Midnight Rescue! is an educational computer game, for children ages 7 to 14, developed by The Learning Company and Sculptured Software in 1989.
By 1989 The Learning Company had already established several successful educational game franchises such as the Reader Rabbit series and the Carmen Sandiego series.
Midnight Rescue! was the first entry in the Super Solvers series of critical thinking and reading comprehension games.
The main focus of Midnight Rescue! is deductive reasoning, as to discover which robot is the Master of Mischief you must deduce the answer from facts and clues you find in the game.
The original release of Midnight Rescue! was targeted at 7 to 14 year old children, though when Midnight Rescue! was re-released in 1995 the box displayed "ages 7 - 10".
All of the games in the Super Solvers take place in a fictional location named Shady Glen. Midnight Rescue! takes place at the Shady Glen School.
According to the large billboard outside of the school, which you automatically approach moments after starting the game:
The Master of Mischief, Morty Maxwell, wants to make Shady Glen School disappear by midnight. His plan is to use disappearing paint.
He has turned five paint brushes into robots and they are now his helpers.
To avoid being caught, the Master of Mischief is hiding in one of the robots.
You can save the school if you figure out which robot is really the Master of Mischief before midnight.
The backside of the Midnight Rescue! box also has an explanation of the story:
Morty is up to his old tricks again and the Shady Glen School is the target of his outlandish plot.
Armed with invisible paint and five paintbrush robots, he's trying to erase the school. And you only have until midnight to stop him.
Super Solvers will need to read for clues and collect evidence to determine which of the robots is really the Master of Mischief in disguise.
So brush up on your reading and thinking skills to outsmart Morty and make sure he's the one who does the disappearing!
Though this version does not wish the player good luck. That makes me sad.
The Super Solver
A mysterious individual with no name other than, "The Super Solver". He is the only playable character in the Super Solver series.
The Super Solver wears a puffy cyan blue jacket with the collar popped, a red baseball cap and yellow shorts. His face is never visible in any of the games.
The Super Solver's movement is more of a strut than a walk. He also does a front flip when he jumps and breakdances when you win the game.
This was all done with the intention of making the Super Solver seem hip and cool to the youth of 1989.
The Master of Mischief / Morty Maxwell
The antagonist of both the Super Solvers and Super Seekers series, though he is only every referred to as "The Master of Mischief, Morty Maxwell" in Midnight Rescue!
Throughout the rest of the Super Solvers series he is only called Morty Maxwell. Conversely, in the Super Seeker series he is only called the Master of Mischief.
Why? who knows! You'll have to figure that one out yourself.
Physically, Morty Maxwell is a squat fellow with wild brown hair. He wears a white lab coat and a large, red and yellow, polka dot bow tie.
These paint-brush derived robots are found in the rooms and hallways of the Shady Glen school and appear out of nowhere at random.
- Buffo - A yellow robot with a rotary buffing brush as his base.
- Lectro - A green one-wheeled robot with paste brushes on either side of his frame.
- Pogo - A cyan robot that looks like an umbrella with a paintbrush for a handle.
- Rollo - A red robot designed after a paint roller.
- Turbo - A silver robot shaped like an upside-down spray can. Unlike a spray can though his motions suggest one must press the button on his chest to spray paint.
The robots can harm you by crashing into you or by throwing a "trick" at you. These tricks include a pie, marbles, a banana peel and water from a spray bottle.
A clock is displayed in the lower right corner of the screen at all times while inside the Shady Glen School. When you enter the school it is 9:00 PM.
To win a game of Midnight Rescue! you must discover the Master of Mischief before midnight. With the accelerated time in the game, this translates to a time limit of 9 minutes.
Getting hit by a robot is detrimental to your success as it fast-forwards the in-game clock by 15 minutes (45 seconds).
The gameplay in Midnight Rescue is very basic. Movement is controlled with the arrow keys, allowing you to walk left and right, as well as jump.
You can also use your camera to "capture" enemies. Pressing the space bar will snap a photo, though the range is limited. You also have a limited amount of film. You can collect more film by locating a vending machine in the hallways of the school, though they do not carry an infinite supply of film either.
"The picture has been placed in your notes."
Taking a photo of a robot will reveal a fact about them. These facts can be about their physical appearance, about something they're carrying or about something they've said.
The facts are generally pure nonsense, such as the robot having a pony tail, carrying a basket ball and asking you to pinch him to see if he's awake.Several of the robots may share the same traits, increasing the difficulty of deducing which robot is really the Master of Mischief.
"Good Job! You have collected a clue to help you win the game."
In addition to taking photos of the robots you must collect clues. Clue cards can be found anywhere in the hallways and rooms of the school.
When you've located a clue card, walking up to it will display either a letter, a diary or a short story. There are over 200 of these in the game with 400 questions based on them.
These texts are several pages in length and their length increases as you progress to the higher difficulty levels in the game.
On some passages of text a "Hard Words" button will appear. Clicking it will provide definitions of the more lengthy or uncommon words on the page.
After reading a clue card you will be presented with a multiple choice question regarding the text you just read.
The answers are all single word choices. Choosing the correct answer will add the clue to your notes.
To win the game you must compare the clues with the facts to deduce which robot is really the Master of Mischief in disguise.
"I accuse YOU of being the Master of Mischief!"
Once you have accused one of the robots of being the Master of Mischief, one of two things can happen.
If you are correct, then Morty Maxwell appears and proclaims, "You're right! You found me!". After which he is astounded at the points you've scored and eventually vanishes in a puff of smoke.
If you are incorrect, then the robot you have confronted throws a bucket of disappearing paint (that he never runs out of) at The Super Solver, causing him to vanish in a puff of smoke.
It is also possible to simply run out of time. If the clock reaches midnight, the school disappears and no points are earned.
The music heard during the intro screen and while in the hallways of the school is, "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" by Paul Dukas.
The music heard after entering any of the rooms in the school is, "In the Hall of the Mountain King" by Edvard Grieg.
Minimum System Requirements
- DOS 5.0
- 386 DX/33MHz processor
- 512 KB of RAM
- 3.5" floppy drive
- 4 color CGA adapter
- Internal PC speaker
- Windows® 3.1
- 486DX/66 MHz processor
- 2 MB free hard disk space
- 4 MB RAM
- 2x CD-ROM drive
- 256 color SVGA adapter
- Windows®-compatible sound card
- WinG (included on the CD)
- OS 7.0.1 or higher
- 68030/16 MHz processor (or faster)
- 5 MB free hard disk space
- 4 MB RAM
- 2x CD-ROM drive
- 256 color VGA adapter
Super Solvers: Midnight Rescue! is still available at some retailers of educational games. There are also online retailers that still carry the CD-ROM edition of the game.
Due to the age of the game, the DOS version of Midnight Rescue! has been labeled as abandonware and can be found and downloaded for free on many abandonware websites.
It is no longer possible to buy the game directly from The Learning Company, since as of December 17, 2008 they have permanently closed their online store.