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Alien Tales (also known as Reading Galaxy) is a computer game designed to teach reading comprehension to children ages 9 to 13.
The game takes place somewhere in deep space, where the Interstellar Broadcast System is broadcasting a game show called Alien Tales, hosted by Sal of de Century and his assistant, Wanna B. The player competes against aliens from all over the galaxy, each of which claims to have written a different classic children's book. It is up to the player to prove that each alien contestant is lying by answering questions about the book's plot and author, sending the plagiarist home in disgrace and winning Starbucks and "scads of scintillating prizes". Available at the time for Windows 3.x, Windows 95, Macintosh, and Power Macintosh. Minimum specs can be found here.
The player first chooses among the celebrity plagiarists and the books they claim to have written. After the selected contestant tells a little about him/herself, round one begins.
Round one is either Ganymede Squares, a bingo-like game involving multiple-choice answers, or To Tale the Truth, in which the alien states a fact from the synopsis of the book, and the player must determine whether it is true or false. If the player gets it right, s/he can then swap two of the jumbled pieces of the picture in order to reassemble it. The player also receives a number of Starbucks for each correct answer. On unscrambling the picture, the player earns additional Starbucks according to the number of remaining tries.
Round two is Beat the Krok, a timed crossword-like game. The alien contestant gives the clues, the answers to which can be found in the excerpts from the book. As the player completes each part of the crossword, an altered version of the picture from before is revealed bit by bit, and more letters in the hidden message at the bottom are filled in. The message describes what is wrong with the picture. When the message is completed, the round ends, and the true author of the book is revealed. The player can then choose a prize. The player is then prompted to wager a number of Starbucks, up to the number of Starbucks earned in the previous two rounds, on the bonus round.
The bonus round is either Meteor Match or Stump the Human. In Meteor Match, the player must match elements of the author's life on the left with ones on the right. In doing so, the picture behind is gradually revealed. In Stump the Human, the player must answer questions about the author's life to decode a message written in an alien language. Answering each question allows the player to reveal one letter. With each letter solved, a second altered version of the picture is uncovered bit by bit. After translating the whole message, the picture is revealed and the celebrity plagiarist is mashed or liquefied, then sent off to alien repair. After beating each alien contestant twice, the contestant is shipped back to his/her home planet.
As the player ranks up, the puzzles get harder. At any time during the game, the player may refer back to the source material, but the Starbucks reward for answering the question will diminish slightly.
The following is a list of alien contestants the player competes against:
- Bodom of Dabarle
- Breckphust of Shampeonz
- Duhvoyd of Braynes
- Fahdir of DeBryde
- Flaak of Siegels
- Leedre of Duhpakk
- Ohl of Meeluv
- Oui All of Phorchun
- Phyl Lei of Physh
- Pur Hintz of Purshuh
- Sohltain of Sviing
- Wharst of the Wurst
- Wu Min of Duyir
- Yer Yout of Yer Mynd
The following is a list of books that appear in the game:
- The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
- Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
- Anastasia Krupnik by Lois Lowry
- ...And Now Miguel by Joseph Krumgold
- Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. by Judy Blume
- Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne
- Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
- The Call of the Wild by Jack London
- Charlotte's Web by E. B. White
- Dragonwings by Laurence Yep
- The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
- From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg
- Grandpa's Mountain by Carolyn Reeder
- Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
- Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
- Matilda by Roald Dahl
- The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton
- Red Cap by G. Clifton Wisler
- Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor
- The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
- Secret of the Andes by Ann Nolan Clark
- Sounder by William Armstrong
- Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene
- Summer of the Swans by Betsy Byars
- Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
- The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pène du Bois
- Welcome Home, Jellybean by Marlene Fanta Shyer
- The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
- The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahme
- The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum