Sunday, September 20, 2015


Hooray, I'm only 2 days late with this post! That's a record.

Like I promised, today I'm going to talk about a very obscure Apple II game that I played in Kindergarten: Mathosaurus, by Micrograms. Here's the video.

Now, this is the first Apple II game I'm covering here, so I'll have to explain something for those unfamiliar with it: the Apple II was Apple's first successful attempt to break in to the personal computer market. Before the Apple II was, of course, the Apple I, and afterwards they tried to make machines like the Lisa and the Apple III. However, these proved to not be very popular.

The Apple II, like every personal computer of its time, had no mouse, because it didn't have a graphical user interface (GUI), because that wasn't a thing yet. As such, the only method of interface with the Apple II was a keyboard, or a joystick if you were playing a game that used one.

This one did not. When you boot up this game (normally by putting the floppy disk in the drive and then turning the computer on), you're greeted with a very simple title screen.

And also a little bit creepy.
After you PUSH RETURN (or Enter, as the case may be), you're greeted with a very simple game selection menu.

Note the "cool" dinosaurs in the upper right and lower left.
From here, you use the Space bar to select your choice, then press Return/Enter to confirm your selection. The games themselves are very simple and a little bit boring, but hey, that's Apple II for ya. Now, one thing that games like Math Blaster had over this was that the games all had clever names. In this, the games are just called what you'll be doing in them. But not to worry, I've come up with my own names for them!

The first one is what I call "Egg Counting". You're given a number and you're supposed to find a set of that number, represented by eggs.

EGGS! Eggs! E-double-g-s, eggs!
As usual, you use the space bar to select the right set, then press Return. If you've selected the right one, it just tells you "Good." Then a Pterodactyl appears at the top of the screen.

Could they at least have added an exclamation mark?
Once the top of the screen is filled with Pterodactyls, some of the eggs that are left hatch. The game tells you to press Return again, then you go back to the main menu.

Awww, baby dinos! How cute!
The next game is "Dino Counting". Same as Egg Counting, except you're given a set of dinosaurs and you're supposed to choose the correct number for the set.

GAH! This is even more creepy than the title screen!
When you get one right, a blue dinosaur holds a sign up that says "Good!"

Wow, Barney really let himself go.
Once you get enough right, that same blue dinosaur holds up a different sign that says "Good Job" and does a little dance.

He does NOT, however, make a little love. Good.
The other four games are actually only two games, but with different goals. I'll call them "Ice Cream I/II" and "Balloonasaurs I/II".

In "Ice Cream I", you are supposed to count the number of ice cream scoops one dinosaur has and give the other one, Spike, the same number.

At least they don't complain about the flavors.
If you got it right, the bell on the cart rings, Spike nods, and you move on to the next screen. Note that you don't get to see Spike eat the ice cream at all.

After doing this a few times, another dinosaur comes down and eats all of Spike's ice cream.

Who knew dinosaurs loved ice cream so much?
In "Ice Cream II", the other guy is just reading a book. Spike demands he receive a certain number of ice cream scoops, no more, no less.

Not even a "please"?
Once again, Spike never gets to eat the ice cream. After you serve him enough times, that same dinosaur comes down and eats every scoop again. Man, Spike just cannot catch a break, huh?

...Actually, scratch that; he deserves it for being so rude.
In "Balloonasaurus I", you have to choose which dinosaur has more balloons.

...Why's the one guy wearing shoes? I just noticed that now.
And... that's it. After a few times, the one with more balloons floats up.

"So long, sucka!"
"Balloonasaurus II" is the exact same thing, except you're choosing which dinosaur has fewer balloons.

"I've heard of being high, but this is ridiculous!"
After a few correct choices, you get to watch the dinosaur that has fewer balloons fall down to the ground below.

"It was nice hanging with you!"
And that's it. There's no score, no certificate, no rewards other than just some animations at the end. Good grief this game is boring. And to make matters worse, Micrograms made another Mathosaurus game, called Mathosaurus Computation! And no, I'm not going to review that one; it's even more boring than this one!

Sadly, the nostalgia does not save this one. Mathosaurus gets a failing grade.

I guess I was very easily impressed by computer games when I was little; even though I had a Windows computer (the beloved Compudyne, which still works, by the way), I was madly in love with this game. The only other Apple II games I played at my elementary school were "School Bus Driver" by Fisher Price and "Quilting Bee" by MECC. Sadly, I can't find either of these games anywhere. I do know School Bus Driver was also released for MS-DOS, but as far as I know, Quilting Bee wasn't. It was also one of the final Apple II games ever released.

As for Mathosaurus, there was actually a Windows release later on, and that one is still being sold! ...In unit purchases and site licenses only. I also see it pop up on eBay once in a while, but not this one. And now I see why.

Anyway, the next game will be another edutainment game (apparently I can't stay away from those), Type to Learn. Man, I have fond memories of that one. Just remember to watch out for dinosaurs the next time you eat ice cream. They'll do anything for ice cream. See ya next time!


Friday, September 11, 2015

5 Obscure Things I Only Vaguely Remember

Today I wanted to talk about some things that are so obscure, I don't even remember what they were called. I've made a video, but I wanted to give you a sort of Cliff's Notes version here as well for those who don't want to listen to my terrible audio and hear me clearing my throat a dozen times. (EDIT: I've figured out three of them now. One is still bugging me, and the other I'm starting to not care as much anymore.)

1. Those Toy Phones I was Hinting At a While Back

For those who have been reading this blog for a long time, you may recall that I was hinting at making a post about some toy phones. I ultimately decided not to, because A) I don't have any of them anymore, and B) I don't have pictures of any of them.

But I wanted to talk about them anyway. There were three that I knew of: one that was space-themed and said "Star Patrol" on the label, one that was police-themed, and one that was ambulance-themed. Now, what do I mean by "themed"? Well... it's kind of hard to describe.

See, each phone had three rows of three buttons. On the Star Patrol one at least, the buttons were blue, yellow, and orange, I believe in that order. The blue row would play one sound, the yellow row another, and the orange row a third.

Example: The Star Patrol one said "Alien ship! Warp speed!" when you pressed a blue button, and then played this awesome sound that I can't describe, so you'll have to watch the video to hear me imitate it. The yellow row said "Alien ship! Shields up!" and played a different sound. The orange row just said "Warp speed!" and played the first sound then the second sound. For the ambulance one, the blue row would play an ambulance siren, then a guy would say "Emergency! 911!" then it would play the ambulance siren again. I don't remember the other rows. For the police one, the blow row played a police siren, followed by a police officer saying "Slow down car!", followed by... something that I swear sounded like gunshots or something. The yellow row played the siren, then had the police officer say "Slow down car! Emergency!" than played the banging or whatever sound again.

2. An Orange Arcade Game with a Row of Numbered Buttons

I know, kind of a specific (and weird) description, but hear me out. I remember next to nothing about this game. I remember how it looked--it was orange and had a row of numbered buttons, like I said--and that when you put in a token, it would say "Get ready to play!" followed by a group of different people saying what I think was the name of the game, except how I heard it as a kid makes no sense (to me it sounded like "The Claaaaaaaaw Batter!!"). (EDIT: It's actually called Jungle Joggers. Time to forget I completely misheard it.)

That's... really all I have to say about that game. Let's move on to the next one, shall we?

3. An Arcade Game Themed Around Space

So, this one I have very fond memories of. I would play it all the time at Chuck E Cheese's. Unfortunately, what I don't remember is the name. I do remember this: you had a joystick, kind of like the kinds used in crane games, but instead of moving a crane, you were moving this electromagnet. You would use it to pick up metal discs (silver in the center and blue around the edges) and put them in the center.

Every time you picked up a disc, or dropped one, or put one back in its place, a guy would say "Mission Control, we [something I was never able to hear because it was too loud in there all the time!!]" So not only is it frustrating that I can only remember part of what someone said in the game, it's also frustrating that I can't remember what it was freaking called! Honestly, does anyone remember this other than me? Argh, I can hardly stand it! (EDIT: This one is called Total Eclipse, not to be confused with a video arcade game of the same name.)

4. A Computer Game I Played in Kindergarten

I was in Kindergarten in 1999 and 2000. Our teacher had a few computer games that she would let us play. Some of them were on the Apple II, and some of them were on the Mac. I remember playing Reader Rabbit's Kindergarten and JumpStart 1st Grade Math for the first time in that Kindergarten classroom.

But I also remember playing a few more... obscure computer games. Like this one! I distinctly remember these things about this game:

* You started out in some space station type hub world thing. When you clicked on some switch or something somewhere, the gravity would turn off, and things would start floating around, all while "Beautiful Blue Danube" played in the background.
* There was some sort of frog guide who accompanied you (it was not Thaddeus Pole or that frog from the JumpStart games, that much is for certain).
* One scene that you could go to had a radio tower or something which, when clicked on, would play a clip of a guy saying "This is Bag Bad Joe (?) reporting live from Springtown!" followed by giving a report of... something. I would click on that all the time because I thought it was the funniest thing, for some reason.

With the frog and the space station, some of you may be thinking it was Explorapedia. But it wasn't. Remember, this was a Mac game. Explorapedia was a Microsoft product, and was only made for Windows. Though the hub (and Thaddeus Pole) made me think that was it as well. (EDIT: I've finally figured this one out: it was called "Let's Pretend! Volume 2: Space is Our Playground!" At least, I'm 99% positive it was this one. Now I just need a copy or video footage to confirm for certain.)

5. Another Computer Game I Played in Kindergarten

Man, I played a lot of obscure computer games in Kindergarten! This one was also on the Mac, and again, I remember very little about it. The only thing I remember is that there were these multi-colored aliens (I think red, blue, and purple), and you had to put them back in their places. After you did, they flew away. They would say things like "Good. Bye. Earth. Ling." and "I'm going now..." and whatever they said had a weird, funny audio effect on it.

Now, this one I kind of have a bit of hope for. I went to TV Tropes' "You Know That Show" about this one and... at least I got someone who knew what I was talking about. And like me, that person apparently used to have nightmares about this game. So I'm optimistic.

And that ends the main topic of this blog post. My question for this week is: Does anyone other than me remember any of these things? I sure hope so, because I don't want these to drive me insane like Learning Voyage almost did.

But onto another topic: as I said in my last post, I'm hoping to post more regularly here, and my next topic is going to be--guess what?--a computer game I played in Kindergarten, specifically one of the aforementioned Apple II games: a little-known game called Mathosaurus. So it's the Return of the Computer Games! Games! Games... Okay, there's no way I can save that joke.

Anyway, see ya next week! I'm going now...


Tuesday, September 8, 2015

So Very Sorry

Okay. Here I am writing yet another apology. As you can probably tell, I've been inactive here for quite some time. The reason is simple: I've been preparing for school stuff. Now I'm back in school, so things should be a little less hectic. I've also switched schools (long story, don't want to go into details), and where I'm going now has very few classes on Fridays. I have none. Thus, I will have Fridays mostly free to write stuff.

As for why I haven't done stuff about the tapes? I've realized that it would take a lot of time and effort to do those, more so than computer games, where I would just have to open the game or emulator, open my screen recorder, and start recording. For the tapes, it's a bit more complicated; I have two tape players I can record from, one of which converts to a digital format, which loses quality, and the other of which I would need to connect to another computer, which requires me to haul up my monitor and speakers and hook everything up, which is a huge mess and a huger hassle because I don't keep my cords tidy like I should.

All this is to say: I'm going to have to wait on the tapes I was talking about for a bit more. I also have a couple of obscure records that I want to talk about, so I've decided that December, which is three months from now, will be "Tapes and Records Month", provided I don't have some computer games that I wanted to talk about by then.

Yes, I actually have a schedule now! To give you a bit of a preview, on Friday I'm going to make a video where I talk about 5 obscure things I only barely remember. After that, it's The Return of the Computer Games! ...Which means I'm going to talk about computer games yet again. The more things change, I guess.

But speaking of computer games, there's a chance I may be getting a copy of Classworks Gold soon! Notice I said "chance" and "may". Don't get your hopes up too high. I can't go into details now, but I will say that if I can't get Classworks, I may be able to get some other educational computer games, hopefully also obscure.

Well, that's about it! See you on Friday with my video!