Some of you out there may remember Granny’s Garden, an educational game for the BBC Micro which was released by 4Mation in 1983. It was a staple of primary-school classrooms all over the country and those who are aged around 30-31 probably played it at school.
In a little experiment this morning I booted up a BBC Micro emulator and loaded Granny’s Garden into it, suggesting to Ellie (aged 6) that maybe she’d quite like to play it. Now before I continue you must remember that this game was prior to any sort of controller or speech synthesis – so there’s no mouse, and you have to read stuff on the screen.
I was actually pleasantly surprised – she cottoned on to reading the prompts instead of having instructions spoken to her; likewise the keyboard, although I had to explain a few times about that (especially when choosing ‘the magic tree’, where you have to type in a grid reference such as ‘A3’ or ‘D1’). She took logical steps involved in solving the basic puzzles such as the word ‘FIG’ on the cottage, and when the witch caught her she was anxious to have another try. Yay for MODE7 teletext graphics and some odd noises from an emulated sound chip!
All in all I’m really quite pleased, and I think I may set up a basic Beeb with the game in the studio – either that or put Beebem on the Mac Mini upstairs.
Next step: ‘A Day At The Shops’, or some other similar educational game we played in Mr Mordue’s class, aged 10.
Note: I’ve just been asked about a copy of Granny’s Garden being downloadable or distributable – 4Mation got very stroppy the last time someone tried this and won’t enter it into the public domain, so you will need to source your own copy; this is presumably because there is a Windows/Mac version still on sale. I would suggest eBay or somewhere like that – I picked up a legal original in a batch of kit I rescued from a primary school some time back, so YMMV.