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  • Feels weird to let another Edutainment Month pass by without covering this one,

  • so let's get to it!

  • This is Castle of Dr. Brain, released in 1991 by Sierra On-Line for multiple home computer

  • platforms of varying popularity.

  • The one we'll be looking at today though is the highly successful VGA version for MS-DOS

  • PCs, here courtesy of a generous LGR viewer named Shawn.

  • And man if that isn't the zaniest, brainiest castle I've ever seen!

  • Shame it's covered up by so many stickers and logos, but I suppose that was a required

  • sacrifice to the gods of marketing.

  • After all, this was during Sierra's early 90s push for multimedia PC gaming dominance,

  • with the majority of their new releases boasting 256-color graphics and impressive sound capabilities.

  • They were all about makin' those third party deals, like this shiny Media Vision promo

  • advertising a $20 rebate with the purchase of one of their Pro Audio Spectrum sound cards.

  • Then inside the box there's this, quote, “Fantastic Book of Logic Puzzles,”

  • whatever that was.

  • Seriously, couldn't tell ya cuz inside the box I found precisely zero books of puzzling logic.

  • However, I did find this note from Shawn, along with the original receipt from 1992!

  • Someone had a field day at Electronics Boutique, spending $95.53 on Castle of Dr. Brain, the

  • May 1992 issue of Nintendo Power Magazine, along with what I'm assuming are the NES

  • versions of The Little Mermaid

  • and Darkwing Duck. Nice.

  • There's a bunch more in here though, including the original 5.25” floppy disks for the

  • game, along with a trio of 3.5” backups, always a wise move.

  • There are also these yellow cards for registering the game and letting you know there's a

  • 16-color EGA version available in case you need to downgrade.

  • Then you get this pair of ads, both for the aforementioned Pro Audio Spectrum card and

  • also for the classic Prodigy dial-up service.

  • Followed by another set of ads in the form of a 1991 Sierra product catalog featuring

  • tons of games, teasers, order forms, and of course, Ken Williams's mustache.

  • And finally there's the manual, or manuals, following the Sierra practice of the time

  • where they included a generic technical manual alongside a booklet tailor-made to the game itself.

  • I really like these funky edges cut into the pages on this one too,

  • not something I've seen very often.

  • Certainly helps make sure that it stands out from other documentation, which is good being

  • that this is one of those Sierra titles that requires you to check this page during gameplay

  • to decipher random codes.

  • Some say copy protection, others say fun mixed-media puzzle, I say let's just get on with it

  • and play the dang game!

  • Castle of Dr. Brain suitably enough begins with the castle of Doctor Brain.

  • It's a uniquely-equipped fortification sitting atop a giant stone head, adorned with all

  • manner of moving parts and haphazard weirdness.

  • After the intro animations do their thing, you cross the bridge and arrive at the front

  • door, where the pointing, clicking, and puzzle-solving begins immediately.

  • You play a nameless, faceless individual, who after seeing a job offer in the local

  • newspaper, is here to apply for the position of assistant to the famous Dr. Brain.

  • But first, you'll need to make your way inside by matching the sequence of colors

  • and tones emanating from this stone arch doorway.

  • [doorbell] [repeating musical tones] Match the pattern and step inside the castle, with

  • this first room existing almost entirely to produce puns.

  • This is a game designed by Corey Cole, after all, co-designer of the pun-tastic Quest For Glory.

  • So Dr. Brain is not only built on the same SCI engine foundation as the Quest For Glory

  • series, but it's built on the same foundation of never-ending puns as well.

  • Not to mention jokes like this one referencing Sierra's Mixed Up Fairy Tales.

  • Anyway, your goal is to make it to through the castle by solving all of the puzzles among

  • the categories of mathematics, pattern recognition, language, logic, timeliness, programming,

  • andcosmic consciousness,” aka astronomy.

  • There are three main difficulty levels on offer, but no matter what, the underlying

  • puzzles remain the same.

  • First is the math marvel puzzle, requiring you to come up with five solutions from a

  • scrambled set of numbers and a mathematical operator in order to form true statements.

  • Next is the magic square puzzle, a 4x4 grid that needs the correct numbers dropped in

  • place to create a formation where the sum of each row, column, and diagonal add up to

  • the same number.

  • And the third puzzle is a sliding tile puzzle, where you slide tiles around in a puzzle.

  • And on this easier difficulty setting, that means putting the numbers in proper order

  • from one to eight, beginning at the top left.

  • Oh and it's worth mentioning that the better you do at each puzzle, the more coins you'll

  • earn, which can be spent on future puzzles to either solve one section or to receive

  • a hint as to how to complete it.

  • After you've solved this initial trifecta of tantalizing intelligence testers, it's

  • time to decipher the exit door code using the numbers you received and that all-important

  • page in the manual.

  • And now it's time for a test of timeliness with the clock room here, where you're immediately

  • hit with a 60 second timer and a bunch of awful noise.

  • -”You now have 60 seconds!” [clock ticking, bird tweeting]

  • First you'll need to find

  • a way to shut off all the obnoxious sound effects, then you'll have to solve a couple

  • of puzzles involving time.

  • The hourglass puzzle is the first one, where you've got two hourglasses that need to

  • be flipped over correctly so that exactly 40 seconds have passed.

  • Then you have a punch card puzzle that makes you enter the punch cards at exact times,

  • accomplished by manipulating the time clock to match the next time of the punch card sequence.

  • Finally you're ready to move to the next floor so it's onto the first elevator, and you

  • know what, screw these things.

  • Not like, elevators in general.

  • Real life elevators are nice, and I make my daily offerings to Elisha Otis just like everyone else.

  • But no, screw these elevators in particular, because they simply exist to pad out the game

  • with confusing pseudo-3D mazes.

  • Because those.

  • Are everyone's.

  • Favorite thing.

  • Yeah, no.

  • Once you've made your way through that nonsense,

  • it's onto the next floor containing the hall of logic.

  • And really, you get the idea by now.

  • Just like the first floor, this one requires you to solve three puzzles before moving onto

  • the next room.

  • Except here they're all focused on computer logic and programming.

  • Like here where you complete a circuit using a diode, capacitor, coil, battery, and a switch.

  • And here where you've gotta figure out the binary code for the supplied numbers, a process

  • that works just like entering binary using the switches on the front panel of an Altair 8800.

  • And there's also a robot maze that's a whole lot more interesting than the elevator

  • mazes, thank goodness.

  • The robot moves forward on its own and the only way to interact with it is to manipulate

  • these dots to make the robot either continue straight or turn right.

  • Then you can unlock the door at the end of the hall,

  • this time by matching punchlines with jokes.

  • Yep, this entire puzzle basically exists to justify Corey Cole's collection of robot puns.

  • Respect.

  • The final bit on this floor is the robotics room, with a maze encased in glass and a computer

  • where you can program robots using punch cards.

  • I really appreciate how old Dr. Brain's computer systems are, even for 1991.

  • Learning binary logic and entering basic code line by line is not exactly the most relevant

  • knowledge these days, but I can see it helping kids

  • understand lower level programming a little better.

  • And this puzzle in particular requires some tasty logical deduction indeed, being a robotic

  • evolution of the old three guards riddle.

  • You know, in order to proceed there are three doors and three guards.

  • One always lies, one always tells the truth, and one is unreliable.

  • But here you've got three robot heads with three attachments, and each head can be programmed

  • to navigate the maze in order to retrieve three objects.

  • It's tricky stuff, and rather cumbersome with the going back and forth programming

  • punch cards, but so long as you follow the logic of the robot heads it's not too bad.

  • Especially compared to what you get after this: another elevator maze, this one more

  • irksome than the last because of course.

  • Oh well, onto the next floor and another hallway that looks pretty much like the last two,

  • except here you've got a rubber tree to click on.

  • Heh, Secret of Monkey Island much?

  • So yeah this floor consists of word-related puzzles,

  • like this one where it's a straight-up word search.

  • I definitely used a number of my saved-up hint coins here since you're not provided

  • a list of the words themselves.

  • They do at least stick to a clear theme of traditional games and sports, so that helps too.

  • Next up is an acrostic puzzle, where you take those words from the word search and place

  • them horizontally so that it spells out "Parlor Games"

  • in the blue squares straight down the middle.

  • And then you've got a classic tangram puzzle,

  • which I've always rather enjoyed for some reason.

  • The wordenteris chopped up and scattered among these red pieces, and all you've gotta

  • do is put it back together again by rotating the pieces and dragging them into place.

  • After this is another simple puzzle room, this time being a good ol' jigsaw puzzle.

  • Click the chest in the middle of the room and you'll get a piece, with each correctly-placed

  • piece signaled through sound effects.

  • Good clean fun.

  • Unlike the dungeon [chuckles]

  • Yeah the deeper you go into the castle, the more you start to wonder if Dr. Brain is really

  • the best choice for your boss.

  • Someone was using his head as a dartboard, after all.

  • There's a gallows ready for hangin' folks over there.

  • Not to mention a human skull being used a flower pot, but let's just ignore all that.

  • Cuz we've got a hangman to address, precisely how one would expect.

  • Try to guess the word or phrase letter by letter before the hangman is hung.

  • Oh what in the world, the hangman was alive?!

  • Jeez Dr. Brain, that's a bit much!

  • Anyway, next is a cryptogram puzzle on the TV on the wall, which is yet another familiar

  • puzzle if you've played any number of other puzzle game compilations.

  • The mastermind game is also available, another staple of puzzle game collections like this.

  • You know how it is, figure out the combination of symbols using logic logic logic.

  • Intriguingly though, I believe this is the only puzzle in the game that is technically

  • optional, you don't need to finish it at all.

  • But you are rewarded with two handy items if you do, so I did.

  • Right, another room cleared, and I bet you'll never guess what's next.

  • -“Another maze?” Yep!

  • -“I knew it!”

  • And this one is even larger, more complex, and bothersome to navigate.

  • I don't know if I'm adequately getting across how much I dislike these, here, just

  • look at this list of commands to navigate this one.

  • Yeah, what in the--why, how was this a good idea.

  • Thank you to whoever invented walkthroughs.

  • So with that, we've reached the final puzzle room, the planetarium.

  • And yeah, this is barely a puzzle, it's more of, an activity room, I guess.

  • First you'll have to point out four constellations among the stars, and all you do is click them

  • until the lines form together and it tells you you've found them.

  • There's also the alien homeworld game, a straightforward memory matching game with

  • the slight twist of having to match aliens with their planet.

  • Not the uh, most factually educational part of the game, that's for sure.

  • The solar system puzzle at least represents reality a bit more, though again it's not

  • so much of a puzzle as it is a simple activity.

  • Click the name of each planet and match it to the planet itself in orbit, that's it.

  • If anything it's fun to see Pluto as a planet again.

  • Aw look at the little guy.

  • And then you finally reach Dr. Brain's office, at long last.

  • But not too long of a last because it only takes

  • about an hour and forty-five minutes to get here.

  • So yeah, at this point you'd think you'd be meeting Dr. Brain and signing employment

  • paperwork, but nope!

  • There's no one in sight, the place is kind of a dump, and the phone is ringing off the

  • hook with debt collectors.

  • Again, all the red flags and warning signs, an astute individual would get out while you can.

  • But that's not you, so you continue to solve the final puzzles.

  • There's a list of job skills that you need to complete, accomplished by match the skill

  • with the picture representing the skill.

  • And then the very last thing to do is find a way through the bookshelf, and this is where

  • you'll be glad you collected those items from the mastermind game.

  • Follow the directions and there ya go!

  • Dr. Brain speaks from off-screen and tells you that you've got the job as his new lab assistant.

  • You're granted a very quick peek at the man himself before he enters some kind of

  • monstrous contraption and appears on-screen, letting you know your total score and proceeding

  • to rattle off all the names of the developers behind the game.

  • And yep, that's it!

  • Other than a short teaser for the next game, Island of Dr. Brain, this is all you get.

  • Heh, to be honest, it kinda feels like they ran out of ideas towards the end of the game,

  • padding it out with things like jigsaw puzzles, simplistic word games, areas where you don't

  • really solve any puzzles at all, and of course, needlessly annoying mazes.

  • Still, for a kids edutainment puzzle compilation from 1991, this is pretty enjoyable stuff.

  • And a good number of its puzzles are still mentally taxing as an adult, especially if

  • you crank up the difficulty setting.

  • I can see why it did so well with critics and fans alike back in '91, and it seems

  • to hold a special place in the hearts of those that played it as a kid.

  • Lovely graphics, great music, lots of puns, it's classic Sierra, and if that's your

  • preferred flavor of retro PC gaming edutainment then you can't really go wrong here.

  • [Dr. Brain soundtrack plays]

  • And that's another LGR Edutainment Month complete.

  • Though the videos themselves never stop, with new videos each week on LGR all year round.

  • Stick around for those or check out these existing videos, but either way, thank you

  • very much for watching!

Feels weird to let another Edutainment Month pass by without covering this one,

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脳内博士の城は理不尽な求人募集 (Castle of Dr. Brain is An Unreasonable Job Application)

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    林宜悉 に公開 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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