LGR – Word Rescue and Math Rescue – DOS PC Game Review

LGR – Word Rescue and Math Rescue – DOS PC Game Review


[theme music plays] [gunshot, roar] [sips]
Aahhh… [typing] [music ends] Near the end of 1990, Apogee had put themselves on the PC gaming map in a major way with id Software’s Commander Keen. It was an exceptional side-scrolling platform game, both in fun and technical features, with memorable characters
and a light-hearted atmosphere. Then in Summer of 1991,
Apogee developed and released their own side-scrolling platformer, Duke Nukem, which was also a huge hit with similar light-hearted
action as Commander Keen, but with its own unique feel. Really hitting their stride, more
platform games were in the works for differing demographics, and one that resulted was
Word Rescue in May of 1992. It was created by Karen Crowther,
who turned out to be totally awesome at making entertaining educational games, with some help from Bud
Pembroke and his artistic talents. This version in particular is the
mail-order registered version that came directly from Apogee in the mid-’90s. From the installed game directory, you’ll need to type in the episode you want to play, For instance, WR1.EXE opens Episode 1. [AdLib music plays] The game starts off with
an awesome EGA title screen while looking at it now, actually
feels a little bit Dali-inspired. There’s some cool AdLib music in
these menus and also during gameplay, but all of the sound effects are
delegated to the PC speaker. You enter your name, and if there’s no
autosave data for that name already, you can start a new game by choosing your gender, which is actually pretty unique for the time. And then you’re presented with the story. It turns out there are these illiterate creatures of unknown origin known as Gruzzles who have a jealous villain complex. Since they can’t read, they don’t
want anybody else to either, so they steal the words
out of the world’s books. Benny Bookworm is there to save the day by restoring words to the books magically! But apparently he’s either
useless or just into child labor, since he needs YOU to actually do the hard work: finding all of the words and
reuniting them with their meanings. Friggin’ slave-driving annelid. In the main menu, there are a ton of options, but the only one of concern
right now is the game difficulty. You could select from the typical
easy, medium, hard settings, and the suggested age ranges for each, with less ammunition and more
enemies in the harder modes. Starting the game drops you into the first level, and immediately you can tell the kind
of gameplay that you’ll be experiencing. It’s very much in the vein of contemporary
Apogee platformers like Keen and Duke, with the addition of Mario-style question
mark boxes scattered around the level. Jumping into one will turn the remaining
question mark boxes into pictures and summon a word to the top-left of the screen. You will then need to jump into the
picture that corresponds to that word. In this case, “money.” Some of the word-picture combos
can be kind of ambiguous, so if you’re unsure, you can see a list of
the words and pictures by pressing W. If you get it right, it’s on to the
next question mark and picture until you’ve found all seven for the current level. Benny will then add those words back to his book and then give you the key to the door,
and it’s on to the next level. Ha! And has anybody else ever wondered what exactly that book that Benny is holding is about? I mean, some of these word combinations are just… yeah. “My heart was nearly bursting
through my chest as I spoke.” “You cross me again and no nurse will be
able to tend to the wounds I give you.” “Still I suppose I could take it as a sign.” “As I quickly jump the fence
to the local turtle factory, narrowly dodging a fiery
arrow shot in my direction.” [AdLib piano music plays] Along the way, you’ll find magenta-colored books which add to your point total,
as well as various letters. You’ll want to grab these
letters in the proper order to spell out the word on
the bottom of the screen, which will give you a point bonus
and a full arsenal of slime. The slime is the weapon element of the game. You’ll find buckets of the stuff scattered around, which you can then use to pour
onto Gruzzles by pressing Space. Benny Bookworm will appear and cover the little thieving freak for good. If you don’t have any slime, Benny will appear but he’ll just be shrugging, and you’ll just have to avoid
Gruzzles and seek out more slime. Or you can just make your guy look like he’s farting, which I always found funny as a kid. Ah, it’s still funny. Fall down a pit marked “danger,” or come into contact with a Gruzzle, and Benny will show up like freakin’
Mary Poppins and carry you off, forcing you to restart the level. Eventually, you’ll get through all the levels, and HOORAY! You’ve restored the books to their literary glory. And that’s it. That’s Word Rescue. There are 15 levels in the first shareware episode, and if you bought Episodes 2 and 3, you got 45 levels total with
over 300 word and picture pairs. It really is just the same formula
over and over through the whole game, so, yes, it gets repetitive, but as a kid, this was pretty awesome. mainly because of the large variety
of level designs for you to explore. Like caves, castles, haunted houses, pueblos, and factories. As a six- and seven-year-old kid, this really just got my adventurous
mind going, and I ate it up. So much so that my parents got me
1993’s Word Rescue Plus not long after I’d beaten the shareware
game for the nine millionth time. This was sold directly through Karen
Crowther’s Redwood Games company, with Apogee having nothing
to do with its distribution. It includes 45 levels as well, but they’re entirely different
than the registered version, at least in layout. It also has Bobby Prince listed under
the credits for the music this time, and as such, the music is a lot more… Bobby Prince-like in this game. Which, if you know what I mean,
is pretty much awesome. The original game only had
a few tunes and they’re okay, but they get repetitive really, really quickly. I mean, these do too, but at least
they’re a little less annoying. So Plus is not really a sequel,
but it’s not really an expansion either. It’s more of a standalone game in the same universe to follow up to Word Rescue. And I remember I was always
intrigued by the end-game teaser for a follow-up game titled Gruzzle Puzzles, but it appears that that game
never saw the light of day, if it was ever started at all. However, in October of 1992, there was a sequel of sorts titled Math Rescue. In fact, at the end of Word Rescue Plus, you are told that the
Gruzzles finally learned to read, but then they realized they
didn’t know how to do arithmetic, so you can guess what happens. Enter Apogee’s Math Rescue. Right from the get-go, you can tell they
took the chance to update the engine with a nice animated title screen. Even though it’s still in EGA at the same res, it has a lot more detail. Apparently, a handful of other talented
people were added to the team, including Jimmie and Dale Homburg, who also created artwork for the excellent
edutainment game Reader Rabbit. You’re given the option to choose
your name and gender once again and then your skill level. You then have the option to choose
only certain types of problems, or a mixture of them, as well as the amount of
word problems to solve. Curiously, you can also choose
to skip math problems entirely, turning the game into a rather mindless
platforming game, but whatever. The story this time is that, go figure, all of the numbers have been
stolen by the stupid Gruzzles resulting in no speed limits and no stock market, and your mom locking herself in the
bathroom because her paycheck is blank. And nobody can call anyone
since there are no phone numbers. Mmm, you know this is actually sounding
almost more like a blessing in disguise, to be honest. You notice a Gruzzle that looks like a giant nose hauling numbers off in a garbage truck, and before you can say “mystical intervention,” a giant butterfly covers the Gruzzle in slime. You grab a garbage can lid and decide
to take action against the Gruzzles, hoping you’ll continue to get the
help of Benny the Bookworm… or…Butterfly…now. Yeah, perhaps they should have made
“Biology Rescue” in between these because I was not aware that worms
could turn into butterflies, but okay. Then it’s on to the game, which starts
underwater for some unknown reason. You have no breathing apparatus. Maybe you’re just like Kevin Costner
from “Waterworld,” I don’t know. Immediately noticeable is the
slightly different perspective to the level graphics of the game, this time using oblique projection instead of the flat side
perspective seen in Word Rescue. It doesn’t seem to affect gameplay
at all, but it does look cool, and it feels similar to what was done
in Commander Keen: Goodbye Galaxy. This time around, you have
nothing to find and match, but simply problems to solve by
jumping into floating number boxes. Once you solve enough of them, you’re
given the key and it’s on to the next level, unless you want to collect the rest of
the numbers in the level for a bonus. Also, collecting the numbers in order from 0 to 9 will reward you with a bonus, which is nice, at least if you want to add to your score and have some higher percentages in between levels. Additionally, at the bottom of the
screen, you’ll see a math problem. You can solve this by making contact
with the appropriate garbage truck making its rounds across
certain parts of each level, but if you’re wrong, you’ll get hurt. If you’ve got slime, pressing Space will spawn Benny-Fly to cover Gruzzles. You also have garbage can lids, which act as shields against
Gruzzles and garbage trucks, so it’s actually a bit easier than
Word Rescue in that regard. Perhaps a bit too easy,
now that I think about it, but at least it’s nice against
those stupid garbage trucks that’ll run into without you
even noticing they’re there. These lids and slime buckets can be
found in different parts of each level, although you can also earn them in
between levels from bonus rounds by answering a bunch of problems
before the time runs out. There are also secret areas which often appear underneath danger pits and through passable walls, so haphazard exploration is
definitely more of a factor in this game. And sometimes you’ll run
across these warp signs, which if run into will warp you to another part of the level entirely. And really, that is it to Math Rescue. It’s Word Rescue. With math. And some gameplay tweaks. Is it better than Word Rescue? Well, to me, no. For one thing, I just don’t enjoy
math as much as I do English, so there’s that. But there’s also just something about the
levels and atmosphere in Word Rescue that just makes it more enjoyable to me. I mean, Math Rescue has some
fantastic and very colorful levels– 42 in all– and they’re quite fun to explore. Especially some of the
later levels filled with candy, flowing lava, labyrinthine caverns, industrial facilities and freaking outer space. But it really just doesn’t feel like
it’s happening on Earth at all, which is kind of odd, considering the story
implies that it does take place on Earth. I don’t know, maybe that has
something to do with it for me, but whatever the case,
it’s still a fun edutainment title, and it also got the Plus treatment by Redwood, with Math Rescue Plus adding
45 levels to the experience. So, I would totally recommend
both Word and Math Rescue, as well as the Plus versions, if you can find them. You can actually still buy downloadable
versions from RedwoodGames.com, as well as their other titles from back in the day, or you can get the original Apogee trilogies from 3DRealms.com for a little less cash. And of course, the free shareware
episodes can still be found really easily several places online. So if you need to brush up on your
elementary school-level English and arithmetic, while enjoying some classic
Apogee platforming goodness, then grab your bucket of slime
and rescue some words. And math! [AdLib music plays to the end]

100 thoughts on “LGR – Word Rescue and Math Rescue – DOS PC Game Review

  1. everyone has comments with an o or i or h
    i wanna go back in the past and fix it all and play more of those games 🙂 but at least i played doom 😀

  2. This seems like a cool game for kids. I spent my childhood playing Star Wars: Knights of the old republic and Baldur's gate with my dad.

  3. thank you for the video. my sister and i played this game all the time when we were little but couldn't remember the name now.

  4. O thanks for the vid, me and my sis played this a lil kids, and we couldnt remember it's name! But yeh brought back good memorys!

  5. Hey i loved this game when i was kid! It was just very hard first because it was in english and i was like 7 years old when i started playing it so i only knew Finnish 🙂 Thanks for reminding me about this game! I think ill try it again xD haha

  6. I loved these as a child, but considering I also watched my siblings play the original Prince of Persia and its requisite bloody deaths, I always had this bad habit of imagining what would happen to the kids if Benny didn't save them like he does, and it was always kind of terrifying in my head as a kid. Thinking back on it, it's just weird. Still, it's nice to see all these nostalgic reviews. XD

  7. wow I remember playing thsi in school a looong time ago, I never thought I would see it again lol and I didn't remember the name lol

  8. OMG! I played this game when I was small! I totally forgot the name! There was also a math game in similar fashion, but… What was it called? The one where you can drop buckets of pink goo on huge butterflies? I dunno if I remember this correctly, but I think was like that.

  9. Sorry, I detract my comment. Math Rescue. While word rescue made sure that I learned English at an early age, Math Rescue… Didn't do much, as I still suck with numbers! But it was fun and I really liked the music.

  10. I really get that nostalgic feeling watching this video. I played the shit out of Word and Math rescue.

  11. Sorry. Damn Iphone touchscreen. When I was in intermediate school back in 2004 in computer class the computers had several educational games. One of them was math rescue. I loved it and played it to the point of discovering wired glitches. Now I wonder why my school had games from 1992 on their computers in 2004. I am not mad( I love old games) it just seems kinda weird to me.

  12. I was wondering the same thing about games from 1992 being on iMacs from 1999. Then again, primary and secondary schools don't normally have a lot of money and I suppose they're still pretty effective, so there's that.

  13. I was looking through your reviews, secretly hoping I'd find that one game I used to play as a kid… And I found it… Commander Keen, followed by Duke Nukem II who I used to call Commander Kool 😛

  14. I never had Word Rescue, but I'm pretty sure I had both Math Rescues…most definitely the Plus version. LOVE them, and Treasure Mathstorm, even though math was always my least favorite subject. 😛 It was mostly the graphics and the environments that were awesome–the candy land was the best, and the ocean, and cave and all.

  15. Oh man I completely forgot about this game I had as a kid, but as soon as I saw that loading screen with the purple monster it all came flooding back to me. 

  16. Playing Steam version right now, it`s awesome.) I know, it`s for kids, but… but.. but it`s really addictive game.)

  17. I loved this game in elementary school since Math Rescue and Word Rescue were the only games on the computer. so of course instead of the having to do the typing stuff on the computer we would choose to play these games. Awesome Review!

  18. HOW LONG AGO DID THEY STOP USING DOS!!! i remember playing this (and another game i cant remember) in second grade in 2007! did they still use it then? i got it working on dos and i have so many fond memories.

  19. I had played Word Rescue and Math Rescue when I was a little child. I remember when my cousin and I re-enact Word Rescue at the outside of my house. Haha.

  20. :O I'm sure I played(or at least I saw somebody playing it) word rescue and I didn't remember that until now

  21. 9 years, 9 long years I have been trying to remember and find this game. Finally at the end month of 2016 I have found it. Thank you so much.

  22. These were two of my favorite games to play when I was in Elementary school! It was one of the things that I liked about school.

  23. This very much reminds me of the shareware game Pickle Wars. A game I got very young at a local PC shop on floppy. Which was made by the same company Redwood games. I played through that game way too many times to count.

  24. Hello, if you, the creator of this video read this, I'd like to thank you for this video, I tried so hard to find this video game I played in my childhood, and I ended up finding it by accident. Thank you 😀

  25. I used to play the shit out of word rescue preschool. That may be one of the reasons i learned english before i started school.

  26. As a child I got scared as shit when I chose the wrong picture and the PC speaker loudly complained about it as a new Gruzzle spawned in. I remember being able to glitch the game by going through the door after collecting the last picture and before Benny Bookworm could give me the key. I would spawn in the next level and Benny bookworm would take the empty field where the pictures went, revealing the key! Of course, I still had to collect the pictures for that level.

  27. I loved the background art for these games as a kid. Not a lot of games really got the most out of the EGA palette like these did.

  28. Fun fact: Bookworm, while slang term for someone who likes books, is also a colloquialism for one of two types of book-eating moth larvae. So it makes sense that Benny would become a butterfly (or moth) in this game.

  29. Huh, re-watching old LGR vids and just realized @10:31 … Garbage Trunk? What an interesting thing to teach children. Though, I guess it might make kids who grew up learning from these games easier to spot. "Ooh, a siren, sounds like a Firetrunk's coming." ;p

  30. I remember an elementary teacher copied that floppy for me to play one or both of these games at home. Don't remember which but I played the hell out of these games.

  31. ok i am crying right now because while i was studying this game came to my mind. we had this game in our floppy disc.

  32. I remember playing these 2 games years ago. They were fun and educational.. well, educational for little kids, but fun to play anyways.

  33. I'd trade almost anything to go back in time to when I'd play this game as a kid. Floppy disks, DOS, three kids sitting on a bench in front of the computer. I couldn't even read yet so I'd just watch my big brother and sister play most of the time.

    Thanks for bringing this back to me. I needed this moment of nostalgia.

  34. You were so awesome! I had shareware of both word and math games, but not Plus versions, and I did not understand math game, ironically I couldn't understand Math game because I'm not English speaker, yet I could unerstand game about English….

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