Thursday, May 30, 2013

Playskool Magic Touch Talking Books (finally!)

As you may recall from my last post, I said that I may be getting "Pooh: the Surprise Party Surprise", which is a book in Playskool's Magic Touch Talking Books series. I said I would be getting it if and only if my dad said yes.

He said yes.

So, now it's time to talk a little bit more about it, now that I finally have it. First off, remember Living Books? They were a very cool concept: take a book, put it on CD-ROM, add a bit of narration here, some animations and activities there, and voila, you have an excellent edutainment series. I grew up with Living Books and one of its more popular clones, the Disney Animated Storybooks. The best part about them (and what made them "living" books) was that on just about every page, you could click on the stuff on the pages and they would "come to life", in a sense. For example, you could click on a toaster and two pieces of toast would pop out, one with a moustache and one with a beret, while Frere Jacques plays in the background (French toast, get it?).

These... take a bit of a different approach. It's basically the same concept, but flipped around a little ways: you have an actual, physical book, one that has pages made out of real paper, and you would touch a picture on each page and it would play a sound.

The sounds themselves were very short; I think the longest sound (not counting the intro) is somewhere between 5 and 10 seconds long. This is because these books were made in the 90s, and many products of that time period used sound samples instead of real sounds (if you don't know what that means, think of how speech sounds in a really old arcade game like APB, Altered Beast, or Bad Dudes), because there wasn't a lot of "free space" to fit whole sounds.

As a result, a lot of the sounds sound choppy. On TV Tropes, this is known as "Mad Libs Dialogue". When you're a kid, though, you don't even notice (well, I didn't notice, anyway).

I'm in the process of making a video explaining my Magic Touch Book in greater detail, so not only will you be able to see the thing, but you can hear it, too! Unfortunately, due to technical difficulties, it's taking me longer than expected to edit the thing, so expect some delays.

Until then, I don't have many other obscure things to talk about, and I will be starting a summer session at my college soon, so I will be on hiatus for the time being. As always, though, I will keep you posted if I happen to acquire anything obscure, including Compudyne-related stuff.