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Laugh while you can, monkey-boy, June 10, 2011
I hadn't played any Scott Adams games before encountering Buckaroo Banzai, but I did recently read Nick Montfort's Twisty Little Passages, so I had a rough idea of what to expect. It's probably unfair to dwell on the game's technical limitations, as it's an old game made under tight memory constraints. I'll just note that even though I was prepared for a two-word parser and small vocabulary, I was still amazed at how primitive the gameplay was, given the year of publication. I was exhausted after an hour, and tracked down a walkthrough. It didn't improve matters.
The real crime here is that the game has virtually nothing to do with Buckaroo Banzai. I love the film; I can quote it chapter and verse. It's got a richly detailed world (almost impenetrable, really, on first viewing), terrific heroes and villains, and it's howlingly funny. It deserves a good IF adaptation.
This is a miserable one. There are no Hong Kong Cavaliers, no Lectroids (red or black), no Secretary of Defense, no Penny Priddy, no Kolodny Brothers or Rugsuckers or Blue Blaze Irregulars, no neurosurgery, no particle physics, no rock and roll, no laughs and no action. Most of the game is spent laboriously gathering and using items to refuel a car. The greatest insult comes at the end, when we learn that (Spoiler - click to show)to defuse a bomb, we need to transmit the code "warfin" [sic]. This despite a memorable scene in the film where John Lithgow spells out his name to a telephone operator: "That's W-H-O-R-F-I-N. You got that, honey?" Perhaps it's an homage of sorts to the Red Lectroids' misadventures with English, but given the rather lax attention to spelling and grammar throughout the game, I doubt it.