surprise. Michael Netzer, the illustrator, worked on Spider Man, Batman, and Wonder Woman before he became observant. "Dreidel Maydel" is a product of his transition. She does quite well as a heroine in completely modest attire, and like all the members of the Hero Corps, triumphs over the bad guys (the dread Forget-Me-Bots, who have developed an "unmemory chip" which they use to get people to forget the richness of their Judaism) without glorifying violence. What they lack in the martial arts, they make up for in attitude. Yarmulkah Youth, Magen David and Menorah Man each find ways to push positive Torah values. Hard as it is to believe, JHC was put together so well, that it will be educational to the child with weak background, while still appealing to the one with much stronger education. My six- and eight-year-olds didn't really learn anything that they didn't already know, and they don't watch television. Yet they came back to the CD again and again, playing with some of the games that are included, and exploring different ways to make the story progress.
Much of the draw is the result of all the flexibility the CD medium allows. Space allows for the user to choose between different options, driving the tale in different directions. Future episodes aim at providing eight different choice levels.
Alan Oirich is the animating spirit behind all of this. He is full of enthusiasm for the project, as well as the know-how that comes with directing the Jewish Student Network for seven years. In that capacity, he learned the ropes of alternative and creative modes of Jewish learning. From the feel of this product, it looks like he learned well.
Jewish Action - The Magazine of The Orthodox Union