Picks and Pans Main: Junior

updated 05/28/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/28/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT



Moms and dads, here is your living nightmare, the family outing from hell.

It is the video gamer's equivalent of a touring auto show, with exhibits on new games, booths selling related products, a competition that costs extra ($4.50 plus $12 admission in New York City), a stage where celebrities appear and peripheral activities.

The highlight is the hands-on areas where new Nintendo and Game Boy games can be played in five-minute sessions. New York crowds who might have been expected to tear each other to shreds for a chance at another five minutes of World Wrestling Federation or Ninja Gaiden II were remarkably orderly and good-natured. But waits ranged way upward of a half hour per turn for some games—parents holding kids' places in line were easily spotted by their glazed-over eyes.

In the competition, which ends with a mega-playoff among champions from various cities at Universal Studios in Florida in December, contestants play Super Mario Bros., Tetris and Rad Racer, with those reaching a minimum number of points advancing to the next round.

This is an ideal outing for teenagers who can come and go on their own. Young fans who need escorts may have to pledge some lawn-cutting hours if they want their parents to grant them this boon.

The Powerfest is at the St. Paul (Minn.) Civic Center, June 1-3, at the Oklahoma City State Fair Grounds, June 8-10, and at Phoenix's Civic Plaza Convention Hall, June 15-17. The tour continues over the summer.

(Overall, I love Nintendo games and I liked the show. There were three problems though: the crowds, the fact that some of the best games didn't have monitors so you could watch other people play and all those extra booths where they sold things. Why did they need that stuff? —Thad Novak, 10)



"Some days are like that. You just gotta dance," observes Alphonse the shoemaker (in the voice of Ossie Davis) in this funky updating of the frantic dancing story. Set in New York City, the action swirls around two friends and their falling-out. Nick, 3, found it "very good," though Kate, 8, struggled with the moral: "I didn't understand how come Lisa didn't like Jenny. And she got a little selfish. How did it happen?" (f.h.e, $14.95; 800-752-9343—age 5 and up)

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