Putting a Name to Nostalgia: MindMaze

I’m sure all of us have some game or movie or book that we remember, even when the name itself has been forgotten to us.  Strangely enough, at least in my case, I often have fond memories of these forgotten stories, despite the contradiction of forgetting the name of something I claimed to have enjoyed.  Recently, I happened quite by chance upon a few movies I saw as a duckling whose names I had previously forgotten (in case you’re curious, The Pagemaster was one of them), and it made me all the more determined to hunt down the name of an old PC game I remember playing long ago.

This is what I remembered.  The game was probably released in the mid to late 90’s.  I believe it came with the computer.  And it involved exploring a medieval castle.  The game was in first-person, but there was no battling, and it was set up like a maze.  In order to progress through the maze, I thought you probably answered questions or something.  I could see in my head the stone wall of the interior of the castle, and I was vaguely aware of some certain background music.

With just those details to go on, I started searching the Internet for the name of this game.  I had seriously been obsessed with tracking it down for years, and I finally found something that might be the game I so desperately sought.  The game was called MindMaze, and it came with Encarta Encyclopedia, but I couldn’t get a clear release date.  Maybe 1996 or 1998?  I looked the game up online, and even though there were some differences I don’t recall, I think it was the game I had been looking for.  Basically, you explored a castle by clicking on doors or people and answering random trivia questions in order to proceed.

Video by Youtube User: Lazy Game Reviews

The funny thing is how faulty our memories are.  I remember the game to be a lot more free-roaming, when in actuality it’s more of a point-and-click kind of game.  I also thought the game was more 3D when the graphics are more flat and cartoony.  And yet, the more I watched someone play the game and caught little snippets of the background music, the more the memories all came flooding back.  This is the game I had been searching for, that “super awesome game I played a long time ago, where you got to explore a medieval castle”.  It was an educational game that came with a digital encyclopedia!  I never thought I’d be so excited about a game that made me learn, but alas!  Prithee, pray tell, how dost this be!

Yeah, so with this mystery at long last solved, I also looked up videos of Myst, another blast from the past.  I remember watching my mom play this game on the computer, though we never got very far into it.  While my memories of MindMaze were foggy at best, I remembered the name of Myst just fine, and the environment shown on Youtube was very familiar to me, as well, though I think she played realMyst because that looked more similar to what I remembered.  Again, our memories aren’t always reliable, so I could be wrong.  But the original Myst came out in 1993 and realMyst was released in 2000, and the latter date seems more accurate, as well.  I wish we had played more of it because, looking back, it looked like a pretty interesting game.  I can’t believe we actually started one of the most popular PC games of all time and never finished it.

It was really cool seeing these old games again, and I feel myself quite tempted to revisit them, if I can find a way to do so.  (I’m not sure where to download MindMaze, and I heard that the version of Myst you can download nowadays crashes a lot.)  I probably won’t, but it’s funny how fondly I still remember MindMaze.  I’ve actually since looked up more gameplay videos just to watch random strangers on the Internet answer quiz questions.  Another thing I had forgotten was how strange, but amusing, the characters were, and honestly, it was probably a pretty clever and well-made game for its time.  If anything, it looks as if it did a pretty effective job of making learning (of all things) actually fun.

Who here has played MindMaze?  Or Myst, while we’re at it?  And I’d also like to ask, do you have any games you remember playing whose names you’ve forgotten?  If so, you surely understand my woes!  Who knows, maybe together, we can solve this enigma.  Please let me know in the comments.

I Should Make a Game Involving Only Duck-Related Trivia