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The American Girls Premiere

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The American Girls Premiere is an educational application/game developed and published by The Learning Company for American Girl. The game allows players to create theatrical productions featuring characters starring the Historical Characters, from Felicity Merriman to Molly McIntire, along with scenes and other elements unique to each of the girls' respective time periods.

Gameplay

AGPremiere ClassicMac

The game running on Mac OS 8.1, with Felicity Merriman on stage.

Built upon the earlier MECC game Opening Night, The American Girls Premiere allows the creation and direction of unique stage plays starring the Historical Characters, from Felicity Merriman, representing the American Revolution, to Molly McIntire, daughter of an army doctor during World War II, alongside supporting characters from each of the girls' story arcs.

Players are presented with a stage to which plays are created or presented, utilizing a drag-and-drop interface to add actors, props, lighting and other elements to the scene. Digitized sprites taken from live actors and props from American Girl's historical collection are used throughout the game, à la-Mortal Kombat. Each of the characters have their own set of outfits based on the historical era their stories take place in, e.g. long gowns and petticoats for Felicity or argyle sweaters and blouses for Molly, along with scenarios from their respective time period. Players can also add dialogue in their productions, either through a voice recording, or using the built-in text-to-speech feature. The game develops skills in storytelling and writing, and is open-ended in nature, allowing the player to create theatrical productions at his or her own leisure, though the limited selection of characters, props and settings may present creative constraints to some players.

In addition to the main content, bonus content such as a tutorial application and a sampler called the Director's Guide is included for players to get acquainted with the game's mechanics and user interface, along with a behind-the-scenes look on production as well as historical facts and commentary on American history and culture, and backstories for each of the characters.

One major disadvantage of the program was that the files made with it are only saved states rather than video files, necessitating the need for a screen recorder such as Fraps or Camstudio in order to make the play fit for viewing outside the game.

Release

A "Special Edition Collector's Set" of the title was double the price, and in addition to the CD-ROM, it came with: "a keepsake tin, a one-year club membership, a club handbook, a membership card, a baseball cap and six bi-monthly issues of the club newspaper".

An update to the game subtitled 2nd Edition was released in 1998, adding Josefina Montoya to the roster. The 2nd Edition release is a standalone expansion pack containing characters and scenes from the first release, and does not require a copy of the original game to play. The aforementioned Collector's Set was later updated to include the Josefina-specific content from the 2nd Edition, though it is missing the American Girls Club membership kit.

Compatibility

It is also known to be fully functional when run on certain Linux distributions via Wine[1]. The game's text-to-speech functionality may crash on a recent Windows release such as Windows 7, though, unless if it is launched under compatibility mode (albeit without any text-to-speech output). Also, while the game came with both 16-bit and 32-bit binaries, the Windows installer for it is 16-bit, making it practically impossible to install on a 64-bit system without resorting to workarounds.[2]

A similar compatibility issue also exists on the Macintosh build, as newer Apple devices run on Intel processors (and that Rosetta compatibility is limited - the compatibility layer does not support pre-OS X applications, not does it run on Lion, Mountain Lion and Mavericks), thus requiring an older Apple computer, or a third-party emulator such as SheepShaver, to run the game.

References

  1. WineHQ - American Girls Premiere
  2. ReactOS Website • View topic - Installing 32-bit programs with 16-bit setup launcher stubs

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