Mixed-Up Mother Goose

Moby ID: 758
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Mixed-Up Mother Goose is a classic "Sierra-style" adventure game for kids, based on the various classic nursery rhymes (Humpty Dumpty, etc.). All the rhymes from all over the land have gotten mixed up, and it is up to the child to find the missing pieces and give them back to who needs them.

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Credits (Atari ST version)

4 People

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Reviews

Critics

Average score: 22% (based on 1 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.8 out of 5 (based on 32 ratings with 4 reviews)

Not the prettiest version, but its a wonderful early DOS game for young kids.

The Good
Very simple interface that doesn't require any reading once you've started the game. My 3 year old daughter loves playing this on my IBM 5150 from 1987, and she can use a joystick to play the whole game. She can pick out her name but she can't really read, so she knows when characters are talking to her, but since the game uses pictures and music to explain what you need to do, a kid can rely on their memory and ability to navigate to play the game without needing much help.

This is WONDERFUL, and I wish there were more games like this available for my daughter to play on vintage computers. It seems like the majority require reading abilities even though they are seemingly for really young kids (Mickey Mouse, Winnie the Pooh,

The Bad
The music obviously isn't as good from a PC speaker as it is in the later versions with MIDI music, and the latest versions with high quality recorded music with spoken lyrics. Also there's just less animation than the later versions... but lets face it, this is a really old game from a time when DOS was not the most common computer gaming platform.

The Bottom Line
A great adventure game for young kids that has memorable scenery and characters, and is accessible for all ages and rewarding.

It also refreshingly does not contain any magic, ghosts or fighting. Its astounding that so few game developers over the years could figure out how to make a game without stuffing those things down our throats, even for young kids' games.

I highly recommend this game, but mostly if you're planning to play it on vintage hardware and are interested in helping a kid to appreciate the early days of computer games. The graphics and music of later versions are much more appealing for the majority of kids, but since they are mouse oriented they probably aren't as easy for really young kids to play.

DOS · by Joe Nuzzo (5) · 2017

Better try to find a later version

The Good
I familiarized myself with this game quite late. In the 90s - already as a teenager, not a child as this word is usually understood - I had the 1990 version. It was of course very childish, but still nice. More recently I was able to find the 1992 version. However, for years I didn't know the game's earliest version. Therefore, I will compare this version with the others quite much.
The graphics aren't too good - low-resolution AGI - but still "not as bad as they could be". Some details are really well-made (for example the little fountain in front of Jack Sprat's house), but what I really liked were the clouds. They appear as if they were swirling and forming spirals (and no, I'm not high ;)). In the 1990 version of "Mixed-Up Mother Goose" the sky was mostly cloudless - maybe the game's developers thought it was already so well done in terms of details that clouds would divert the players' attention from houses, gardens or mountains (which may be true) - so it's interesting to find a major difference. Another part of the scenery that differs much from the later version: in 1987 Mixed-Up Mother Goose" the hills have a curious teal shade. Shading and, more precisely, dithering usually didn't work well in AGI graphics, so instead of shading grass on the hills, the graphics team gave it this slightly weird color. Usually, however, the graphical difference isn't very big (anyway, much smaller than between EGA and VGA version of many games or AGI and SCI version of "King's Quest I") - in the 1990 version all sceneries were mostly just redone in a higher resolution with more details and better shading, but usually the same colors.
The gameplay is extremely simple, like in all versions of this game. You only use cursor keys - items are picked up and given automatically when walking close to an item or the person to which the carried item should be given.
"Fastest" game speed is extremely fast and unsuitable for fine movements, but still can be useful when having to cover large distances - you can do it substantially quicker than in later versions.
As for the game's educational value for its intended age group... I'm not sure if nowadays children really play this game. I believe most children relatively familiar with computers would consider it too primitive, so I'd guess it's rather still being played mostly by sentimental players who were children themselves in the times when such games were being made. However, if a child appreciates retro games, "Mixed-Up Mother Goose" could be interesting - for example for children from non-English speaking countries, who could supplement their knowledge of English with traditional nursery rhymes. The game is so easy it shouldn't present any problem. However, the player has to know at least a bit English (and I really have known silly people who play games translating every sentence with some program and, as usual, get lots of nonsense from mechanical translation) and, of course, should be able to read. While a child who can't read yet could give it a try with Putt-Putt games, in "Mixed-Up Mother Goose" you have to read dialog. However, an image of the sought item also appears in a "thought bubble", so maybe it is possible to play it without being able to read... I won't know it, because I learned to read at 5, first heard about computers at 7 and first played a (friend's) computer at 8. ;)

The Bad
The music is a real pain. This is pure PC Speaker in all its dubious glory... Melodies sound different, are usually strangely slow - and a few, such as "Mary, Mary quite contrary" or "Banbury Cross", were even hard to recognize.
I don't remember the exact dialog lines from 1990 "Mixed-Up Mother Goose", but it seems to me that the 1987 version is yet more simplified and far from sounding like a conversation. You can find much more relatively realistic chatting in the 1992 version.
At first I was discouraged from the game because I didn't know how to change the player character's look and a saved character was present. If anyone else has the same problem (for example if you too absolutely need to choose a female character), it surely can be solved with an "external" method - by deleting the mgsg.(number) file.

The Bottom Line
The game can be of interest for "collectors" and others who want to compare versions. If you just want to try "Mixed-Up Mother Goose", I think the 1990 or 1992 version is preferable. Both have their disadvantages (the 1990 version is hardest to find, the 1992 version only works in Scumm VM, at least on my computer), but they look and, first of all, sound much better.

DOS · by Nowhere Girl (8680) · 2013

A nice kids game that has an easy-to-use interface and some interesting mechanics

The Good
This game wasn't something I grew up with. Firstly, I had a Commodore 64 but Sierra didn't make games for it around 1987. Secondly, it wasn't until 1992 until I purchased my first PC and even then I grew out of all things Mother Goose. Sierra was the only company that sold a Mother Goose-related product, and it was created by Roberta Williams, the same author that wrote King's Quest.

The game is called Mixed-up Mother Goose for a reason, and it's not because the nursery rhymes featured are "mixed-up" with others. You are transported to a land of Banbury where several objects are littered everywhere. It is up to the player to take these objects to the person who is featured in the rhymes. Although there are some rhymes that I knew from school such as Humpty Dumpty and Little Miss Muffet, I haven't heard most of them.

Once the player correctly matches the object with the person, the game reproduces the nursery rhyme, complete with animations. Although the nursery rhymes sounds tolerable through the PC Speaker, it sounds a lot better if you own a Tandy computer. What's good about the rhymes is that the player can sing along to them while they watch the animations. As far as the animations go, they blend in with the verses, and they look neat. The main theme song also sounds nice.

The game uses a modified version of Sierra's AGI engine. Picking up objects is as easy as touching them. They are displayed in the box in the upper-right corner, and remains there until it is given to their owner, which can be achieved also by touching. I like this game mechanic as it is easier to do things in the game. You don't have to enter "pick up object" or "give object to someone". One object can be carried at a time, making it easier for children since it avoids confusion about the number of objects are stored and what they look like.

The graphics are very good even under the low resolution of 160x200. The roads, as well as the houses that line them, are laid out nicely; and the interiors are well designed. The game world itself is huge, and it is easy to get lost without a map. It is nice that the game has a night time setting, to accompany the Hey-Diddle-Diddle nursery rhyme.

Finally, the game is replayable. With the exception of the watering can, each object is placed in a different spot each new game, meaning that children can't memorize the locations of all objects. Also, selecting your appearance before you start the game is a nice touch. I got to play as a child that looks like me, but without the glasses!

The Bad
Roberta knows how to make a kid's game, so I have nothing to complain about.

The Bottom Line
Mixed-up Mother Goose is a children's game that features some popular nursery rhymes that I grew up with. The game has children finding objects and bringing them to their respective owners, and only then will they be allowed to listen to the rhyme in question. Nice little animations are played, and the game features some interesting mechanics as well such as random object locations and the ability to select your appearance. As I mentioned before, Sierra is the only company who released a Mother Goose game; and children who are fascinated with these nursery rhymes will love playing this.

DOS · by Katakis | カタキス (43091) · 2012

[ View all 4 player reviews ]

Trivia

All object in the game were randomly placed every new game, except the watering can for some weird reason: it was always at the same place.

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Related Sites +

  • ScummVM
    supports the DOS, Amiga and Apple IIgs versions of Roberta Williams' Mixed-Up Mother Goose under Windows, Linux, Macintosh and other platforms.

Identifiers +

  • MobyGames ID: 758
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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Mats Rade.

Amiga added by Picard. Atari ST added by Martin Smith. Apple II added by Eli Tomlinson. Apple IIgs added by Servo.

Additional contributors: Erwin Bergervoet, Macs Black.

Game added January 19, 2000. Last modified January 20, 2024.