The ideal of "getting home for Christmas" is tinged with romance, conjuring images of rushing through snow and the chaos of transit to that ultimate family seat. For most of us, though, that holiday-card vision is a lot more complicated, and it's that painful, conflicting space that text game Bus Station: Unbound aims to evoke.
In Bus Station: Unbound, you can't rely on weather or the logic of whimsical urban transit any more than you can rely on your own family or the inexplicable magnet that suggests you ought to return to them. The transit hub you wander, lonesome and hungry and cold, is haunted by its own ghosts, other people whose pangs and circumstances will draw you into their orbit. Intellectually you have a goal, but your heart and spirit have manifold others, and they are sometimes at odds.
It's a text-only game made with Inklewriter, an incredibly simple and readable tool that even I can use (I once made a game about saving a pig, Bushwick, foodie culture and wild nights). If you can read and make choices, you can explore Bus Station: Unbound, and its incredibly piquant prose that conjures all the spiritual weight of returning to your hometown in the dead of winter.
Bus Station: Unbound is developed by Curious Tales and is free to play in your browser, but the developers would appreciate donations if you appreciate the experience -- a fair ask, given that there are some 100,000 words contained therein.
Yesterday, March 11, was Douglas Adams' birthday. Did you know you can celebrate by playing the 1984 Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy game in your browser at work this instant?
Although games made with a text parser -- you know, where you type commands like TURN ON LIGHT or LOOK IN POCKET or S to travel "south" through described space -- are increasingly a lost art, the Hitchhiker's Guide game, made by Adams and Infocom's Steve Meretzky, was radically accessible for its time. The game playfully teaches you how to succeed at its opening circumstance by letting you die repeatedly in ways that quickly acclimate you to its sense of time, space, and humor.
The frustrating thing (or the beautiful thing, if you're like me) about old text games is the limitations of what they can understand. But the Hitchhiker's Guide game was downright literary for its time, empathetic to uncommon commands, skilled at understanding what the player wanted to do. It holds up well even today.
Give it a try. Maybe help each other out in the comments?
You can also emulate it a little more neatly with help from this crucial abandonware repository and an emulator like DOXBox or similar.
In honour of the 30th anniversary of the brilliant (and incredibly frustrating) Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy text adventure game, BBC Radio 4 Extra have recreated the game in an online edition. I remember playing this for endless hours, with my Peril Sensitive Sunglasses perched on my forehead, repeatedly typing "look." The R4 version allows for saved games, so you can come back to it. You can also play the 20th anniversary edition.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Game - 30th Anniversary Edition
(Thanks, Fipi Lele!)
Mastaba Snoopy is surreal and wonderful dystopian science fiction choose-your-own adventure whose premise is that an all-powerful alien has mistaken a Peanuts book for a guide to human interaction, and enslaved humanity according to its principles. It's built on Twee and Tiddlywiki:
1. An Unknown Alien Being acquires a child's forgotten book and mistakenly beliefs that it depicts proper protocol for interaction with the human world.
2. It grows and converts all life into more of itself, like a living strangelet - emotionless spacial cancer.
It can shapeshift or divide at will and learns quickly. Each mass it breaks off possesses its own intelligence.
3. The new being filters everything it perceives through the lens of Peanuts comics. It mimics characters, but with no understanding of how they fit together.
A computer-generated collage. It doesn't understand human rules - but it does understands the laws of Peanuts.
4. After many years, the Milky Way and surrounding galaxies have been entirely overtaken by this single entity. Suddenly deprived of food, the organism begins to STAGNATE.
5. The organism transforms into a distorted parody of the former planet Earth, a foul, expansive hellworld - filtered, again, through Peanuts.
End result: There exists an infinite, nonsensical world with all locations, living things, and social interaction based on half-remembered dreams.
Thousands of years to fester and the memory is going bad, the original book having been long since lost in the constant churning reshaping. This new, living world has been dying for millenia.
You are here to watch an alien rot.
(Image: Snoopy's World in New Town Plaza, Sha Tin, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from edwin11's photostream)