Yes, I was the kind of kid who read encyclopedia's growing up. We are just going to move on from that factoid to the point at hand.
Of all the encyclopedia's that I had access to in the 1990s, Microsoft's Multimedia Collection was definitely one of the biggest surprises. In particular were two applications within the collection, Microsoft Dinosaurs, which I will absolutely talk about at another date; and the subject of today's retrospective, Microsoft Dangerous Creatures.
Released in 1994 and first available for Windows 3.1 (Yes, that old), Microsoft Dangerous Creatures was a multimedia encyclopedia on various aspects and members of the animal kingdom, with a sub-textual focus on environmentalism and conservationism.
Today will not be a review, but another retrospective detailing my memories and experiences with a "computer game" from my childhood that had a truly transformative impact on my life.
Dangerous Creatures could be navigated in a variety of ways, each with their own advantages and focuses. Atlas enabled you to explore various different animals by their continent. Habitat focused instead on organizing animals based on their natural environment (grasslands, arctic, ocean, etc). Weapons turned the readers attention towards animals defensive and offensive tools, focusing on Jaws, Claws, and Venom specifically. The Index enabled you to search the entire collection of articles in alphabetical order.
Finally, the Guides enabled the user to take a series of 15 "guided tours", hosted by three unique tour guides. This was honestly the highlight of my experience with the program and the part that I remember most fondly. Your three tour guides each provided a unique experience and personality which came through each of their 5 tours. You first had Fergus, a beleaguered animal specialist who simply wished to provide a safe and educational tour through nature but is always hindered by the wild animals you met along the way. Fergus was voiced by Robert Zink, who was also the narrator who provided voices for each article and its subpages.
These three perspectives really helped to give the reader a wide scope of appreciation for the various animals presented. The tours also tried very hard to show as many of the various animals as they could, rarely visiting the same animal twice. I enjoyed it immensely.
Beyond the guided tours, there were also several simple games (mostly matching games) that could help entertain younger children and each article had a short video segment that would play to provide additional educational information or entertainment. Of course, nowadays these small low-resolution videos aren't all that impressive but in 1994, it was state of the art and a wonder to see as a kid even into the early 2000s.