Educational Video Games (of our childhood), Part 2
Like the first part, this is the second part of the article, which has more educational video games.
Games made by Hulabee Entertainment
Moop & Dreadly in the Treasure on Big Bong Island (El Tesoro de la Isla Bing-Bong in the Castilian Spanish version, as shown; released in spring/summer 2001, published by Plaid Banana Entertainment, ages 4–10)
This is Hulabee Entertainment’s first game, which consists of former Humongous Entertainment employees. The player assumes the roles of Moop, a giant purple thingy who can’t speak English but does most of the thinking between the two, and Dreadly, a preteen buccaneer looking for treasure, search for the Golden Glockenspiel, but face competition from the dastardly Captain Trench.
Ollo in the Sunny Valley Fair (released 2002, ages 3–10)
MobyGames describes this game:
Meet Ollo, a cute ball of clay with eyes. He lives in Sunny Valley, which is about to have its Sunny Valley Fair. He helps his friend Rose make a really, really big tomato for the farm contest, but things get a bit out of hand (round things roll, after all).
This pre-schooler title is done in a form of painted backgrounds with either 3D or clay characters and items. The interface even looks like clay. While the main character does not talk, the game includes an off-screen narrator. Most other characters do talk, however.
Like most kids adventure games, there are things to click on but this game has more of an undercurrent of trying to teach and encourages exploring by the acquiring of marbles to play a pachinko game.
In early December 2005, Shelley Day, the co-founder of Hulabee Entertainment, was sentenced to 30 months in prison and five years of supervised release for using forged letters of intent and defrauding the Asia-Europe-Americas Bank of Seattle of 1.4 million USD (around 157,619,000 JPY) in order to buy her “dream home” on Mercer Island. She was convicted of falsely claiming to the bank loan officer that Disney Interactive had agreed to buy part of the company and presenting forged documents to support that claim. Hulabee Entertainment closed as a result.
Games made by Humongous Entertainment
Junior Field Trips (Let’s Explore The Airport, The Farm, The Jungle; released 1995, published by Penguin Random House, ages 3–8)
The Airport allows kids 3–8 (or any age) to explore a modern airport, with their guide Buzzy The Knowledge Bug. Kids can visit over 40 locations, from hangers, to control towers, to cockpits. Items in each location can be clicked on for either amusing animations, or to ask “What is This?” which will take them directly to the encyclopedia page describing that item. The encyclopedia has more than 200 descriptions in it. It also has an index, to jump directly back to interesting items. The encyclopedia is text, but Buzzy can also read the text for young players.
Freddi Fish series (released between 1994 and 2013; ages 3–8)
Freddi Fish (she is a female) is an anthropomorphic yellow fish who takes on detective investigations throughout the series. Her best friend, a green fish named Luther goes with her on all her adventures.
Freddi and Luther move from one screen to another by clicking where the cursor turns into a chunky arrow. When the cursor is just a small cursor outline then there is nothing clickable, but when the small cursor outline fills in, something happens when clicking the mouse. Like all Humongous Entertainment games, clicking on an object in the environment prompts an animation which is sometimes funny but irrelevant to the plot of the game. However, when a person or certain objects are clicked, something will happen like the person talking or Freddi Fish picking up the object. Collected objects appear on the bottom of the screen in their own individual bubbles. Freddi Fish puts objects away by sweeping them behind her back, often resulting in hilarious scenes when putting away large objects. Overall, Freddi Fish Junior Adventures are mainly about helping solve others’ problems which are tied into a constantly progressing storyline.
Putt-Putt series (released between 1992 and 2003, ages 3–8)
The Putt-Putt series is a collection of children’s adventure and puzzle computer games created by Humongous Entertainment. This franchise was Humongous Entertainment’s first game series to be developed. They primarily involve clicking to get to a destination, although some sub-quests and mini-games involve the keyboard. The main character, Putt-Putt, an anthropomorphic purple convertible, and his pet dog, Pep, travel to various locations.
Fatty Bear’s Birthday Surprise (released 1992–1995, ages 3–8)
This is the only Fatty Bear game (predating Scott Cawthon’s FNaF), although the character was also used in the mini-game compilations Fatty Bear’s Fun Pack and the crossover spinoff Putt-Putt & Fatty Bear’s Activity Pack.
In this game, a girl named Kayla is having her birthday tomorrow and it’s time for her to go to bed. While she sleeps, her toys and stuffed animals come to life to prepare for her party. Fatty Bear searches through the house looking for ingredients with which to bake a cake. Unfortunately, it is not as easy as Fatty Bear thought — he had planned on baking the cake, but in the kitchen was a mysterious package. When he curiously inspects it, a small brown puppy pops out of it and promptly runs away, tearing the ribbon on the box.
Tommo picked up the Humongous Entertainment brand after the company was merged out.
Games made by The Learning Company (and Riverdeep)
The ClueFinders series (1999–2002, ages 6–12)
The series features the characters: Joni Savage, the leader of ClueFinders and a redhead tomboy; Santiago Rivera, a Hispanic preteen who fixes anything; Leslie Clark, the African-American bookworm of the team; Owen Lam, an Asian- (possibly Chinese) American surfer dude of the group, and LapTrap the Turbo Turtle (Socrates the dog (possibly a brown retriever) in the 5th and 6th Grades).
The series consists of “Multisubject by grade” programs, in which players practice skills and advance understanding of grade-based content. The player can choose to play the adventure mode or to play the game’s activities outside the adventure in “practice mode.” Choosing to play the adventure will lead to a follow-up sequence which further establishes the premise as well as the overall goal of the game. The bulk of each game involves traveling between different screens in a predetermined area which has various educational activities. The user will have to play these games to advance. Most of the time, each area will have one activity that needs to be completed to advance onwards, but which can only be played by collecting items from all the other activities in the area. In all the games except for The ClueFinders 4th Grade Adventures, the ClueFinders are split into two teams at the start. A portable red videophone allows the two teams to make contact with each other and clicking on the phone provides the user with game hints from the other team. The other team will typically either be serving as backup, looking for clues, or else be captured and in need of rescue.
Trail series (Oregon, Amazon, Yukon, Africa, 1971–present, age varies)
Like all other games in the Trail series, The Oregon Trail 3rd Edition requires careful resource management in order to successfully complete the perilous journey across America via the Oregon trail to the Western frontier.
The game included a guide book with helpful hints in case the player got stuck.
The games were originally made by MECC (Minnesota Educational Computing Corporation), but was later shut down in 1999 as The Learning Company bought the rights to the series. There’s also a game that parodies the series called Organ Trail.