A Tale of the Cave

by Snoother profile

Humor, Poetry

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Number of Reviews: 3
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This game, though small, filks McGonagall/A poet so bad it makes us glad, May 5, 2022
by Andrew Schultz (Chicago)

The author told me about this game long ago and I never got around to playing it. He hasn't logged in for 5 years (since 2017) and seems to have disowned some of his early stuff, but this remains. It's a tribute to the very bad poetry of William McGonagall, which is now available in the public domain. I think I went and read it all and forgot to come back to ToC. One thing sticks with me more than any of his poems: someone claimed McGonagall would think twice about moving away from Dundee before the year 1893.

ToC is blandly titled and has little plot, and the only puzzle is an odd one, but that's appropriate, given how McGonagall's poetry itself is not especially rich, and it explores well-known rhymes and overused images. ToC is rather short and all in poetry, with very few rooms and only one real puzzle, but of course too much McGonagall could be, well, too much. At some point, we get the point, and that's that. The cadences are all in the McGonagall style, and years after reading him, I wasn't able to pick out what was original stuff by the author and what was fake. But it was all pleasant. McGonagall wasn't particularly known for his epic poems, and those that were kind of ruined the joke.

There are other, deeper poetry-based games out there, but this is amusing and a nice introduction, and I wish I'd remembered to look at ToC before the author left, so I could say thanks to him.

ToC feels like something that could be expanded a bit for other projects or for other authors (I'd love if someone did an Amanda McKitrick Ros matchup, as bad prose tends to take longer to grate than bad poetry--I believe the author may have let me know about her, too!) and there have certainly been more robust efforts. But this does the job for what it wants to be, and if the author has rejected other juvenilia, he has his reasons, but he was right to keep this up. It's a small joke but a good one.