As if I needed another mindless, addicting Internet game to distract me, along comes archive.org’s DOS games. Playing old DOS games on the Internet was not new to me; ever since my ex in Israel showed me Abandonia, I spent many hours pressing the space bar on my childhood favorite Where in Europe is Carmen Sandiego? and all those figure-it-out, travel-adventure games. Eventually, the mindlessness got me bored, so I forgot about it for awhile, but when archive.org went viral recently, I checked it out again, and found…
I mean…hello? Where was this game when I was in elementary school?
Because this shit is awesome.
The premise of the game, kind of like the Carmen Sandiego series, is to follow clues and go around the world, only you don’t have to deal with the whole “making a dossier” thing, you just get to find stuff and bring it back to a home base for points. It’s almost like you’re the villain! SWEET.
There are three levels. At beginner, you just fly around the world picking up stuff, which gets boring once you get the hang of it. At the intermediate level, you get fewer flight points, harder clues, and you compete against Natasha, a not-so-bright villain herself who mostly flies around in circles, constantly checking clues so you don’t have to.
But then, I tried the advanced level…and hoo boy. An actual challenge. There is some devious stuff going on.
At the advanced level, you have no choice; you’re pitted against Otto, who can make super-quick, super-long flights, like from Southern Africa to Northern Europe; redirect your plane if he wants; steal one of your items if he wants (bastard), and says nasty things to throw you off. It took me a good few hours (and the average game lasts about 10 minutes) before I could beat him at his own game, and I finally did once yesterday, but then resumed losing to him until just now, twice: first, when he ran out of tickets somewhere in India chasing down the final object, a pomegranate located in Shanghai, and I had exactly enough to make it there and grab it, and then a second time when we were looking for the final two items, he found his somewhere in East Asia and I found the last one two turns later in Kuwait, automatically giving me the win. Even without Otto, it’s a challenge notwithstanding; almost every country in the world is represented with at least one city, even often ignored places like Malabo, Equatorial Guinea; Nuku’alofa, Tonga; and Vaduz, Liechtenstein. A few territories are represented too, like Martinique and French Guiana. More popular/sizable countries like Germany, China, India, and others have a few cities to choose from. The only countries not represented are those that did not exist when the game was created – the game includes 3 cities in the USSR, Belgrade in “Yugoslavia” – or those that hadn’t become independent yet, like Eritrea, Palau, and the Marshall Islands. The objects themselves are kind of odd too, and some are very vague, like a sled, which could be anywhere from Novosibirsk to Anchorage, or a box of chocolates, which could be almost anywhere. Or it’s something I’ve never heard of before like a pocketful of dobra, a bottle of chibuku, or a sastruga. Also, each city has multiple possible objects; in one game, I had to go to Tokyo for a samisen, and in the next I had to go there for ikebana. And then there’s the flight situation – you can’t always fly to the closest city, sometimes you need to go through another country or another continent. This does make some cities more convenient than others; never would I have picked Laayoune, Western Sahara, to be the main route between the Americas and Europe/Northern Africa, or have to go through Vancouver or Honolulu to get from Anchorage to Los Angeles. There are occasional clues, but you have to remember where things are, how to get there, and how to do so before running out of tickets, which you can pick up for handing in correct objects or lose for flying in an ice storm or a typhoon.
I started working on this blog post the other day, before I was able to beat the game, so I could walk you through my frustration through screencaps. As I said, I ended up being able to beat it a few times, so if you’re too busy to play the game (or fear that you’ll but still want to come along for the ride, let’s do that right now.
So, we’re starting out in good ol’ Manila. I have no clue what any of these items are, but I’m thinking that the metical might have something to do with Africa, so I’ll head there first.
Oh, Otto, go home, you’re drunk.
Okay, on my way to Africa. Yay, I get to fly to Hanoi, Vietnam! There’s a little song that plays and I can watch myself fly over Southeast Asia, but I can space bar through that.
Onto Rangoon (Yangon), Burma (Myanmar), I get the gift of three free tickets! Yay!
Oh, and every time you land somewhere, you get a little blurb about where you are, the history, what to do there, etc. Good to know, in case I want to come back and visit “the world’s largest book” or I run low on cash and need some diamonds to trade.
After a random clue appears and my co-pilot Wikipedia confirms, I head south and west to Maputo, Mozambique. After I dig around, score! A metical appears! One point for That’sSoJacob!
I think I got tired of pressing print screen, but I did jot down in Word that after this, I remembered that the dhow was from the Persian Gulf, so I hop around there trying to find it in different cities, finally landing on it in the last place I look; Doha, Qatar. I’m running low on tickets to I head back to Manila to turn in my items when two others show up. One of them is a magnifying glass from Baker Street, and since Otto’s somewhere in South America, I head from Manila to London via Papua New Guinea, Tuvalu, Western Samoa, the USA, Western Sahara, Spain, and France (remind me never to do that in real life, that sounds awful and expensive) and grab the magnifying glass. By now, a few more items have been revealed, including a hazelnut cake, and the clues point somewhere in the Middle East, so I look through Tehran, Baghdad, and Kabul before I realize I’m running out of tickets and drop the magnifying glass in Manila, revealing that another hidden artifact, Mack the Knife. Guess I gotta go to Germany.
I go back the way I came to get to Germany, but oh noes! I land in Leipzig only to run out of tickets, and that’s the game.
Other than that, I actually did manage to get some stuff done today, like getting new gloves at Kohl’s (women’s size large, don’t judge me), Batteries Plus, Goldberg’s, Best Buy, the post office, Starbucks, and dinner with my best friend. I drove around York Road so many times I felt like I was on my own treasure hunt.
Oh, and I just passed the 600 follower mark with Dottie Daniels, aka The Write Perspective, so visit her blog now.
And if you play this game and enjoy it, post some screen caps and link me so I don’t feel so weird and alone flying around the world in my bedroom.