CD-ROM review: Mastermind BBC Multimedia, pounds 29.99

The chair, the music, the specialised subjects, the general knowledge, even Magnus Magnusson, everything is to be found on the CD-Rom version of the soon-to-be-deceased quiz game. Only the questions have been changed - and they are considerably easier than on the TV show. If you want to answer questions on "The later films of Luis Bunuel", you can forget it. You won't get more specialised than "Cinema" in this version.

As usual, you have two minutes to answer as many questions as you can, but the difficulty of shouting your answers at a computer screen is overcome by offering a clever version of multiple choice. There are three options for each question, which begin with just one letter of the answers and slowly spell themselves out - consuming more of your time - until you click your mouse on your selection.

With only 5,000 questions in all, there is bound to be some repetiton on each successive attempt at the game, until you have learnt all the questions and answers. Perhaps this is all to the good. When watching Mastermind, we like to be baffled (at least in the specialist topics) and gain vicarious intellectual thrills by watching the clever clogs competitors displaying their erudition. When playing oursleves, however, it's an advantage to get the answers right. And anyone making an exceptionally high score (which can certainly be achieved with practice) is encouraged to send the details to BBC Multimedia together with a code that appears onscreen to check that you haven't been cheating. When you make a top score for your own installation of the game, incidentally, Magnus announces the results with the words: "And congratulations are due because, with a new Mastermind record of 24 (say) points, is contender one." Is this English?

As a general knowledge quiz game, it's a lot of fun. As an evocation of the TV programme, it's excellently produced. But, with multiple choice and relatively easy questions, it isn't Mastermind.

BBC Multimedia (01483 268888)

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