Greetings, and happy Edutainment game month!
Well… maybe not officially, but it is here on Lazy Game Reviews
Because all this month we will be looking at “edutainment” games
What do I mean by edutainment?
Well it’s pretty much whatever I want it to…
But you know, games that are mostly thought of having some sort of educational slant.
And to kick things off we’re going to be looking at some of the Fisher Price games for MS-DOS PCS.
They also came out on things like some of the Apples or Commodores
And of course one or two on the NES.
But we’re just going to be looking at some of the MS-DOS games.
Games… (laughter) what ever they ares
Here today starting right now
All right so the first one we’re taking a look at here is My Grand Piano
As with all of these Fisher Price MS-DOS games it starts with a nifty little animation.
With that theme song that you hear in circuses and stuff
As rendered by the PC speaker with dancing letters.
And then you get the introduction to the game in this case the grand piano with more dancing things
And they’re all from 1988 by IJE Incorporated which is apparently part of GameTek
Who made tons and tons of licensed games back in the day
Grand Piano starts you off with a screen with options
I would recommend pressing help to get help…
Because the help is needed in this case because uhh.. it might help
I don’t know its not really necessary but it does give you an overview of the things you can do.
There really is no right or wrong place to start but we’ll just take a look from left to right starting at the top.
And that is the grand piano itself.
You can press the X through greater than keys on the keyboard to play the piano through the PC speaker such as it is.
( PC Speaker Beeping)
And you get the Do Re Mi sequence indicated by happy little creatures for each key that you press.
I dont know what the creatures mean
I really don’t.
You think Do would perhaps be deer. A uh female deer.
But it’s not. It’s like a raccoon so (mouth noises) Whatever
You also have the option to record your random batterings on the keyboard and play it back.
Or you can just select the prebuilt songs in the program and there are quite a few of them
So its just kind of a really really simplistic jukebox for your PC speaker, nothing amazing.
The real meat of Fisher Price’s Grand Piano is the teach song and sheet music options
Teaching the song uh… teaches you the song and shows you the actual notes
And the letters… well keys on the keyboard or.. piano.
Ok so here is the weakness of Grand Piano
Obviously this is not a piano it is a keyboard.
Not the greatest thing to learn piano on.
In fact its freaking awful.
Very hard to learn proper technique
And probably the worst part is that is missing the sharps and flat keys on the piano
That would be the black keys that are normally there.
They’re just not here, so you have no sharps or flats.
But then again its not really meant to teach you that.
This is like a really introductory basic kind of hey here’s notes.
Here’s what they look like. You can press them. This is kind of what they sound like.
It does that and it teaches you some very basic toons through the use of this program
I mean I remember the very basics of taking piano lessons as a kid and this was pretty much what it was
In fact it was these same songs usually, but it wasn’t played through PC speaker…
Or through an IBM keyboard. It was actually on a piano so..
I mean you ignored those black keys anyway.
So it was was like whatever you don’t really need them so you never learned them.
You dont need to here either so you still have that same experience
It’s limited, yes. But it does what its supposed to, and its kind of fun to screw around with.
All though if you want to make PC Speaker music in a program in DOS…
I would recommend the Music Construction Set by Will Harvey for Electronic Arts
But yeah.. thats something completely fully featured and totally awesome.
This is just an introduction to music for kids on the IBM PC
And for what it is, its not too bad
The next Fisher Price game here is Firehouse Rescue
Contrary to the title you are not rescuing firehouses you work at a firehouse rescuing uh.. people or something.
Oh yeah here we go the object of the game…
As a fire fighter in training, it is your job the rescue the Little People.
Those aren’t midgets, those are the Little People that Fisher Price made… little toys.
And pets from the various locations. Simple enough.
Just choose 1, 2, 3, or 4 to correspond to the level you’d like to play and predictably the difficultly.
And your off! In your… fire truck looking way too happy. About to leave.
I like to think he just farted
Your presented with a maze that’s quite easily navigated with the arrow keys
and then make your way to the house that happens to be flashing.
And then once you get there you rescue the heads that pop out of the windows.
By lining up your ladder and pressing the down arrow.
Unless for some reason the house is a tree. I supposed that’s a treehouse.
In that case, you’ll have to get the cat.
And thats it. You just keep going around, going to houses, looking gangster, driving up and doing your gangster fireman stuff.
♫ Music ♫
Anyways you do this and it’ll ask you if you want to continue in the same place.
It’ll give you a new maze, new houses, and stuff and you just keep rescuing until it tells you your done and then you become a firefighter yeah!
♫ PC Speaker Beeps ♫
The next levels get predictably tougher, well tougher for a kids game.
Level 2 has multi screen mazes. Each maze has two houses.
And level 3 uses the same mazes as level 2 but theres an extra 50 second time limit added.
So you kind of have to keep up with that.
And if you run out of time you flogged, tarred and feathered by a pack of angry dalmatians and you get 5 points on your license.
Or it just asks you to play again.. one of the two.
Level 4 is the same as level 3, but theres also a flashing key that you have to pick up on the map in order to enter the flashing house.
I don’t know why…
It’s like you arrive at the house and the fireman’s like “Hey I’m here to rescue you!” and everybody’s like “Oh. Uh… You can’t save me unless you unlock the door.”
Even though they’re clearly being dropped down out of the window on to a ladder.
I don’t know, It doesn’t matter its just an extra thing to have to take care of.
So you’ll probably want to play on level 4.
So you know its almost fun, its the closest to a game that anything here has been so far.
I have one final thing to note about this game.
I’ve noticed that nothing actually seems to be on fire.
That’s kind of strange. It makes me wonder if this is just a bunch of morons playing pranks on you.
Or perhaps its just a bunch of training missions.
(sigh) I mean you know that kind of just blew the mood for me if theres no real risk of death or dismemberment I’m not that interested anymore
Ah well it serves its purpose well enough, it’s a preschoolers maze game with an inconsequential mini game in between mazes.
So its arguably better than just a vanilla maze game. And it serves to fuel a fireman fetish.
The final Fisher Price game that we have here is School Bus Driver.
I bet you’ll never guess what the object of the game is! Hint: It involves driving school buses.
The object of the game is that your job to pick up the children at their bus stops and bring them to school.
Anyways you get level 1 and 2 and the beginning to choose from and eventually you can unlock level 3 and level 4.
Level 1 is simple enough, you start off at the school at 9 o’clock in the morning for some reason.
Friggin lucky kids getting to go to school late.
And you get to drive the bus with the arrow keys and pick up the first pink headed child.
So you pick up the first little guy that just sort of jellies along to the bus, makes me question his physiological makeup.
And you continue with the wheels on the bus going round and round.
Well they would if there was any animation but theres not. So I guess the wheels on the bus just stay there and stay there.
So you got 6 kids to pick up. So pick them up. All 6 of them.
Once you grabbed all 6 of the little punks, you take them back to the school and drop them off.
Good job it tells you, while your magic school bus wannabee looks at you creepily
You can then go on to level 2, which is pretty much the exact same thing except the children are not at every bus stop and they are randomly placed around the map.
So your pretty much doing a lot of roaming around this maze like map of a map.
It’s not very exciting, although you can make it exciting by driving backwards.
Yeah, theres no way to turn around your bus in mid-road. So actually your going to have to drive backwards quite a bit.
It’s kind of awkward but it works, and really I suppose they intended for this.
Whatever you pick up all 6 of the little losers, drop them off at their day prison and its off to level 3.
Level 3 is really where it starts to pick up just a tiny tiny little bit of excitement.
And that is because of the addition of the time limit at the bottom of the screen.
The kids are still around randomly playing hookie eating ice cream instead of coming to the dang bus.
So you’ll just have to friggin find them.
I wish you could honk at them or like run over a cow to get their attention, but you can’t… I tried.
You take them to the school, you watch them leave, whatever. It’s on to level 4.
Level 4 is.. uh.. the same as level 3.
So the kids are punks, there is a time limit, and now there’s roadblocks.
So you’ve got cows in the middle of the road that unfortunately you can not run over.
And you have construction things, which unfortunately you can not run over.
And there’s fallen trees which unfortunately you can not set on fire or chop up with a chainsaw.
This actually makes it more of maze than just a little town to wonder around aimlessly
So really the whole challenge of this is remembering where each of the blocks are and then which route you have to take to get to a certain kid.
And believe or not I actually failed on this one (laughter)
I ran out of my 5 minutes and I got fired. So..
I really don’t know what this is supposed to teach kids other than the simple maze stuff.
I mean you know be punctual, learn how to drive backwards.
uh.. it’s okay to play hookie as long as your getting ice cream even if the bus driver happens to loose his job because you were being a little turd.
Maybe thats not the point. It’s pretty much just a time waster.
It’s something to give the teachers and parents some sort of piece of mind about getting their kids to do
I mean that’s what all these games are.
Ya’ know show them some notes on the piano.
Show them how to rescue people from buildings that are not on fire.
And show them how to make it so that their bus driver looses his job.
All fine skills for any young lad or lass to learn.
Thank you Fisher Price for teaching me how the world works.
Yeah so thats it for thats it for this Fisher Price stuff, we’ll see you next time hoped you enjoyed because this was awkward.