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Story File
An expanded version of the game written with Inform 7. Release 3 removes the boxed quotation to allow the game to be played in Parchment.
Requires a Z-Code interpreter. Visit IFWiki for download links.
Story File
Contains yak​_shaving.taf
The original Odd Comp entry, written with Adrift 4.
Requires an ADRIFT version 4 interpreter. Visit IFWiki for download links.
Walkthroughs and maps
For both versions 1 and 2. By David Welbourn.

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Yak Shaving for Kicks and Giggles!

by J. J. Guest profile


Web Site

(based on 4 ratings)
2 reviews

About the Story

You are Steve Goodwin. You're a regular guy, young, successful, dynamic.

But a nagging question gnaws at your soul, undermines your joy at your success and interferes with the very business of living. For this is not an answer you can find in the pages of any book. What you yearn to know is the meaning of life itself!

But then you learned about a man, a guru of great wisdom, endowed with the miraculous 'supreme realization', who could teach you the secrets of the universe! A six-hundred-year-old hermit, living at the top of a mountain in a kingdom most right-thinking people assume to be a myth. A man known as the Dada Lama!

And this is why we find you now, after many months of journeying, of fruitless searching, beaten and battered by the uncaring elements, in this mysterious valley hidden deep within the mountains...

...the mystical valley of Shangri-La!

Yak Shaving for Kicks and Giggles! is a humorous quest for spiritual enlightenment involving a yak, a disposable razor, a jar of pickled eggs and the abominable snowman.

Game Details


3rd Place - The Odd Competition


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Number of Reviews: 2
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Amusing parody of a quest for enlightenment, December 18, 2018

Yak Shaving for Kicks and Giggles! is a short, light-hearted parody of a quest for spiritual enlightenment, complete with Dada Lama and 1970s-style aesthetics. Once I realized what the plot was I immediately thought of the Animaniacs episode where Yakko, Wakko, and Dot meet the Wally Llama. There are some similarities in tone - for example, the solution to one of the puzzles would fit right into an Animaniacs episode - but for the most part Yak Shaving's humor isn't quite so physical.

And there are a handful of puzzles to solve. I found some of the solutions to be a bit on the absurd side, but this is in keeping with the game's sense of humor. Plus the puzzles are always well-clued, and so the offbeat solutions come across as fair rather than frustrating.

There's even a meta-joke going on here, although I didn't catch it until I did some searching after finishing the game. Wikipedia defines "yak shaving" as "Any apparently useless activity which, by allowing you to overcome intermediate difficulties, allows you to solve a larger problem." Which, of course, is a good description of a lot of puzzle-heavy IF games. So Yak Shaving for Kicks and Giggles! ends up being a joke on multiple levels: As a traditional IF puzzle game in terms of structure, most of Yak Shaving is "yak shaving" - and it features yak shaving as well.

Personally, I prefer the author's games Alias 'The Magpie' and To Hell in a Hamper, but I did enjoy Yak Shaving for Kicks and Giggles!, and it elicited several chuckles from me as well. If you like the sense of humor present in J. J. Guest's other work, you should try this one.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Not a Ren and Stimpy tribute, but plenty absurd, September 6, 2023
by Andrew Schultz (Chicago)

I'd have played Yak Shaving sooner, but for whatever reason, I fixated on that Ren and Stimpy episode I remembered that wasn't one of my favorites. I did not need to read that in text form.

What I didn't realize was that yak shaving had become a general term for the distracting stuff you need to do just to get through life that gets in the way of the big stuff you want to do. And the author relied more on that, and it's more a satire of, well, all sorts of things. There's a yeti and a yak and a corrupt Dada Lama. With a description like "A more or less matching pair of yak's wool socks, size 90," it's pretty clear things aren't at any great risk of going basso-profundo.

YS has two versions, Adrift and Inform, and I preferred the Inform version, being bigger, though it clocked in only at eight rooms. The author had promised some new locations, but some entirely different ones popped up instead. This only adds to the surrealism, of course.

It starts as a tongue-in-cheek quest for enlightenment. An acolyte tells you you can't see the Dada Lama while carrying any possessions. You, in a way, pass the Lama's "knowledge" to the acolyte. Helping the yak helps you unfreeze a yeti. Some items have the sort of uses you'd expect in a silly game. The end is of the "I learned I learned nothing at all, and nobody can" variety. Though it was surprisingly uplifting. Along the way, of course, you bash some zen tropes that have been done to death, but they're rather fun to kick a bit further.

For some reason I built YS up to be more than it was, even though the author generally goes in for shorter stuff (Excalibur excepted.) So it was nice to get around to it. Ironically I may have done a lot of yak-shaving (to use a new term I was enlightened with) instead of playing YSKG, and what's more, I recognized YSKG as a sort of yak-shaving for my own goals of writing text adventures, which have become yak-shaving for writing actual literature. This made me feel dumb and small until I looked through the jokes again. Then I felt better.

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Yak Shaving for Kicks and Giggles! on IFDB

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