Learn about Electronics by Playing Games : Rocky’s Boots
This is the first of a series of posts looking at software that teaches kids about electronics. We will start by booting up the earliest electronics game that I know of called “Rocky’s Boots”. This was released by the Learning Company in 1982 and later followed up with “Robot Odyssey” in 1984. The same game engine was used by a number of other educational games at that time.
Rocky’s Boots teaches the user how to connect logic gates, flip flops, clocks and sensors to accomplish simple tasks. While I appreciate the game the logic gate tutorial section was more enjoyable for me to go through. Within minutes of following the logic gate tutorial you will see fascinating things. My favorite was connecting a not gate to itself and watching it become a oscillator.
There are two ways that I’ve played Rocky’s Boots.
1. The Easy Way – Web based using virtualapple. This is a little slow and takes away from the gaming experience.
2. The Cool Way – Local emulation on OS/X using Virtual ][. This was way more fun booting up a Apple //E disk and having a full screen retro gaming experience. I’m sure if you fired this emulator up in a public space any passer by would have to stop and comment.
Here is what I had to do to get the Apple II version of Rocky’s Boots up and running on OS/X.
– download Virtual ][
– start virtualII
– download apple //e rom
* apple iie rom.zip
– Make sure rom file is unzipped and ends in .rom or .ROM
– Make sure rom file is in same folder as virtual][
– Start Virtual ][
– Press the Disks button and launch game.dsk
– Turn the speed dial to 3
– Use the caps lock key
What did I like about Rocky’s Boots?
– The tutorials are focused. One room at a time
– Easy to learn key movements (i, j, k, m space bar)
– Excellent tutorials – logic gates, flip flops and clocks
What I do not like about Rocky’s Boots.
– Devices like clackers and knives seemed too abstract when compared with modern electronics
– In game circuits seemed overly busy and complicated losing my attention
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Rocky’s Boots has a really terrific sequel called Robot Odyssey I, which has you building robots to explore environments and solve problems. There was never a sequel, but it was supposed to be the first in a series of games.