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Edutainment Computer Games of the 90s

I've talked about edutainment before, but I only talked about it on one form of media. Now I'm back to talk about it in another form, computer games. These are ones that I have played and feel they could use some time in the spotlight. So with Bill Nye being back in the spot light, I think I'll start with his mess of a game. 

Bill Nye: Stop The Rock:

This game has a, unique history with me, the story goes that you play as nameless researcher number #243567 and is brought over to Nye labs as a new asteroid destroying system is online named maxx, the twist is that maxx has grown smart enough to the point where it would rather see the earth get destroyed by an asteroid that is five game days away from crashing into the planet and destroying it than saving it and you must solve maxx's riddles in time to save the world and stop the rock.

Sounds easy right? Well, you won't win points for thinking that, it was far from easy. I couldn't finish this game as a kid. The reasons outside not being that far in science in school, even though I'm a fan of the show, is that the riddles themselves were confusing to get at times, but also because they are out of order. You cannot do them in numerical order, you have to skip around riddles. Another issue is that it was timed, for some, this isn't a huge deal, but with how confusing at times the riddles can be and not really getting any directions to help you along the way, you'll be there for a while to figure out what you need and where you need to go. 

But there are some cool things that will teach you in the game through being able to explore the Nye Labs from the show. Would I recommend it? If you love science, good at being timed, and love a challenge, you'll have fun with it. If you want to see what the game was like, there is a Let's Play on Youtube. Now it's time we jump into another series that I'm more fond of. 

Jumpstart series:

Jumpstart is a series of games meant to help kids get ahead in school through fun games and activities. It started in 1994 with Jumpstart Kindergarten and went as far as sixth grade in the 2000s. While I played all of them, the ones that stuck to me the most were first through third. What I liked about these games was that they not only fit the grade level, but they got challenging yet kept their entertainment value all the while still having simple stories. 

For example, Jumpstart first and second grade was just about collecting stamps and bottle caps. Then with the later ones you had longer stories like save robots in Jumpstart third grade, save kids in fourth, or solve mysteries in fifth grade. 

While the later ones were still fun, they drove me crazy at times with stuff I didn't know about like multiplication and division then later algebra. These hold a special place in my heart, especially the first one since it was the first one I played and I have a soft spot for it, also it has a dog in it and I like dogs. But there is another game here that stared a dog that I enjoyed and he's book smart.

Wishbone and the Amazing Odyssey:

This game was published in 1996 and the story is that Wishbone is showing off a new computer that makes a vertual reality experience based on whatever story you submit into it. However there seems to be a problem and he gets sucked into the story and has to play as the main character in the story of The Odyssey. My personal memories of this game are fuzzy, but I remember it fondly as a fun game with a dog going on adventures. 

The game itself is a point and click adventure puzzle game with educational elements. How so? This involves you to have actually read the book to know what to do next in the story. The rest is just puzzles of the trials and adventures within the story. In speaking of adventures, this one is a blast from the past.

3D Dinosaur Adventure:

Probably my most played next to the Jumpstart games growing up. I always had a fascination with dinosaurs growing up and still look it up on Youtube when I want to see it again. Though, minus the 3D effects. 

What was it exactly? It was a bunch of mini games with some video clips of dinosaurs, but in 3D! That's how the game was sold, for its 3D though there wasn't much of it. While cool, there was nothing else the game really had going for it outside of the 3D and the cool little animation they did to go to an activity. Though it was a nice time killer for kids and for those that love dinosaurs. 

Edutainment is a hard genre to work with due to the balance of education and entertainment that needs to be done. However it can be done, some put more emphasis on one or the other and most times it ends up failing and being forgotten. Though when done right, it is remembered by many.

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ThatDudeintheHoodie Posted on May 27, 2017 at 12:13 AM

I think there were three, but I remember playing this one.

Benjanime Posted on May 26, 2017 at 09:35 PM

i missed out on the jumpstart series, but my mom thought i was past the age of playing them by the time they were out. as for wishbone i had no idea there was a pc game based on it!

ThatDudeintheHoodie Posted on May 26, 2017 at 02:23 PM

Same, Botley was a favorite of mine.

echidna64 Posted on May 26, 2017 at 02:16 PM

Jumpstart is a fantastic series! It was basically Cool Math on a CD-ROM. I had many of them growing up, even Jumpstart Spanish, but my favorite was Jumpstart 3rd grade. Botley was a well-animated protagonist and I still remember a lot from the trivia games.

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