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1990s Edutainment

Whether you were at home or at school, it's an undeniable fact that you've been introduced to a programming software or a toy that turned learning into a fun pastime. As a 90s kid, "edutainment" was a new term coined by developers and player veterans alike, so today I'll be revisiting some of the software I once played myself, as I call this....






Kid Pix (1991)


For its time, Kid Pix had a unique amount of tools that you could use. Stamps, painting, coloring, air brush effects and even making voice recordings for your work. The original release became so popular that it even made it as a news story.


Mario Teaches Typing (1991)


If any of you spent your early years in front of the tube playing video games as I did, seeing Nintendo's iconic mascot in a keyboard typing game likely would have grabbed your attention as it did for me. In this DOS game, you type letters on the keyboard at a quick pace to make Mario progress through a Mushroom Kingdom-esque level as you watch him perform familiar actions, like jumping to hit a block. The idea sounds fun, but the music playing on DOS might make your ears bleed after a while.


Mario Paint (1992)



Mario Paint is pretty much Nintendo's equivalent of Kid Pix, and it used a special SNES mouse accessory in order to draw with, much like how Kid Pix required a mouse. There are interesting art tools, such as premade paints, neat animations to completely erase your art, a frame animator, and even (surprise!) a fly swatting minigame in case you want to take a break from painting. There's even a few tunes that you can listen to, and you can change them whenever you want. And speaking of, you could also create your own music with a selection of different sounds!


Gizmos and Gadgets! (1993)


In this game, you play as Super Solver, and must solve scientific-like puzzles to beat the villain of the game, Morty Maxwell in a race, but to do so you have to find specific parts in different rooms where you have to use a platforming skill to proceed. Each room has its own puzzle before you can obtain a part though, but the puzzles aren't all that difficult to solve. One example is figuring out how to get a crank to work by choosing different sized cogs to attach to it. By finding the right parts (with the most probably chance of winning a race) you beat Morty and progress.


Math Blaster Episode 1: In Search of Spot (1994)


Thinking of fast answers wasn't exactly my forte with math, but Math Blaster hit home by turning it into an interesting game. Blasternaut is your character, and you're on a journey to find his missing companion, Spot by solving math problems mixed with gameplay. To tie it more closely to a game, there's even a lives system.


Sega Pico (1994)


I unfortunately never got to have one of these as my own since it met with a steep price (around $150 as I recall) but the library in my area showcased it during one of their children's book readings one afternoon. Much like the Sega Genesis, you plug the system into your tv via RCA cables and insert a required cartridge. This system folds out like a laptop and has a touch pad along with a stylus pen designed for the games. The system didn't gain as much success as it did in Japan, and surprisingly Japan kept getting games for it even past the millennium!


3D Movie Maker (1995)


3D Movie Maker is where I probably went insane (in a good way) with my Computer Lab class time. You could take premade 3D character models and have them interact in a number of ways in a prerendered background, and the best part was providing your own voice recordings. It's not edutainment per se, but since it was in my class, I label it as one. The software gained popularity years later as it has been used as mindless entertainment on YouTube as user created videos.



And that brings this article to a close. 1997 was pretty much the end of my time getting into education-related products, and as I was turning ten I would assume that going back to the basics with books was the first stage of maturing through school. I hope you enjoyed the read, and I'll see you next time!
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Benjanime Posted on Apr 24, 2017 at 06:32 AM

that would've been the best free gift ever for your kids though. it's too bad you didn't get to keep it.

Hoju Koolander Posted on Apr 24, 2017 at 05:56 AM

Funny story, last year a boxed SEGA Pico system was shipped to me unannounced. I sent the word out on social media, asking for the sender to reveal themselves, but got no response. So I totally set it up for my kids with that Richard Scary game and they were having a great time. A few days later I got an email from an eBay seller from whom I had won an auction, saying he accidentally shipped the Pico to me and needed it returned. Ah well, it was a fun 48 hours.

Benjanime Posted on Apr 24, 2017 at 01:44 AM

i wish i knew that version of the software existed at the time, i would've flipped! in a good way of course lol.

jkatz Posted on Apr 23, 2017 at 11:14 PM

This article reminded me that I had a Nickelodeon version of 3D movie maker as a kid! I must've put in hundreds of hours into that game.

Benjanime Posted on Apr 23, 2017 at 06:12 PM

go for it! and thanks for the compliment! ^^

ThatDudeintheHoodie Posted on Apr 23, 2017 at 03:34 PM

Very nice article, I have plans on doing an article like this with other games.

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