I.M. Meen is a real tough call. As an arcade game, it excels as a Doom-era knock-off. As an educational product, it leaves much to be desired, even if you decide to label it "edutainment." Imagine playing Doom, except every so often you come across a scroll which shows you a passage and you must fix the grammatical mistakes in it before moving on. If you enjoy first-person shoot-em-ups, this one could be right up your alley, as long as you don't mind the occasional grammar lesson. Even adults could have fun with this one.
The problem, though, is that Simon & Schuster Interactive wants parents to think that there's a lot of educational content here for their child who's nine or older and that it's cleverly disguised under the fašade of an arcade game which they'll love. Believe me, the only time kids could have thought this game was cool as an arcade game was when it first came out; the technology changes so quickly that even the original Doom engine now seems quaint and antiquated. Add in the fact that there's some learning involved, and how many kids would touch something like this today?
As I said, in comparison to what was available at the time, I.M. Meen is an excellent game. The animations which pop up at the beginning and during the game are top-notch, and there's a lot of complexity here. There are plenty of items to pick up, puzzles to solve, various beasts to fight, and various levels to explore. The only problem is that the educational content seems tacked on, as if it was an after-thought. It's isolated only to the scrolls which the player stumbles across every so often. Why wasn't the educational content integrated into the puzzles, or even included as part of fighting the monsters? The best edutainment software integrates learning and fun so seamlessly that the student isn't always aware that they're doing educational activities; in this game, the learning segments jump right out at the student.
The other warning flag is the lack of any kind of editor. The best edutainment software also allows parents to get into the game's settings and change them to what they feel is appropriate for their child. I.M. Meen has three levels of difficulty for the game play and for the lessons, but there's no way to customize these settings or even add brand new educational content.
Since this program set out first and foremost to be an educational product, I'll have to give it a low mark because it simply fails to do that, despite how well-done the rest of it is.
Graphics: Great work was done here.
Sound: Plenty of spooky, scary sounds add atmosphere to this game.
Enjoyment: For the time, it was state-of-the-art, which means that many kids probably loved it.
Replay Value: As an arcade game, there's plenty to bring kids back. Parents, though, might be hard-pressed to find the educational value here (see review).
The eponymous villain of the game I.M. Meen has a serious pet peeve-- he can't stand it when children study. Thus, he creates a magical book that, when read, traps children in Meen's evil labyrinth. As the player, you assume the role of one of 2 new children trapped in the maze. Your mission is to free the other children imprisoned in this dungeon and find a way out for yourself. As you walk around the first-person perspective maze, you will encounter a number of fearsome monsters to make your quest difficult. However, you have the ability to punch the enemies. There are also other magical offensive weapons that you find throughout the game. Plus, I.M. Meen's sidekick gnome, Gnick, has betrayed his master and is offering you assistance where possible.
The educational aspect of this game involves completing miniature assignments in order to free imprisoned children. For example, a letter from Gnick to Meen is displayed along with the instructions to correct the 2 punctuation errors contained in the text. Once the player successfully completes the task, a fellow captured child is freed.
People who downloaded I.M. Meen have also downloaded:
Chill Manor, Mario is Missing, Harry and the Haunted House, Dragon's Lair 3D: Return to the Lair, Carmen Sandiego: Word Detective, Bookworm Adventures, Final Fantasy VIII, Pepper's Adventures in Time (a.k.a. Twisty History)
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