Ancient software for recent humans?
January 22, 2009 7:38 PM   Subscribe

Can anyone recommend great Apple II software for a kindergartner?

I recently acquired and revived a couple of old Apple //e's. I've been having a lot of fun learning about a whole era of computing that I'd missed out on.

My daughter--a few months away from turning 5, but an excellent reader--also seems really enthralled with them (she thinks it's "silly" that these machines are older than her old man).

She's gotten into Word Munchers and a few other games that we've played together, and I'd love to find some more educational-ish stuff that she can dig into.

The problem--quite the opposite of the one I was anticipating--is that software is too abundant! There are literally hundreds if not thousands of disk images that have been ripped and archived online. It takes a few minutes to download, transfer, and write an image to disk, and it's hard to tell what any one program has to offer until you do; so if anyone out there has any good memories of particular titles, please help me narrow down the list!
posted by Mr. Anthropomorphism to Computers & Internet (32 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
"Lemonade Stand" was a bit of a classic.
posted by pompomtom at 7:54 PM on January 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

Um, you know about Oregon Trail, right?
posted by ALongDecember at 7:58 PM on January 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

You just know this AskMe is going to spawn fifteen new ones, along the lines of "What was the name of that Apple II game with the little pac-man guy who went down the ladders and collected stuff and set up spinny things to deflect enemies and could use an umbrella to float down?" (In fact, does anybody know that game? Because it was awesome, although I don't recall whether it was supposed to be educational.)

When I was about her age (okay, maybe a little older) I loved Think Quick!

Oregon Trail, of course. Even if she's too young for it she can still enjoy shooting buffalo and watching her entire party die of dysentery.
posted by phoenixy at 8:00 PM on January 22, 2009

Rocky's Boots by Warren Robinett, author of Adventure for the Atari 2600, will turn your daughter into a boolean, mean, thinking machine.
posted by zippy at 8:06 PM on January 22, 2009

Response by poster: Well I know of Oregon Trail, but by the time I was playing it, it was a version that was a shadow of (what I understand to be) its former glory.

I'm looking into it now, and I can't help but think this virtual online version may come in handy to some nostalgic MeFites.
posted by Mr. Anthropomorphism at 8:14 PM on January 22, 2009

I have no idea if you can get it for Apple II, but KidPix is absolutely the best kid's game ever.
posted by NoraReed at 8:14 PM on January 22, 2009

My favorites (aside from Word Munchers) were Spellevator (you're a little dust puff in a hotel and need to answer spelling questions to escape from the terrifying vacuum cleaners) and Odell Lake (about biology, sort of - you're a fish and you have to decided how to best respond to potential predators and prey).
posted by bubukaba at 8:17 PM on January 22, 2009

All of the Stickybear games are probably just about perfect for her, and anything from The Learning Company (Moptown Parade, Reader Rabbit, etc.)

I played a lot of Sneakers, which was a pretty nonviolent shooter, around that age. We also had a copy of Spotlight, which was for older kids, but I handled it pretty well.

I also had some math program that was mostly about linear equations that I liked (I was kind of weird), and we had the Microsoft Decathlon game too. When I was a little older, I liked The Incredible Laboratory from Sunburst, and the Avalon Hill Games port of their board game Stocks and Bonds.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 8:24 PM on January 22, 2009

In a few years - Carmen Sandiego.
posted by k8t at 8:25 PM on January 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

Odyssey: The Compleat Apventure remains one of the best games I've ever played. It's sort of an RPG with a lot of exploration involved. The Scott Adams adventures were also wonderful.
posted by chairface at 8:32 PM on January 22, 2009

Oh yeah: You should keep in mind one of the best things about the Apple was its hackability. I had more fun cracking games than I ever did playing them. While boot tracing might be too much for your child to enjoy, she might enjoy some good old BASIC programming.
posted by chairface at 8:35 PM on January 22, 2009

As chairface said, if your child ever shows interest in programming, my favorite game was Apple+Reset.
posted by ALongDecember at 8:36 PM on January 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: NoraReed, too true! You need at least a Macintosh for KidPix, but she lives for the latest version on our modern Macs, and it is a cherished part of my childhood too.

k8t, I'm definitely looking forward to Carmen Sandiego, I had a newer version of that on my LC III that was a blast.

Everyone, this is just great. I'm getting all nostalgic (and on playing that virtual Oregon Trail I posted above... it seems awfully familiar after all).
posted by Mr. Anthropomorphism at 8:38 PM on January 22, 2009

Apple II Carmen Sandiego was more fun than the newer versions (we had it on Apple II at school, and I got it a couple years later on PC at home).
posted by fructose at 8:42 PM on January 22, 2009

Response by poster: God, remember the show?
posted by Mr. Anthropomorphism at 8:48 PM on January 22, 2009

Slight tangent --- You can try out Apple II software without an actual Apple II. This will save you some time in testing out stuff. Google for "Apple II emulators"
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 8:54 PM on January 22, 2009

Mixed-up Mother Goose
posted by Phssthpok at 9:17 PM on January 22, 2009

phoenixy, that would be apple panic, I believe. Great game.

Man, I just threw out a three-ring binder full of Apple ][ disks recently.

I agree with chairface. Teach her some of the basics of Applesoft BASIC and she'll have fun with it.
posted by umbĂș at 9:18 PM on January 22, 2009

I am quite literally shocked and amazed that no one has mentioned the most correct answer to this question.

The greatest game ever produced for the Apple II (though it was older than that, actually) was Zork. That game changed my life as I sat in the pale green glow of that huge tan Apple IIe monitor dreaming of the underground kingdom. It's all text, and even then there were lots of 'prettier' games, but as time went on, Zork was really the only game that ever captured my imagination and painted a fantastical (and hilarious) world.

Really. Zork. Great game for a kid that's a good reader. GREAT.
posted by koeselitz at 10:56 PM on January 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

I remember loving Mickey's Space Adventure! Wow, I haven't thought about that in probably 25 years.
posted by exceptinsects at 10:56 PM on January 22, 2009

Really, I can't just say it once. Zork is a LEGEND. The mere mention is enough to get some of us geeks babbling for hours.
posted by koeselitz at 10:59 PM on January 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

Please note, with regards to Mickey's Space Adventure: my six-years-older sister let Mickey run out of oxygen on Neptune once and I never got over it. If your kid tends to the hysterical over cartoon-character death, you may need to watch Mickey's oxygen gauge very carefully.

Also, most of the Spinnaker Software stuff-- Facemaker, Spelling Zoo, etc.-- is great.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 11:43 PM on January 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

Loderunner and Choplifter.

Choplifter might hold the distinction of being one of the few computer games ever written whose scoring system is based on the player saving lives rather than taking them. A point that was lost on my 11-year old self as I merrily strafed the bejeezus out of the hostages. I was playing a cracked version of the game and had no instructions. I gave up after a few goes thinking 'this game is dumb. I'm killing everything in sight and I can't crack the high-score list'. I went back to Loderunner and proceeded to waste days of my life digging holes in mines and collecting loot instead.
posted by tim_in_oz at 1:10 AM on January 23, 2009

Not for reading, but fun games:
Apple Panic
Spare Change

and for grins, you might try to find Suicide!, which I wrote when I was 13. It was a very simple game that features an out of tune rendition of Another One Bites the Dust, great splatty noises when the guys hit the ground, oh and it was the very first video game with punctuation in its title. Really. That's about the best thing that can be said for it.

I still have a pack of floppy disks in my attic which, IIRC has the Suicide! golden master, as well as the never released Invasion of Everything. If you have the ability to create floppy images, I'd be very happy to lend you some of the disks for a while in exchange for images of IoE and Suicide! that I could then run in an emulator.
posted by plinth at 3:22 AM on January 23, 2009

I have no idea what it was called but I remember a game of sorts, clearly tending towards the educational, where you could design a car, test it in a wind tunnel for drag, and then I think try it on a track. I thought it was fun way back when.
posted by 6550 at 6:18 AM on January 23, 2009

Oh man, memories. I desperately need coffee, but let's see what I can remember.

Karateka - nuff said.
Math Blaster - great educational math game, can't find a link.

I was 9 when the Apple IIe came out, most of the games I played were for slightly older children, but I remember there used to be a ton of educational software out there.

Oh, and programming - she's likely too young, but rather than BASIC, if you can get your hands on a copy of Logo (preferably the Terrapin Logo, not the older MIT Logo), I remember spending a lot of time w/ that in the classroom - think of it as programming lite, with all the fun of drawing pictures and none of the debugging headaches. :)
posted by swngnmonk at 6:21 AM on January 23, 2009

The Apple II version of Reader Rabbit is far, far superior to the currently-available incarnations. I haven't been able to find a disk image yet, though.
posted by designbot at 7:09 AM on January 23, 2009

6550, I remember that game too. Google says it's called "Car Builder". That sounds plausible. It left me confused for years about how graphite would work as a lubricant--I pictured rubbing a pencil all over the engine.
posted by phoenixy at 7:10 AM on January 23, 2009

Sadly, I was old enough in my Apple II days that I don't have recommendations for your 5 year old.

For you, though, I will second Karateka. I seem to recall the same guys made another game called Moebius or something like that.

Oh, and the original Might and Magic* and Ultima games.

* When I played the first M&M on my Apple, I only needed 48K of RAM. When I got a PC, I needed 640K to run the same exact game. Progress? Pfft!
posted by JaredSeth at 8:51 AM on January 23, 2009

When I was a kindergartener, my school had a computer lab full of Apple II's (and this was the early 90's!). My favorites: Number Munchers (never played Word Munchers), Oregon Trail, and Carmen Sandiego. Yeah, I played some Carmen in kindergarten (we had thick books with US tidbits to help us solve the problems). I think your daughter can play Oregon Trail at 5 - she doesn't need to understand the historic facts of it or anything, and shooting buffalo is always fun :). ('Course, she might end up frenzily tapping at the arrow keys to shoot a freakin' squirrel, like I used to...)

I'm not sure if Math Blaster was around at that time, but you can check that out too, if you wish.

(Oh, the show.... man, I miss that)
posted by curagea at 10:30 AM on January 23, 2009

I had it on our DOS-based PC, but I too loved Math Blaster!
posted by radioamy at 10:45 AM on January 23, 2009

When I was four, the only two games I think I really enjoyed (enough that I remember them vividly still) were "Kindercomp" and "Tuk Goes To Town."

Especially Tuk Goes to Town. Man, that game was awesome. Just looking at screenshots on the internet is giving me a warm fuzzy feeling.
posted by everybody polka at 4:48 PM on January 23, 2009

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