Retro Review: I.M. Meen (PC DOS)

Review-I-M-Meen-PC-DOSBelieve it or not, I.M. Meen was more than just material for YouTube Poop mash-up videos. Believe it or not, it was a GAME! An educational game, at that, with the intention of making children learn about proper spelling and grammar. It was developed by Animation Magic and published by Simon and Schuster Interactive in 1995, and was intended to be released on the Sega CD. When an educational game fails to educate, then something is horribly wrong, as is the case here.

Ignatius Mortimer Meen is a dastardly librarian and is the most powerful magician in the world. Since he hates children who learn, he kidnaps them and traps them inside a magic book (not with a white van, mind you), which contains his evil magical labyrinth that is guarded by his nasty guardians. However, Gnorris, an ugly gnome, decides to unlock your cell, telling you to free the other children and correct all the mistakes in the scrolls. Why Meen cannot just blast the kids into dust than appear and taunt them every now and again during frequent cut-scenes is a mystery. Still, the big bad guy does have quite a memorable, and slightly disturbing, voice.

Graphically, everything looks pretty damn good for its time, with nice textures of scary faces and dungeon walls and some nifty-looking enemies, ranging from dwarves, floating clubs and even Grim Reapers who are no match for the power of two abnormally tough kids. Did you know the animators of the notoriously bad Legend of Zelda games for the CD-i also animated this game's cut-scenes as well? They don't look too bad here, compared to the frightfully disturbing characters in the latter, and there doesn't seem to be any mistakes or errors like people abruptly changing colour. Accompanying it all is a half-decent soundtrack, which is nothing much to be considered memorable by today's standards, although it can make areas seem slightly more tense wh en not in combat.


Moving on, the game-play is a mix of Wolfenstein-3D-esque maze-plundering with some grammar correcting thrown into the mix. On the one hand, players can hold up to nine items, ranging from exploding fruit, power potions to replenish stamina, or more powerful weapons that produce stock sounds. Hey, at least it comes with a map. Although offering 36 levels and nine different locations, it does get rather repetitive and dull after a while. Then again, it's aimed at children, so they wouldn't have minded too much, right? Four bosses await as well, which aren't too difficult. I.M. Meen himself can only be stunned, then defeated by correcting the mistakes in a special scroll that he drops.

The biggest gripe with the game has to be the fact that it lacks any variety in teaching kids to use proper grammar. To open doors to progress, players must access the scroll and correct all mistakes. Some notes from Gnorris are available, too. Why couldn't the creators had, for instance, added some multiple-answer questions or turned it into a slightly more complex puzzle game with a looming timer every now and again? Merely telling young people to correct the mistakes after spoon-feeding them the answers is not the most effective method of teaching.

As a dated DOS game, I.M. Meen looks and plays fairly well, although its attempt to educate children with grammar seemed to be rather lacking. Considering the dungeon-crawling game-play that can become rather repetitive and boring by today's standards, it's best off left in the labyrinth. Repetitive game-play and a lack of variety with teaching grammar means that, since kids don't seem to play educational games these days, I.M. Meen is best left as part of online parody videos. But then again, to quote that dastardly librarian, I'm sure it'll be fun to play..."IN A HUNDRED YEARS!”

I.M. Meen (PC DOS) Gameplay Video

Last Updated ( 23 March 2015 )  

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