I was very young when my dad brought home our first computer. It was the very early 90s and Dad came home from work with a big, bulking laptop that didn’t have a color screen – it was only tones of purple, like a fancy calculator. (Looking back on it, that’s pretty much what it was.) He had also managed to procure this HUGE monitor, a very tube-y sort of affair like an old television that was so heavy my six year old self couldn’t dream of lifting it. It was set up on a card table in the corner of our living room and sometimes I would get to play with it.
There are a few things I remember doing very specifically with this computer:
- Doing the Windows 3.1 tutorial OVER AND OVER AGAIN. For some reason, this was the coolest thing in the world to my pre-kindergarten self. I think I just felt accomplished.
- Playing Chip’s Challenge, JezzBall, Rodent’s Revenge and SkiFree as part of the Microsoft Entertainment Pack. My dad and I would try to get through Chip’s Challenge and I remember being stuck on Level 42 for AGES. Stupid ice only levels.
- Lastly, my dad had bought some ~*educational*~ games for us to play – my sister got a copy of Reader Rabbit 2, I got Math Blaster Plus, and my mom got Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego? I played Math Blaster CONSTANTLY.
This would all change when my dad found the Super Seekers series. Oh man, what sweet sweet nostalgia are you guys in for now.
There were two games that Dad got – Treasure MathStorm!, which involved climbing a mountain and catching elves with nets, which wasn’t nearly as fun, and TREASURE COVE!. This game would be how I spent most of my free time that year, and much of the rest of my family’s, too.
Recently I was introduced to the concept of abandonware, where old computer games that haven’t had their licenses renewed go to die. I was able to find the majority of my childhood favorites, including Treasure Cove!, and have been doing a playthrough as an adult. WARNING: This is definitely image heavy, so those of you running Windows 3.1 on dial up may have to wait a bit to get the end result. Make sure nobody picks up the phone and kicks you off, okay?
The game starts out with a story about the Master of Mischief, who has decided that he wants to pollute Treasure Cove with some kind of waste byproduct. You play the Super Solver, whose job it is to plug up the pipes and prevent the Goobies from continuing to pollute Treasure Cove, and as a result, stop the Master of Mischief.
After you walk into the Super Solvers clubhouse, you have to pick up your scuba gear so you can dive to save the residents of Treasure Cove. As you can see, I’m already pretty far along in the game.
When you start the game, you find yourself in the treasure room. This is where you hold all of the treasures granted to you by the elves for collecting gems. The mechanics of the game are pretty straightforward. You need to collect gems and the puffer fish, which are hiding behind various sea creatures. You find out which sea creatures you’re looking for by capturing orange starfish with air bubbles, and you check to see if there is an item behind them by shining your flashlight on them.
When you catch an orange starfish, it asks you a question. Answer it correctly and you get a clue towards the sea creatures you’re looking for. There are three orange starfish per level.
This is a pretty good example of what you’ll encounter in a random screen. On the left is your air refilling station, which costs five light. The pink starfish will give you more light in exchange for capturing it with an air bubble. The awful purple thing on the right is a gooby, which if you run into will cost you light. You can capture them with air bubbles and float them away, but they’re pretty easy to avoid – and therefore, save you air.
When you have all the gems and puffer fish in the stage, you drop the puffer fish on the gooby tube (where they enter from, it’s got Creepy Eyes and everything so you know it’s BAD) and you move onto the next stage. My favorite is the transition from the first to second level.
Stage 2 introduces more areas to explore, notably the Sea Star Circus. This is my favorite area of the game because it is so bright and colorful (and not only is there always an orange starfish in, but there’s also a multiplier gem at the very end in the later levels!)
The second best part of this level is the fact that you must climb into the mouth of a giant whale in order to move on.
And then he spits you out, apparently with such gusto that you enter another whole level of ocean.
Level 3 is the creepiest and darkest of the three. There are goobies aplenty, and apparently the majority of the orange starfish too.
I realized at this point that I hadn’t shown the inside of the cave yet, which has the BEST MUSIC.
Some kind soul has uploaded the cave music to Youtube, too. Aww yeah.
Inside this giant grouper is another bonus gem, PLAGUED WITH GOOBIES.
Finally you drop your puffer fish and move on to the last bonus level! GET READY.
If you run into a shark, they will tussle with you and rob you of either light or air. I don’t remember. You can blow bubbles into their mouths and they’ll float up, but they will come back down. I remember as a kid having so much trouble with this part and making my dad come help me.
Once you get past the sharks, you’re home free!
You toss your bag of gems to…elves?
They magic you up a gift, too.
You are then one step closer to completing the rainbow bridge over to the Master of Mischief’s factory to stop that out of control polluting.
This post could not have been brought to you without the help of D-Fend Reloaded, the program I use to run my DOSbox through, and MyAbandonware, a treasure trove of abandonware from the early 80s to the late 90s. I have no idea how I set it up – a friend of a friend helped me over Facebook – but it has been the best thing I’ve put on my computer in ages.