From 'Putt Putt' to 'Freddi Fish'—How Humongous Entertainment Made Edutainment Fun

I could tell it was going to be a good day when my parents took out my Nickelodeon keyboard. With green mechanical-themed handles and blue, pink, and lavender keys, it had been a gift from my grandparents, and it was my first portal into the world of computer gaming. I’d plug it in and set it on my parents' desk, which was piled with stacks of small clear CD cases and tiny instructional booklets that never got read. These CD-ROMs were edutainment games, and I was allowed to play them voraciously, since my parents believed they were actually teaching me something.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/xwnwya/from-putt-putt-to-freddi-fishhow-humongous-entertainment-made-edutainment-fun
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I remember having my mind blown when I realized Freddi Fish was gendered a girl.

Is Freddi the first non-binary video game character?

These games were such an integral part of my childhood and formative for what type of games I’d come to like as an adult.

I think what made them especially good was their approach to humor, which shaped me into someone with a preference for referential humor and puns. I find myself quoting Freddi Fish and Spy Fox on the regular to my family, who sat alongside me as I played these games on the family computer. Different playthroughs had different puzzles and different endings, which made these games super attractive for a replay.

I’ve yet to come across a point and click game that I enjoy more than any of the Humongous games. I don’t think that many of the creators of point and click games made for an adult audience realize that your humor doesn’t have to be edgy in order for it to be entertaining.

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I was a little outside the target demographic when most of Humongous Entertainment’s games came out, but my youngest cousin (who is about a decade younger than me) played them. I have a lot of fond memories playing through the Putt-Putt games with him. More recently, though, I bought them for my kiddo when they were re-released on Steam some years back. The games really do hold up after all this time!

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Yeah, me too. I had thought it was an unusual spelling of Freddy up til then. I love the response from the character she says it to. “Hey, what a coincidence! So’s [my wife]!”

Man, so many good lines are flooding back now. The bartender of a lounge that dryly intones that the entertainment becomes less entertaining as he plays the same song for days on end, the short souvenir stand worker that tries to convince you a plush cat toy is in fact alive to save face from being unable to reach it, the same working say that a fez is “candy that tastes a bit like soap.” Damn sharp writing.

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Buzzy was my jam as a kid. Loved the luggage sorting game in it. I want to say a pajama sam game had a similar game as well.

There was also a really good maze game for Fredie Fish iirc.

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Only true Nineties kids know the thrill of finding the paint in Putt Putt and finally getting him to his true color (which is blue, fite me if you painted him anything else).

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#RedPuttPuttGangRiseUp

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I really loved these games when I was a little kid, and even think I did a playthrough of them before the computer I had played on them died (a decade after my original playthrough). I remember Putt Putt on the Moon, playing go fish with Flatty Bear, and the silly marble madness game that didn’t do much but bounce marbles around. The music but most importantly the sound effects was what really made those games for me. I’m sure if I heard them today I’d be transported back to the being a little kid when I first played these games.

Putt-Putt Goes to the Moon is the best video game ever made and if anyone disagrees with you THEY’RE FULL OF SHIT

In all seriousness, Humungous games were so good at entertaining kids, though the actual educational content is debatable. There are better examples of quality edutainment, I think the best possible example out there being The Logical Journey of The Zoombinis, one of the best logic games ever made (also worth mentioning it’s being resold on modern store fronts as well).

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One of my first video game memories is playing Putt Putt Enters the Race on my dad’s work laptop and finally reaching the titular Race; I came in second to last place and loved every moment of it.

I like how the designers bring up the non-narrative “click-points” around the environment, because they gave the games so much life and personality. Kinda reminds me of the flushable toilet philosophy in immersive sims. Also loved Nicole bringing up the amusing phrases that stick with you; in one game, there’s a simple bit of ‘changing locations’ dialogue between Pajama Sam and a sentient donut who acts as a raft (man these games were great), where he asks “Shall we?” and she says, “Let’s shall!” and I’ve used that response ever since.

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But what about putt putt saves the zoo.

But what about Putt Putt Travels Through Tiiiiiiiiime

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I was about to say, I can’t believe no one’s mentioned Travels Through Time yet. The opening theme is such a bop.

I also remember this because it just happened while I was reading your post. Holy shit!

  • Pajama Sam
  • Putt Putt
  • Spy Fox
  • Freddi Fish

0 voters

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Furries stan with that fox.

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This is like asking me to pick my favorite child ;_;

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Side note: The studio re-releasing all these games, Night Dive Studios, has been rescuing a ton of old PC games lately. One worth trying is Strife, a FPS-RPG made in the DOOM engine that released after System Shock and before Deus Ex. It’s like a weird missing link in the immersive sim genre, and the improvements Night Dive added (with help of the modding community) make it very easy to get into today. It is extremely 90s and really fun, though a walkthrough is suggestion because it can be a tad hard to remember where you need to go at a given moment sometimes.

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No. Thinking a character is a boy and then finding out they are a girl doesn’t make them non-binary.

Now if someone wanted to headcanon Freddi as non-binary i certainly wouldn’t stop them though

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