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Gamer Tuesday

May 3, 2011

Pap the Disney Gamer's Highlights: Mickey's 123's The Big Surprise Party
Developed by: Distinctive Software
System: Computer

Nowadays, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse is one of the most popular shows on Disney Junior, thanks to the combination of the charms of the Mickey Mouse gang, the colorful computer animation and the very fun lessons each episode brings. But, did you know that the idea of Mickey and friends being educators had existed long before Disney saw great success with this series? Enter Mickey's 123's: The Big Surprise Party for the home computer, an educational title created for pre-schoolers in mind.

Mickey's 123's: The Big Surprise was part of a series of educational titles starring Mickey Mouse and friends. Some of these included Mickey's ABC's: A Day at the Fair, Mickey's Space Adventure and Goofy's Railroad Express.

Much like the Beauty and the Beast computer game I highlighted a few weeks ago, this game also played a big role in my development and growth as a kid when I used to take speech therapy classes. It was also a fascinating game that used the famous Mickey Mouse troupe very well. The story behind Mickey's 123's is that Mickey is planning a big surprise party for Donald Duck, and we must help him organize the whole event. The neat thing about the game is that each procedure in the planning process is a simple math test for young kids to engage in.

For example, when you load the game for the first time and get through the introduction, you are asked to press a number on the keyboard: The toy factory is 1, the supermarket is 2, and the post office is 3. Once you select a place to go, you will participate in a mini-game in which you give Mickey a certain number of wheels. Depending on how many wheels you give him, Mickey will appear on a vehicle, like a car, bicycle or even roller skates.

At the toy factory, you get to select which toy to make in order to give it to Donald on his birthday. You even get to see the machine create the toy! At the supermarket, you must pick up the refreshments Mickey will serve up at the party, such as milk, hamburgers and fries. Finally at the post office you must mail the invitations to all of Mickey's friends. Once every task has been completed everyone meets up at Mickey's house and celebrate Donald's birthday in grand fashion.

As I mentioned earlier, each mini-game has been designed to incorporate counting exercises. Whenever an action is taken, a narrator will count alongside the player. This will help children memorize numbers as well as their proper order. So for example, if the mailman must visit house number 7 in order to deliver the invitation, the narrator will count each house number until the mailman arrives at the indicated household. Mickey 123's highlights other skills, like proper distribution of items (when the guests are at the party, you must evenly distribute the food items, otherwise some will be left without fries or burgers), the type of vehicles you can create based on how many wheels it has, and how to organize an event.

Much like TV's Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, one of the biggest appeals for older Disney fans lies in the references to older Mickey Mouse and Disney shorts. Members of the Mickey Mouse crew such as Goofy, Donald, Daisy, Minnie and Chip n' Dale are present, as you would expect them to be. But other characters also make appearances. Scrooge McDuck, Horace Horsecollar, Clarabelle Cow and Donald's Cousin Gus, a character that first appeared in the 1939 short of the same name, round out the extensive list of characters.

In terms of visual and audio presentation, for an old computer game of the 90s, Mickey 123's looks really good. The character sprites resembled their film counterparts very well, and the music is really catchy and fitting for a Mickey Mouse game. Mickey Mouse himself was voiced by the late Wayne Allwine, so you can bet you will be an authentic Disney product with this game.

Mickey's 123 is a treasure from my childhood. As an adult now I think it's a very slow game that doesn't coincide with my knowledge, but it still remains a fascinating computer program. I realize why Mickey Mouse Clubhouse is such a popular show: when you have some of the greatest characters ever created teaching you how to count and other elementary school skills how can you say no to that?



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