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Resurrected reptilian runaround from early '90s, January 27, 2021
An entertaining runaround with a silly story and no pretensions beyond being a bit of harmless fun, this retro game is decidedly my kind of thing. I haven’t played any of Ryan Veeder’s self-authored games, but from what I can gather the style here is, coincidentally, not dissimilar: it’s light-hearted and frequently quite funny, the writing is witty and concise, the puzzles are relatively merciful, there is a large map to wander around and explore and plenty of characters to chat to. I haven’t finished it yet – games of this length I tend to play on and off, so it will take me a while – but from what I’ve seen so far, I would highly recommend it.
If that was all there was to it, then this review might end here – but there is a real-world backstory attached that is as interesting as the game itself. The game is a long-forgotten relic, based on and contemporary with the spooky Crocodracula US kids TV series from the early 1990s, a copy of which was discovered by prolific IF author Ryan Veeder and ported to Inform for the convenience of present-day IF aficionados. UK TV historians (there are a couple of us) and players of a certain age (there are many more of us) may recall that, in 1993, this quirky series did air briefly in the UK on Tyne Tees’ Saturday morning children’s show Gimme 5, before it was pulled after a complaint from Thames Television citing the 1990 Broadcasting Act (an obscure stipulation of which was that all children’s TV shows broadcast on the ITV network before 12pm on Saturdays should have a minimum 15% UK production stake). The show was replaced by the homegrown Danger Mouse after just three episodes. It could therefore reasonably be claimed that Margaret Thatcher killed Crocodracula, at least in the UK – after chewing up the nationalised industries and eating the NUM alive, she had this show for afters, and no more was heard of it ever again.
We should be grateful to Mr Veeder for unearthing this obscure but entertaining cultural artefact and resurrecting it for the pleasure of nostalgic oldies – and, perhaps, for introducing a whole new generation of fans to this most obscure of TV franchises.