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I received a little present from my other half recently. He knows I love children's books, and Enid Blyton in particular. I never got over the "Malory Towers" phase, and on odd occasions, you can still find me daydreaming about being in a jolly boarding school, playing lacrosse at weekends, having midnight feasts and getting regular spankings with a hairbrush from Matron. So when he found the "Enid Blyton - St. Clare's Friendship Kit" for PC on Amazon, he thought he'd give me a nice wee surprise. The "kit" isn't a game, as such. It takes a similar format to Virtual Springfield, but isn't nearly as detailed. As a "player" you can explore various areas of St Clare's school, bumping into familiar characters and teachers as you go. As you nosey about people's bedside cabinets and Miss Theobald's desk drawer, you will find "hidden" areas, such as tips for revising, a school diary, and a create-your-own writing paper tool. As you explore the school, you can also collect items for a midnight feast - a cake, candles, matches, biscuits etc. These are stored in a box under a bed in the dormitory, and once you have collected all the items, there is a surprise in store! For me the game was great fun - for about, ooh, half an hour or so. However if any of you have or know of young St Clare's fans (say 8-14) I'm sure they would love it, and it might have a little more staying power for them. The best part of the Kit is getting to go around the school and meet some of the teachers and girls. It's all a bit confusing though, with some names and personalities not being quite the same as the book. From what I can gather, the Kit has been designed from the German translations of the St. Clare's books, although the game itself is in English. Some of the names have changed completely to the German book equivalents. For example, Hilary becomes Hilda, and
Mirabel is now Marianne. There is no mention of Bobby, but Roberta is there, full of mischief as usual! As she speaks to you, you will discover that Carlotta is captain of the tennis team which does not quite add up with Enid Blyton's wild creation in the original St Clare's series. Matron becomes the school nurse and cook all rolled into one, and Miss Roberts is a science teacher. This seems to be plucked from nowhere, since she teaches Maths and English in the books. The voices of the girls are great, except they forgot the twins were supposed to be Irish! (I admit that I forget that too, but it is mentioned once or twice throughout the series). "Roberta" and Alison have great voices, especially Alison, who has a rather suitable teenager-ish drawl. The things she comes out with are very typical of Blyton's original creation. Thus she is probably the most successful character in the Kit, although Miss Theobald is also captured rather well. Sadly, there is no sign of Janet, Mirabel or Gladys, although these characters are mentioned in one of the secret areas - a St Clare's quiz (but Mirabel becomes Marianne, of course). The areas you can visit are limited. Although the sports fields are mentioned, you cannot visit them, nor any other part of the grounds outside the building. The areas which allow you access are: Miss Theobald's office, where you can meet the calm and dignified Head teacher if she is in, and have a good nose around when she is out! The Kitchen, where Matron will offer you medicine, and where you can browse the dinner menus for the week, and have a peek in the fridge. The twins' dormitory, although you only get a limited view of the room. You can look at the posters on their wall, and there's even a secret diary lurking somewhere! Miss Robert's classroom, which is either being used for a boring science l
esson, or lying empty. Look out for careless pupils leaving goodies in their desks! The Notice board outside Miss Theobald's office, with pictures of pupils and staff, and notes left for people. The dining room, which doubles up as a prep room in this rather compact and economical version of St Clare's boarding school. To be honest, this is not really worth buying for die hard adult fans, but it is good fun for schoolgirls, with lots of extras related to school and friends which they will love. However, since I really am a big kid, well, I think I'll be keeping it for just now!