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This was one of a series of children's games The Learning Company made in the 80's for the Apple // that were all based on the same basic game engine. All of them are available on the internet as emulator-ready disk images if you know where to look. The engine in question consisted of a bunch of screen-sized rooms. Each room was basically just a grid of icons, most of which were empty and black and represented floor, most of the rest of which were full of a single color and represented wall, and which all together made this kind of orthographic-overhead-perspective 2d world you could move around freely in any direction in. You had a little man icon (it was always the same man..) walking around that you controlled with the keyboard or joystick, and you could make him pick up the other icons and drop them wherever you wanted.

Rocky's Boots was crazy-- it basically taught you to build circuit logic diagrams. You didn't know that was what you were doing, of course-- you just thought you were playing some weird game. But it was circuit logic diagrams. You'd have your little guy walk around and pick up and drop and attach together bits of wire, and other things. And the other things, as it turns out, were all circuitry parts-- AND, OR, XOR and NOT gates, splitters, flip-flops.. and they really did act the way they act in real-life circuits. I think the Learning Company was trying to subvert our little seven-year-old minds and turn us all into electrical engineers, or something.. it's hard to tell.

The heart of the game, after you spent a LONG time just figuring out how to work the gates and stuff, was this room where you had three sensors and a boot. A line of shapes would go by. Each individual stage had a different line of shapes, a different configuration of sensors, and a different category of things you were supposed to kick.

The simpler stages would be something like this: You have a number of shapes going by. Your rule is "circular, but not blue". You have a sensor that gives off current when something blue goes by, one that gives off electricity when something circular goes by, and one that gives off electricity when something square goes by. So you would hook up the boot to an AND gate attached at one end to the circle sensor, and attached at the other end to a NOT gate attached to the blue sensor. You'd tell the shapes to run, and as each one that was circular AND NOT blue went by, current would get to the boot, causing it to kick. Once all the shapes had gone by, since you had kicked everything you were supposed to and successfully completed the stage, Rocky the Raccoon would come out and do a trippy little dance for you. Not very difficult, but that was just a simple stage. The later stages required you to think out timers and latency issues and all kinds of other trippy stuff.

The Learning Company later released a game which used the same ideas but in a much more intricate, interesting way; see Robot Odyssey.

I was thoroughly addicted to this game, and would play it for hours on my Apple II plus when I was a kid. I knew that I was building logic circuits, being a computer geek. I eventually solved all the puzzles in Rocky's Challenge, and discovered lots of fun little quirks in the game.

Here are some of the quirks that I discovered:
  • If you pick up Rocky while he's dancing, and hold onto him, he will find himself unable to disappear again. You can drop him and he will remain in the room with you as long as you want.
  • You can hook the output of a circuit up to the inputs that let you select which game you want to play in Rocky's Challenge. It was fun to try to hook these inputs up to a delay circuit and then start up the circuit, run up to the room where the game resides, and watch it change before your eyes.
  • There is a room in the game where you can design your own puzzle. It was labelled "Make your own". When you select the input that chooses Make your Own, the door to the building area opens and you can go through. Of course, enterprising hackers like myself can hook up some delay circuitry to the an input above Make your Own. We activate it, choose make your own and walk into the building area, and get locked in. Little point to it, but hilarious in any case.
  • In "3. Logic Gates", there is an alligator. You can construct fun and interesting machines to bop the alligator. He will eat you if you let him. If you pick him up, you can take him out of his room and carry him all over the place. He will snap back if you let him go, though.
  • If you connect wires to an input on a wall, such as the one used to select games in rocky's challenge, or the one that's used to start the game, and you try to pick up the wires, you can move them around, but they quickly fall out of your grasp. They stay where you drop them, though, and are, apparently, still connected, as if you turn on the input the current will still flow to the wall jack.

That's all I can remember. If anyone else has fun memories of this game, post them!

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