Edutainment games were huge in the ’90s, but one title in particular was way too scary for its target audience: Jump Start 4th Grade: Haunted Island.
The 90s were a great era for educational PC games, with Jump start being one of the major franchises of the time. Whether for school or for personal use, Jump start the games were full of fun and educational activities and populated with colorful characters that helped the player. It was a fun, bright and colorful way for children to learn new concepts appropriate to their age.
However, the Jump start The library has one exception to this standard: JumpStart Grade 4: Haunted Island. Released in 1996 and reissued the next two years, Haunted island used the same basic formula as Jump start games for grades three through six did, with an underlying story to keep players coming back. In this case, the story presented a lighter, softer version of survival horror.
In Haunted island, the players are a fourth grader who missed a day of school. However, they soon learn that the absence was for the best, as the substitute teacher, Mrs. Grunkle, was actually a witch who turned the other students into monsters and took them to the titular Haunted Island. To make them retreat, players must remind their classmates of their humanity by collecting items that belonged to each of them. They will also need to find 25 Skeleton Keys and Mrs. Grunkle’s magic wand to confront him. It requires playing various mini-games that test the player’s knowledge of topics like math, English, and history.
Haunted islandthe aesthetic of has been compared to the work of Tim Burton, and it seems to draw inspiration from The nightmare before Christmas. For example, Mrs. Grunkle’s house looks a lot like Jack Skellington’s, and the island is monochrome with pops of color at the points of interest. It’s also populated with spooky characters and, at first glance, doesn’t seem more trivial than previous games.
Once you start playing, However, it becomes clear that Haunted Island is more spooky than charming. The monochromatic art makes it easy to get lost as you wander the labyrinthine island and even more labyrinthine maze – a place to go if the candle representing your health goes out. The music adds to the tension as you wander through this world full of tortured faces visible in the bark of trees and the tormented echoes of characters from the previous ones. Jump start Games. At the start of the game, there is even an abandoned version of the town of JumpStart Pre-K.
The characters that players encounter in Haunted island add to the lingering terror. Madame Pomreeda may be helpful, but that doesn’t make her any less terrifying. Flap, who helps you get your classmates back, is one of Ms. Grunkle’s previous victims according to additional documents. Plus, Ms. Grunkle doesn’t hesitate to pounce on you at any time to remind you that you can only progress because she enjoys watching you squirm.
Yet of all the characters who have terrorized gamers, Repsac is the most feared. Like Mrs. Grunkle, he can find you anywhere, including the Maze. However, unlike Ms. Grunkle, Repsac poses puzzles that, if unsuccessful, will cause the player to lose health. If you lose too much, the player will be sent to the maze, where they will have to find the health fountain to restore their candle and exit. The game’s re-releases included a map to teleport to locations, which many players used just to avoid Repsac.
JumpStart Grade 4: Haunted Island It didn’t just have a spooky aesthetic – it was basically a horror game. With a first-person perspective, dim lighting, a dreary environment, and a villain who is essentially a fae eldritch horror tormenting them for fun, this is essentially a non-violent, non-violent horror game. gore that wouldn’t look too out of place next to some resident Evil securities. The use of then new 3D art only added to the off-putting feel of the game.
Maybe that’s why the game is so hard to find these days. Other than emulators or CD-ROM copies from the 90s, the game is no longer available. After two reissues which considerably reduced the difficulty, Haunted island has been removed from the JumpStart list and replaced with Sapphire falls – probably the result of negative comments from parents of terrified children. While this makes sense given that the game’s target audience was made up of kids between the ages of eight and ten, it still seems a shame that a title that was many ’90s kids’ first experience with survival games and horror be lost in time.
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