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Secret Paths in the Forest is a puzzle game developed and published by Purple Moon. It was released for Windows and Macintosh systems in September 1997, the same month as Rockett's New School .


Forest, and its "sister" game, Rockett's New School, were the culmination of a 4-year market research project conducted by Brenda Laurel and the Interval Research Corporation into the play habits of girls, how they differed from boys, and how girls interact with computers, in order to better tap into the then nearly ignored demographic.[1]

A demo version of the game with different visuals was released in the summer of 1997 on a sampler CD[2].  The sampler came packed in with the September 1997 issue of Girls' Life magazine.

According to Art Director and Co-Producer for Convivial Jocelyn Cohen, the game's title during development was Wild Place.[3]


The game's framing device involves the player being summoned to a secret magical tree house to listen to and solve the problems of a group of girls; nearly all of which are younger versions of some of the Whistling Pines kids. According to The Book of the Secret Paths, which can be found and accessed in the treehouse, a girl named Hannah-Rose was also summoned there at one point. The book, which she wrote, acts as a in-game manual.



The tree house screen, with Whitney, Miko, and Dana.

Elements of the tree house, such as the frame, the cushions, and the background, can be changed by clicking on them, parts of the dream catcher, or the "Girls Only" sign.

Clicking on the top drawer of the Friendship Box in the lower left corner of the screen will present the player with a choice of 7 characters. Clicking on one will colorize them and play a snippet of them explaining their problem. Clicking outside of the box while a character is highlight will put them in the tree house. Only 3 characters can be in the tree house at any given time. Clicking on a character in the tree house will play an animatic that outlines her problem. After it's over, clicking on the purple pouch in the lower right corner will take the player to that character's secret path, while clicking on the house in the upper left will take the player back to the tree house.


A screen from Dana's path: a valley trail.

The paths consist of several screens, some containing puzzles, rippling portals that play an animatic furthering the girl's story (each path contains 3), both, or nothing at all. Solving a puzzle earns the player a secret stone , which when clicked, will display a short animation based on the virtue the stone represents.  The stone must also be dragged into the pouch in the lower right corner of the screen, which can be clicked to see how many stones the player has collected. (The stone can also be clicked in the pouch to play their animations.) After collecting 5 to 7 stones (depending on the path) and returning to the tree house, the pouch will wiggle. C


The completed treasure box.

licking on it will thread the stones into a necklace.  Dragging the necklace onto the girl will play an animatic of a folk tale relevent to the character's situation. The bottom drawer of the Treasure Box displays how many stones have been collected for each girl. There is no reward for building all of the necklaces.

The difficulty of certain puzzles, which range from "find the pixel" minigames to "repeat the pattern" ones, can be adjusted by clicking on the bundle of flowers in the lower left corner of the screen. Adding more flowers increases the difficulty.


Forest ended up becoming one of PC Data 's top 50 best selling entertainment titles for the '97 holiday season, with 23,539 copies being sold in December 1997 alone.[4]

Stevanne Auerbach, a child development expert and toyologist, recommended Forest in the Orlando Sentinel's computer game buying guide for the 1997 holiday season.[5]

Forest was nominated for "Computer Family/Kids Title of the Year" during the 1st annual D.I.C.E. Awards .  (It lost to Lego Island.)[6]



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