Today’s game to discuss is the classic 1994 PC Game from Sierra: Mixed Up Mother Goose Deluxe.
Mixed Up Mother Goose (for those of you wondering, the ‘Deluxe’ version is a remake of an older 1987 version with better graphics and audio) was a simple and yet very engaging little tale of a child who, upon falling asleep, was whisked away to Mother Goose’s world to help restore a bunch of “mixed up” nursery rhymes. One of my favorite things about the game as a child was the ability to choose your player avatar — not only his/her gender but her appearance as well! Nothing specific like hair or eye color, but a nice variety of ambiguously pale, tan, and dark-skinned little girls and boys with generic racial features that were cute and politically…not offensive. I think.
Once your child had been given the low-down as to what needs to be done, you’re basically free to roam the whimsical world of Mother Goose and meet the various characters that need your help. Players interact with the familiar faces of their favorite nursery rhymes and engage in delightfully quirky, fully voice-acted dialogue in which the character in question says they are missing something. Some of the items you had to look for included Jack Be Nimble’s candle, Mary’s little lamb, and even (in a strangely sexist/awkward move now that I think about it) Peter Pumpkin Eater’s wife!
The child can only pick up/carry/lead one lost object/being at a time, so players would have to remember where certain items were and how to get back to them. On top of that, all items’ locations were randomly generated with each play through, which was just enough “newness” to keep children (or at least my younger self) playing the game over and over again.
As far as educational perks, I can swear to you that I remember every single nursery rhyme featured in this game almost twenty years since I first played it. The game also helps to improve reading skills with the “lyrics” to each nursery rhyme appearing on screen, and if I recall correctly you could turn on text to follow the normal dialogue as well. Plus, it never felt like the “boring” sort of learning I did in school at the time — it was really a win-win situation!
If it’s possible to do so later on in my life, I would love to give my children the chance to play Mixed Up Mother Goose Deluxe, or at least find a copy of the soundtrack that featured all of the musical nursery rhymes. It was such a simple and yet entertaining game, and sometimes it seems like the educational games of present day try way too hard.
Something I would like to note here is that the game designer credited for this game is none other than Roberta Williams, who is best known for her point-and-click adventure games like the King’s Quest series and the gorefest known as Phantasmagoria. What a range of work, right?
I’ve had the chance to play /experience a couple more video games recently, but haven’t had the time to really sit and write about them. I’ve been playing Harvest Moon: A New Beginning and forced my brother to take on the entertainingly mind-melting puzzles of Professor Layton and the Curious Village, as well as watched a friend of mine play through the entirety of the 2010 action RPG Nier — so I’ve got a lot to talk about! Look forward to it!