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Review by Alfred Giovetti
Price: $39.95
Release: August 29, 1996 (We received our boxed copy on August 8.)
Genre: Childrenís Graphic Animated Adventure
Developer: Humongous Entertainment
Designer: Ron Gilbert, Mark Peyser, and Tami Borowick
Publisher: Humongous Entertainment and GT Interactive Software
Corporation
Phone: 800-499-1212
Website: www.humongous.com
Requirements: 486DX, 33 MHz, 8 MB RAM, 256-color SVGA (640x480), Windows 3.1 or 95, 2X CD ROM drive, sound card (Mac version available but not tested.)

Ron Gilbert has been designing games for 10 years, games like Maniac Mansion, the LucasArts Entertainment game that was so popular it gave rise to a television show, Monkey Island 1 & 2, the games that chronicled the hilarious adventures of Guybrush Threepwood, an erstwhile pirate recruit. Ron was fed up with the boring and illogical nature of most games that occupied themselves with ever more illogically violent games.

Ron designed the insult sword fighting system in Monkey Island where the pirates insulted one another in a sword duel, with the winner having the best insult and the loser going away grumbling. Many games have the hero or heroine die requiring you to reload a save game, start over a level or even restart the game. Ron came up with the idea of simply saving the protagonist from death and continuing on from where the mistake was made saving the game player time and frustration. s-ff21.gif - 9.4 K

Always when Ron implements something he does it with humor. Who could forget the rubber trees near the cliffs in Monkey Island. In most games if you walk off a cliff, you die, in Monkey Island you fell off the cliff landed on a rubber tree and bounced back up the cliff with a funny reminder not to walk off again. Always that entertaining sense of humor that showed us that death and violence was unnecessary to games, but humor was essential.

Shelley Day, co-founder of Humongous, created Putt-Putt, the lovable, little purple car and his sidekick pal Pep, in 1990 for bedtime stories Shelley told her 3-year old son. Shelley has worked at Aurora Systems, Electronic Arts, Accolade, and Taito, and Lucas Arts Entertainment, before founding Humongous Entertainment. Shelley has worked on The Duel: Test Drive II, Grand Prix Circuit, Hardball II, Monkey Island II, and Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis which is one of the all time great games from LucasArts Entertainment..

Freddi is a heroine fish, hand drawn in the fashion of the best Disney animated feature. Also like an animated feature, Freddi and the other denizens of the deep sing and dance. Some of the cutest original songs that will leave the family singing abound in Freddiís adventures.

Ron ascribes to the viewpoint that entertainment can appeal to a wide audience, adults, seniors, and children on different levels, and to this goal he has dedicated himself with his Humongous products. Freddi Fish and the Case of the Missing Kelp Seeds won 17 awards from a diverse group of magazines, including some of this authorís favorite magazines (I used to work for them as contributing editor). The main reason for these awards is Ron produces an entertaining, funny, and emotional story without violence and without death in a children friendly environment that even adults find entertaining.

Characterization with personality is a strong suit in Freddi stories. Back in this installment are Eddie the Eel, Ray the fast talking Manta Ray, the bungling sharks Boss and Spongehead, and the enigmatic Squidfather. New friends include schoolmarm Mrs. Croaker, retired janitor Mr. Triplefin, and former founder fleet leader Captain Schnitzel, pulley collector Barnacle Bob, genius Casey, and speed deamon Tucker Turtle. s-ff23.gif - 10.8 K

Ronís games also have some surprises for those who have never played his Putt-Putt, Fatty Bear, Freddi Fish, and Pajama Sam stories. Each Gilbert game comes with mini-games, Freddi Fish 2 is no exception with Sing-Along with 50 songs, Crab Invaders like the original alien invaders, Chalkboard Art drawing program, sliding picture puzzle Ceiling Tiles, and Film Festival with 16 different short films to watch.

Click-points were started just about the time Ron started doing childrenís games, and I would not be surprised if he invented them. Click-points in Ronís games are a collection of animated sequences that are started by clicking on certain screen hot spots. Most of the spots have up to a half dozen different animation per spot, and the repeated clicking of the spots is incredibly entertaining. Many children end up with the giggles and just canít stop clicking.

The plot of this installment of the Freddi saga is simple. A phony ghost has invaded the schoolhouse and is stealing all the guppiesí toys, so Freddi is called in with her pal Luther to solve the mystery. A treasure hunt ensues to collect all the items needed to build the ghost trap. Teamwork needed to build the trap and the list of things needed change with each game giving the game more play value for multiple games.