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  • [educational saxophone music]

  • Greetings and welcome to an LGR Edutainment Thing!

  • This time we've got what is considered by some as one of the best:

  • Super Solvers Gizmos & Gadgets!

  • Released by The Learning Company for Macintosh, DOS, and Windows PCs in 1993.

  • Well, originally at least.

  • Gizmos & Gadgets is one of those evergreen learning games

  • that was continually repackaged, rereleased, and revamped

  • for the better part of a decade post-launch.

  • Shoutout to LGR viewer Zack for donating this boxed copy of the original MS-DOS release,

  • I only had a loose Windows 3.1 CD edition before this.

  • And beyond its superior packaging to later releases, I prefer the OG G&G for DOS because

  • it's the way I first experienced it back in the day.

  • A childhood friend had it installed on their Compaq Presario, a computer I lusted after

  • for its Sound Blaster sound card and double speed CD-ROM drive.

  • And good ol' Gizmos & Gadgets garnered great attention, easily becoming my favorite of

  • the Super Solvers games next to Spellbound.

  • Sure I was like eight years old but whatever, this was a game that let me play with physical

  • science, fast cars, and evil robot chimpanzees.

  • Doesn't get much better than that when it comes to mid-90s edutainment, and I'm excited

  • to revisit it after all these years.

  • As with other Learning Company products back then, removing the outer sleeve reveals a

  • nice cardboard box emblazoned with the company logo.

  • And inside there is a whole pile of paper and plastic goodies, along with a sheet of

  • their trademark blue foam. Why?

  • Because The Learning Company used to be pure class, that's why.

  • Hmm let's see, “Do you want your child's education to be fun and rewardin--” NOPE!

  • I just want floppy disks, of which you receive two 3.5-inch high density lovelies

  • in this version 1.01 release.

  • Next up is a ready reference card, folding out to reveal some useful gameplay tips and

  • all the game's keyboard controls.

  • My favorites beingthrow a bananaandthrow a banana farther.”

  • Lastly is the user's guide, a substantial 52 pages of instructions going over each section

  • of the game and how to succeed, along with some installation and troubleshooting tips

  • because DOS is DOS and DOS breaks.

  • I also appreciate these line art illustrations of the main cast of characters and enemies.

  • Anyone else think this would make a good tattoo?

  • Asking for a friend.

  • Gizmos & Gadgets begins with a gadgety gizmotic introduction

  • [thud!] slapping the logo on-screen while pleasant AdLib music plays.

  • [cheery FM synth tunes]

  • You're then presented the story so far, kicking off with the infamous

  • Morty Maxwell the Master of Mischief being back with his usual shenanigans.

  • This time he aims to take over Shady Glen's Technology Center as the new head scientist

  • and... yeah, that's it!

  • Not exactly the most threatening evil plan I've ever heard, nor is it that visually

  • engaging just being a text box slideshow.

  • But then this is the DOS floppy disk release.

  • The later Windows CD-ROM version added a number of things, including a longer intro with new

  • music, animation, and voice acting.

  • Listen up, you barrel of mechanical monkeys!”

  • We are now floating over the Shady Glen Technology Center

  • ready to begin more mischief-making!”

  • “I am preparing to take over as head scientist here

  • so I can be in charge of all the research about science that goes on.”

  • “I don't want anyone getting any smarter than me!”

  • Regardless of your selected version, the goal remains the same: stop Morty Maxwell and his

  • army of robo chimps from ruining Shady Glen's already dodgy reputation.

  • This is accomplished by winning 15 races among three different categories of transportation:

  • automotive, alternative energy, and aircraft.

  • Sign into the technology center and enter your name to take control of the Super Solver:

  • the faceless, voiceless, hat-wearing hero of the Super Solvers series.

  • At this point you can choose your difficulty by saying whether you wanna play with chimps

  • or without chimps, a fantastic choice to have that honestly more games should include,

  • I think we can all agree.

  • Choose which of the three transportation buildings to tackle first,

  • with automotive being my personal preference.

  • You can play in any order you like though, since no matter what you're tasked with

  • assembling one speedy vehicle after another

  • capable of beating Mr. Maxwell to the finish line.

  • There are five blueprints to construct inside each building, with each successive design

  • intensifying in both performance and mechanical complexity.

  • Clicking a part presents a description of what'll work best against the Master of

  • Mischief, with things like tire size, engine horsepower, gear ratios, wing length, body

  • shape, wheel bearings, windshield design, and much more

  • making the difference between success and failure.

  • There are also standard parts and optional components that don't affect performance,

  • like brakes, fuel tanks, decals, and paint.

  • So long as you have the minimum number of parts assembled, you can challenge Morty to

  • a race and attempt to prove yourself to be the better, stronger, faster scientist.

  • Of course, it's likely to go horribly wrong the first time you try.

  • [car engine noises]

  • [disheartening song of failure]

  • But we'll return to racing in a bit.

  • Cuz right now, it's off to the warehouse!

  • This is where the vast majority of Gizmos & Gadgets occurs, taking the form of a 2D

  • platformer with parts to collect, chimps to avoid, and puzzles to solve.

  • Over 200 puzzles, according to the back of the box.

  • But yeah, in order to build yourself a racing machine you need to collect the parts shown

  • on the current blueprint.

  • These parts are found in yellow boxes scattered throughout the warehouse, with the contents

  • and placement of them randomized on each playthrough.

  • Collecting one of every required part is only the bare minimum though, since parts all have

  • their own unique specifications affecting vehicle performance.

  • Chances are the first set of items you grab won't be good enough to beat Morty Maxwell

  • as you saw earlier, and you'll have to either pick up more or drop unwanted items in the

  • recycle bin, which pop up again later on as red boxes.

  • There are also multiple sections in each warehouse with even more parts to choose from, and that's

  • where all those doors come into play.

  • Each door leads to another side of the warehouse, either to the left or right, or behind the

  • wall, mirroring the doors of the front side.

  • These other areas are zoomed in quite a bit as well, so it's often easier to get hit

  • by a chimpanzee robot if you're not careful or are straight up unlucky.

  • And yeah, getting in your way are those mischievous robo-chimps, which'll knock you down and

  • steal one of your collected parts should you come into contact with 'em.

  • Thankfully you've got an arsenal of bananas to pick up and toss at your discretion, something

  • robots find irresistible as we all know.

  • So if you see a chimp headed towards you, throw a banana or throw a banana farther,

  • and the chimp will promptly eat it and fall asleep for a minute.

  • You're then free to continue wandering the warehouse, navigating the maze of doors and

  • hallways in search of loot.

  • The puzzle-solving aspect only pops up whenever you need to unlock a door, which is about

  • every 10 steps, so all the dang time.

  • Entering a puzzle room pauses the outside action and gives you a physical science-y

  • conundrum to solve.

  • Objectives are listed in the bottom left and it's up to the player to determine how to

  • solve it using the mouse.

  • Magnet puzzles involve replicating a pattern using different-shaped magnets and matching

  • their opposing poles.

  • Electrical puzzles task players with completing an electrical circuit by wiring up batteries,

  • switches, and light bulbs.

  • Force puzzles are all about hitting an object into a certain hole by messing around with

  • gravity, friction, and potential energy.

  • Balance puzzles provide a scale where you have to place weights on one side so things

  • are perfectly balanced, as all things should be.

  • Energy puzzles are a straightforward matching game where you need to draw a line from the

  • type of energy to the pictures demonstrating that energy in action.

  • Gears puzzles require the player to place down gears so that their interlocking teeth

  • work together with a crank to press all the buttons at once.

  • And then there are picture puzzles, with one type having you click and drag objects to

  • identify simple machine components and the other type being a kind of jigsaw puzzle,

  • asking you to assemble an everyday machine from a box of scraps.

  • However, even though there's 200+ individual puzzles throughout the game, those eight types

  • of them are all you get, meaning there's some severe repetition going on before long.

  • By far the most common puzzles are balance, gears, electricity, and force.

  • There's around 40 of each of them showing up repeatedly throughout Gizmos & Gadgets,

  • with the entire selection looping back on itself every few hours, so I hope ya like

  • solving the exact same puzzles dozens upon dozens of times.

  • Anyway, once you do solve a puzzle, it's back to the warehouse exploration:

  • wandering around collecting random parts, and

  • walking back and forth between the different sections of the facility.

  • Sloooooowly.

  • This cumbersome movement is another aspect that was addressed in the Windows CD-ROM,

  • where the entire warehouse section of the game moves a bit faster than the floppy version.

  • I ran both on the exact same hardware too, it's not a CPU speed thing, the movement's

  • just been redone overall on Windows.

  • However, for my playthrough here I stuck with the DOS version for two reasons: one, because

  • I prefer the way it looks.

  • Windows Gizmos plays in a maximized frame no matter what, with this off-putting border

  • around everything even at 640x480 resolution.

  • And the graphics are overall a bit disjointed, with some sections benefitting from the higher

  • res, like the puzzles and text pop-ups.

  • But the remainder of the game's original graphics are badly scaled and appear uneven

  • and jagged as a result.

  • I also prefer the DOS game's soundtrack to the Windows version.

  • Both feature a lot of the same MIDI tracks, but on Windows there's less variety in the

  • number of songs and arrangements between warehouses compared to the DOS release.

  • So the question is, is it worth sacrificing the music and gratification for better playability?

  • Yeah maybe, it kinda depends on what you grew up with I guess.

  • Ah whatever though, once you've gathered enough high-quality parts and stuck 'em all together,

  • it's time to race the Master of Mischief and hope for the best!

  • [upbeat music, engine sounds]

  • [song of success]

  • There's absolutely no way to influence the outcome of a race once it begins, it really

  • is down to the parts you had at your disposal and chose to put together.

  • Each of the fifteen blueprints have their own top-tier parts to find that, when combined,

  • will utterly destroy Morty every time.

  • But more often than not, you're probably gonna have one or two parts that aren't

  • quite the very best, so the outcome is less predictable.

  • It can be something as small as a set of tires an inch too narrow, wheels that don't have

  • ball bearings, an engine that's 10 horsepower too low,

  • or even a windshield that's flat instead of curved.

  • Any one of those can make the difference between winning and losing under specific circumstances,

  • so it's worth spending the extra time looking for the best parts you can.

  • And naturally, that means playing an absolute ton of those physical science puzzles.

  • Over. And over. And over.

  • This is not a short game by any means man, I'd forgotten just how long it takes to complete.

  • Consider that it took me anywhere between 25 and 45 minutes to find the right parts

  • for each race, and multiply that by fifteen?

  • Yeah this is easily a 10+ hour game, unusually lengthy for an edutainment title.

  • And unfortunately, the vast majority of that is mind-numbingly boring after you're about

  • halfway through the game.

  • It's the same puzzles, the same chimps, the same puzzles, the same warehouses, the

  • same puzzles, the same parts.

  • Did I mention the same puzzles?

  • It's not just that are there only 8 types of puzzles, but after completing 6 or 7 vehicles,

  • the puzzles ran out and started over from the beginning several times over by the end.

  • It's not a great loop and made me feel like I was going just a little nuts by the time

  • I started seeing the same exact puzzles again for the third time around.

  • However, it's worth noting I was playing through this for multiple hours at a time

  • in order to capture gameplay footage, so.

  • Y'know, not the circumstances Gizmos & Gadgets was designed for by any means.

  • Back in the day we weren't bothered by the repetition at all, and in fact my friends

  • and I excitedly gathered around the computer over the course of a month or two to beat

  • this thing since we could only play for an hour or so on weekends.

  • Precisely the way it's meant to be experienced,

  • because doing it all at once is a recipe for madness.

  • Besides, it's not like the ending is that much of a payoff.

  • The final race is just another race like any other, followed by a podium finish like any other.

  • Except this time Mr. Maxwell tries to steal your trophy, but instead hooks his own blimp

  • and pierces it, sending him flying off over the horizon.

  • The end. [chuckles]

  • Yeah whatever, Gizmos & Gadgets!

  • It's still a lotta fun decades later, at least when played in short bursts as intended.

  • The platforming isn't great and it could do with some more puzzle variety, but yeah,

  • there's good reason it received so many rereleases and outspoken fans over the years.

  • The Super Solvers games are all worth playing in their own ways, but Gizmos & Gadgets deservedly

  • earned its place among the top entries in the series.

  • With its charming graphics and sound, hundreds of puzzles, multiple forms of racing, and

  • potassium-enriched robo-chimps.

  • All around solid stuff from a golden era in edutainment.

  • And if you enjoyed this LGR edutainment episode,

  • check out the video I did on Where in Time Is Carmen Sandiego!

  • Or any of the others I've covered for that matter, with new videos showing up weekly

  • right here on LGR.

  • And as always, thank you very much for watching!

[educational saxophone music]

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LGR - 超級解決者。Gizmos & Gadgets!DOS遊戲評測 (LGR - Super Solvers: Gizmos & Gadgets! DOS Game Review)

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    林宜悉 發佈於 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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