Blaster Learning System
|This article does not cite any references or sources. (December 2007)|
The Blaster Learning System is an educational video game series originally created by Davidson, but is now owned by Knowledge Adventure. Titles in the series have been produced for various computer systems, video game consoles, and as stand-alone handheld units. Originally, the series simply taught mathematics, but eventually expanded to other subjects, such as language arts (reading) and science. Due to the popularity of the original Math Blaster series, Davidson introduced Reading Blaster in 1994, which also went on to become successful. A Science Blaster was introduced 1996, but did not reach the same popularity as its predecessors.
The game can be divided into three separate universes.
In the first games, the main characters were Blasternaut, a heroic astronaut-type figure, Spot, his robot companion and Galactic Commander, a female superior officer from base. She later became known as G.C. These three characters were the main characters in many of the games. Their images changed rapidly - for example, Spot eventually became a robotic dog. G.C. became a 12 year old girl instead of a female adult, and Blasternaut was renamed Blaster and became a 12 year old boy instead of a green astronaut-like man. These characters were the recreations of the previous versions in later games and were replaced in 2005 solely by Blaster who no longer wears a helmet.
Rave and Dr. Dabble universe
In other games in the series, the main character is Rave, a green creature who's constantly foiling the plots of a mad scientist named Dr. Dudley Dabble. This series debuted with Math Blaster Mystery: The Great Brain Robbery, in which Dr. Dabble steals the brain of the Math Olympic's greatest competitor. Math Blaster: Pre-Algebra, a remake of Math Blaster Mystery, and a sister product of Reading Blaster: Ages 9–12 were later developed in conjunction with each other. The series was later seen in the second version of Reading Blaster: Vocabulary and has not recurred since.
Although this series appears to be wholly unrelated to the above, there have been some crossovers between the two. For example, one of the stories acquired in Reading Blaster: Ages 6–9 features the characters of the original universe battling Dr. Dabble, although Rave does not appear. In the second version of Reading Blaster: Vocabulary, a character is stated to own the spaceship used in Math Blaster, suggesting the original universe is part of a film series in this iteration of the game.
This allowed a very smart computer, Cyclotron X, to become so smart and powerful that it was able to create a device to make humans not only lose what little ability they had to do math, but also to forget what math even was. On the eve of what was to be the beginning of recruiting for an elite squadron of intergalactic peacekeepers called the Blaster Corps, Cyclotron X took control of Earth and its two colonies on Saturn and Pluto.
In the years between this event and 8296, AIMEE, an artificial intelligence program created to work with the Blasters, has been moving through the computer network undetected, waiting for someone to accidentally stumble onto and unlock a dormant Blaster recruitment kiosk. When someone with an unnatural curiosity eventually finds it, he is instantly turned into a member of the Blaster Corps, complete with the holographic power hand and the force field which protects him from all elements, and spikes up his hair as a side effect of the energy.
On his quest to restore knowledge, Blaster journeys to three worlds to enlist help of colonial leaders who can help him defeat Cyclotron X, who is orbiting Earth, planning to increase his control.
The first remake of the Davidson fundamentals line came in 1989. The original Math Blaster was written in Applesoft Basic and the Microsoft equivalent. Under Mike Albanese, the Davidson programming crew created a cross platform development system based on Fig Forth. The product was well received and was the first of many Forth based products developed at Davidson.
After starting off with a huge bang and providing the base for the establishment of a very successful public corporation, the Blaster series eventually fell victim to marketing cuts. In an attempt to sell both up and down the age band more and more, Blasters were produced with increasingly thin, fuzzy and overlapping target age groups. Eventually the line came under fierce attack from the Gross brothers of Knowledge Adventure, led by Barton Listic. Knowledge Adventure countered with a simple grade-based segmentation with their JumpStart logo. Eventually, Knowledge Adventure was acquired by Davidson and the company lines were merged.
In 1999, coinciding with the CBS Saturday Morning cartoon "Blaster's Universe" produced by Nelvana and Teletoon, the characters once again changed, probably to be more identifiable as people, with Blasternaut becoming Max Blaster, a 12-year old boy obsessed with science and space in the 21st century, and his Galactic Commander becoming G.C., a cool 12-year-old girl who looks like an earthling but is really an alien. Together they must secretly work to save G.C.'s universe, using logic and creativity to outsmart the intergalactic outlaws. Spot, the robot companion was dropped, with a robot dog named "MEL" ("Mechanically Enhanced Lapdog") replacing him.
During the late 1990s and early 2000s, for the most part after Davidson began its series of being bought and merged into other companies, these titles were renamed and repackaged with no change in content. One example is the 1999 release of "Math Blaster for 3rd Grade" in which the box art shows the brand's all new CBS cartoon characters, while the screen grabs of the game show a very different Blaster character and style; "Powerful Praise" quoted on the box shows 4½ stars for the game while admitting it was "previously published as "Math Blaster Ages 6–9," but ironically that was itself previously published as "Mega Math Blaster."
In October 2005, Knowledge Adventure released a new version of Math Blaster subtitled "Master the Basics." This new version differs in that it claims "state-standard" math content, and has a Math Blaster character with no space suit. The basics cover a limited range of math including addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, but only deals with whole numbers, and does not include fractions or decimals. The style of game is similar to many video games, like the Blaster series always has been. The story concerns saving humans from a robot controlled society. The main villain resembled a big eyeball named Cyclotron and Galactic Commander and Spot seem to be Descreased, replaced by a computer program named AIMEE. This game features the "New universe" explained above.
The Blaster Series
- Math Blaster Plus! (remake of Math Blaster!)
- New Math Blaster Plus! (remake of Math Blaster Plus!)
- Math Blaster Episode I: In Search of Spot (remake of New Math Blaster Plus!)
- Math Blaster Episode II: Secret of the Lost City
- Math Blaster Mystery: The Great Brain Robbery
- Alge-Blaster 3
- Reading Blaster: Invasion of the Word Snatchers
- Mega Math Blaster (remake of Math Blaster Episode I: In Search of Spot)
- Reading Blaster 2000
- Math Blaster Jr.
- Reading Blaster Jr.
- Geometry Blaster
- Word Blaster
- Math Blaster Ages 9–12 (remake of Math Blaster Episode II: Secret of the Lost City)
- Math Blaster: Ages 4–6 (repackaging of Math Blaster Jr.)
- Reading Blaster: Ages 4–6 (repackaging of Reading Blaster Jr.)
- Math Blaster: Ages 6–9 (repackaging of Mega Math Blaster)
- Reading Blaster: Ages 6–9 (repackaging of Reading Blaster 2000)
- Reading Blaster: Ages 9–12
- Math Blaster: Pre-Algebra (remake of Math Blaster Mystery: The Great Brain Robbery)
- Math Blaster: Algebra (remake of Alge-Blaster 3)
- Math Blaster: Geometry (repackaging of Geometry Blaster)
- Reading Blaster: Vocabulary (repackaging of Word Blaster)
- Spelling Blaster
- Reading Blaster: Vocabulary (remake)
- Math Blaster for Kindergarten (new character art)
- Reading Blaster for Kindergarten (new character art)
- Math Blaster for 1st Grade (new character art)
- Reading Blaster for 1st Grade (new character art)
- Math Blaster for 2nd Grade (new character art)
- Reading Blaster for 2nd Grade (repackaging of Spelling Blaster)
- Math Blaster for 3rd Grade (repackaging of Mega Math Blaster)
- Reading Blaster for 3rd Grade (repackaging of Reading Blaster 2000)
- Math Blaster for 4th Grade (repackaging of Math Blaster: Ages 9–12)
- Reading Blaster for 4th Grade (repackaging of Reading Blaster: Ages 9–12)
- Math Blaster for 5th Grade (repackaging of Math Blaster: Pre-Algebra)
- Reading Blaster for 5th Grade (repackaging of the second version of Reading Blaster: Vocabulary)
- Math Blaster Game Pack: Ages 6-12
- Math Blaster: Master the Basics
- Math Blaster in the Prime Adventure