Sunday, September 20, 2015

Mathosaurus

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!

-Johnny

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