Stiffy Makane: The Undiscovered Country / One of the Bruces (2001)

The Goatse Man's Verdict:
Huh? Why am I being asked? SOD OFF.
Chris Crawford's Verdict:
There were at least 41 different jokes in this game.
My Verdict:
They must make 'em like this in Romulan Prison Orbs, because they ain't making many of 'em like this back here on earth.

Game Information

Game Type:
Author Info:
First game under this moniker -- that being said, take a look at Sins Against Mimesis sometime.
Download Link:
You're going to want to pull off everything from .

After an hour of playing Stiffy Makane: The Undiscovered Country, I feel like I've been swimming in sewage.

OK, OK -- not at all, but blast it, that needs to be said by somebody about some game each year the interactive fiction competition exists, and we missed out on that last November. So I'll take one for the team this year.

The character "Stiffy Makane" is rather infamous within the dark, oft-shunted alleyways of interactive fiction that no-one likes to talk about. Occasionally -- if you're fast enough! -- you might catch a glimpse or hear a whisper about one of the previous games that feature this text adventure stalwart over on either The Incredibly Erotic Adventures of Stiffy Makane or the MSTKing of it that came out a while later. Stiffy has always been a man with a mission: whereas in The Incredibly Erotic Adventures it was to pop a lovely lady named Public Pussy Pamela, your mission this time seems to be more along the lines of seeking out new life and civilizations and sexxing up your crew members. It is with great pleasure that I am able to report that Stiffy Makane: The Undiscovered Country does its previous lineage proud, and not surprisingly, surpasses previous efforts (at WARP FACTOR 10 H4W H4W H4W!).

Though the reason it is successful has nothing to do with the Star Trek bits. It has nothing to do with the porn bits. Don't get me wrong -- those are usually two great tastes that, whether you like to admit it or not, often go great together. C'mon! Face it. There's a pretty good chance that if you found this page you've at least once comforted yourself with visions of being held within the manly grope of Kirk or Picard, or else comforted yourself with doing some groping towards Deanna or Seven. No dishonor there, this isn't a website that casts shame. But, no, I fell hard for this thing due to its mid-game which features one of the most hilarious mini-adventures I've ever found myself involved in with any game, commercial or freeware.

The scene takes place on the holodeck, which as every Trek fan knows, is a piece of technology designed to simulate a false reality and then attempt to override the ship's computers as soon as possible in order to kill everybody aboard, until Wil Wheaton can save the day with his overwhelming lack of personal charisma. Author Bruce has instead decided to deliver some serious ass-kicking to those angry, enraged denizens that have populated the newsgroup over the last few years. The fellows depicted -- much like Worf when he found himself in the Robin Hood holosim -- are not exactly merry men.

It comes out of nowhere, yes. It's a non-sequitur. It's in-jokey. It contains dialogue that Stiffy has not previously been depicted as intelligent enough to hold, but it doesn't matter because it's a shock, it all comes together with so much craft and care, and it's just long enough to never get tedious. As it's based on computer game theory, it's rather predictable that I would personally be a big fan of it. But to that I say, simply: "well done" -- with all the games I encountered in the 2001 competition, this was the one that most played to what I'd already been in the mood for. It captured the zeitgeist of what I wanted out of entertainment software at this point in time. That's priceless.

And it must be said that carving a permanent grin on my face was necessary for me to finish up the game -- the Glulx interpreter I used to play it on Windows 98 had a bug where it would not accept text entry after a sound was played unless the scrollback button was pressed. As there are sound effects quite regularly throughout the game, it became quite a chore to keep going back and forth on that workaround. Strangely, the game didn't exhibit that behavior while in NT 4.0. Playing it on that operating system wasn't exactly an option as I only have access to it at work, and this is not the kind of game you want running on your system when somebody drops by to check on those TPS reports. It's a credit to the game itself that I didn't care -- while I am mostly easy-going with freeware games because they are usually created through a twisted merge of insanity and passion, a terp glitch like that would normally be a show-stopper. Er, except I kept furiously hitting my trakball in order to get the thing going again. But I'm confident that whatever problems the interpreter has will be sorted out sooner rather than later. There's enough momentum to the terp design where it won't be a problem in the long run, and there's enough comedy in the ware itself where it fails to become anything more than a minor distraction.

I must confess absolute wonder as to what place this particular game will finish in this year's comp. I see it as having the greatest standard deviation, as there's a good chance that Author Bruce will become both lionized and the new poster boy of immoral IF. But Stiffy Makane: The Undiscovered Country is ultimately wholly recommendable because it knows exactly when to fire off a snappy, witty retort and when to flash depictions of an infected gaping anus. This is the kind of delicate balance that most games can not hope to hold. I don't think, for instance, that our dearly departed Quentin Thomson would want to kill the designer of this one, as he kind of alluded to with the first Stiffy adventure. More impressively, with it being the third game in the Stiffy Makane line, it proves without question that not all odd-numbered Star Trek-based ventures completely suck ass. A wicked gem.

Simple Rating
9.1 / 10

This game got my first-place vote for the 2001 IF Competition.

4 / 10

Let's face it, nobody's playing this thing because of the plot.

9.5 / 10

Chock full of comedic goodness.

7.5 / 10

My problems with the Glulx terp almost rendered it wholly unplayable -- literally, not from some pseudo-intellectual standpoint -- but that's a terp thing that I didn't even see on NT, for instance. As it's too much to expect that I'll come back and update this when they fix the interpreter, I'll meet it halfway.

Puzzle Quality
9 / 10

Anybody who wonders if I'd like the puzzle in the holodeck evidently needs to read a few more of these reviews.

Parser Responsiveness
7 / 10


Reader Comments:

November 16th, 2001

What the? How the hell did I get through that review without mentioning that in the original game, Stiffy can drop his freaking penis?

June 20th, 2002

I liked it. Offensive is good.

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