Just played TP on Android without using a Bluetooth mouse and it’s clear why MM used the method picking the hotspot, then clicking the verb to activate it, because it was designed for joystick play. I guess the same could be said for controller play on consoles, but there’s at least a default verb these days, whereas on mobile it’s quite a job to “smoosh” to find a hotspot, then “poke” the verb, then manually find the hotspot again blindly. It’s never been an issue until I tried it with just a finger, but I’m guessing it was a real chore to drag the cursor across the screen the the c64 joystick, then all the way back to the verb. The last thing you’d want to do would be to go and find the verb again, especially since hover-over verb names hadn’t been added yet.
I guess the real question is why What Is was used, was it too intensive then to have a permanent hotspot hover name method back then?