I.M. Meen is pretty mean. He has a special magic book that zaps children into his monster maze if they dare to take a peek. He doesn't like goody-goody children who read, and good grammar isn't one his favourite things. Perhaps because he's very bad at it. Hence, bad grammar is the secret to his equally bad magic. Correct his grammar and you begin to unravel his evil.
In this game there is a choice of two characters, Scott or Katie, to take adventuring in I.M. Meen's monster labyrinth. And this labyrinth is a monster in more ways than one. Not only is it overflowing with monsters: giants, gargoyles, lizard men, spiders, etc., but it is of monstrous proportions. There are thirty-six levels of twisting passageways, sprinkled with buttons and secret doors hiding secret rooms and tunnels.
The object of the game is to search the labyrinth level by level, and free the children who have been captured by I.M. Meen (The Boss!) Their cells are hidden behind magic scrolls which contain a message or a piece of I.M. Meen's masterful prose. Correcting the grammar will open the cell and allow the captive to fly away. Finally, on the last level, The Boss himself awaits, and here you, literally, get the chance to 'throw the book at him', to put him smartly back in his place.
However, there's a long, long way to go before the end. And lots of monsters to dispense with, including a 'Special Pet' at the end of each section who is extra meenish. But help is at hand via the guidance of Gnorris the Gnome who gives prior warning when you reach the level of these demons, and tells you to keep an eye out for special weapons. Added to this, some of the scrolls give hints to help locate secret places and useful items.
There's a lot of fighting in this game, but no conventional weapons. The weapons you will find strewn about the tunnels include Explode-O-Fruit and Magic Staffs, Mallets, and Wands, and there are also Potions and Stealth Sneakers to top up your agility or your health. Some of the monsters just disappear in a flash when they are 'killed', some turn to stone, whilst others simply kick up their legs and play dead. There isn't a spot of blood to be seen.
I.M. Meen is a simplified roleplaying game for children, with an educational twist, and the game controls are very easy to use. Everything is point-and-click. Click on an item to pick it up, or on a scroll to read it, and the same goes for fighting monsters and movement, which is full 360 degree scrolling. Below the game screen there is a menu bar for such options as saving and restoring (6 slots) and accessing the map. There is also a small inventory and the 'action' window can be re-sized to optimise game speed.
As well as a choice of gender this game provides three difficulty levels for both the combat and the educational component. This latter component, I thought was very good and consists of short pieces of writing which need to be corrected. Each of these 'puzzles' revolves around a theme, for instance, early in the game the object is to use full-stops (periods) appropriately, or to capitalise proper nouns. Later other exercises include using commas, quotation marks, verb tenses, apostrophes, as well as sorting out homonyms. There is some help on hand, too, in each puzzle screen in the form of a book explaining the basics of that particular exercise.
This is a very entertaining game. Lots of fun for the young, intrepid adventurer, with a bit of learning thrown in. It will occupy younger players for hours and hours as they make their way from dungeon to dungeon, but it is combat based, so you do wreak a lot of havoc. As I know some parents are concerned about this, I found myself wishing that the magic weapons simply whisked the various monsters back to their own 'lands' rather than dealing fatal blows. But enough moralising, I thoroughly enjoy roleplaying games and welcome the idea of children being introduced to the genre, it's just a pity that some kids might miss out because of this aspect.
Copyright © Rosemary Young 1997.
All rights reserved.
486/25 MHz or better, DOS 5.0 or better, 4MB RAM or more, 256 color VGA board and color monitor. Double speed CD-ROM, Hard drive, Microsoft compatible mouse, Sound card.