Smarty Nicholson Associates 1996

In the 1990s, Theresa Duncan defied industry norms by creating lyrical CD-ROM adventures based on young girls' everyday experiences. All three of Duncan's works were markedly different from most of the "games for girls" of the time. Instead of dating or dress-up, they encouraged players to freely explore fantastical, richly textured worlds. After the acclaimed Chop Suey, this second game has Smarty off to visit her Aunt Olive for the summer, where she'll host a spelling radio show, eat at the Pancake Hut, and visit a mysterious dime store. The game can be switched between daytime and nighttime as users play; each scene is rendered differently in the light and the dark. It's for slightly more sophisticated pre-high school girls. The charmingly naive drawings and overripe prose are laden with a hip adult's nostalgia and a sassy love of eccentricity. She can buy ice cream from the ''flaky Sno Kone man'' who drives by the house, stow her books inside a garden shed and explore the house of Percy and Polly who keep Christmas decorations up all year long. The youngest child is likely to be amused by dogs and cats behaving like humans, sitting at tables and booths at a ''Smarty'' eatery called the Pancake Hut. And parents will get a kick out of what can be played on the jukebox - three bizarre little ditties (''Pancake Mountain,'' ''Pancake Boy'' and ''Runaway Pancakes'') composed and performed by Brendan Canty, drummer for punk band Fugazi. Mimi's random adventures take her from Aunt Rose's house to the Pix theater (showing snippets of ancient cartoons), to Our Lady of Impossible Sorrows parochial school (where she acts in a play), to the Dollar Dream discount emporium and a hardware store. A narrator reads aloud for beginning readers the text that appears on screen when the user moves from place to place on the map. Learning games are apt to pop up anywhere. In all, there are a couple dozen activities. Some are hidden so cleverly it'll take days of play to find them. In 2015, a Kickstarter was successfully supported to preserve "The Theresa Duncan CD-ROMs" and marks the first time server-side emulation has been used on a large scale to provide access to digital artwork.
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