Are you a gamer? Do you like free things? Of course you do!
We here at the Tech Deck are just like you: poor gamers looking for cheap entertainment. And nothing's cheaper than cost-free gaming. Each week, we'll bring you a title (or two or three) you can legally play at home without plopping down a single dollar. If you see games you think we should be featuring on the blog, email us at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Discussions of physics in video games often revolve around the movement of a character, or how realistic the game's engine re-creates the movement of other objects. But back in the 1990s, you could use a video game to learn these concepts. Enter Super Solvers Gizmos and Gadgets, a title that sought to teach 7 to 12 year-olds about simple machines, gravity and friction in a way that didn't feel too obtrusive. You can replay the classic Learning Company game by clicking the link below, free in your browser from the folks at the Internet Archive!
Your goal in Gizmos and Gadgets is to defeat Morty Maxwell in a series of increasingly difficult races. In order to do so, you'll have to solve puzzles involving magnets, scales and electrical circuits. Avoid Maxwell's monkeys, who try to steal your parts in the warehouse!
The game offered non-linear play and did the one thing great educational games aim for - teaching, without making it feel like you were learning. The game received rave reviews upon its release for its graphics, music and replay value - a trait that wasn't widespread among edutainment games at the time.
The Learning Company is perhaps best known for its Reader Rabbit series, but Super Solvers had several decent games in its own right. Midnight Rescue! focused on reading comprehension, and released in 1989. Gizmos and Gadgets released in 1993, and was remastered as Mission: T.H.I.N.K. six years later as the final game in the Super Solvers series.
The Learning Company still exists, 16 years after it was sold at a loss by toy manufacturer Mattel, who bought the company for $4.2 billion in 1998. Its assets are now owned by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, the prominent book publisher.
Did you have a favorite edutainment game as a kid? Did you play all the Super Solvers games in the 1990s? Let us know in the comments below, and check back next week for another free game.