I know I’m going a little out-of-order here chronologically, but given the holiday I just did not have the time to do the next official title justice, so instead I am going to go ahead and put in the article for Mickey’s Adventures In Numberland…
It’s pretty common knowledge that educational games are terrible. With the exception of a few simulator titles and the very occasional adventure game, the concept of education is more or less lost in the world of games. The NES was no exception and suffered no lack of lazy, tossed-together educational titles. This week’s target… Err… “Game” is a weak attempt at making a platformer that makes you do math! The problem here is two-fold: The math is too easy to be engaging and the platforming and controls are too clunky to be truly mastered by a younger gamer, even one from the NES era.
Now, I did actually play this one as a kid though it was not mine. It was a friend of mine’s younger sister’s game and we played it when I was about twelve for a laugh. It was pretty much what I had expected even then. Numberland is a pretty straightforward platformer with one catch: At the start of each stage you are given a number to find and you must jump on a plunger to marked with the target digit pick it up before you can truly beat the stage. After you get the number and get to the exit, in order to complete the stage you must solve a quick and easy numeric puzzle on screen to proceed. There are four stages in three difficulty levels. However these levels are short no matter how you cut it. It’s not unheard of to see a level in Numberland get a first time completion at around 30 seconds.
Naturally, since this is a title that is made for younger players, it is also exceptionally easy. There are next to no real dangers to speak of aside from the occasional animated obstacle. The real point of difficulty comes from a combination of strange hitboxes that can make it seem like you are getting hit by the air around an enemy rather than the baddie itself, and the shockingly-bad performance. This game brings lag and stuttering on the NES to a new level. Even Bubbleman is jealous of the lag this game can generate while showing you so very little on screen. This is not an attractive game and the environments are pretty empty, but somehow Hi-Tec managed to take that very little information and make a completely broken experience. This may be one of the roughest plays on the NES just based on the performance alone.
As always, a note for collectors. This game is rare. It trends between $100-150 on average and if you find a copy of this game on the cheap then it’s worth picking up just for the value. As is often the case with obscure curiosities on the NES Adventures in Numberland is bad but it’s valuable, sharing this trend with other solid-gold turds like Panic Restaurant and Action 52. However, unlock some other uncommon-to-rare titles like Mega Man 5, Little Samson or Fire & Ice, there is nothing to offer the player with this title. I am pretty sure a moderately creative parent or older sibling could come up with a more exciting and fun number game to play with a kid that is far more engaging and educational than this. It, like most licensed titles, was just a cash-in attempting to lure and reel-in unsuspecting parents.
Ultimately, as to be expected with a game meant for small children there really isn’t much more to be said about this one. Hi-Tech took a completely generic and short platformer, added math and put Mickey stickers on it…That’s it. Mickey’s Adventures in Numberland is a lot like a Trapper Keeper from the 90’s: Sure, the characters on the cover are awesome, but you’d much rather play a fun video game than deal with what’s inside it.