LGR – Encarta Mind Maze – PC Game Review
Articles Blog

LGR – Encarta Mind Maze – PC Game Review

September 8, 2019

[music] [typing] It’s April once again and here on LGR, that means Edutainment Month, where we’ll be taking a look at an
edutainment game each weekend. And what’s more educationally
entertaining than Encarta Encyclopedia? Okay, to be fair, I can think of
at least a few dozen things, but whatever, we’re looking at Encarta,
so you can get over it. In case you’re not familiar, Encarta was a multimedia encyclopedia software published by Microsoft from 1993 to 2009. Before the days of the Internet
being filled with links to Wikipedia and horny singles in your area, you more often than not had to buy an encyclopedia in order to research stuff. By the time the ’90s rolled around, these had moved on from being books to coming on fancy-shmancy CD-ROMs. And alongside other CD encyclopedias
like Compton’s and Grolier’s, Encarta was a choice gateway drug
to research and reference on the PC. This is the deluxe 1998 edition
of Encarta we’re looking at here, but they all worked more or less the same. The meat of the experience is the articles, just like in traditional encyclopedias
from World Book or Britannica. But in a multimedia variant like Encarta, you had all sorts of extra stuff to enjoy as well which made the experience far more tolerable as an easily distracted, hyperactive youngster. Pictures, video clips, animations, 360-degree panoramas, maps, links to the World Wide Web. Holy crap, this was paradise. At least it was when you just
wanted to be on the computer, but your parents were tired of you
playing Duke Nukem all the time, so saying you were doing educational
things was a perfect excuse. And that’s where Encarta freaking shined, because it went beyond just being a virtual book to being a wonderland of computerized learning. Some of these so-called “interactivities” were a godsend to youngins stuck in computer classes, study halls, or even just at home having to do homework. Like this one here where you put
dinosaur skeletons back together. Or this one where you could
make a moon crash into a planet and watch it explode,
complete with crunchy sound effects. [explosion] But probably the most remembered
activity is a game called Mind Maze, included on versions of Encarta from 1995 to 2007. You could access it from one of
the main menus of earlier versions, or pressing Ctrl-Z on later ones, but either way this was a welcome
passport to boredom relief. It starts off with a short little story telling you about how there’s
this castle owned by King Miser I, and things were pretty uneventful
until the place was cursed, resulting in a tear in the space-time continuum, as is prone to happen in medieval castles. Apparently, just reading about it
causes you to get sucked into this world, and you’re left standing in front of the castle gate, looking like Calvin Fuller with a computer mouse. Enter your name, then click the castle door to enter through the door of the castle with a click. You can then choose from nine trivia subjects with a tenth one combining them all together and four difficulty levels. Click again to enter the starting hallway and finally, click a door to enter the first room. The goal of the game is to make it out of the castle by wandering through a maze of rooms and answering a piece of trivia in each of them. Answer enough and you’ll not only escape
the castle and free its cursed inhabitants, but you’ll also be declared next in line to be king. unless you want to snub them and be
a dick about it and just go back home. Although each room looks a little different due to the randomized nature of the game, what you do in each of them is exactly the same. There will be a person or creature to click on that’ll tell you something about the castle or the curse, and hopefully a door or two letting
you move on to the next room. As you methodically meander
your way through the maze, you’ll notice that the map in the bottom-left fills itself in. This is handy because mazes suck. You’ll also have five torches to light in each maze, which flashes the complete map for a moment, so you know where to go next, effectively removing all walls so you
can see the entire surrounding region. That is one absurdly powerful torch. Can you imagine them actually
working like that in real life? Make it through the maze,
and you’ll find a spiral staircase leading to the next maze, which is filled with more or less the
same people, rooms and questions, except in a randomized order and layout. To beat the game, you need to collect 20,000 points and that can take anywhere
from 30 minutes to two hours, depending on the difficulty level chosen. The amount of points you get is
determined by how hard the questions are, as well as how quickly you can answer a question, since you lose points every second. Although, you CAN just look up
the answers to each question, since, you know, this is a freaking encyclopedia. In fact, all you have to do is click the
little book beside each possible answer to see if it’s the right one. Of course, this takes time,
so chances are you’ll just want to wing it. And you have two chances at each question, so you effectively have a 50-50
chance of answering correctly anyway. On top of that, there are a limited
number of questions you’ll be asked, and chances are you’ll see the same question ten times during a single playthrough, sometimes even back-to-back. And yes, as you might imagine, the game ends up being a bit repetitive before long. Same questions. Same music.
Same people. Same rooms. Same staircase at the end of
every maze, and you can’t even die. I’m starting to feel a bit like
Bill Murray in “Groundhog Day.” And I’m starting to feel a bit like
Bill Murray in “Groundhog Day.” At least you have a bit of a reprieve with the characters spouting their absurdities regarding the castle, the other people and the curse itself. Polly the Parrot is particularly fun as the guy is super resentful of his owner and has a real snarky attitude
about everything going on. Well, these characters are a reprieve until THEY start repeating themselves, too. But still, super-engaging and constantly fresh gameplay was not the appeal of Mind Maze. The appeal was that this was a game
in freaking Encarta Encyclopedia, and you could play it while you were
supposed to be looking stuff up. It also provided something gamey for us kids that didn’t have many games to choose from so it was just an event when you discovered it. Not only that, but there was just
something imaginative and alluring about the aesthetic of this castle. Something about the way the staircase looked and the way these rooms were laid out. It was just kind of weird and surreal and really got my imagination going. Mind Maze is remembered very
fondly any time it’s brought up, and I totally see why because
I remember it fondly myself. Yeah, the game would be seriously
lacking if it were released on its own, but the fact of the matter was that it was
a cool little extra with an encyclopedia. They didn’t NEED to do this, but they did it anyway, and I have to thank the developers for that. So I salute you, Microsoft devs in the mid-’90s. You made a lot of childhoods less boring and made learning random trivia more fun, if even for a short amount of time. And that right there is what
edutainment is all about, if you ask me. [regal MIDI music] If you enjoyed this first episode
of Edutainment Month 2014, why not take a look at some of the others that I’ve done. There’s more edutainment
coming up this month as well, and I do videos every week,
so subscribing – that’s a thing. And you can also check me out
on Twitter, Facebook, Patreon, and your nearest tear in the space-time continuum. And as always, thank you for watching.

Only registered users can comment.

  1. When I was a child, we had the ENCARTA 1994 !!! It was so amazing tio learn count from 1 to 10 in every language af the world !!!

  2. jeez this game freaked me out when I was little, the people in there were scary! But I did enjoy listening to Grandmaster Flash in the music section every day lol

  3. I completely agree with your views on this. Totally forgot about this 90s game but indeed, I remember now how much I enjoyed this.

  4. My family had the 1997 Compton's with narration from Patrick Stewart as well as several editions of Encarta over the years.

  5. The 360 panoramas were pretty damn cool back in the day. I was always fascinated on how they did that.

  6. I got this for free with our compaq pesario. We got it at Frys came with a printer, monitor,free aol for a few months and the software. I had so much fun with it, always played mind maze and messed with language stuff. I found it amusing.

  7. I have been trying to remember this game and found the answer on the forum. My husband loves games like this and I wanted to share it with him! Thank you for the nostalgia!

  8. World Music in Encarta was the thing I did so much, along with the orbit. I would sit there for hours, just exploding the moon and laughing at the Cuíca.

  9. I didn't have have reliable internet growing up and my parents were among the 'videos games are bad' group in the early 90s and oh the hours I spent playing this.

  10. I remember messing around on this version of encarta quite a bit at the library in middle school. everyone thought it was so awesome. man the memories…good times.

  11. I played the hell out of this as a kid and loved it. My late granddad got it for me, along with all my early PC stuff. Lots of great memories. Thanks for posting it!

  12. Well…here's another one I suggested recently that if I just did a quick search wouldn't have commented like a bimbo…thanks for reviewing this! Love your videos!

  13. I remember playing the shit out of the music samples on encarta! And playing the "match the music with the country" game.

  14. Ohhh my gosh I remember this! I was a bit too young for the maze so I never got very far into it, but it was very fun nonetheless!

  15. Can't believe this was uploaded 3 years ago! I remember this coming up in my subscription box like it was yesterday!

  16. LGR, I have a suggestion that you might even have never heard of: The CD-ROM caddy. I remember back when CD-ROM became a thing, especially with some of the early version of Encarta, there were some computers that required a ridiculous cart interface you had to put the CD into to load it into the drive. I did a little research and apparently they weren't all that common. Wikipedia (I know, a bit on-the-nose for this review) has almost nothing to say about it other than the fact that it existed and that there are similar devices still in use.

    Mini-Disc and UMD both use similar technology, but this was a weird, rare thing to see. You might try a video on such a weird device!

  17. Hard to believe that even before Encarta existed, I remember back in the MS-DOS 5.0 days, there was a similar set of software developed by Isaac Asimov, I believe his name was?  Science Adventure and Knowledge Adventure, which, iirc, there were quiz games involved in that one, too.  I remember how interactive THAT little gem in history was.  If only I could find his software online to relive those memories.  🙁

  18. I had an earlier version of Encarta installed on our old AST as a kid. We got this around 1993, so if Wikipedia is to be believed, it was the first edition of this program. It had the Mind Maze game, but it was way more primitive than the one you're showing off here. I had hoped this would be a video about that earlier version because I vaguely remember it and have always wanted to revisit it. Even so, this was a fun little nostalgia trip.

  19. Anyone know/remember that game that took place in a museum with a little robot accompanying you? And you had to fix the exhibits that forgot they were exhibits? Think the robot might have been called mic or something.

  20. 4:08 That's the shop music from Omikron! Why on Earth would you bring back such terrible memories of that buggy mess!?

    But seriously, I'd love to see you review that "game."

  21. Encarta was so nice, especially when I was a kid. As I grew up without Internet, Encarta was so nice. It came with my PC and it was awesome. I was getting lost in it for hours, reading about stuff, watching videos or hearing audios, I know that the different country anthems were a big fascination, also the art section, where you were able to see different paintings. Mind Maze was great too, but I was not knowing English good enough back then to be good at it. I know that I've played long enough to memorize a lot of the answers, as they were pretty repetitive.

  22. I loved the hell out of Encarta. Always loved the panorama pictures, and the timeline. I've always been a reference book geek and Encarta was as a kid excellent.

  23. This is…was there other versions of this?
    I distinctly recognize this, and yet nothing seems familiar, even that seashell start screen, I remember being pink for some reason. All I remember is finding something similar to this and finding it creepy for some reason.

  24. I had Grolier's 1998 Encyclopedia on CD and it was so fascinating to my younger self. I spent hours playing around with the interactive bits more than I spent learning from it however.

  25. Wow, thank you for this video. I had not thought of this fun little distraction since I used it as a 6-8 year old, it was just the cool magical setting with funny looking characters that gave me fond memories of this. Great nostalgia rush!

  26. I don't know which Encyclopedia game it was, I just know it gave me nightmares. It was all animations, no live action. I browsed through it a lot until I found something talking about medieval medicine, and the animation was of a man screaming his head off while two men sawed off his infected leg. It certainly wasn't this one.

  27. I was just thinking about playing this again today. I remember back when it came with our Windows 98 computer (I think it did, or it came with the Windows 98 box). It was amazing to explore the interactive elements, hear sounds, and watch videos all in interactive 'slides'. Mind Maze was brilliant and I loved the theme of it. I think I will always go back to playing it every once in a while for a bit of nostalgia from my 90s kid days.

  28. Semirandom comment triggered by 'horny singles in your area'.
    I formerly got spammed with 'muslim girls who speak your language in your area'.
    Sadly, they never delivered a swedish speaking Muslim girl in York.

    I was so disappoint!

  29. Just looked this up, after remembering some of my old PC's, you absolutely nailed it, it was the best novelty in an encyclopedia, and the aesthetics were sensational, I would add, you actually DID learn things, by proxy and repetition but you still learnt!
    My god I miss this MindMaze game!

  30. I remember this, especially that creepy jester. It came bundled with the Windows 98 Compaq Presario 5151that my mom bought us way back in the day.

  31. I played that so much as a kid. Great memories. One of the few games my parents wouldn't yell at me for playing all the time.

  32. I haven't seen this for 20 fricking years! I can't explain the feeling I'm having right now…. When I saw those dinosaur bones… damn…

  33. The 95 version was better in my opinion, because the prize for winning was a madlibs game, which I thought was the most hilarious thing I'd ever seen back then.

  34. I'm a little late, but a brief correction: I had the 94 edition of Encarta and it had Mindmaze, so it was from before 95.

  35. I forget the version (probably 98), but I really loved this game when I was a kid. I did however restrict the content to science related. It has been a long time, but I seem to remember that as an option. Unfortunately, that really limited the bank of questions so I quickly knew all the answers to thee science restricted version. Ya, I could have opened it to all topics but frankly I was quite uninterested in pop culture questions regardless. Like I never and still don't want to engage in that. If they could have had 1000, vs. 50 science related questions, though, this game would have gone so much farther for me.

  36. I remember I never got to finish this game, I think I got bored at some point of the same interiors and questions, lol :)))

  37. I just realized I spent hours on Encarta as a small child, which probably explains why I'm less of a dumbass than most people

  38. The nostalgia is intense with this one. I can't remember if it was this game or another similar one that had surprisingly good stringed music in the background.

  39. Despite being born in the 2000s, I downloaded the 1994 version of Encarta off the interwebs and played the OG MindMaze. I just love the fox's line:

    "Yo, I'm the fox and I'm here to say, click on the door if you wanna play!"

  40. Played this for like an hour straight one day till I couldn't bear it anymore. I wanted to get to the end, but I didn't know if there was a save feature, so I just gave up. Also, my grandmother has that EXACT set of encyclopedias at 0:44.

    Edit: Wait, I just looked up the ending. It's just a single screen of text. Maybe I did finish the game and the ending was just so boring that I forgot.

  41. 4:51 Question, for those of you mathematically inclined: he said he has 4 anwsers to a question, and can take 2 shots to anwser, and then proceeded to say "You got a 50/50 chance". Does he? or is the chance actually higher, considering he can take one choice first and a 2nd one after knowing the first was wrong?.

  42. I still can't find find a game that could of been on Encarta.
    It was called "Titanic" a point and click game which the goal was to go in a sub and find the right combination coordinates to find the wreckage.

    I still can't find this game or video prove of it since there are a lot of Titanic games and I believe Encarta might be a source but I not sure.🤔

    If someone has found a video of it please hyperlink it. I would like to know it exists.

  43. we used to use Encarter at school before the whole hi speed internet thing , it was great …. good times now i got responsibilities lol

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *