The Dorklyst: 7 of the Most Bizarre Educational Games

By Rachel Rubin / October 5, 2011


Traditionally, kids aren't big fans of institutionalized learning. This dilemma forces educators to come up with innovative methods of educating today's youth. As a result of our technology-ingrained society, they're turning to videogames to help achieve their goal. At first glance, that sounds like an awesome idea. Videogames = Fun. How much could adding "Learning" to that equation mess up the end result? A lot. It could mess it up a lot.

7. Wally Bear and the NO! Gang


Quick question: who are you more likely to believe about the evils of tobacco and other narcotics – your grisly 50-year-old health teacher or a bear in a backwards hat wearing sunglasses? Yeah, I thought so.

Wally Bear and the NO! Gang is what you get when you mix a team of marketing executives, a warped understanding of childhood interests, and a hell of a lot of 90s slang. It's an NES game that was released in the early nineties, the awkward adolescent period of videogames. And like adolescents, the only way you can describe Wally Bear and the NO! Gang is really, really awkward.

The premise of the game is that you're a bear named Wally, who somehow manages to be cool even though his name is Wally. Your uncle (Gary Grizzly, naturally) invites you and your friends to party at his place. You accept his not-at-all creepy offer and head on over. However, obstacles will impede Wally's journey to his Uncle's including, I kid you not, "anthropomorphic animals who want to get him hooked on drugs and jumped into a gang." Luckily, Wally acts as a role model for young children everywhere as he defends himself against peer pressure through the use of cheesy dialogue.

Nonetheless, Gamepro gave Wally Bear a 5/5 rating in its May 1992 issue, which I will assume was the product of a sh*tload of the aforementioned evil drugs.

6. Packy and Marlon


So, you're a privileged humanoid elephant and you've just been sent to sleep-a-way camp. Sweet. You saunter over to the mess hall and stuff your trunk full of food. Unfortunately, it was pretty sugary and now you're wrestling with an ivory hunter named Diabetes. Welcome to a day in the life of Packy and Marlon.

Packy and Marlon is a game for the SNES designed to educate children about diabetes. It is every bit as unintentionally morbid as it sounds. Cartoon elephants aren't supposed to have diabetes – they're supposed to be afraid of germs and have a friend voiced by Rosie O' Donnell.

Our elephant protagonists, Packy and Marlon, are spending their summer at Camp Wa-kee. Much to their horror, rats have raided camp. Food and diabetes supplies are scattered everywhere because rats hate children with medical conditions. The game operates like a platformer with a few extra features. For example, you must regularly check your blood glucose levels and take insulin. You're also treated to sporadic pop-quizzes about the subject matter surrounding diabetes, which I'm sure its target audience (children) really enjoys. You also collect jewels for no discernible reason. Most likely to bribe your evil rat overlords.

5. Food Force


Look out Nintendo, there's a new game developer on the prowl: The United Nations Food Programme. No, really. And it isn't like a reality TV star's failed music career that spiraled into oblivion after one CD -no, this is a legitimate online game with an estimated network of 10 million players. It isn't going to be taking you to war zones and having you let loose on terrorists, though. You come in after the Xbox Live session is over and everyone's signed off.

Welcome to Food Force, the first humanitarian videogame designed to teach children about the realities of hunger in a war zone. Your eight to ten-year-old is charged with directing food aid in the fictitious land of Sheylan, an island struck by civil war. There's a very big possibility we'll see a rise in childhood depression.

In your second mission, you have to design food rations for the people of Sheylan that balance nutritional needs, total cost, and local diets. You can use rice, beans, vegetable oil, sugar, and the tears of the people that have to eat your horrible concoction.

Well, this is the United Nations we're talking about. We don't expect a good game from them. It's not like this is a game starring a beloved videogame character or something.

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