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Video Game / Blaster Mystery Series

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The scariest part is that it's full of word problems.
The Blaster Mystery series is a kind of Spin-Off to the larger Blaster series of Edutainment Games. While the original Math Blaster teaches basic arithmetic to elementary-aged children, Math Blaster Mystery teaches pre-algebra to somewhat older kids. Blaster Mystery later expanded into covering language arts for the same age group.

These games take place in a different universe from that of the Blaster Pals. Trading the "space" theme for a "spooky" theme, they focus on Rave, a little green creature with a yellow horn growing out of his head, as he battles Dr. Dudley Dabble, a Mad Scientist who lives in a Haunted House. Most of the inhabitants of this world appear to be monsters and/or creatures of some description, with the odd exception of Dr. Dabble, although he does have blue skin at least. While generally unrelated to the original universe, there was a readable crossover story featured in Reading Blaster 2000 titled Dr. Dabble's Revenge, wherein the Blaster Pals fought against Dr. Dabble.

Games in the Blaster Mystery series include:

  • Math Blaster Mystery (1989) - The initial entry in the series, sorta. It includes four pre-algebra puzzles, which are presented with a vague "mystery" theme. The characters of Rave, Dr. Dabble, etc. don't exist yet at this point. Instead, the main character is an unnamed man who looks like Sherlock Holmes, and there is no storyline linking the mini-games together.
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  • Math Blaster Mystery: The Great Brain Robbery (1994) - This is where the series really gets started, with Rave and Dr. Dabble making their first appearances. Dr. Dabble has stolen the brain of a math genius, and it's up to you, as Rave, to recover it from Dabble's creepy mansion. In a certain sense, this is a remake of the 1989 game. Although the characters and story are new, the four educational mini-games are clearly derived from the four mini-games that were included in the 1989 game. Plus, the whole "mystery" theme carries over, albeit with a Halloweentown vibe added.
  • Reading Blaster: Ages 9-12 (1997) - Dr. Dabble has kidnapped six of Bizzaroville's most prominent citizens, and Rave has to rescue them. This game is something of a Continuity Reboot, since it completely ignores The Great Brain Robbery, but shares its canon with the next two games, more or less. It also does a lot of Worldbuilding, much of it cleverly integrated into the reading comprehension activities.
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  • Math Blaster: Pre-Algebra (1997) - A remake of The Great Brain Robbery, set in the canon established by Reading Blaster: Ages 9-12, with which it was apparently developed in conjunction.note  However, the storyline is different this time. It now involves Dr. Dabble using an "electrochemical math magnet" to steal all the world's math.
  • Reading Blaster Vocabulary: Ages 9-12 (1998) - Rave is assigning you, the player, to solve a series of whimsical mysteries plaguing Bizzaroville. Your seven suspects are Dr. Dabble plus the six Bizzaroville citizens you had to rescue in Reading Blaster: Ages 9-12. Despite departing from previous entries in several significant ways, most notably Rave no longer being the Player Character and Dr. Dabble not necessarily being the villain, this game seems to be set in roughly the same canon as Reading Blaster: Ages 9-12 and Math Blaster: Pre-Algebra.

Note that while only the first two entries in this series were actually marketed as "Blaster Mystery," Reading Blaster: Ages 9-12 and Math Blaster: Pre-Algebra still have the full onscreen titles of Reading Blaster Mystery: Ages 9-12 and Math Blaster Mystery: Pre-Algebra. Reading Blaster Vocabulary: Ages 9-12 dropped the "Mystery," but that was probably just to avoid Colon Cancer.

As part of the Retool that the entire Blaster franchise received in 1999, the Blaster Mystery series was apparently retired. A very In Name Only version of Dr. Dabble appears in an episode of Blaster's Universe, where he's now part of the Blaster Pals' Rogues Gallery, but that's it.

This series provides examples of:

  • Abnormal Ammo: Rave throws green slimeballs during the last stage of The Great Brain Robbery and Math Blaster: Pre-Algebra.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: The back of the early instruction books lists all of the Blaster series' main antagonists, in the form of a "Wanted!" Poster. Dr. Dabble is wanted for "robbery, grand larceny, and non-payment of electric bill".
  • Asshole Victim / Never My Fault: Dr. Dabble in Reading Blaster Ages 9-12. It is revealed, after you save them, that each of his victims are those from his younger days whom he felt have done him wrong in some way and that he had a score to settle with each of them, even though said wrongs he suffered he really deserved.
  • Blob Monster: One of the enemies on the catwalk in The Great Brain Robbery is a blue slime creature.
  • Broken Bridge: In Pre-Algebra, there are some rooms (and two games; the number-guessing computer (the medium difficulty onward) and the equation-building versus game against Dabble himself (only on the hardest mode)) in Dabble's mansion that you cannot access if your difficulty is set too low. Attempting to enter the rooms when the difficulty level isn't high enough will result in Rave getting into some sort of trouble off-screen before coming back out of the room and telling the player: "You do NOT want to go in there!"
  • Continuity Nod: Reading Blaster: Ages 9-12 and Math Blaster: Pre-Algebra contain a lot of clever nods to each other. For example, in the vanity puzzle in Pre-Algebra, you get hints by clicking on a perfume bottle labeled, "Eau de Hint." In Reading Blaster: Ages 9-12, there's a newspaper ad for Eau de Hint, advertising it as, "For that creature in your life that doesn't have a CLUE."
  • Defanged Horrors: The series generally follows this. The setting is spooky and creepy, but in a kid-friendly Halloweenish way.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: When you're outside the mansion in Reading Blaster Vocabulary, everything except Rave is in black-and-white as part of a Film Noir spoof. The game transitions to color when you go inside.
  • Felony Misdemeanor: The mysteries in Reading Blaster Vocabulary are minor crimes that get huge attention from the Bizaroville media. At the conclusion of each case, the narrator describes the judge dishing out a humorously karmic punishment.
  • Fetch Quest: If you don't count the goalless 1989 game, every entry in this series centers on a fetch quest:
    • In The Great Brain Robbery, you have to collect the missing pieces of a mosaic in order to open a secret passageway. Plus, you have to collect gold coins in order to be able to play the mini-games.
    • In Reading Blaster: Ages 9-12, you collect the pieces of evidence that you need to restore the missing guests. In addition, you have to find the clues that reveal which pieces of evidence go with which guest.
    • In Math Blaster: Pre-Algebra, you collect fuses to put into the fuse box, which will restore power to the house and disable Dabble's security system. You also need three power gems in order to access the catwalk.
    • In Reading Blaster Vocabulary, you collect clues that, when put together, reveal which suspect is guilty.
  • Forced Transformation: The six missing people in Reading Blaster Ages 9-12 were turned into household appliances.
  • Halloweentown: The setting, which is called Bizzaroville starting with Reading Blaster: Ages 9-12. Granted, we really only ever see Dr. Dabble's creepy mansion, but it's heavily implied that the rest of the town follows this trope as well. In fact, the second newspaper story you receive in Math Blaster: Pre-Algebra would suggest that this world features an entire United States that follows this trope, what with a president named Mort Chewarry.
  • Haunted House: Dr. Dabble's mansion, haunted by its previous owner, Lydia Novella, who serves as your guide throughout Reading Blaster: Ages 9-12.
  • Herr Doktor: At the start of Math Blaster: Pre-Algebra, Rave is watching a movie with a German-accented character referred to as "Professor".
  • Incredible Shrinking Man: In Pre-Algebra, the grid mini-game in the mansion's kitchen involves Rave abruptly shrinking as part of a trap by Dr. Dabble and needing to eat food on the playfield in order to return to normal size, all while avoiding hazards like potted carnivorous plants or, on the hardest difficulty, a giant cockroach.
  • Intangible Theft: In Math Blaster Pre-Algebra, Dr. Dabble uses an electrochemical math magnet to steal all math from the world.
  • The Joy of X: The title "The Great Brain Robbery" is a parody of The Great Train Robbery.
  • Monumental Theft: One of the mysteries in Reading Blaster Vocabulary involves the perpetrator stealing the state of Rhode Island.
  • Kid Hero: Rave, who is also a Kid Detective. Granted, it's hard to judge his age when he's a non-human creature, but he does have a juvenile-sounding voice. Plus, he's clearly regarded as a youngster in-universe, what with other characters calling him "kid" and so forth. Hey, where are his parents?
  • Large Ham: Dr. Dabble.
  • Look Behind You: How Rave defeats Dr. Dabble at the end of The Great Brain Robbery.
    Rave: Look! Elvis!
    Dr. Dabble: What? Where?!
  • Luck-Based Mission: The sentence spinner game from Reading Blaster Ages 9-12. With random whammies like "wordrupt" (a pun on "bankrupt" that's exactly what it sounds like), you can easily lose without making a single mistake. It'll certainly be worse for you if you do make mistakes, but still, the game is mostly pure chance.
  • Mad Scientist: Dr. Dabble, naturally.
  • Mad Scientist Laboratory: Dr. Dabble has one.
  • Monster Mash: Math Blaster Mystery: The Great Brain Robbery has a fairly large assortment of monsters that give you word problems and puzzles to solve.
  • No Ending: Lydia's journal in Reading Blaster 9-12 ends on a cliffhanger with no resolution whatsoever.
  • Not Good with Rejection: As mentioned in Reading Blaster 9-12, this was the reason why Dr. Dabble spirited away Bobbi Fright: he wanted to be her boyfriend, but she kept refusing, while he would not take no for an answer. A Love Triangle erupted when Dr. Dabble and Lou Fright vied for the affections of Bobbi, and when Lou and Bobbi got married, Dabble retaliated by sending her a wedding gift of a fridge full of angry bees. Dabble never forgave her for rejecting him, and it was these reasons why he lured her to his domain and imprisoned her in his lab.
  • Red Herring: The items belonging to Dr. Dabble and Lydia in Reading Blaster: Ages 9-12. They're mixed in with the items belonging to the guests for no reason other than to mislead you. Additionally, the game sometimes makes it unintuitive which items go with which guest in order to ensure that you read the clues like you're supposed to. For instance, you'd think the pearl necklace would belong to movie star Gloria Ghastly, and the football would belong to Coach Gulliver Lilliput, but you'd be wrong. It turns out the necklace belongs to the coach's mother, and the football belongs to Gloria because it's a signed movie prop.
  • Revenge: Dr. Dabble's motivation in Reading Blaster Ages 9-12.
  • Scary Stinging Swarm: A swarm of bees flies randomly around the catwalk stage in The Great Brain Robbery and Math Blaster: Pre-Algebra.
  • Shout-Out: Bizzaroville Mansion's street number is 19840. At the time, the mailing address for Davidson & Associates was 19840 Pioneer Ave, Torrance, CA 90503.note 
  • Stealth Insult: In Reading Blaster 9-12, Dr. Dabble mentions that the mayor may have fewer ethics than he does, and turns her into a vacuum cleaner. He thinks she sucks.
  • Strictly Formula: The Great Brain Robbery, Reading Blaster: Ages 9-12, and Math Blaster: Pre-Algebra all follow roughly the same formula.
    • Rave hears about Dr. Dabble's latest crime on the news. He then heads over to Dabble's creepy mansion and goes inside, sometimes only on a hunch that Dabble is responsible. Breaking and entering? What's that?
    • The bulk of your mission is taken up with completing a Fetch Quest in which you win Plot Coupons from the mini-games inside the mansion.
    • One final mini-game has you crossing over to the tower that contains Dabble's secret lab, which is where your mission concludes.
  • Towers of Hanoi: All three versions of Math Blaster Mystery feature the same variation on this puzzle. You have four objects with numbers on them, and you have to stack three so that they add up to a certain number, but you can't stack larger numbers on top of smaller numbers.
    • In the original 1989 game, this activity is called, "Weigh the Evidence." How doing this exercise is useful for detective work is left to your imagination.
    • In The Great Brain Robbery, the activity's premise is changed to stacking the amount of ingredients that you need in order to follow a kitchen recipe.
    • In Math Blaster: Pre-Algebra, you stack barrels, which generates food for one of Dr. Dabble's robots. You win the activity when you feed the robot so much that it literally explodes.
  • Video Game Remake: Math Blaster: Pre-Algebra is a remake of Math Blaster Mystery: The Great Brain Robbery, which is itself a remake (kinda) of the 1989 game Math Blaster Mystery.
  • Viewers Are Geniuses: There aren't too many 9-12-year-olds who would get that the name "Gulliver Lilliput" is a reference to Gulliver's Travels, let alone that "Gorky Barf" is a parody of Gorky Park.
  • The Voice: Lydia the Ghost in Reading Blaster Ages 9-12 is a disembodied voice occasionally represented by floating objects. In the sentence spinner game, a pair of disembodied feminine eyes serve as her avatar while your avatar is a picture of Rave.
  • Wetware CPU: Dr. Dabble seems to be a fan:
    • In The Great Brain Robbery, he stole Big Brain's brain so that he could put it into some kind of Frankenstein's Monster creation. ("I would have used my own, but it's hard to concentrate without it.")
    • In Math Blaster: Pre-Algebra, Dr. Dabble has built an "electrochemical math magnet," which has a giant floating brain at its center. Additionally, the number guesser seems to be run by a talking Brain in a Jar.

Alternative Title(s): Math Blaster Mystery, Reading Blaster Mystery, Math Blaster Mystery The Great Brain Robbery, Reading Blaster Ages 912, Math Blaster Pre Algebra, Reading Blaster Vocabulary, Reading Blaster Vocabulary Ages 912, Math Blaster Mystery Pre Algebra, Reading Blaster Mystery Ages 912, The Great Brain Robbery