There's one thing worse than a game that purports to be a real game, but is in fact an inside joke in disguise. That is a game that tells you right up front that it's an inside joke. Not only an inside joke, but one that will only be funny to, at most, about thirty people. Fortunately (or unfortunately, if you have any soul within you at all), these are the same thirty people that care about the IF competition. Oh dear, the poor IF competition. It still makes me sad to see a beautiful artform continuing to stew in its own puddle of jizz, after five years of doing nothing but jerking itself off.
Please suck. Please suck. Please suck. Please be bad so I can write another scathing review of a dumb goddamn inside joke. Please suck. Please. Please please. Make me hate this. I want to hate this. I have to hate this.
I must say, I did hate it for the first two minutes, after I realized it was an inside joke. Then I hated it more a minute later, when I realized it was about Andrew Plotkin who (while undoubtedly being the Tiger Woods of IF) gets enough press as it is. And then a couple minutes later I really hated it, when I realized that it was an inside joke, with Andrew Plotkin, ripped off from a movie which I didn't even like. Everything that could possibly be wrong with this game, was. And gloriously so, too. Please suck. Please suck. Please double please. Suck.
Except it's great. Except it's better than the movie. Except about a third of the way through I forgot it was an inside joke, and realized I was actually having fun playing an IF game, which is a rare thing for me. Except that it is so slickly done that I could do nothing but sigh, have another sip, and get back to it, because it just kept getting better. Except that you could still have fun with the game without knowing the inside jokes.
Except I'm one of the thirty people.
This game gives nods to nearly all of Plotkin's games, the Enchanter series, "Being John Malkovich" of course, and several other things which I probably didn't even pick up on. But the pisser is, it does it fabulously. Technically rock-solid, and written wonderfully on several levels. Revel in the way the room descriptions change when you are Plotkin. Revel in the way that sometimes you are one person, sometimes you are the other, and sometimes you are both.
The game has 12 points to offer. Each puzzle earns you three of them. That means there are four puzzles. Only the last is challenging, but it's challenging in such a friendly, tongue-in-cheek, enjoyable way that I didn't even mind having to type "restore" twenty-eight times.
This game misses getting four stars only because it's an inside joke. And I hate inside jokes. Also, I spotted one typo, right at the end. But the highest compliment I could pay to this game is that by the time I spotted a typo, I didn't want to.
It should be pointed out that in the post-game author notes, he states that he started this game in September. This game went from bottle to throttle in under a month. See what I'm saying here?
It's another entire year until the 2001 competition. A year is twelve months.
Do the math.
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