The 30 Day Gaming Challenge: Day 1 – Your Very First Video Game

In order to build my portfolio (as well as getting into the habit of writing), I’m going to take up the 30 Day Gaming Challenge, seen on Reddit/Tumblr/pretty much every social networking site. It’s a list of 30 questions about gaming, one per day, for which I have to provide the answers.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, ‘Phoebs, you can’t even commit to taking your pills every day, what makes you think you can write a blog post every day for a month?’

Yeah, I know. I know. Just…just bear with me, okay?

Here are the questions, for anyone who’s interested!

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So let’s dive in with the first question!

Day 1: Your Very First Video Game

There were honestly so many it’s difficult to pin down which was the very first. I had several Knowledge Adventure educational games, from a rabbit teaching me long and short vowels to Dorling Kindersley’s I Hate Love Learning trilogy; I had a particular fondness for I Hate Love Science, especially the Chemistry kitchen where Al Luminium taught me that you can’t filter brussels sprouts through a sieve. Thanks, Al.

My first game that could be considered anything near to ‘adult’ would be the PC version of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. This game actually took me years to complete because I was so scared of being caught by Filch on my way up to the Astronomy tower to drop off Norbert the Norwegian Ridgeback that I refused to go any further. But if I’m being strict about the question, the very first game that I can remember having an effect on me was Adiboo: Magical Playland on Windows 98.

Adiboo is one of the most unusual, weird, bizarre games I’ve ever played. Created in 1999 by the long-dead French games company Coktel-Vision (owned by Sierra Entertainment at the time), Adiboo is about a blonde-haired pointed-eared alien child (called – you guessed it – Adiboo) with a penchant for mischief, living in his house with his dog Pup, a yellow dog with a suction cup for legs. It’s a point-and-click game made up of minigames, although there is a sense of progress through growing plants to use in the kitchen, placing beehives for the bees and so on. Amongst the minigames were sliding puzzles which revealed pictures (quite disturbing ones too, as lots contained monsters and shadows which would move when the picture was completed – I’m fairly sure this contributed to my childhood fear of the dark), a block destroyer which was essentially Breakout for kids, and a very weird facial recognition game where the aim was to match the face on the right with the face on the left. It was very strange, surreal artwork that I haven’t seen in children’s games since.

Looking at playthroughs now, I can see how six-year-old me would have been drawn in to the bright colours and over-exaggerated cartoon features. In addition, Adiboo‘s world is peppered with weird and wonderful characters such as Fuzzy Galump, the monstrous, hydrophobic antagonist who Adiboo likes to spray with his water pistol, and Kee-Cook, the…whatever Kee-Cook is. But blimey, it’s weird. This game would surely fall into a Buzzfeed list of ‘Kids’ Games We Can’t Believe Were For Kids’.

Here are a few screenshots from YouTube Let’s Player Mr. Nutt‘s playthrough of this game, found here:

01
Adiboo’s garden, with Adiboo himself in the middle. You can see Pup at the top next to The Hollow Tree, and a robot who I can’t remember the name of. I especially like how his house looks like him, complete with turned-up cap.
03
The weird face game, where you click on the facial features of the right until they match with the left. Each feature has a different sound. As if I needed anything else to have nightmares about.
04.JPG
Fuzzy Galump roaring at Adiboo, who proceeds to spray him with a water pistol.

The interesting thing about this game is that there’s hardly any information about it. Coktel Vision became defunct in 2005, and there’s no Wikipedia article about this or any other game in the Adiboo series. Giant Bomb describes the series as ‘long forgotten‘, and this may be in part due to the direction Coktel Vision took it. By 2004, the endearing 2D pixel art animations had gone, and the toned down colour scheme had been reduced to…well, to Adiboo and the Energy Thieves:

It’s been pointed out to me that this may have been Sierra, the publisher of the Adiboo series, trying to keep up with the developing world of video games, competing with more popular game titles such as Jak IIThe Simpsons: Hit & Run, and Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, all released in 2003. But all the creativity, inventiveness, and bizarre art have disappeared, and we’re left with an uninspired, terribly modelled copy. I mean, look at those eyes. The boy just doesn’t look good in 3D.

But maybe that’s because I’m so full of nostalgia for Magical Playland that any other incarnation of Adiboo is wrong and sinful. I get the same feeling when I see the current 3D-animated version of Fireman Sam. Nothing will top stop-motion animation. Nothing. Ever.

If you’ve got any childhood games that stuck with you, send me a message at @TCasualGamer! As always, thank you for reading.

Author: Phoebe Wright

I am a musician and musicologist currently studying my MA Music at Bangor University, specialising in music for video games. For my undergraduate degree I wrote a 12,000 word dissertation focusing on the music of various horror games, although my favourite games are those with a limited horror factor. I've been playing video games since I was small and I'm fascinated by the in-depth stories and personal relationships that can be made with characters in video games.

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