Pick Up The Phone Booth And Die

by Rob Noyes

Joke
1996

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Number of Reviews: 11
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Clever But Underimplemented, December 13, 2020

This is certainly a minimalistic work, but the title actually undersells it. In a clever twist, picking up the phone booth and dying is only half of what Pick Up The Phone Booth And Die has to offer. Uncovering the other half is the real challenge here.

There are a lot of things I like about this game. It's efficient, in that it manages to pack a lot of punch into an extremely small package - with only two potential actions of consequence, only one of which can be executed in a single playthrough. The metatextual aspect, using the game's title to give crucial information even before play begins, is a neat trick as well.

But it has to be said that the game is woefully under-implemented. There are quite a few things that are described in the text but not implemented as objects: the town, the square, the smiley face. There are also quite a few default failure responses to actions that really ought to have been given more attention. I was disappointed, for example, that smelling or touching the phone booth yields only Inform's default message. With a world this small, it would have been relatively easy to really focus on the details, but unfortunately they haven't received so much care.

At the core of this game is a pretty good joke. But I feel that the best jokes are those which go all-out. Pick Up The Phone Booth And Die, unfortunately, does not.


11 of 11 people found the following review helpful:
A Masterpiece for the Modern Age, September 6, 2020
by deathbytroggles (Minneapolis, MN)

When looking at the reviews so far for this game I am, frankly, surprised and appalled. A plurality of folks (probably well-meaning folks, but you never know) gave it only one star. Please bear with me as I dissect how very wrong they are.

I know we can't strictly rate games by their time period but one has to give credit to Rob Noyes to not falling into the traps that were common for the time.

Instant Death Rooms: None to be found. In fact, you are given fair (one might even say explicit) warning of any possible deaths. Zarf would have no choice but to give this game a merciful rating, a rarity in 1996.

Crimes Against Mimesis: None to be found. There is no need to explain why a phone booth is in a nondescript New England town in 1996, as phone booths were still fairly common. Even the haunting message from the operator one hears upon victory (is it victory?) is a testament to the harsh realities of telecommunication in the nineties.

Unrealistic Inventory Restrictions: None to be found. In fact, much like today's games that aren't as obsessed with inventory, you are strongly discouraged here from carrying anything!

Guess The Verb: I found at least one synonym for the game-winning action, and the most obvious verb is used anyway. One might argue that the puzzle itself is a leap of logic, but honestly, who hasn't wanted to do that to a phone booth?

Confusing Maps: Wait, so when I go southwest from the castle entrance to the antechamber, I have to go north to get back to the castle entrance? I don't know either, man. What I can tell you is that you won't have to worry about a map. Just you, a phone booth, and your wits.

Absurd Length: Noyes really anticipated the player of 2020. Who hasn't played Curses! or The Muldoon Legacy and died a little inside from the monotony (and a little on the outside from banging one's head into the monitor)? No such worries here. You can play this entire game and still have time to take your dog for a walk or remember to feed your children.

I could go on, but needless to say if you haven't given Noyes' timeless classic a try then you've probably lived too complicated a life.


2 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
A silly but well-known game, February 3, 2016

Pick up the phone booth and die has one idea: try picking up the phone booth. Then die. Exactly one related action will win the game instead.

I had always heard of this game, and played it once or twice. After deciding to write this review, I investigated its history. It seems it was nominated for an XYZZY award for Best Puzzle in 1997. It was simultaneously released with a demo for Pick Up the Phone Booth and Die, part 2, which is still available as a demo on ifdb.

Most of the praise the game receives is due to its minimalism.You might as well try it because it is so short.

It inspired the much better game, Pick Up The Phone Booth and Aisle, which parodies both this game and Aisle (where every action ends the game in a different ending).


3 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
Other Games Do It Better, March 25, 2012
by Jim Kaplan (Jim Kaplan has a room called the location. The location of Jim Kaplan is variable.)
Related reviews: rob noyes, one-room, short

Play it if: you have fairly low standards for joke IF.

Don't play it if: you prefer a bit more elegance in your parodies.

In brief, Pick Up The Phone Booth And Die is a punchline game, where the whole point of the thing is just one big joke. This doesn't have to make it bad, but while games such as Adam Cadre's 9:05 and even Ian Haberkorn's Conan Kill Everything accomplish this with some degree of elegance, Pick Up The Phone Booth And Die has basically no replay value - because its joke is one-note. A funnier and thus more effective game might have resulted if the objective had been to avoid picking up the phone booth at all costs, in spite of various incentives to do so.

There's not much to say about a game that has so little to recommend it and so little to damn it. It's too insubstantial to even be considered a waste of time, but that's not really a good reason to play it, is it?


0 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Ha ha., August 2, 2011

A joke game that wasn't that funny; but at least it wasn't annoying.


1 of 7 people found the following review helpful:
Pointless, February 2, 2011

Just read the title instead.


13 of 14 people found the following review helpful:
Don't be hating, November 2, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

Okay, it's clearly a joke game. And yes, it's a one room game with only one item in it- the phone booth.

And as the title says, if you pick up the phone booth, you will die.

The writing is very cute. I enjoy how it your score is related, whether you die or win. (Yes, there is a winning ending). Despite other reviews, it's really not all that hard to find- I found it on my second try (after picking it up, of course!)

Don't expect too much, it's a joke game. But I've played others that aren't funny. This one was. Play it for a laugh. Then move on. But don't hate on it, because it does well what it promises to do.


8 of 15 people found the following review helpful:
Disappointing, April 21, 2008
by Tracy Poff (Hamlin, West Virginia, United States)
Related reviews: XYZZY Awards 1997

There's just not enough here to satisfy. One does not expect a joke game to be a great work of art, but does expect (or rather hope) that it should be funny. PUTPBAD isn't very funny to begin with, and I don't particularly like the style of 'humour' that relies on insulting the player, as PUTPBAD does when you lose. Winning, too, is unsatisfying, and the humour is similarly unamusing, though not abusive.

In short, the only thing this game has to recommend it is that it is well-known. It is not worth playing for its own sake.


5 of 12 people found the following review helpful:
A one-joke game, December 29, 2007
by Kake (London, England)
Related reviews: Rob Noyes, **

I only played this because I'd heard you need to play it in order to enjoy Pick Up the Phone Booth and Aisle. It turns out you don't. If you like one-joke games, play this; if you don't, don't.


1 of 9 people found the following review helpful:
Read this review and die, December 25, 2007

Probably one of the most controversial games in the history of IF. The humor isn't the best one around and the puzzle is quite hard without a walkthrough.



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