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 image
s 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
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
, and you could make him pick up the other icons
them wherever you wanted.
Gertrude's Secrets was inexplicably addictive. You would have this series of rooms, each of which had a big grid drawn on the floor, most of which had different shapes and sizes. In the central room, in a little box, sat Gertrude. Gertrude was a goose. I always assumed she was supposed to be a symbolic representation of Mother Goose or something, but now i suspect she was just something the designers saw while on an LSD trip. If you picked up Gertrude and put her in any room with a grid, she'd fly off and then return with about sixteen random icons, combinations of four shapes and four colors. The point of the game was to arrange the icons into the grid-- there was always some weird pattern of relative positions of different colors and shapes, and you had to find out what the pattern was. If you dropped an icon in the right box, it would stay there-- otherwise it would get kicked out of the grid. Once the grid was full, i think Gertrude would come back and bring you a prize or something. I can't really remember. I played this game a lot, and found all the secret programmers rooms and everything that you got when you had done a chain of like 50 grids, but it was a long time ago.
The coolest part of the game was an icon editor in this one room. The idea was that you were supposed to be able to customize the icons you were sorting-- they gave you five custom themes (shapes, letters, aliens, etc), and then you could make your own by dragging the shape you wanted to edit into a chamber in the icon editor room, where your man would disappear and be replaced by a pixel-level drawing tool thing. But the thing is, you could drag literally anything into the editor and edit it, including the prizes. You could also drag in Gertrude, but she got kind of pissed off when you tried, and once you were done editing her she'd just flap around for an instant and return to exactly her previous form.