10. The Carmen Sandiego games
Source: The Learning Company
Reading is, as they say, fundamental. In this case, however, the accent isn't on the "fun." It's on the "mental."
Once again, you take on the role of a super slick detective, in this case a faceless camera-wielding dick who looks a hip '80s reimagining of the Grim Reaper, trapped in a darkened school to collect reading clues to learn the whereabouts of the evil "Master of Mischief," who looks like a cross between Albert Einstein and a young and slightly less insane Bob Dornan. He's hidden himself in a series of equally insane robots with creepy grins that appear to be the kind of thing an evil janitor would construct if he had a higher pay scale and even way more time on his hands.
8. Team Xtreme: Operation Weather Disaster
There aren't a lot of kids' educational games that feature some crazy madman trying to destroy the world who can only be stopped if someone understands basic algebraic symbols or the proper use of a "gerund." That's probably because none of them could possibly top the over-the-top evil of the villain in his weather science edutainment title.
The player is part of an elite squadron of weather warriors who band together to stop "The Evil Weatherman," a former TV weather guy who can control the weather to fit his diabolic forecasts. The entire game features this mad morning show genius dispatching the most destructive weather conditions in the most desolate looking places that already look like they've been hit by something tropical before the team has had a chance to stop him. It's as if the developers hired a coked-up Harlan Ellison to find a way to teach kids about the movement of cold fronts.
7. The Oregon Trail
Source: Brøderbund Software
One of the most important lessons than any history teacher or professor can pass on to their students is brutal history. The days of yore weren't the "good old days." They were filled with violence, misery, starvation, pestilence, and other mistakes that mankind still hasn't learned because we keep falling asleep in history class.
This classic childhood staple of the classroom tries to convey that same idea with its unique gameplay, putting the player in the dusty boots of a 1840s father trying to survive the rough 2,000-mile road to all points west and a new life. Not only does the game throw every bad possible scenario at you to put the conditions in the proper context, but anyone of you can die at any time from any reason, making it the Hostel of kids learning games. But for some reason, the design and look of the game comes off as cheery and almost colorful, like the wall of a nursery school playroom, so death and despair are almost constantly following you but the shiny veneer of an evil death clown constantly looms around you as well.
6. Rex Ronan: Experimental Surgeon
Just about any of the "Of the Dead" games aren't geared to be directly for children, but given the fact that this is technically a typing tutor, it's hard to see adults gearing up for a long night of zombie killing and improving their skills for their resume.
This typing version of the long-running zombie-killing series has you racing to type long phrases before the teeth of the undead sink into your warm flesh. It's basically a remake of the second game but with "words per minute" instead of "bullets per brains." It could have been a lot sweeter if the big final boss you had to fight was a pus-dripping, flesh-craving mutation of Mavis Beacon.
3. Captain Novolin
Source: Raya Systems
There are very few things in this world that can't somehow be brought together. Diabetes and platform shooters isn't one of them.
This SNES title gives you control of the title character who must save the mayor from a group of mutated junk food while maintaining his diabetes so he doesn't go into shock. So not only are you blasting away fat cells and evil ice cream cones, but you also have to monitor your own blood sugar levels or risk certain death. The game even opens with a warning screen that players shouldn't try to mimic the character's actions because upping your insulin dosage won't give you super powers, unless you consider a loss of bowel control and having an irregular heartbeat "super."
2. Adventures in Sex City
Sex education is one of those topics that has suffered some serious lagging in our educational system and we have the high STD and teen pregnancy rates to prove it. Other countries like England don't seem to be suffering as much because games like this one will turn you into a celibate monk.
The Middlesex-London Health Unit tried to teach their young ones about the ways of the horizontal limbo with this web game by turning it into a comic book adventure where they can play as characters like (and I'm quoting) "Princess Vagina" and "Captain Condom" who must defeat the evil "Sperminator" with their vast knowledge of sexual practices and statistical analysis. As Dr. Sigmund Freud once said, "Sometimes a giant mutant human with willies for arms is just a giant mutant human with willies for arms."
1. Barney's Hide & Seek Game
Everyone in a 100-mile radius of children and a conscious memory remembers the giant purple dinosaur that almost drove humanity into a pop culture coma. His game would have accomplished his evil goal if it had sold better.
You control the giant purple menace as he hunts for small children who are hiding and cowering in fear for their very existence, or at least that's what it feels like since every corner of this super cheery Sega Genesis feels like a creation of a very ironic Tim Burton production. At one point, he actually picks up and hugs cute animals that literally look like they're in fear of their already short lives. It's the only video game in existence that could actually be less disturbing with the addition of bloody pixels and high caliber weapons.