Name that Apple //e edutainment software
December 12, 2007 2:17 AM   Subscribe

Name that Apple //e edutainment software (Troll gems? Driving? Townhouses? Looking stuff up?)

This is pretty self-indulgent so apologies in advance, but it has honestly been inexplicably bugging me lately, and if I'm going to get an answer, I'm probably going to get it here. I used to really dig this Apple //e game as a kid and I can't remember its name, and all perusal of retro game sites has turned up nada.

Relevant details: You drove around some town on a top-down map in a lozenge-looking car, going to houses and answering school research-y related questions (i.e. "when was the great wall built?") and you would get...I think...troll gems? Or parts of a single troll gem? Which were also lozenge-y? And if you had enough of them you would upgrade your house and move to a new map? I distinctly remember that the order of house upgrades went something like shack-->townhouse-->mansion or equivalent. I don't think it was Snooper Troops FWIW; I don't recall the investigation element being there. But I could be wrong. I don't think it was part of one of those Scholastic sets either.

Bonus (much easier) question: what was that game from the same era in which you were basically a conquistador exploring and exploiting the new world? I remember crossing the ocean took forever and you could export a hell of a lot of gold. It was supposed to be educational but mostly functioned as an imperialism simulator, which bizarrely seemed to impart the message that imperialism could be highly satisfying if you were a good gamer.

Thanks for shedding any light!
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The second game was Seven cities of Gold I guess...No ?
But the Educational one ... I don't know, sorry.
posted by nicolin at 2:37 AM on December 12, 2007

This list might help.
posted by hjo3 at 2:39 AM on December 12, 2007

Response by poster: Seven Cities of Gold is the second one, yes, thanks. That game tripped me out because I first played it in diplomatic, non-hostile mode and it was frustrating, and then out of curiosity I replayed it in a more ruthless way and it was a lot more fun. Even as a kid I thought that was a strange gameplay mechanic. Although having just looked it up, 1) the designers claim the actual mechanic is the opposite (I'm going to have to replay it now!) and 2) it appears I'm incorrect that it was intended to be educational. One thing I miss about 80s games is their lack of genre pigeonholing.

hjo3: thanks! I've actually found even more comprehensive lists than that one, but it's the name of the game that eludes me, and the name is either unrelated enough or the game is obscure enough that lists haven't helped.
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 2:58 AM on December 12, 2007

This emulator and these disk images to run on it may help.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 5:17 AM on December 12, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks! I'm fine for emulators and image sources, just looking for the game title at this point.
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 5:26 AM on December 12, 2007

Do you have any idea how old the game is? What year/years did you play it?
posted by iconomy at 7:08 AM on December 12, 2007

Response by poster: I would have had to have played it sometime between 84-86. Leaning towards 85 or 86.
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 7:29 AM on December 12, 2007

Ack, I played that game. I can't remember much more about it, though. My time machine does suck.

I'll poke around and see if I can't find it.
posted by ikkyu2 at 11:32 PM on December 12, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks ikkyu2!
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 1:18 AM on December 13, 2007

Best answer: YTMS, was it "The Secrets of Science Island"?

An April 1985 article from Creative Computing ("Goodbye, little red schoolhouse; educational software graduates to new levels at school, home, and business") by Carol A. Crowell reviewed a bunch of educational software and mentions this:
System: IBM PC, Apple II, Atari, C64, Vice-20, Coleco Address: 999 Main, Suite 200 Glen Ellyn, IL 60137 (312) 790-1117 Grolier Electronic Publishing, Inc.

It should be no surprise that the world's largest publisher and distributor of encyclopedias would introduce a line of educational software designed not only to encourage reading but also to develop "essential information literacy" skills. The Adventures in Knowledge series integrates books and software in Secrets of Science Island which uses adventure to explain science facts. [...]
I tried searching for "Secrets of Science Island" with various keywords ("shack" and "townhouse" separately as well as combined) and this article on JSTOR looks like it might be helpful in determining whether this is the game or not:
Judy Wilson
Reviewed work(s): The Secrets of Science Island
Learning Disability Quarterly, Vol. 8, No. 2 (Spring, 1985), pp. 159-160 (review consists of 2 pages)
Published by: Council for Learning Disabilities
I don't have access to JSTOR but the Google search excerpts that appeared had some promising info:

"Once the shack is completed the player has a choice between riding out the hur-ricane or trading the shack for a partially com- pleted townhouse [...]"

"In the second stage of the game, the construc- tion of the townhouse [...]"
posted by macguffin at 1:18 AM on August 7, 2008

Response by poster: That was definitely it, macguffin, thank you -- I bow down to your superior google-fu.

Learning Disability Quarterly!
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 4:20 PM on August 7, 2008

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