LGR – Jump Start – PC Game Review

You know there are a ton of edutainment games out there.
And even though I played a ton of them, sometimes there’s just a series that falls through the cracks.
And today’s subject is one of those and it’s kind of impressive
seeing as it’s been around for about two decades now
and is one of the best-selling edutainment series ever.
That, of course, is the Jump Start games.
It all began with Jump Start Kindergarten developed and published by Knowledge Adventure in 1994
for Windows and Macintosh computers.
Although this is the first game in the series, it was by no means the last
as it was updated, re-released, and followed up with sequels for years.
Not only was this known as Jump Ahead in the UK but it was also known as
Davidson’s Learning Center Series Kindergarten after the Davidson & Associates merger
under CUC International in 1996.
Beyond that, it was re-released as this classic version with patch 1.2 on disc,
there was an upgraded 2.0 version in the late 90s that overhauled all sorts of things
and it was replaced entirely with Jump Start Advanced Kindergarten in 2002.
Bloody hell, kindergarten jump starting is serious business!
Start the original, classic game up and you’re given an ear worm via an unnecessarily catchy theme song.
♪ Go go, go to school ♪
♪ Go to school ♪
Then a green-laden miniature humanoid beckons you to come inside.
Although, you can just stay outside and click things in pure point-and-click pop up computer gaming goodness.
[assorted goofy sound effects]
Click the door and a bird tells you to enter your name so make sure to make the best of it.
Go inside and you’re greeted by Mr. Hopsalot,
the teacher and Jump Start mascot from the cover of the game.
[Mr. Hopsalot]: I’m Mr. Hopsalot, your teacher.
From here, you can click on more stuff to see random animations,
but many of them will take you to a Kindergarten-y minigame.
These are all incredibly simple interactive thingies appropriate for 4-to-6 year olds
and cover things like counting, similarities and differences, pre-reading,
order and sequences, shapes and colors.
Although later versions of Kindergarten awarded you with stars for completing each game,
there’s no real goal in this classic version, because screw you.
You do get a progress report, but what kindergartener would give a crap about that
when you could play object-dropping puzzle games to feed a fat mouse cheese.
Or play a harvesting game where you grab strawberries and sunflowers
to watch a gopher dance like a doofus.
Or play a language comprehension game where you learn the incorrect way to spell weird.
There’s even some activities that’s just here because it’s stuff that kids like to do
like a park where you can photograph things that turn into pages of a virtual coloring book.
And then there’s this guy which just cracks me up for some reason.
[Announcer]: These are… french fries.
[Announcer]: And that starts with the letter… F.
Jump Start Kindergarten is vibrant, cutesy, fun, educationally entertaining
and is chock full of positive reinforcement and I can see why it spawned like six re-releases
and a hundred thousand sequels for different grade levels.
In fact, let’s look at one more here: Jump Start 1st Grade, released in 1995.
And right away, you can tell Knowledge Adventure stepped up their game with this one.
Just listen to this glorious autoplay menu!
[choir and sparkle sound effects]
After this, you get yet another ridiculously catchy theme song
that has not stopped tormenting my brain for weeks.
♪ Jump, jump, jump, start first grade ♪
♪ Jump, jump, jump, start first grade ♪
♪ Jump, jump, jump ♪
And just like Kindergarten, you have an outdoor area that’s simply there for you to click on things
and see what happens like opening the windows to the building and
pantsing some schoolboy against his will?
Okay, just go inside and you’re exposed to yet another theme song,
this time for Franky, the anthropomorphic wiener dog.
♪ He’s Franky ♪
[Franky]: Hi! I’m Franky. I’m the Jump Start mascot.
Wait, the Jump Start mascot? What happened to Mr. Hopsalot!?
From here, it’s pretty much identical to Jump Start Kindergarten in the way the game works.
You have things to click on that do nothing but entertain you for all of five seconds
and things to click on that take you to a minigame teaching you something.
In this case, you have games teaching reading, addition and subtraction, geography, science,
counting money and slightly artsy stuff.
And holy crap, there is a lot to do in this one!
So much so that it’s downright overwhelming at first.
There’s at least a dozen learning games to play, all of which have completely different rules and objectives
and a slew of random side activities to take part of.
On top of that, you have an overall goal to collect enough points to earn milk caps.
Every 100 points, you can unlock a new milk cap and being that this was the mid-90s, these are pogs.
Yes, pogs! Those silly cardboard and plastic disks
that were confusingly but undeniably collectible for all of six months?
Okay, maybe they were around a bit longer than that, but it absolutely tickles me
to see this particular fad in an edutainment game.
These milk caps you unlock are really just slammers and you can play against a youngster
that looks like the typical kid that takes pogs way too seriously.
Earning these milk caps can take a freakin’ long time though,
so it’s worth cranking up the difficulty from five-year-old level to seven-year-old level
so you can earn points faster.
And when you’re tired of playing board games about time,
using a metal detector to uncover hidden letters,
and baking free food for that slave-driving, homicidal dog,
you can just drive on over to the zoo or the beach to enjoy some more pop-up clicking fun
and a song with surprisingly high production value.
♪ The whales sang a song and the seagulls clap along ♪
♪ In the ocean, they put on a show ♪
With all these places to go, you might think navigation is a chore,
but thanks to that omnipresent back arrow at the top-left of the screen
and the layout of the school and surrounding areas, even a first grader can manage.
And uh… that’s good, cuz it’s made for first graders.
And that’s all the Jump Starting stuff I’m going to cover here
because if were to look at all the other 99,998 games in this series,
I’d be here until well beyond humanity’s extinction.
But anyway, the last thing I really want to say is these games are fantastic for what they are anyway.
Other than a few misspellings and the murdering of Mr. Hopsalot,
the success of the Jump Start series is completely merited.
They’re insanely well-designed, have lots of stuff to do, they educate, they entertain,
and they’re something that I would probably worshipped as a four-to-seven-year-old.
Don’t get me wrong, I was quite happy playing Duke Nukem 1 and Wolfenstein 3D back then, but you know,
as far as educational stuff goes, I’d have been quite happy.
And I think these games still hold up today and the newer versions seem to be quite compatible
with modern operationing systems, so I would even recommend them to people
with underdeveloped humans in their possession nowadays.
Now if you’ll excuse me…
[Clint sings along]
♪ Jump, jump, jump, start first grade ♪
♪ Jump, jump, jump, start… ♪
[Clint]: Please kill me…
[Clint stops singing]
♪ Jump, jump, jump, start first grade ♪
♪ Jump, jump, jump ♪
And if you enjoyed me jump-starting your education about the Jump Start educational games
and would like to see some similar stuff, well Edutainment Month is going on all throughout April,
and I do other videos every other week throughout the year.
So, subscribing is an option as is following me on Twitter or Facebook or pledging on Patreon
or contacting me via mental telepathy or astral projection.
And as always, thank you for watching!

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