February 10th, 2010



  • 06:29 I really have to go through my papers sometime soon. #
  • 13:42 Question I just heard asked: "What's your snow situation?" #
  • 16:49 I'm probably unfairly romanticizing the past, but I kind of miss 2008. #
  • 17:12 My temp assignment for tomorrow was cancelled due to the snow. Come on, I need the money! #
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Troggling Childhood Memories

I know I've already written about the Munchers series of educational games from the Minnesota Educational Computer Consortium (MECC), but since I recently came upon someone else's post on the games, I might as well say a little more about them. Word Munchers was the first one I played, and that was at school. We later also got Number and Fraction Munchers, and I eventually obtained Super Munchers at home. I had somewhat of an obsession with the games, writing the characters into stories, coming up with a play about going inside the computer and becoming a Word Muncher (we taped the little bit of it that we ended up performing, but I'm sure the tape has either been lost or erased since then), and drawing my own cut scenes. Now, when I say "drawing," I don't mean I did it WELL, although at least the Munchers themselves were easy to draw. Most of it was more representative.

The concept of the games was quite simple, and rather reminiscent of Pac-Man, in that your hero is preoccupied with eating, and his enemies want to eat him. The bad guys were known as Troggles, which is probably derived from "troglodyte." Since that term implies ignorance, it's quite appropriate for monsters trying to impede educational pursuits. There were five types of Troggles, each with their own movement patterns, and trying to avoid them added an element of challenge to the games beyond simply getting the right answers. I think MECC invented its own cast of characters was an improvement over simply putting familiar video game characters into educational settings. You don't hear much talk about Donkey Kong Jr. Math, which I'm guessing was DK's attempt to get his son into a good school so he wouldn't end up a barrel-chucking loser like his old manimal. And the series of games in which Mario tried teaching typing, geography, history, and the like seems to be universally panned. Fortunately, the plumber has since abandoned these pursuits, probably after the Carmen Sandiego gang roughed up the Koopa family for horning in on their racket.

Snow for Zenobia

I don't mind occasional discussions about the weather, but as of recently I've been hearing way too many conversations that basically boil down to: "Snow snow snow snow snow." "Snow snow snow?" "Snow snow snow snow snow SNOW snow snow snow!" Hey, I'm annoyed at the snow as well, but how much can you really say about it? I particularly love the people who make complaints like, "Isn't one snowstorm enough?" Actually, it's too much, in my own opinion, but what do you think? There's some Snow Bureaucracy that screwed up somewhere along the line, and the auditing department hasn't caught it yet? If nature operated on fairness, explain the Haitian earthquake. (No, I didn't ask YOU, Pat Robertson.) And of course there's that old standby from people who presumably are trying out for jobs as Leno writers: "So much for global warming!" Hey, I don't know all the science involved, but isn't denying global warming because it's cold occasionally sort of like saying there's no economic crisis because you know some people with good jobs? Then again, I've occasionally heard that one as well.

Also, this isn't related to snow, but last week, I found Warwick Goble's picture of Zenobia of Palmyra accompanying this post at Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness. I liked the picture and put it up on Tumblr, and it's gotten the most reblogs and likes of anything I've posted there. Odd how that works out. Also, doesn't "Zenobia" sound like an old-school video game? Maybe just because it's similar to "Shinobi," but it resembles other titles as well. Looking it up, apparently one of the Ogre Battle games that was never released in English has the subtitle "Densetsu no Ōga Batoru Gaiden Zenobia no Ōji," or "Legend of the Zenobia Prince." I've never played any of the Ogre Battle games, but I believe they're fantasy strategy games like Final Fantasy Tactics, only predating that series. Anyway, I think a queen who successfully conquered Egypt from the Romans would be a good subject for a video game, right?