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Remastered version
This version has several new and/​or changed puzzles as compared to the original release.
Requires a Glulx interpreter. Visit IFWiki for download links.
Story File
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Source Code
This is CC-By-SA 2.​0
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The Origin of Madame Time

by Mathbrush profile

Episode 2 of The Owl Consults Extended Universe

(based on 19 ratings)
5 reviews

About the Story

As an avid fan of superheroes and a harsh critic of villains, the battle over the abandoned amusement park captured your imagination. But when the nuclear airship Mephistopheles exploded above you, it seemed like all was lost--that is, until your latent powers manifested, and you became Madame Time! Explore a frozen world of unbridled power! Use the abilities of hero and villain alike to save the day!

The Origin of Madame Time is a simple (12K word) inform game set in a single moment of time in a small amusement park. The game is more difficult than my past games, and features less conversation. Madame Time has two hint systems using your powers of Foresight and Aftersight. This game was created in fulfillment of an IFComp 2017 prize.

Game Details


Nominee - Werewolf/moon puzzle, Best Individual Puzzle - 2018 XYZZY Awards

17th Place - 24th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2018)


With the help of a new crop of playtesters, Iíve released an expanded, revised and remastered version of the Origin of Madame Time. I hope you enjoy the new puzzles!
Reported by MathBrush | History | Edit | Delete
I've added the source code for this game to the IFArchive. It is CC by SA 2.0, basically meaning that you can use it for what you want as long as you mention where you got it from somewhere.
Reported by MathBrush | History | Edit | Delete
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Editorial Reviews


I struggled with something I was enjoying in the beginning. I wanted to like this game, but I have to be honest with myself and not score the game higher...I will say, it does have some good puzzles that did work. But because at it's core it has only one meta puzzle, and that puzzle felt broken for me, the game scored lower than it should.
Score: 7
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McT's Interactive Fiction Reviews

[A] strongly implemented, well written and funny game. Other aspects I really enjoyed were the concise bioís of the NPCís in the notebook, the post ending text was very funny, and the light and humorous prose.

My one caveat is that the game, as it is, might just be a little too slight Ė it feels like this could have been expanded significantly Ė both the depth of the narrative and the extent of the gameplay.
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Good Old Days
+ Throws you right into the action and gives you the right amount of information
+ Still has a detailed and believable (as far as super heros go) background
+ Interesting puzzles which feel organic to the scenario
+ Many different endings
- Super hero fatigue
- Minor flaws in the game world's logic: some things can move, others not
= Astounding: An origin story which makes want you want to see more!
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Xenographyer's 2018 IFComp Reviews
This game was cute and flavorful and the main puzzle was fun and reasonable to solve (I imagine some people may find it too easy, but Iím bad at puzzles, so)...So, all in all, solidly enjoyable, but itís really very slight--the one-hour estimate is overgenerous, I think, unless you get incredibly hung up on some puzzle and wonít resort to Foresight.
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Facets of BrettW
My only concerns with the puzzles were the goofy carrying limits, and gathering each and every character at the end is almost busy work. But the writing is charming, the setting is enjoyable, and the polish makes this short romp well worth your time.
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Number of Reviews: 5
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Most Helpful Member Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Emminently likeable, July 10, 2019
by Victor Gijsbers (The Netherlands)

Iím not a fan of superheroes. Perhaps you need to be at least a little bit sympathetic to the American libertarian/frontier mentality to enjoy fictions about this one guy who can go and solve problems that society as a whole canít fix! Or maybe itís just that I didnít grow up with superhero comics. My childhood was defined by the Flemish comic Suske & Wiske, in which one of the good guys, Jerom, is as preternaturally strong as any superhero. But the writer ends up devising ever more complicated ways of getting Jerom out of the story, because his entrance solves every possible problem immediately. Boring. Thatís why superheroes need supervillains, I guess, but then why bother going to the level of super?

Also: why bother with this introduction? Well, only to point out that it is entirely irrelevant to my appreciation of The Origin of Madame Time, since MathBrushís effort is not in fact a superheroes game. Of course, it looks like one. Itís chock full of superheroes! But theyíre all frozen in time, so theyíre not doing anything; and you yourself do not have any special powers that you can use to solve the problems you are confronted with. Admittedly, you have the power to unfreeze time, which is spectacular enough. But you can only use it after solving the problems, not in order to solve them. So we end up with a very human puzzle game, even if it is set in colourful surroundings and uses a plethora of what are, for all means and purposes, magic items. There is not a single action sequence Ė we are light years removed from the Earth and Sky series.

The Origin of Madame Time ends up being a game that I find very easy to like. The puzzles arenít trivial, but they wonít stump a seasoned adventurer. The setting and the set of characters are memorable. The implementation is top notch, and the humour is light but effective. It doesnít break new ground, but it makes me smile. Since I assume that that is precisely its main purpose, I would declare it a clear success.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Short, Clever and Great Fun, November 23, 2018
by J. J. Guest (London, England)
Related reviews: IF Comp 2018

In this short, puzzle-centric game, we play as a young woman with a newly acquired superpower - the ability to stop time. Our job is to save a group of superheroes (and villains) from a nuclear explosion which we have put into a state of stasis.

As with all of Mathbrush's games, The Origin of Madame Time is clever, well implemented and fun to play. The action-packed superhero genre is a tough one to pull off in IF, but Mathbrush achieves it here by presenting the action just as it appears in a comic book - as a series of static vignettes. The puzzle mechanic is also clever; we must utilise the powers of the different characters in order to get them to safety.

Where it is less successful is in its sense of priorities. The exploding airship, which ought to have been front and centre, is not seen until some way into the game. In some of the descriptions, important details and bits of biographical trivia are given equal weight, which robs the setting of some of its drama.

The Origin of Madame Time was written as a sequel to The Owl Consults, but it is not necessary to have played the earlier game in order to enjoy this one. Both games are great fun, and highly recommended.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Fun, bite-sized puzzler, November 21, 2018

Last year Mathbrush donated "A short (~30 minute) game based on the author's work" to the IFComp prize pool. I was hoping to get this prize, but it was chosen by the authors of the game that came in one place higher than mine. :) (Instead, I ended up choosing custom artwork, which is excellent and that I love. I've had it framed, and it is now hanging prominently on my office wall.)

Still, I have to thank Thomas Mack, Nick Mathewson, and Cidney Hamilton for choosing Mathbrush's prize. If they hadn't, then none of us would have this fun, bite-sized puzzler to enjoy.

Picking up at the end of the events of The Owl Consults, high school student Justine Thyme is caught in an abandoned amusement park witnessing a battle between several superheros and supervillains when Rex Dashing's nuclear-powered airship explodes. The cataclysm triggers her latent powers, and she inadvertently freezes the entire amusement park area in time.

The gameplay consists of using the frozen superheros' and supervillains' powers to solve a series of puzzles. It's a fun concept that's akin to having a set of magical powers. (Also, watch for a guest appearance by one of the characters from The Owl Consults.)

Mathbrush knows how to write games that head off player frustration, and this is in evidence once again with Madame Time. There aren't too many puzzles in this game (it's rather short), but there's plenty of cluing. There's also a wonderful hint system in the form of the FORESIGHT and AFTERSIGHT commands - a system that actually makes sense within the context of the story and so doesn't break your feeling of immersion in the game.

The understated and somewhat sly sense of humor present in Absence of Law shows up here as well. I got a big chuckle out of what amounts to a "For your amusement" option after completing the game.

I'm also impressed that Mathbrush managed to get this much game into 12K words in Inform.

My one critique is that the game feels a bit short. On the other hand, it's supposed to be short: That was, after all, the promise in the statement of the prize Mathbrush was offering. Still, I would love to see the story and gameplay in Madame Time extended; it would make it even more fun.

Overall, a fun, short puzzle game that you should play.

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The Origin of Madame Time on IFDB

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This is version 14 of this page, edited by Zape on 28 February 2020 at 11:12pm. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item - Delete This Page