SPICE WORLD, Psygnosis
What: Interactive Spice Girls song-and-dance routines.
Details: With the departure of Ginger from the Spice Girls and with two of the other band members currently producing their own Baby Spices, it looks like it might be the end of the Spice World as we know it. For those who still haven't heard "Wannabe" enough times, this title lets you mix your own version of that and a handful of other Spice Girls songs.
First step is to pick one of the animated Spice Girls and record a song, shuffling pieces around until you've got your own potential hit. Then, it's off to dance practice, where you follow the moves of a disco dude to learn how to get your Spice Girl to make moves like the "shoulder shimmy" and the "point and sway." After that, it's time to put an act together, where you choreograph the moves of all five girls and eventually make a video of sorts where you control the camera angles as the digital ladies do their thing. This is all entertaining enough once or twice, if you're in a generous mood, but even for the little fan there probably isn't much reason to come back after that.
Bottom Line: Even for the Spice Girls, there isn't a lot of substance here.
-- Mike Musgrove
ALADDIN EXPANDER 2.0, Aladdin Systems
What: Free file-decompression tool.
Details: The "zip" format used to compress downloaded files is ubiquitous, but cheap and easy ways to "unzip" these files are anything but. Niko Mak Computing's WinZip gets the job done, but nags you ceaselessly to fork over its $29 registration fee and suffers from an interface that betrays its geek-hobbyist origins. This new arrival from longtime Mac developer Aladdin can't compress files (something many home users never do anyway) but otherwise handles every chore WinZip does, but at zero cost. It offers the same ease of access -- you can decompress a zipped file by double-clicking it, selecting the "Expand" option after right-clicking on it, or by dragging it onto Expander's desktop shortcut -- and is a tidier desktop denizen: Unlike WinZip, Expander can be set to delete zipped archives after you've extracted their contents, preventing zip-file buildup.
Aladdin requests a name, e-mail address and Zip code to download Expander, but apparently all you'll get is notifications of Expander upgrades -- I've yet to receive any mail from Aladdin, four weeks after downloading the program.
Bottom line: Get this now.
-- Rob Pegoraro
Win 95, free from http:www.aladdinsys.com