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About the Story
"Zarf? you think to yourself. Could it be? The one and only Zarf? Xyzzy Award winner? IF Competition winner? The mighty Inscruitable One?
Winner, Best Game; Nominee, Best Story; Winner, Best NPCs; Nominee, Best Individual Puzzle; Nominee, Best Individual NPC; Nominee, Best Individual PC - 2000 XYZZY Awards
A parody of the movie Being John Malkovich; here, the target is IF luminary Andrew Plotkin, a.k.a. Zarf, author of Spider and Web, So Far, and other well-regarded games. In-jokey, to some extent--you'll probably get more out of this if (a) you've seen the movie and (b) you're familiar both with Zarf's games and with the IF community as a whole--but still playable without knowledge of the in-jokes. Highly linear with very few puzzles; you really can't get very far from the path the game sets out. This is a very funny effort, though, and it's amusing in a knowing way--the fights over identity that the movie depicts are adapted to the IF context in a way that acknowledges the confusion of the player-PC relationship.
-- Duncan Stevens
>VERBOSE -- Paul O'Brian's Interactive Fiction Page
I was the perfect audience for this game, or near-perfect anyway. I've seen and enjoyed Being John Malkovich, the film by Spike Jonze. I've hung around the IF scene for a long time. I've played every Plotkin game, even Inhumane. I've also played every Infocom game, which turns out to be helpful as well. Even with all that, I'm not sure I caught every reference (especially given the prodigious list of such references provided by the author in the endnotes), but I think I caught a lot of them. Consequently, I'm not sure how somebody who doesn't fulfill some or all of the above criteria would react to BAP, but I can tell you this: I thought it was a delight.
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[...] it turned out that the author very carefully both stuck to and deviated from the movie, in exactly the right way so that he could work economical fragments of humor by referencing the movie, and yet deliver jokes all his own.
-- Sean T Barrett
I found the execution of the idea hilarious (and I'm beginning to think I may have to go rent the movie if it's -anything- like this) and particularly with the bits and pieces that let you see the world in different ways (again, more under "NPCs"). To be perfectly honest, I didn't get the optimal ending, and I was in too much of a hurry to try replaying and fixing this, but for some reason that didn't faze me; perhaps just because what I'd experienced up to that point was... cool.
-- Tina Sikorski
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Number of Reviews: 4
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Most Helpful Member Reviews
The concept of the game is quite funny : it transposes the movie Being John Malkovitch into the interactive fiction world. I saw the movie before, and when I played it I could see all the references to this (odd) movie ; however, because of an imperfect knowledge of IF classics, I missed some other references to other interactive fiction games (the author provides a list of those references at the end of the game). The game is quite funny in itself too ; the story is linear (not a drawback for me though), and you can sometimes have the impression that you are watching a movie ; the implementation is good (though (Spoiler - click to show)you can take the copier in the early scenes because you can take it afterwards...). Not exactly a classic, but certainly a great game.
I have never seen Being John Malkovich, but this game is loosely based on it. In this game, you gain access to Andrew Plotkin (a.k.a. Zarf), author of games such as Shade, So Far, Spider and Web, and a million others. You play several characters, including Zarf and a couple of young lovebirds.
The game is relatively short, taking less than an hour. The humor is mostly absurd humor, with numerous references to Zarf's fiction. I had only played a few games at the time; it is probably worth it to work through a lot of Plotkin's games (like So Far and A Change in the Weather) before playing this game, or afterwards. Unfortunately, these games are extremely hard, so if you're not a puzzle fiend, consider a walkthrough.
Great writing, mostly good puzzles, and a fun setting. I recommend it for everyone.
Being Andrew Plotkin probably makes a good deal more sense if you've watched Being John Malkovich; so if you haven't seen it, you may well enjoy the game a lot less than I did. I'd definitely recommend watching the film first, if possible, since a fair bit of the amusement I got from the game came from remembering similar scenes in the film. I don't think playing the game first will make you enjoy the film any less, though; and I don't think it counts as a spoiler to note that it's certainly not a direct transplant from screen to, er, screen — and the ending is quite different.
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