Gertrude's Secrets  - Dann
Director: Learning Company
This game is a huge throwback. Despite its simplicity, I remember playing this quite a bit. I mean I was playing on an Eagle PC IBM Clone, so what else was there at the time. Speaking of Eagle computers, pick up the book 'Soul of a New Machine'. Despite sounding like a Fear Factory album (which I also recommend), it's the story of that computing endeavor and comes off as Dilbert meets Sid Vicious if you can wrap that thought around your brain.
Gertrude's Secrets (and until I refound it for this review, I thought it was Gertrude's Puzzles for 20 years now) was made by the Learning Company, which later made games like the Super Solver series and as a result made computer class a lot more enjoyable in grade school. Its primary purpose was to be educational, and in some ways it works, but of course I manage to mess around with it enough to break it completely and much before the Sims came out, I ended up going the sadistic route.
But before I get to that, let's look at the puzzles. You start the game in a maze which either leads you right to the main gameboard or through a tutorial process that outlines the different things you can do and how to control the puzzle pieces. This is also the home of the shrieking duck, which on my old PC speaker would create a scream so horrific, I'd never go there again. Since it was an object like everything else in the game, you could carry it around, but the screaming combined with common sense pretty much prohibited that.
So once you get to past all this, you end up in the trophy room. After completing puzzles, the prizes will teleport here and you can admire them. Up until you close the game and all you wealth is lost, probably due to taxes. Up above is Gertrude's nest. By selecting her, then traveling to one of the adjacent rooms and letting go, she will fly off and return with a collection of objects. Most of the games are of the matching type. The common one I played wanted you to align them in a grid, so vertically they matched colors, and horizontally they matches patterns. Each puzzle has a few difficulties which adds more columns and rows. The other two groups wanted you to form linear patterns as well as fill Venn Diagrams.
Going back to the trophy room will lead you to the object library. You can select one and move it around, but it serves you little purpose. The next room has different object themes. Grabbing one and letting it go in the first object room will change all the objects to the new theme, while leaving the color and pattern the same so the puzzles still work. You can then grab one and bring it to the room below, which presents you with the object editor. By using Insert and Delete, you can turn pixels on and off to redraw everything. And I mean everything. Even the trophies, tutorial keys, the annoying screaming duck, and even Gertrude.
So as I said, the sadistic route can be taken to reform Gertrude into some ugly featureless creature. The flying animation can't be changed, but sitting silently in her nest, she will forever be disfigured. I did at one point remove every pixel. She still stayed selected, and I could release her into a puzzle room, but then she was gone forever. No more puzzles for me, and I had to exit to reset reality. From that point on, I respected Gertrude and finished the puzzles faithfully.