Friday, June 12, 2015

Spell It Plus!

At long last, a post about Spell It Plus! for Macintosh.

This was a game made by Davidson and Associates, originally released for MS-DOS and later for Mac OS. The Mac version was the one I grew up with. I played it at my elementary school on the days we weren't using Classworks or Type To Learn. I had a lot of fun with it, but... much like KidPhonics, I don't really think it's stood the test of time.

Also, this game should not be confused with the much later Spell It Deluxe for Windows and Macintosh. That one changed the games and used an updated speech synthesis engine.

So, now for the game itself. I made a video you can watch below, but this time I also have screenshots for those who don't want to watch the whole thing.

The game starts off with a goofy little animation of a frog riding a skateboard.


Afterwards, it asks you to type in your name. You can, of course, choose whatever you want. I just chose my name.

My other choice would have been "Butts"
 You're then greeted with the main screen, where you hear what I consider to be the most wonderful sound in this game: "Welcome to Spell It Plus!" I don't know why, but I just love hearing that.

Thanks, I do feel welcomed.
 This sort of reminds me of the game picker from the original Math Blaster, with the main game being the name of the game itself. Also the redundancy (Math Blaster Math and Spell It Plus! Spelling).

From here you have a few choices for games to play: Decode It, Unscramble It, Correct It, Study It, and of course Spell It itself. We'll start with Decode It, because why not? The way this one works is you have a series of words with missing letters. Fill in the missing letters and a corresponding letter will appear in the box below. Once you've finished all of the words, you'll have a complete sentence.

Can I buy a vowel?
Your secondary reward is to see an animation of the frog dude shooting some hoops. By which I mean, he dribbles and shoots.

Next we have Correct It. It's self-explanatory and boring: you just correct words that are spelled incorrectly. Your only reward is to see a small animation of that frog guy doing more extreme sports

Of course, most language arts teachers probably love this one.
Next up is yet another boring one: Study It. You... study words. Okay, you actually get to play some games, but it's simple: you see the word at the top, you hear it, you type it. Once you start typing the word, it goes away, but it's still easy. There are options to make it harder, but it's still very plain.

My favorite of the bunch is Unscramble It. It's a bit like Tic Tac Toe... except there's a one player version as well. But at least with the one player version you get points no matter what.

Now of course, there has to be spelling in there as well; otherwise it defeats the purpose of this game. Choose a square, and a jumbled-up word appears. You have to unscramble the word (hence the name) in order to get the points. Afterwards, the box turns gray and has that frog's face on it. You get bonus points for getting three boxes in a row (diagonally, across, or up and down).

Um, yeah, this isn't creepy at all...
Oh, also, once you get three in a row, you hear this amazingly hilarious sound. Unfortunately, I can't put the sound clip here because of limitations with Blogger, but you can hear it in the video.

Finally, I'll talk about the Spell It game itself. Basically, Frog Dude runs and jumps over hurdles. If he eats the right words (you choose whether you want to target the words that are spelled correctly or those that aren't), he gets a speed boost and can win against Blue Frog Dude. Eat the wrong word or miss your target, and you don't get a speed boost.

A certain song about "eating it" comes to mind now...
Once you reach the finish line, you get a medal. You'll either get bronze, silver, or gold, depending on how many words you got right.

Now, here's the main problem I have with this game: you have to time everything perfectly. This means even if you're a hair off in your timing, a box will appear around the word and you won't get the speed boost. This is especially frustrating when you have longer words and you have to read them carefully to make sure they're spelled correctly. That takes so long that by the time you realize that it is spelled correctly, when you go to eat it, it won't count. And this tends to happen a lot for me.

As such, I've never been able to get a gold medal. The highest I've gotten is a silver medal. Obviously it's not because I can't spell, but simply because I don't have enough freaking time to see if the longer words are spelled right or not.

When you quit (which is a fantastic option by now), the same guy who welcomed you will say "Goodbye, see you soon!" Yeah right.

To be fair, this isn't the worst edutainment game I've played, but overall, it's just really, really boring. I can totally see why this wasn't one of Davidson's more successful series. Two of the five activities are at least somewhat enjoyable (Decode It and Unscramble It), but the rest are either boring or frustrating. This game gets a failing grade. Davidson, see me after class.

And bring a copy of Learning Voyage: Sand Trapped! with you. I imagine even that would be better than this, but I'd have to play it again to be sure.

Next time, I'm going to move on from computer games and talk about another old tape from my childhood: a sing-along tape by the Purple Balloon Players. I'm going to chance it and upload the songs to YouTube. Until then... (puts on the voice of the announcer guy) Goodbye, see you soon!


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Wario Land 4 Website!

Remember my rant on the Internet Archive Wayback Machine? Remember when I mentioned the Wario Land 4 website, which you can visit through that but it doesn't actually do anything?

Thanks to the power of Google, I recently discovered that someone recreated it. It's available at I figured I would give a more in-depth review of the classic site, which despite having people remember it, is still fairly obscure.

I'll start with a slight correction from my original post: one of the movies is Star Wario, not Starring Wario. That makes more sense, since it's actually a movie title pun. Can't believe I didn't make the connection until just now.

"I'm a-cryin' because Wario Land 4 is just... is a-just so... BEAUUUUUTIFUL!"
The exclusive stills and clips can be viewed by going to the Pyramid Theater (pictured above). In addition, there's Wario's Arcade, where you can play some games (all of which are also playable at and earn Wario Bucks...

"Sure, you're old enough, but are you BOLD enough?"
Greed School (or Greed $chool), where you can read an old Mario vs Wario comic and take a test to see how much you know about Wario Land 4...

"It's about time you learned something really useful!"
The Post Office, where you could subscribe to Nintendo Power...

A moment of silence... Okay, long enough. "I'm-a so cool! Hey!"
And Wario Mart, where you can spend your Wario Bucks on screensavers, wallpapers, a print-out fold-up car, and strategies for Wario Land 4 itself.

"The best! YOU can trust ME..."
In Greedville itself, there's also a statue you can click on, which causes Wario to sing his name in the style of "Figaro", and then cough.

As for the movies, I still wish I could see them again. Again, they're called "Star Wario" and "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Wario", and are and, respectively.

And that's about it. Just wanted to let everyone know that I'm still alive. My Spell-It Plus review should be coming later this week, I hope. After I'm done with that one, I have a few more computer games lined up, then some old tapes and a record I had as a kid, and finally, a book. For some reason I don't feel like being specific right now. I'll get to them when I get to them, but for now, I'm outta here. Next time, Spell-It Plus! for Macintosh. See ya then!