With the recent release of the teaser trailer for the Christopher Robin movie, out Aug. 3, we’re dedicating this throwback to one of the first stories our favourite bear got involved in – Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree. But for this retrospective, we’ll be focusing on a different re-telling of this tale; the animated storybook PC game.
Released in the summer of 1995 for Windows and Mac computers, this game was a collaboration between Media Station Inc. and Disney, in which they aimed to replicate the animated short to a video game. In fact, this game (and many others in the animated storybook series of games), were worked on by animators who had worked on previous Disney properties.
A lot of the production involved composing different music tracks and voice recordings specifically for this game. This is evident in that the voice cast is the same as from the on-going The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh animated series. There are songs from the original short that make their way into this game but they’ve all been re-recorded using the newer voice cast. Despite the changes, it still feels like the cartoon we watched back then.
The game itself has two modes – one where someone can just watch as the narrator tells the story, without any interaction from the player, just like a movie and the second mode, called “play and read.” This mode has always been my favourite. While the scene is read to the player, it then stops on that scene. At that point, the player can poke around at almost everything on the screen. It can be a honey pot, where some bees may fly out of or an alarm clock, which can actually startle a character on-screen. Some of these interactions are funny, some are odd and others are out-ofplace at times. For example, clicking on a hairbrush and comb will animate them to start dancing. It’s weird, but this was one of the simple joys of this game, finding every little thing that the player can interact with.
There are also little segments outside of the scene that can be found in the corners, indicated by music sheets or a toy box. The music sheets will take the player to a brief musical segment, where a song will play from the corresponding scene. For example, once the story gets to the portion where Pooh tries getting to the bees honey with a balloon, the “I’m a Little Black Raincloud” song will play. These songs will have subtitles but still incorporate images of the shorts in the background. Then there’s the toy box segments, which are a couple of fun little mini-games. One involves helping Rabbit clean up the house in a game of matching objects to silhouettes, another has Roo catching butterflies. They’re really simple games that any kid can get ahold of.
All of these things, from the story segments to the minigames, are meant to be a learning experience for kids. I remember spending an hour or so trying to play this game back when I was a kid. That said, it’s going to be a hard time to find these games now, considering they were only released physically and CD-ROMs for this game are so rare. Games like these can only be installed with a disc in the drive, so most third-party installers won’t work. It doesn’t help that Media Station Inc. dissolved back in 2004, so any chance of the source code for this game being available for porting is lost. A real shame, considering that with all of the interactive elements, it would have made for a great game for young kids to play on mobile devices. But if you’re feeling nostalgic for our silly old bear, there are play-throughs of the game on YouTube that can give just about the same experience.
– Trumann Tu