Group: Mixed-Up series
Mixed-Up Mother Goose, designed by Sierra On-Line co-founder Roberta Williams, is an educational game for children ranging from 3 to 6 years old, teaching them logic, organization and memory skills. In the game a child can pick a character, resembling himself or herself, to play in the game. As the child falls asleep, he dreams about traveling to Mother Goose Land where he is welcomed by Mother Goose.
Mother Goose wrote 18 nursery rhymes, but they have all been mixed-up. The characters of the rhymes, who reside in the land, have all lost a certain item, animal or person that is part of their rhyme. Jack Horner lost his pie, King Cole lost his pipe, Bo Peep lost her sheep, Ms. Muffet can't find her tuffet, and so on. It is the child's task to explore the land, recover those items and bring them to their rightful owners. Each time an item is recovered, one of Mother Goose's Rhymes is played and a point is awarded. When the child has restored all rhymes, he travels back home and wakes up the following morning.
Since the game was made for a very young audience, Sierra made sure it was easy to use and understand. In fact before the game was first released, Sierra went to the kindergarten to have children play it and took note on how it could be improved. One such implemented change is that young children tended to hold down directional keys to move the character, rather than tapping a directional key just once as with other Sierra adventure games. As a result, Sierra programmed character movement that accommodated holding down directional keys.
No typing is required to play the game - it can be controlled entirely with the mouse or arrow keys. The player automatically picks up an item by walking over it and returns it to the right owner by entering his screen. The child also does not have to be able to read, as each character explains what he needs both through text and with an image of the desired item.
There are 4 different releases of Mixed-Up Mother Goose, making it the most-remade game by Sierra On-Line (with Leisure Suit Larry 1 being a close second).
The first Mixed-Up Mother Goose, released in 1987 and featuring Roberta Williams on the cover, uses Sierra's AGI engine, first introduced with the original King's Quest in 1984, featuring 16 color EGA graphics and using the internal speaker for sound and music. At best this game would have 3 sound channels when running it on a Tandy machine.
Following the introduction of Sierra's SCI0 engine in 1988 with the release of King's Quest 4, Mixed-Up Mother Goose was remade in 1990. It still had EGA graphics but boosted higher resolution and dithering to enhance the graphics of the original. More importantly the SCI engine supported soundcards and modules like the Roland MT-32, greatly enhancing the musical experience for those with the hardware.
Shortly after, the game was remade again, this time following the introduction of VGA graphics. This third release saw the most significant upgrades. Not only did it introduce brand-new 256-color hand-painted backgrounds, it also added a new interface, an in-game map and, most-importantly, the rhymes were sung by adding digitized voices. There were also minor game play differences, the most important being that the player needed to recover only 18 items, rather than 20, because King Cole required only one item rather than three. Mixed-Up Mother Goose VGA was released both on floppy and multi-media CD-ROM. The main difference between both is that on the CD-ROM release all speech was digitized whereas on the floppy version only the rhymes were.
And finally, in 1995, Mixed-Up Mother Goose Deluxe was released. This was a remake of the VGA release, but this time featuring SVGA graphics and remade rhymes and music. The Deluxe release also came with a bonus audio CD of the rhymes in addition to the game CD.
Several of the releases were also included in later Sierra collections. Mixed-Up Mother Goose AGI and VGA (Multimedia) were both included in the Roberta Williams Anthology. And Mixed-Up Mother Goose Deluxe was included in the King's Quest Collection Series, though without the bonus audio CD. The different releases of Mother Goose included are what separates these collections the most, as they otherwise largely contain the same titles.
Mixed-Up Fairy Tales
In 1992 a spin-off of Mother Goose was released, titled Mixed-Up Fairy Tales. This game, designed by Lori Cole of Quest for Glory fame, follows the same concept as Mother Goose but is designed to primarily enhance the reading skills of children aged 7 and above. Bookwyrm's fairy tale book is all mixed-up and the player needs to help him complete various fairy tales by wandering around the land and helping out characters like Snow White, the Bremen Town Musicians and Cinderella. Also, instead of classic nursery rhymes, the music in the game is comprised of classic masterpieces, such as Mozart's Magic Flute and Beethoven's Symphony Nr.9. The game had separate EGA and VGA releases, but was not remade.
Both Mixed-Up Mother Goose VGA and Mixed-Up Fairy Tales were also released as part of the Sierra Discovery Series in the early nineties, along with titles like Ecoquest 1 & 2, Dr. Brain 1 & 2, Dynamix' Turbo Science, and the early Bright Star Studios games, among other educational Sierra software.