Tass Times in Tonetown / Interplay (1986)

Theo Fleury's Verdict:
This game is pretty short.
Brady Anderson's Verdict:
Games need more positive gay role models like Chaz in this game and me in Triple Play '99.
My Verdict:
No game has ever been more smug with itself and had the game to back it up. It's the most stylishly rendered game ever made and a hell of a lot of fun to experience. If any game deserves a sequel, it's this one.

Game Information

Game Type:
Text Adventure, limited parser and all, but with graphics.
Author Info:
Mike Beryln has also done Infidel, Cutthroats, Alterted Destiny, Zork: The Undiscovered Underground, Dr. Dumont's Wild P.A.R.T.I., Oo-Topos, Suspended.and many others. Muffy McClung Beryln has done Oo-Topos, Dr. Dumont's Wild P.A.R.T.I. and Alterted Destiny.
Download Link:
It's out there on virtually every emulator or old warez site you can find.


Coming soon to Home Pixelators Everywhere!


A dream you've never had.
An adventure you'll never forget. If you ever wake up...


It was released in 1986.. A graphical text adventure that presented absolutely gorgeous graphics if you had an Atari ST or Commodore Amiga and the same old cyan-purple-white-black shit if you had a PC. And while at its heart it was a fully functional adventure game it should be noted that Tass Times in Tonetown had more style than any other game ever created.

In an era where popular culture was dominated by rock stars that wore heavy makeup and outrageous hair, 'Tonetown raged against the perception that adventure games had to appeal to a particular Dungeons-and-Dragons-King-Of-All-Motos mindset. The game is completely unapologetic about its intentions: take the whack vernacular, values and past-times of the 1980s and exaggerate them. The culture that the player comes from (ours) brands him as a total geek once he/she enters Tonetown. Great games teach the user how to play them and 'Tonetown definitely does this: if someone has completely managed to not "get" (comprehend) the game and get into character then the player's game ends quickly while walking around in totally untass clothing.

Tass Times in Tonetown came with a newspaper that clued the player into the different characters and places in the game. It was Interplay's take on copy protection -- and historically this view should be recognized as a bonus, because it paved the way for four pages of very funny and irreverant video game lore.

Around Tonetown by Gretta Grouper

* Fast Freddie was seen doing lunch with Franklin Snarl yesterday. They seemed to be engrossed in an ultra-rash conversation, and they were writing six-figure numbers all over a bunch of paper napkins. What could it mean?

Don't put all your GloBurgers in one basket, Freddie.

And beware of geeks bearing P.

And the game magazines all say that French games have style. Pfft. The City of Lost Children isn't more than a callous zit on the seedly underbelly of 'Tonetown.

'Tonetown is a short game.  The reason it still stands out  is because the experience could only be done as a published piece of entertainment software. Developed as freeware, for instance, the game would still not work because it would be missing the newspaper that provides so much atmosphere and so many gameplay clues. Long before meeting Franklin Snarl the player knows that he is a treacherous and snide jackass due to reading of the Tonetown Times.

The game isn't perfect.  While it was released at the beginning of a graphical revolution for the ST and the Amiga it would still benefit from a late 90s make over with increased color depth. The music was never done justice on any system. If there's a game that could actually use redbook audio and MIDI compositions, it's this one. Especially since the game's theme song, Tass, is still the most kickass video game song ever made.  In the final analysis, however, it's all moot. At first glance the game could be considered at fault for letting the obnoxious late 80s culture off so easily: if ever there was an era ripe for savage, dry sarcasm the mid-80s was it. But 'Tonetown embraces what was right about the decade and corrects what was overblown. For example: the whole concept of "tass" involves not only conducting oneself in a "cool" manner, but in an intelligent one as well. Stupidity is mocked with rolled eyes and disdain throughout the game and newspaper:

Dear Pan Fanders,

My very bestest buddy from the Quatroversity recently got hitched up to this girl he met there in Tassly.

They were having their hitching on a triangular moon outside in The Park, and my mother told me I should give them a goft because that's what you're supposed to do when two people go townsome twosome.

I thought and thought about the gift. Then I remembered that one of my bestest buddy's favorite things when were were sitting around studying was to look at Toneboy magazine. SO I got them a two-year subscription to Toneboy. (I was even able to save 12 P. 'cause the neighbor kid next door was on a magazine drive for the Buck Scouts.)

Well, if everything turned out tone, I wouldn't be writing this letter, would I?

When the first issues of the magazine arrived, by bestest friend's new wife got so mad she wanted to get unhitched right then and there. After just one moon. So now I'm in hot aqua with my bud. Was it really such an untass hitching gift?


Dear Confused,

Absolutely! It's the most tassless gift I ever heard of (and I thought I'd seen it all). Your letter makes me wonder about what's going on at Quatroversity and our other instituations of outer education.

You are confused.

Please don't ever write to me again.


Pan Fanders

A lesser game goes for the cheap laugh and panders to a male audience by propping Playboy. Fortunately, morons get the hammer in 'Tonetown -- and if you can't make the effort to fit in, (or, in real life, to understand the game) then to hell with you. You're not worth anyone's time if you're not willing to put some effort into yourself. Before the game starts an article states that the town evicted a certain Jonboi Waltune for sheer tonelessness. Why couldn't he convert? He wouldn't remove his blue scrub pants and shirts with ugly emblems and remained a stupid tourist. Essentially, the game is saying, "you're going to get run as well if you don't attempt to suspend your imagination." Brilliant. (Borrowed Time, a game done with the same engine will kill the player after a certain number of moves. Exploration is frowned upon because of this time limit. 'Tonetown will end the game if the player looks like a stupid tourist but once the player fits in the game does not "expire." In effect the game artifically lengthens itself just a bit but provides an important clue to understanding the game. So many games which happen to be short try to stretch out the gaming experience and do it so horribly: all designers should take an example from 'Tonetown.)

'Tonetown is a classic because it creates a lush world that will capture the imagination of anyone young at heart. It has a relatively enormous amount of unique and original ideas and characters that exist as throwaway-type elements. The enjoyment of the game really does come from allowing it to access the creative part of the mind and its ability to make a player understand a different culture.

Simple Rating
9.5 / 10

One of my favorite games all-time.

9.5 / 10


8 / 10

10 / 10


Puzzle Difficulty
4 / 10


Parser Responsiveness
6 / 10


Reader Comments:

Jonboi Waltune
February 24th, 2003

Hey! My hair glittered glit just tonely, thank you, but the tassless people at tass times felt my loafers were not froody enough. For sure, I was tass, just mizundastood!

Februrary 21st, 2003

real cool game. i remember i had it when i was in like 2nd or 3rd grade, which would've been 1987. i had it for the apple IIGS and the graphics and sound were waaaaaaaaaaay ahead of their time. i remember the newspaper that came with the game but i don't have it. i played and played but i never beat it. i didn't care though it was fun to play and to look at.

November 27th, 2002

I first played this game about nine years ago on an Apple ][gs that was missing a memory card (or something like that). It couldn't even reboot without freezing up. And yet, using a technique given to me by my brother, I managed to play it and play it well. I am still addicted to this day. But, there is one part that still embaresses me: I never played the game with enough seriousness to actually beat it. Now I may play my fast-paced games, like Final Fantasy 9 or Grand Theft Auto 3, but I will forever remember and play Tass Times In Tone Town.

September 7st, 2001

Dammit, I am NOT gay!

Dan Wilson
February 12th, 2001

the best game ive ever played, its brilliant and has a real atmosphere about it. i dont think its supposed to be ment as a horror title atall but the feelings you get throughout the game are really spooky.

March 7th, 2001

god. I rember being totally confused by game around 6th grade, but loving it. Didn't they make a hi-res version for the Apple ][GS? What a beautiful, but S-L-O-W system. Actually turned me off to Macs, along with the fact that Apple abonded thier entire Apple ][ line for the Mac. When would they abondon that (I guess I'm still waiting!). Anyway, PCs started getting all the cool games, so it was a moot point.

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