Besides The Oregon Trail, the best-loved games by the famed educational game company MECC might be the Munchers series. They were essentially the same game with different lessons swapped in. Whether the green googly-eyed Muncher was eating words, numbers, or general knowledge trivia, their shenanigans were a classroom fixture through the 80s and 90s.
The Munchers games feature a few characters, just the minimum to give the games personality and a setting. The troggles, a clan of nasty circular monsters, mostly made out of mouths, keep trying to eat the Muncher. In-between the rounds of educational matching games, you get to watch the Muncher foil the troggles’ Wile E. Coyote-style antics in parks and backyards. Super Munchers off-handedly mentions the evil Doctor Frankentroggle pulling the strings from his castle. The details mostly serve a functional purpose, but they’re enough to suggest that there’s more to the world of Munchers, and it looks like a Minnesota suburb.
MECC explored more of the unlikely Munchers universe in a spinoff game, Troggle Trouble Math. It takes the series in a very different direction, ditching the game board in favor of teaching math on a quest. » Read more about Troggle Trouble Math
The existence of The Frogs Of War is a testament to how games can be the right format for the wildest inspirations.
The Frogs Of War was based on a dream that developer Linus Sphinx kept having. He imagined he was a lizard man enslaved on an asteroid. He was forced to dig pathways with a mining robot, a frog-legged vehicle that emits slime. A revolution broke out on the asteroid mine, and the managers pitted their subjects against each other in a battle to the death over a promotion. Sphinx remembered this because he “took notes on a microcassette recorder,” which he kept under his pillow so he could write code during his sleep.
He turned that dream into a game, and it’s every bit as perplexing as it suggests. » Read more about The Frogs Of War
Tomorrow, I’m posting about The Frogs Of War, a game that even by the standards of this blog is really weird. It got me thinking about the gamut that this blog covers, from heady fantasy allegories to fangame nonsense made by teenagers. All these games are part of the same landscape, all different points in a spectrum of experiences and creativity. And in their own ways, they’re all a mess. » Read more about All games are a mess
Despite what the title suggests, Deadlock: Planetary Conquest doesn’t actually involve conquering a whole planet. It’s about conquering a region, a slice of the planet made up of different territories. It allows you to get close enough to look at the individual workers on the planet, yet it keeps you far enough away so you can see the regional dynamics that drive the planet’s aggression. » Read more about Deadlock: Planetary Conquest
How many different playable characters should reasonably fit into a game? 10? 20? As high as 50?
H.E.D.Z. from Hasbro Interactive has a preposterous 225 playable characters. That’s 74 more than the original number of Pokémon in Pokémon Red and Blue, released in the United States just one month earlier, and 117 more characters than the famously huge cast of the role-playing game series Suikoden.
…and that’s about all it has for ideas. But what an extraordinarily strange group of characters it puts together. » Read more about H.E.D.Z.: Head Extreme Destruction Zone