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Humbug

by Graham Cluley

Seasonal
1991

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Humbug - Graham Cluley, November 19, 2018
by Canalboy (London, UK.)
Avoid this game like the plague. One of those complacent "wacky" pieces where aadvarks sleep on washing machines and Octopii carry paintings by Dali. Why not have Christopher Columbus fighting a cucumber or several sea lions reciting T.S. Eliot with spoons on their heads? Given the size of this thing, they may well be in there. You deserve the Queen's award for gallantry if you make it far enough to find out.

The game tries to be funny but isn't; most of the attempts at humour are just weird. For example early in the game you find a half eaten mousse on a kitchen table.

x mousse

....it's only serious contender in the "I stay in the kitchen" stakes was a sausage-on-a-stick present at the Harlesden Glow Worm Regatta, 1982.

There are acres of this kind of free form rubbish. Examining a kettle spews forth a similar torrent of surreal mish mash. Whether the author thinks of himself as Spike Milligan, a member of the Monty Python team or Douglas Adams I'm not sure, but he fails on all fronts. Avant garde humour can be used sparingly and thus with deftness in skilled hands; once you've seen one clockwork shark though you don't need a whole menagerie of surreal beasties.

Beyond the all pervading "designed by a clever wacky student" smugness is a poor parser which frustrates in many locations; at one point in a tunnel you find a computer with a display. A sign proclaims that it requires a number to be typed in. The parser, however, does not understand the verb "type" on its own or any number either.

Type 1 on computer - "Not numeric format."
Type one on computer - Not numeric format."
Type 1 - " I do not understand the word 1."

And again in another room - a Games Room with an octopus who makes you play a game involving the removal of fourteen sweets from a plinth and the loser takes the last one.

Of course to win the game you have to say "Moccasin Beehive." Oh you merry student prankster you.

"Take sweet" - I can't see the sweet.
"Take two sweets" - I can't see the sweet.

Aaaargh - you just told me there are fourteen of the bloody things on the plinth in front of me!

"Put sweet in satchel" elicits an Adrift error "Bad Expression %object1%. Size"

At this point I realised the game was being philanthropic towards me by closing itself down. I really had suffered enough.

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Robin Johnson, November 19, 2018 - Reply
I think the Adrift version was made much later. Cluley's homebrew parser, made in Pascal I think, for this and Jacaranda Jim was pretty good, except for the lack of UNDO. (If you don't like the humour in Humbug you won't like JJ either, though.)
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