11 June, 2018
Who else remembers Baldi’s Basics in Education and Learning?
Good morning rad gamers,
If you’re a 90’s baby like me, surely you remember growing up on such edutainment classics as Math Blaster, Sonic’s Schoolhouse, Jump Start, and Zoombinis! These games, with their colorful casts of cartoon characters, charming soundtracks, and genuinely fun gameplay, got us excited to learn about topics such as math, logic, and science. Sometimes the graphics were a bit cheesy, (or even unsettling!) but, developers generally did their best with what the computers of the time could do, and the finished product was generally pretty good! Besides, we were kids: we were just happy to be playing computer games in school!
There’s one game that really stands out …
The past couple weeks, the Internet’s had a great revival of interest in 1998’s PC edutainment title, Baldi’s Basics in Education and Learning. Personally, I had flashbacks to the game when I stumbled across this totally rad, totally 90’s ad for it while I was browsing nostalgic YouTube content a couple days ago:
Instantly, upon hearing that melodic and authoritative voice, so full of mathematical expertise and love of teaching, and seeing those wholesome and attentive eyes, I was transported back to the 2nd grade, when I played waaaay too much of this game on my dad’s Windows 1998 Dell machine. (I wish I had a picture of that PC.)
The game was fun. Surprisingly fun, considering its graphics that seemed odd to me even at the time. The cheap, kooky music didn’t hold me back from enjoying it! I felt so immediately sucked into the game’s world, from the moment I heard those unforgettable words:
“Oh, hi, welcome to my schoolhouse!”
Baldi’s Basics put a smile on my face, and I credit it with helping me pass many math tests. But, why was it so good? What was so compelling about this 3-D, first-person perspective schoolhouse adventure that I had to keep coming back to it again, and again, and again? (I even just downloaded a copy and played it again, here! Unfortunately, my computer isn’t powerful enough to record usable Let’s Play footage, or I’d upload that for you guys, too. 🙁 )
In my humble opinion, here are the top 10 reasons.
The Top 10 Reasons Why Baldi’s Basics is Awesome:
1. The Graphics
They’re bright and colorful: perfect for kids and adults alike. There’s a great range of diversity across all the characters, from the photo-realistic Arts and Crafts, to the whimsically distorted It’s aBully. You can tell at a glance what every object and character is, perfect for when you’re in a rush to your next virtual lesson. And, it’s all in glorious 3 dimensions, a true delight for the eyes of the 1990’s gamers.
2. The Music
Who could ever forget all the earworms of Baldi’s Basics? From the start menu, to the music when you first meet Baldi, and complete your first notebook of math problems. Catchy, playful, and fun. Just like the gameplay!
3. The Challenge
While it may have been developed by Michah McGonigal rather than the Japanese corporate giant, Baldi’s Basics certainly fits the definition of “Nintendo Hard!” The first few math problems properly ease a young player into the game’s essential tasks, and the difficulty quickly ramps up in a most satisfactory way. Maybe the learning curve is a little too steep for some young students, even today, but personally I remember adapting well to Baldi’s tougher and tougher problems, and the game’s faster-paced later portions!
4. The Level Design
This game was more than just a fun piece of learning software: it was also a place, a place of pixels and of memories that live on in the hearts of all us 90’s babies who enjoyed it in our youth! Baldi’s Schoolhouse, even after all these years, still feels big, vibrant, detailed, and full of exciting possibilities for learning and adventure. From the cavernous but well-supplied cafeteria, to the cheery outdoor-facing windows, and even to those “Faculty Only” rooms, (that we all know we snuck into anyway!) this virtual schoolhouse was a glorious place to explore and learn each time we got a chance to enter it. What could be waiting for us behind the next set of yellow doors?!
5. The Items
Oh man, nostalgia alert! The Bsoda, the principal’s key, the lock, the safety scissors, the quarters! I remember such a great feeling of freedom and adult-like power as I grasped, collected, and used these many magical objects throughout the game. And with a limited inventory player space, the game taught the value of careful choices and planning ahead.
6. The Principal of the Thing
While Baldi was our fun-time, wacky, and diligent teacher, we also needed someone to enforce the rules and keep the schoolhouse running right! Though getting put in detention for running in the halls, or shooting Bsoda at fellow students was often a groan-inducing delay from our learning and fun, we all always understood that the ever-vigilant, cheerfully whistling principal was always looking out for our best interests. For as often as he put us in detention for sneaking into the Faculty Only rooms, he also cleared away those Bullies who blocked our paths and stole our precious quarters! Three cheers for the Principal of the Thing!
This game wasn’t multiplayer, but on my more recent playthrough, it sure felt like it when Playtime was around! Her photo-realistic graphics, memorable voice, and love of physical games help add a real flash of life, color, and youth to a virtual schoolhouse primarily inhabited by adult faculty and sentient brooms. Plus, as a seeing-impaired character, she taught us all the value of respecting and including people with disabilities.
8. Baldi’s Hair
Haha! He wasn’t completely bald! He even has eyebrows!
9. Baldi’s Voice
So silly! So thoughtful! So instructive! So encouraging!
Glorious green-sweater-wearing, ruler-wielding, math-instructing, fun-inducing God of the Virtual Schoolhouse. Truly, he shall reign over all other edutainment software from now until man turns against his brother until man is no more, until the Earth is devoured by the Sun, and until the fabric of reality itself is torn asunder, and its remnants scattered back among the eternal darkness of the void.
Ha ha! 😀
If you haven’t played it since you were a kid, check it out at the link below! It’s free, but you can also pay a contribution to the game’s creator, Micah McGonigal.
(Great game btw, Micah! Thank you!)
Just be sure while you’re playing, to double-check your work! You know how ol’ Baldi gets when you answer math problems incorrectly!