Written by  :  Nowhere Girl (3136)
Written on  :  Jan 17, 2013
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars

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A nice and sentimental game with a certain big flaw

The Good

This is the first version of "Mixed-Up Mother Goose" I have ever played and while I was already well beyond the intended age group at that time, I have much sentiment for this game.
The graphics have been improved much. This game is a good example of how lovely and colorful EGA graphics can look. The landscape isn't as varied as for example in "Quest for Glory 1" or "King's Quest 4" and it's generally much smaller, but it really looks good. EGA colors were generally quite bright, so they were good for drawing sunny sceneries and this game looks just like that. While the game looks much better, the graphics haven't been changed very much compared to the AGI version. Most parts of the landscape have the same colors, but a higher resolution allowed more details and improvement of areas which looked poor because of dithering not looking good or credible in more primitive graphics. In the 1987 version all roads in the town and countryside were brown with minor details (pebbles etc.) in red, gray and black - pure yellow would have been too bright to look credible as sand or gravel, but brown didn't look too good either. In the 1990 version the roads are yellow-gray (dithered colors) and it works very well. This is how good EGA graphics created the impression of more colors being used despite having only 16.
The sound has undergone a vast improvement. Well, it's still simple, it still doesn't sound like different instruments, but simply like "computer sounds", still doesn't include vocals (these were introduced in the second remake) - but at least it doesn't distort melodies as PC Speaker did. As I said in my review of the 1987 version, a few songs are even hard to recognize. I don't have a good ear, but anyway I can distinguish between "this sounds amazing!" and "something's not right". PC Speaker couldn't play more than one sound at the same time and it sounds a bit as if it couldn't play semitones - this would explain why it simply sounds out of tune in some moments. The 1990 version of "Mixed-Up Mother Goose" already supports sound cards and the melodies may not be perfect, but are clearly recognizable.
The game's educational value and replay value are the same as in other versions. In every new game item location is random (apart from the watering can and I just don't know why only this item "doesn't move"), so each gameplay is slightly different.

The Bad

Character movement isn't very comfortable. In typical Sierra games with keyboard input pressing an arrow meant moving in this direction until the arrow was pressed again. In the original version of "Mixed-Up Mother Goose" movement is more typical for keyboard games and more intuitive for children: you have to hold the arrow to go on. In 1990 "Mixed-Up Mother Goose" it's yet something different: pretty much like the 1987 version, but if you keep pressing an arrow for a longer while, you won't stop immediately when you let go.
The game also has a certain big ideological flaw I have already mentioned: strong and annoying gender stereotyping. Just look at the kids: while it's possible to choose a child with different appearance and ethnic background, all the girls wear pink and all the boys wear blue. These two colors have become quite a symbol of children being locked up in their gender like in cages... The toys in children's rooms which are briefly seen at the beginning and end of the game are also mostly stereotypical, gender-conforming. This is exactly what I call "sexual hyperdimorphism". Sexual dimorphism means differences in appearance between males and females of the same species: female and male ducks have plumage of different colors, male tigers are larger than females, men are usually taller and more hairy than women... and so on. Sexual hyperdimorphism means an addition of differences which don't exist naturally: more and more elimination of body hair as a condition of "beauty" for women, aggression against men who wear feminine clothes... also examples such as all this pink-and-blue system and often extreme division of toys "for girls" and "for boys". It's a pity that "Mixed-Up Mother Goose" uses this system so uncritically... Pink-and-blue won't be gone until "Mixed-Up Mother Goose Deluxe", the final version of the game. Anyway, I think it's good for games to include at least a bit of non-stereotypical gender images (for example non-stereotypical toys the characters use) - it isn't so readily noticed, but can still give an important message: you can be who you want to be, you can wear pink or blue or canary yellow, you can play with dolls or microscopes - as long as you are happy with your life and this is what counts.

The Bottom Line

Unfortunately, this game is not easy to find, it's much rarer than the original or even the second remake. However, if you can find it, it's worth trying out - graphics are better and music is even dramatically better than in the 1987 version.