The Magic School Bus (video games)

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The Magic School Bus franchise includes many units of educational software published by Microsoft.

Computer[edit]

Most of the original titles were created by the software company Music Pen in collaboration with Microsoft and Scholastic Press, the publisher of the Magic School Bus book series. To access the home market, Microsoft created a video game brand called Microsoft Home, and software series was created under that umbrella.[1][2]

Though in the cartoon series, the bus was obviously animated in the usual way, in the CD-ROM games, it is typically animated with computer generated imagery. In all these titles the user gets to "drive" the bus, which almost always involves clicking on the steering wheel and choosing a location. (The exception is The Magic School Bus Explores Inside the Earth where it is the gear shift instead of the steering wheel.) Most of the games have about seven different locations, including the classroom. There is always some goal for the user in each one. (Tip: However the CD rom series feature the same characters from the TV series and TV tie in books; not the original series by Joanna Cole and illustrated by Bruce Degen.)

System requirements vary among the games. Games with the Macintosh indication can be used on a Macintosh LC 550 or newer with a minimum of System 7.1, 8 MB RAM, 8 MB hard disk space, color monitor and 2X CD-ROM drive.

The Magic School Bus Explores the Solar System (1994)[edit]

This game is essentially a computer version of the book The Magic School Bus Lost in the Solar System and the cartoon episode "The Magic School Bus Gets Lost in Space," except that Ms. Frizzle is lost as soon as the bus flies away from Earth. The user can fly the bus to any planet he or she chooses and play experiments and click on things there. To win the game, the user has to discover the whereabouts of the Friz. To do so they have to play a "whatsit" game to earn a token which gives them a clue as to which planet Ms. Frizzle is on. Once Ms. Frizzle is found, the bus will return to the classroom and the game begins again. All nine planets, plus the moon can be visited. When the gas giants are visited, the bus lands on one of their moons. This game is also one of the few in the series in which Liz can talk.

The game was one of the chosen few "highly visual scholastic programs" in the Citrus Country library System's new youth CD-ROM station in 1997.[3] The Spokesman-Review deemed it a "fact-and-fun filled ride".[4]

The Magic School Bus Explores the Human Body (1994, Macintosh)[edit]

This game is based on the book The Magic School Bus Inside the Human Body and the episode The Magic School Bus for Lunch. Arnold has become the class' next field trip. The user can drive the bus to 12 different organs. In some locations, the player can leave the bus. Each place has an arcade game and a science experiment and a lot to explore. This is the first game that allows the user to sign in and go to the back of the bus. This is also one of the few games in which Liz can talk.

Quandary and All Game Guide both gave the game 70/100.[5][6][7] Superkids gave it 3.5/5 stars.[8]

The Milwaukee Sentinel was bemused that the program got a kidnergartner playtester interested in the small intestines.[9] Bangor Daily News deemed it a "splended mix of experiments, explanations, and games".[10] The Daily Gazette deemed it "delightful".[11]

The Magic School Bus Explores the Ocean (1995, Macintosh)[edit]

This game is based on The Magic School Bus on the Ocean Floor and the TV episode The Magic School Bus Gets Eaten. The class has taken a field trip to the beach. There they found a message in a bottle, with clues to a treasure. The user explores the ocean and follows clues that lead him/her to the treasure. This was the first CD-ROM that featured the entire cast on the bus and the only one where the classroom can't be visited. This is also the first game to save the game in multiple files. A Nintendo DS version was released in 2011.

The game won an award for Home PC - Holiday Gift Guide - The Best Programs of 1996.[12] The Cedartown Standard praised the game for combining fun with education.[13]

The Magic School Bus Explores Inside the Earth (1996)[edit]

This game is based on the book The Magic School Bus Inside the Earth and the television episode "The Magic School Bus Blows Its Top." Arnold has lost some of the rocks and minerals in his collection. The user explores several places such as a canyon, a geode, a fault, a volcano, and even an undersea environment which features a subduction zone, a mid-ocean ridge and an underwater volcano. The user can collect rocks in various ways. The goal is to find replacements for the rocks and minerals Arnold lost. When the user creates a file, up to six files can be saved at the maximum. Even though Liz speaks in this game, her voice is deep instead of high-pitched.

Superkids gave the game a score of 4.3/5.[14] Alamo PC Organization wrote that "the program is both educating and entertaining".[15]

The Magic School Bus Explores in the Age of Dinosaurs (1996)[edit]

This game is based on the book The Magic School Bus in the Time of the Dinosaurs and the TV episode The Magic School Bus : The Busasaurus. Ms. Frizzle is missing three photographs from her photo album of her last trip to the age of dinosaurs and the user has to find replacements. There are seven different places, including "Jurassic Colorado" and "Triassic Argentina". Different from the book and the TV episode-The Magic School Bus: The Busasaurus, the Bus transforms into three different dinosaurs: Coelophysis for the Triassic Period, Stegosaurus for the Jurassic Period, and Pteranodon for the Cretaceous Period. This game has very elaborate CGI forms for the bus. Although the classroom location song has changed in the following games, the game's classroom location song is the same as The Magic School Bus Explores Inside the Earth, but had added more rhythm in between. Also, in this game the user can replace previously saved data on one of the files when all 6 have already been saved.

All Game Guide and Quandary both gave it 70/100.[16] Metzomagic gave it 3.5/5 stars.[17]

Microsoft donated copies of the game to high school students via the University of Maine Upward Bound Program.[18]

The Magic School Bus Explores the Rainforest (1997)[edit]

The class is decorating their classroom for "Rainforest Day." Wanda brought a "Right-Away-Rainforest Toolbox" that could do the job, but some "bio-clones" are missing from the kit. Ms. Frizzle takes the class on a field trip to the Costa Rican rainforest to find the missing bio-clones. This is the only game where Ms. Frizzle's middle name is mentioned. This game was the first of the CD-ROM series not to be based on any of the books. It was also the last one created by Music Pen.

All game Guide gave it 80/100.[19]

The Magic School Bus Explores the World of Animals (1999)[edit]

While Tina Marie Goff continues her role as Ms. Frizzle in the software series, this is the first game of the software series to replace the original voice actors of the eight children from the television show. In this game, the user has to find all the four missing animals from the incorrect habitats and send them back to their own habitats where they each belong. Unlike the previous games, the user enters his or her name before playing the game instead of creating a file within creating a face on the Driver's License screen, and the save option was removed so the game is automatically saved when quitting the game. When traveling to certain habitats, one of the children is transformed into an animal, e.g. Arnold becomes a bull frog in the swamp.

Superkids gave the game a score of 4.7/5.[20]

Bangor Daily News said the game "is jampacked with unusual animals, interesting information, games, puzzles, and experiments". [21]

The Magic School Bus Explores Bugs (2000)[edit]

The replacement voice actors from Animals continue their roles in this game, in which pairs of the children have designed biodomes for a contest, but each pair has lost one of the bugs from their projects. The player's task in this game is to find a specimen of each of the four missing bugs in one of four natural habitats. In each habitat, one of the children transforms into a bug, e.g. Keesha changes into a luna moth in the forest.

The game was given a score of 90/100 by Tech with Kids (Computing with Kids) and 50/100 by Macworld.[22] SuperKids gave it 4.5/5.[23]

Ludington Daily News praised the game for its high quality engaging multimedia and accurate information.[24]

Sega Genesis[edit]

  • Scholastic's The Magic School Bus: Space Exploration Game (1995)
    • This was the only game created on a medium other than PC CD-ROM. The premise was for the Magic School Bus to select a destination (starting with The Moon and reaching all the way out to Pluto). The game would then follow the same format, where Ms. Frizzle would take off into outer space, and the player (As Phoebe) would have to find her. All missions consisted of flying to the planet (while taking photographs of various space objects, shooting apart meteors, and collecting "space buoys" for fuel), landing the bus on a platform successfully, traversing the planet on foot to find Ms. Frizzle, and finally, putting together a sliding jigsaw puzzle to complete the stage. All this with plenty of bonus games along the way, one based heavily on Asteroids and the other on Breakout.

Sega-16.com gave it 90/100, while Video Games & Computer Entertainment gave it 60/100.[25]

Sega Pico[edit]

  • A Sega Pico title under the same name was released in 1995. The game is about going to various places (such as the time of dinosaurs, the solar system etc.)

Activity Centres[edit]

The Magic School Bus In Concert: Activity Center (2000)[edit]

The game was developed by KnowWonder and published by Microsoft.

It received a score of 76/100 by Review Corner and 60/100 by All Game Guide.[26]

The Magic School Bus Lands on Mars: Activity Center (2000)[edit]

The game was developed by KnowWonder and published by Microsoft.

It given a score of 77/100 by Review Corner and 50/100 by All Game Guide.[27] Superkids gave it 4.7/5.[28]

The Magic School Bus: Whales and Dolphins: Activity Center (2001)[edit]

The game was developed by KnowWonder and published by Microsoft.

The game was given a review of 90/100 by Tech with Kids (Computing with Kids), and 85/100 by Review Corner.[29]

The Magic School Bus Discovers Flight: Activity Center (2001)[edit]

The game was developed by KnowWonder and published by Microsoft.

The game has a rating of 90/100 by Tech with Kids (Computing with Kids).[30] Superkids gave it 4.3/5.[31]

The Magic School Bus: Volcano: Activity Center (2001)[edit]

The game was developed by KnowWonder and published by Microsoft.

The game has a score of 90/100 by Tech with Kids (Computing with Kids), 83/100 by Review Corner, and 40/100 by Mac Addict.[32]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Hour - Google News Archive Search". 
  2. ^ "Lawrence Journal-World - Google News Archive Search". 
  3. ^ "Ocala Star-Banner - Google News Archive Search". 
  4. ^ "The Spokesman-Review - Google News Archive Search". 
  5. ^ "Scholastic's The Magic School Bus Explores the Human Body for Macintosh (1994) MobyRank - MobyGames". MobyGames. 
  6. ^ "The Magic School Bus Explores The Human Body Review by metzomagic.com". 
  7. ^ "Scholastic's The Magic School Bus Explores the Human Body". Rovi Corporation. Archived from the original on 16 November 2014. 
  8. ^ "The Magic School Bus Explores The Human Body Review by metzomagic.com". 
  9. ^ "The Milwaukee Sentinel - Google News Archive Search". 
  10. ^ "Bangor Daily News - Google News Archive Search". 
  11. ^ "The Daily Gazette - Google News Archive Search". 
  12. ^ "Scholastic's The Magic School Bus Explores the Ocean for Macintosh (1996) Trivia - MobyGames". MobyGames. 
  13. ^ "The Cedartown Standard - Google News Archive Search". 
  14. ^ "SuperKids Software Review of Magic School Bus Inside the Earth.". 
  15. ^ "REVIEW: The Magic School Bus Explores Inside the Earth". 
  16. ^ "Scholastic's The Magic School Bus Explores in the Age of Dinosaurs for Windows (1996) MobyRank - MobyGames". MobyGames. 
  17. ^ "The Magic School Bus Explores in the Age of Dinosaurs Review by metzomagic.com". 
  18. ^ "Bangor Daily News - Google News Archive Search". 
  19. ^ "Scholastic's The Magic School Bus Explores the Rainforest for Windows (1997) MobyRank - MobyGames". MobyGames. 
  20. ^ "SuperKids Software Review of Scholastic's The Magic School Bus Explores the World of Animals.". 
  21. ^ "Bangor Daily News - Google News Archive Search". 
  22. ^ "The Magic School Bus Explores Bugs for Macintosh (2000) MobyRank - MobyGames". MobyGames. 
  23. ^ "SuperKids Software Review of Magic School Bus Explores Bugs". 
  24. ^ "Ludington Daily News - Google News Archive Search". 
  25. ^ "Scholastic's The Magic School Bus: Space Exploration Game for Genesis (1995) MobyRank - MobyGames". MobyGames. 
  26. ^ "Magic School Bus in Concert for Windows (2000) MobyRank - MobyGames". MobyGames. 
  27. ^ "Magic School Bus Lands on Mars for Windows (2000) MobyRank - MobyGames". MobyGames. 
  28. ^ "SuperKids Software Review of Magic School Bus Lands on Mars". 
  29. ^ "Magic School Bus Whales and Dolphins for Windows (2001) MobyRank - MobyGames". MobyGames. 
  30. ^ "Magic School Bus Discovers Flight for Windows (2001) MobyRank - MobyGames". MobyGames. 
  31. ^ "SuperKids Software Review of The Magic School Bus Discovers Flight Activity Center .". 
  32. ^ "Magic School Bus Volcano Adventure for Macintosh (2001) MobyRank - MobyGames". MobyGames.