Fishing for Memories: An Ode to “Word Rescue”

Friday, September 7th, 2012

There is a very special feeling that comes to me when I reunite with a long-forgotten item from my childhood. The familiarity is comforting and it is exciting to have a sudden rush of memories. Nostalgia only partly describes this experience — more enthralling, I would say, is the element of “mystery-solving”. For a few moments, my life seems to make more sense; I have uncovered a missing piece of my childhood from the depths of my subconscious and it now sits at the forefront of my mind, ready to be dissected. So long as the memories restored are pleasant, I think most would agree that this process of rediscovery is extremely satisfying.

We all know, though, that this process often doesn’t run so smoothly. How many times have you had that fuzzy sense of an almost-memory? It rings a bell, but just won’t fully manifest in your mind. Sometimes this situation can be fixed easily. If you remember the exact name of your beloved item of the past and have a working connection to the internet, it’s your lucky day. But how often do we get the wording right? Herein lies the frustration of relying on the internet to restore our memories.

I often complain about needing a reverse-Google-search. You probably know what I mean because you have probably wished for this tool as well: a search-engine that would accept descriptions and yield names. Yes, to some extent you can go about this process with Google as it is, but it is tedious and often unfruitful.

I write this post in light of having had one of the most agonizing Google-search experiences of my life. I wanted so badly to revisit one particular educational computer game I had played throughout my childhood. I remembered that the landscape was designed so that you ran across a 2D plain, the female option for a player was a little black girl, you had to run around collecting books, and purple slime was somehow involved. I had no idea what the game was called. Try to imagine the bizarre combinations of search terms I went through (I’m sure my auto-suggest for Google search is quite confused). I pored over databases of computer games from the 90s, I wikipedia-ed the product histories of all the children’s educational software companies I could think of,  I felt like such a loser, but the longer I searched for, the more determined to unearth this game I became.

After a while (too long of a while), I just couldn’t justify spending any more hours on this internet mission, and so gave up. I stopped asking people because no one ever knew what I was talking about — I always had to ask vague questions, and the game actually sounded pretty weird when I would try describing it. I felt like a piece of myself was fractured and lost — split somewhere between the depths of my soul and the depths of cyberspace — and if I could only reunite these elusive traces of my childhood, I could restore my psyche to equilibrium. But alas, there are only so many hours in a day.

Well, as we know, people always say that you tend to find the thing you were looking for after you stop looking. How that works, I’m not quite sure, but sure enough it happened to me. This week I was causally browsing the internet, collecting images for my Antiques page, typed something along the lines of “90s computer games” into Google-image-search, and all of a sudden I was staring right at “Word Rescue”. I knew as soon as I saw its little icon on the search results page that my day had finally come. It was a happy moment. Now that I knew the name “Word Rescue”, I had immediate access to what seemed like a treasure chest of memories hidden away in the internet. “Word Rescue” was my compass… or something.

Anyways, I’ve been gloating for the past few days, bragging to everyone I can. Now I’d like to post all the screenshots I’ve found of the game, just in case anyone else has been looking for this particular memory as well. Enjoy.

And here is the very first link that took me to “Word Rescue”. It gives a really accurate description of the game:



One comment on “Fishing for Memories: An Ode to “Word Rescue”

  1. Esther says:

    This article sums up my EXACT experience with attempting to find this game. I was finally successful yesterday after many months of searching. I told my dad and he came across your article, saying it could have been me who wrote it. So amazing. Thanks for articulating my thoughts, feelings and experiences so perfectly!

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