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A bit of a mess, but maybe that's the goal, September 9, 2022
What is this game about? I still have a hard time with understanding the premise but let me do my best in explaining the backstory. While at a New Year’s party you had the impulse of getting a Texas Instruments calculator surgically implanted in your brain. You found some medical staff who worked for Texas Instruments and gave them drinks in exchange for the operation. You wake up in 2003 by a man and a group of children who inform you that Y2K had passed, during which robots enslaved humanity. Since technically you are a cyborg, you supposedly have a better change at overthrowing the robot overlords. I think. I would love to hear from the author or other players about whether I summarized this accurately.
This game describes itself as a "math adventure." It has math themes, not math puzzles. Do not expect something like A Beauty and Cold Austere.
I have always liked Texas Instruments calculators. My first graphing calculator had a screen that displayed things in (gasp) colour! There was nothing revolutionary about this. The only difference was that it was a little more expensive than a black and white one. But still, I liked that I could use colour-coded lines in my graphs. These recollections inspired me to play this game.
The setting appears to take place on a train. As the player defeats and/or interacts with robots, they meet all sorts of creative, though often confusing, character. Usually, the player is presented with two options at a time to advance the story. Each playthrough is short and the game is meant to be played multiple times.
The gameplay consists of clumsy humor. Consider this scene of trying to overthrow a robot in a train car (mild profanity warning):
(Spoiler - click to show)
You point at the calculator jutting out of your head. "I'm not a human anymore. Cyborg. So piss off."
"NEGATORY. *YOU* PISS OFF."
Which I did find humorous at times. I did smile. Maybe not the pinnacle of comedy but the sheer wackiness sometimes draws a laugh. But most of the game’s content is too disjointed to sustain its humor.
Texas Instruments Theater is an entrant in ShuffleComp. Its train setting and storyline of a cyborg protagonist facing off against robot overlords adheres to some of the songs that the game is based on. There are other songs as well but were harder to pick out from the chaotic gameplay.
There are multiple endings (14 total!), which is great, but they feel abrupt without any substantial resolutions to the story. If you click on the “Options” button at the bottom of the screen you can choose to revisit different plot points which makes it easier to experience every ending. One ending (Spoiler - click to show) features a built-in ad for eBay (or least a pretend ad).
The game’s appearance is not quite your default Twine look. It has a cream-coloured background with black text and blue links, but the top and bottom of the screen have a black band with large beige links. This provided a bit of a unique look although I had to zoom out of my browser window because the edges were cut off.
The game is short enough that if you are in the mood for some bizarre story content, I would recommend this. Or if you are curious about a story based on Texas Instruments calculators. After all, that is what drew me to this game. To put it simply: Confusing but unique, with bits of humor.