The 3ft 6 Pak! (Part One)

You know how I love video games? Well if you didn’t, now you do. But to get to the point, I’m really more of a console gamer. Sure, there are tons of good PC games out there, but most of them are first-person shooters and online RPGs (Half-Life, Everquest, etc), both of which fail to intrigue me very much, if at all. That’s half right there, another quarter are crappy games that really serve no purpose, and are boring and stupid (Lego Island, etc). Then we come around to the good games, which are primarily real-time strategy and console ports (Command & Conquer, Metal Gear Solid, etc). So like I said, I don’t play a whole lot of games on my PC.

So then what purpose does my PC serve? Well for one, what you’re reading takes up a significant percentage of my time on the computer. The rest of the time I’m usually browsing the internet for any type of interesting stuff I may be able to find. So in short, I use the computer almost exclusively for the internet. But what of the days when I had no access to the web? Well, that was when computer games were still fun, and typically 2-D. You’d be surprised at the kind of games they made back then. There were tons of things you’d never hear of unless you were into knowing every game that was ever released. Or if you had parents who randomly bought games that seemed to be of good value. I was in the latter.

Today I will once again delve into my shady and rather boring past to explore one of the oddities of my computer game collection. I haven’t touched this thing for years. Not since I was 12 at the very most. I didn’t plan to ever pick it up again, but as I write this, I temporarily have lost my connection to the net thanks to the bumbling tomfoolery of my brother.(Editor’s Note: I placed the blame a little prematurely…) So here we go, get ready for a trip into the darkest depths of edutainment as we witness PC gaming at what might just be it’s worst. Get ready for the ‘3 Foot 6 Pak’.

As I stated above, this thing is old. I’m not sure exactly when it was made, but we got it sometime around between when I got my Super Nintendo and when I got my Nintendo 64. So that’s a span of about 4 years right there. In any case, this marvel of something was apparently made in 1994, or so the packaging has led me to believe. Sirius Publishing probably knew what they were doing too, because the package also says “From the makers of the original 5ft. 10 Pak”. Wow. So that’s about 1.6 times the crap. And almost twice the size. Maybe they learned that too much crap at once was bad and lightened the load by four coasters, errr, games. The part that bothers me the most is that it’s only Volume 1, even though it’s got a predecessor.

Scratch that, the part that bothers me the most is how much my parents paid for it and that they didn’t remove the price tag. Now technically this is a great deal, seeing as most ‘full version CD-roms’ are about sixty bucks each these days. But realistically, they shouldn’t have been able to get away with trying to sell it for $15, never mind $30. I’m not sure if I mentioned it or not yet, but the ‘games’ in this ‘pak’ are total crap. I’m talking extreme craptacularness here. Except for three of ’em, but I’ll review each separate game later. Right now, let’s just make sure all the goods are here.

Sadly enough, all six games are indeed in the pak. All of the discs are unnaturally clean and unscratched too. Which is only unnatural because my brothers don’t seem to understand the importance of keeping them in working shape. But now for the real test! Do they really equal three feet? In the interest of science and filling up this paragraph with mindless banter, I shall be the first one to find out! Well, maybe. But I’m not sure that anyone else ever purchased this thing, never mind produced the effort or interest to check if it’s actually 3 feet long.

I only have two feet, so I can’t tell for sure, but it seems that all six discs do indeed equal up to a length of three feet. But on the other side, if you factor in the cover and little flap thing, if would actually add up to about 3 feet, 8 inches. A-ha! I knew it! Sirius Publishing is in for some hard times and legal battles for false advertising. I wonder if I could actually take this to court? I’m mostly wondering because Sirius Publishing might be long dead by now. But now what am I to do with this thing if it’s not 3 feet long? It’s totally useless to me now that it’s more than 3 feet. And just for the record, none of this means anything to me because I use the Metric system!

Now imagine my surprise when I attempting to fold the thing up and this fell out. Actually, I wasn’t surprised, because I knew it was there all along. I was just trying to avoid it. What did surprise me though, is that it’s in extremely good shape considering it’s age and owners. I was very shocked to see that this nice poster-thing is still in one piece. But, in the end, it’s just a crappy poster. I wouldn’t hang it on my rival’s wall. Mostly because I haven’t got a real rival yet. If you want to apply for the position, I’m taking in applications from September 3rd to 16th. So why is this seemingly useless poster included with the pack? Let’s turn it over and see.

Ah! It’s really just a cover for the instruction manual! Quite the screwed up manual if I do say so. It’s more of an instruction map if anything. But, since I’m so smart, I won’t need this thing at all! The only problem I face now is the folding of this damn thing. Yes, I’m smart, but I’m no neurosurgeon here. Although it does seem like quite the interesting field to work in, and I hear it pays quite well, too. I could be the next Dr. Drake Ramoray! …On a totally unrelated topic, if an actor is playing the part of an actor, is he really acting? What if he’s playing himself? Wouldn’t it be cool if watermelons came in different colours like in Yoshi’s Island? Okay okay, I’ll quit the crap and move on to the reviewing of the games. Damned games.

Great. First game is already the boringest of the bunch. It’s the Family Circus for crying out loud! Just associating something to the Family Circus decreases it’s interesting points by 500. This “Our House” game isn’t getting anywhere near my CD drives. I refuse to play it. What could there possibly be to play? I mean, it’s probably just clicking on stuff around the house which produces a quote which is supposed to be funny but really isn’t. Just like the comic. Stupid Family Circus. The only good ones are the ones that show the trail that the kid took from point A to point B. And that’s only good because FoxTrot made fun of it. Yes, I do think that the Family Circus is dragging down the rest of the Saturday comics. But seriously, I’m totally not playing this game. Ever.

What is this!? Cinderella? It just goes downhill from here, doesn’t it? In any case, I’m not actually going to try this out either, but not because I’ll hate it. No, that’s a given. I don’t want to play it because someone might walk in and see me playing it and then tell everyone I was playing a damn Cinderella computer game. And if that happened, my precious reputation would be ruined. Cause, you know, what others think of me is all that matters. It’s. All. That. Matters. Heck, I’ll probably be mocked for simply mentioning this entire pak of games, but I thought it would be a good thing to write about, and as usual, I stand by my decision. It appears to be an ‘interactive storybook’, and I’ve only had good experiences with those so far, so as far as actual quality and interestingness of this game goes, it might actually be good. Or it could be complete crap, like I expect. Onto the next!

Sing-Along Kids… I probably would try this out if I had a working mic, but I don’t, so we’ll never know if I would have actually tried it. A mic probably isn’t a necessity, but I’ll just say it is so I don’t have to waste more time ‘playing’ this ‘game’. It’s really more of a karaoke than a game. Or at least that’s the impression that I’ve been given. In any case, the songs on it don’t seem to fit my tastes. All I see is stuff like “Old Macdonald” and “Yankee Doodle”. Where’s “Hysteria” and “Hell’s Bells”? I haven’t even heard of some of these songs. What the Hell is “This Old Man”? For the positive though, it includes the song “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad”, which is just about the greatest song to hum or whistle when doing anything that requires little to no thinking. Matt was right.

Next on the chopping block is “Basic Spelling Tricks”. See that happy old man in the corner? Until you quit the game, he never goes away. I’m serious. He never, ever moves from that position. Not even during the screen transitions. Anyway, he seems to be the leader of the tribe that your character belongs to, and he’ll instruct you as you go along and make fun of you if you do nothing for a short period of time. The zaniest part of this game is that it has a story! A spelling game with a story! Not since “Mario Teaches Typing” have we seen edutainment of this calibre. The story goes like this; the river is flooding and you have to get upstream to save the tribe. We’ve got a real award-winner here, folks. So, I suppose now that I have a mission, I should get started.

The first step is to register your name. Try as I might, I just couldn’t fit ‘AssMaster’ or ‘AssMan’ into the thing. So in the end, I just named my character Ryan. Five spaces just isn’t enough. But it is better than four. And three. But when they only give you three spaces, it’s usually for initials anyway, like in arcade games. For future reference, if you ever get a high-score in a arcade game, enter ‘SEX‘ as your initials. I’m sure that got the skimmers’ attention.

Okay, now I have a mission and a character. Let’s start the game already! This is more or less the main game screen. Sorry if the pics are a bit blurry, the jpegs were huge and I had to do a lot of size reduction to get them under 50KB each. And there was a header-type thing at the top of this screen with some angry Moais on it, but you know how it is. Anyway, I sailed in on my raft, and the old guy tells me to pick up the letters to spell “first”. I would have been fine with this had my raft not floated away as soon as I stepped off of it. So, I figured I’d try anyway and grabbed the letters. For anyone who has trouble spelling the words, there’s a sentence provided at the bottom of the screen with the proper spelling. Needless to say, I finished the level with no trouble at all. To my surprise, when I got the last letter, my raft came back! Old man instructed me to go back to the raft, and I continued my journey upstream.

Every level is divided into two separate parts; the main game, where you run around solving puzzles and picking up letters, and this typing challenge. It seems out hero can’t paddle hard enough unless you can spell, so I guess he’s just lucky that I’m playing, and my friends aren’t. This part would be a lot easier if old man would enunciate a little better. He asked me to spell “flute”, but I didn’t realize what he was trying to say until I turned up the volume about 30 decibels and had him say it roughly 67 times. Also noteworthy is that every time you get a word right a mini-villager will climb up onto the board, and when you’re done, they do a mini-wave!

I know that the first level looks pretty easy, and it was. If memory serves though, the game gets really hard later on, with some very advanced puzzles. I only played about 4 levels, and I thought to myself “How long could this game possibly be?”. Well, upon returning to the main menu, I discovered that, in the words of Def Leppard, I’ve got a long, long way to go. Oi. I’ll be damned if I ever finish this, or if anyone else ever finished it. I like puzzle games and all, but this just doesn’t cut the mustard. The most ironic part is that even though I’ve been playing a spelling game for the last 20 minutes, there are probably going to be a lot of overlooked typos in the finiched articel.

I’ve also noticed that this thing is getting horrendously long. At this point, it’s over 2200 words long, and that’s almost as much as the Hulk and AW2: Black Hole Rising articles, if not more. I think that for now, I’ll stop here. Mostly because it’s going to be a really long article if I continue, and also because I’m desperate to get a new article up. It’s been more than a month since my last offering, and any readers out there need something after waiting for so long. So I’ll just wrap it up now, and do a separate review for the last two games, which coincidentally have a lot more content and fun than the first four combined.

For what I’ve looked at today, I must say that I’m really not impressed. I’ll give them credit for the sake of they were made way back when, but somewhere deep inside I was expecting more. I’m sure that it’s the fact that I’m maturing (slightly) that makes these games less interesting than they were all those years ago. So for now, I’ll just blame growing up for the crappiness of these so-called games. Actually, I should blame growing up more often. It’s working pretty well here, so I imagine it could be used in other situations as well.

So that’s it for today’s review. We- I mean I will just have to hope that both Putt-Putt and Lenny the Penguin can provide more entertainment than the Family Circus could. Looks like they’re shoe-ins for the “best games of the pack” award. I remember these last two being the best, and I hope that memory will serve better next time around, cause I don’t wanna be stuck playing a crappy game that I used to enjoy. That would mean that I enjoy crap. And I sure don’t wanna be known as the guy who enjoys crap.


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