Pick Up the Phone Booth and Dye

by Eric Schmidt

Satire/Joke
2002

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A Clever Gag, But Lacking Gravity, December 14, 2020

The original, venerable Pick Up The Phone Booth And Die has inspired quite a few parodies. Among them, Pick Up the Phone Booth and Dye is notable for the cleverness of its premise, but its execution is not all that it could be.

The premise is a winner: taking a game that was already a joke, and adding a new layer of humor by reinventing it around a pun. The implementation surpasses that of the original, in that most of what is described can actually be interacted with in several sensible ways, although it still leaves much to be desired (e.g. the protagonist has a default description, the dye's odor is not described, etc.).

But I feel that this game doesn't have all the heart of the original. Players of Pick Up The Phone Booth And Die will recall that it evoked a world with a certain personality. Perhaps a thin and Nyquil-soaked personality, but a personality nonetheless. The small New England town's once-proud, graffiti-covered phone booth, stubbornly resisting the player despite its best days clearly being behind it, made for a compelling antagonist. But Pick Up the Phone Booth and Dye, unfortunately, does not share this level of characterization. Here, we are presented with a bland, ordinary phone booth in an utterly unremarkable location. In the original, we were given an adversarial relationship between the protagonist and the booth; here, we are given basically no insight into the protagonist's motives.

For these reasons, I feel that this game suffers from a palpable lack of emotional gravity. It didn't resonate with me in spite of its clever premise.