Nostalgia is a powerful force, but we live in a world where some memories are re-livable thanks to the Internet. Nothing really gets deleted from the Web, so from photos of last week’s vacation on Facebook to learning world history, the past is accessible to all.
Today, we’re going to go back in time and play some games that you might have enjoyed while in elementary school. Since most of these titles are at least 20 years old, they’ve become publicly available. Some are clones of the originals, but there’s something here for everyone who enjoyed an educational game during free periods of computer class.
There are a bundle of Carmen Sandiego games, but this updated version of the original stands as one of the best and is a great entry point for the series. In it, the player travels around different locations searching for clues so they can arrest criminals. Once you’ve bagged enough crooks, you’ll go after Carmen herself to finish the game.
This long-running series is a staple of the edutainment genre, as it teaches kids about history and geography while still providing fun gameplay and detective work. If you enjoy the original, other titles such as Where in Time? and Where in Europe? are also available.
Thanks to the Internet Archive making thousands of classic games available, you can stream the DOS version of Carmen Sandiego right now. As Justin pointed out, this game’s original version came out 30 years ago and the world’s geography has changed – there’s additional difficulty here!
Likely the first popular simulation game (before the genre descended into weirdness), SimCity brought schoolkids hours of entertainment as they worked on creating the ultimate metropolis. The game’s open-ended nature meant you could name your town and take the process of building homes, businesses, and roads slowly.
SimCity also featured scenarios that allow you to oversee a real-life city in an imaginary state of trouble; your actions determine if the city crumbles or succeeds.
If you don’t want to go to the trouble of starting from scratch, take the fun route: load a city up and unleash a series of earthquakes, floods, and monster attacks on it. However you choose to interact with it, SimCity is a classic PC title that’s still fun to play around in.
It’s too bad that the SimCity game released in 2013 successor was such a disaster at launch.
PC games don’t get much more legendary than The Oregon Trail, a game installed on the computers of nearly every school in America back in the 80s and 90s. This game is another hybrid of fun and learning; as players hunt rabbits and elk and lose party members to dysentery or measles on their way to the Western frontier in the mid-1800s, they must learn to manage their resources and survive.
The Orgeon Trail was wildly successful, and most people reading this list have probably experienced it at some point in their lives. This title is hard proof that games designed to make you learn don’t have to be boring or have bad gameplay; round up a party and relive the memories of crossing the frontier online.
If you find the original game a bit bland, check out the parody title The Organ Trail, where you travel across America in a station wagon trying to survive the zombie apocalypse.
Millionaire, the popular game show where a single contestant must answer a series of questions that become more difficult to win a million dollars, had a few releases of home computer games. Kids Edition took the formula and made the questions age-appropriate for kids, asking about basic history and science with an emphasis on pop culture.
Sadly, Kids Edition isn’t available online (though you can grab it from Amazon if you’d like), but clones of the regular game are available. Puffgames features a decent Millionaire experience for anyone who grew up with Kids Edition and is ready for a challenge.
You won’t win a million dollars, but trivia buffs will enjoy the challenge of being in the hot seat without all the pressure. Regis Philbin is included; what’s not to love?
Logical Journey of the Zombinis (1996) [No Longer Available]
This adventure starred the strange Zombinis, creatures whose physical attributes came into play in many of the game’s logic-based challenges.
More than the others on this list, Logical Journey require critical thinking skills and wasn’t too enjoyable for kids who didn’t pick up on the game’s rules. In one early level players must decide between two bridges to cross a cliff. Twin rock faces below the bridges are allergic to certain Zombinis and it’s up to the player to deduce how to get them across safely.
The game’s puzzles are entertaining and the difficulty is scalable for different ages. If you haven’t played it before and enjoy a good puzzle, it’s worth trying since the challenges take some thinking.
This is the only title on the list that isn’t available to stream online; you’ll have to download the file from MyAbandonware and run it yourself using the instructions on the page. For more Zombinis action, you can check out the remake of Logical Journey or the second game, Mountain Rescue.
Computer Class Dismissed
The greatest games never go out of style, and there’s something in each of these titles that make them worth rediscovering today. While the educational elements may seem a bit over-the-top to the adults of today, these games provided us with life skills in an entertaining way. If you didn’t have the pleasure of borrowing these discs in your school days, take some time to discover these classics.
I’m sure these aren’t the only games you played in school! What games did you treasure in elementary school? Did you try any of these titles for the first time after reading this list? I want to hear about your experiences, so chime in below!
Image Credits: boy at computer Via Shutterstock