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About the Story
A very short game. Whatever you do, do not pick up the phone booth; well, you can guess from the title what happens if you do.
Language: English (en)
Current Version: 619
Development System: Inform 5
Baf's Guide ID: 176
Pick Up the Phone Booth and Aisle, by David Dyte, Steve Bernard, Dan Shiovitz, Iain Merrick, Liza Daly, John Cater, Ola Sverre Bauge, J. Robinson Wheeler, Jon Blask, Dan Schmidt, Stephen Granade, Rob Noyes, and Emily ShortFollowed by sequel Pick Up The Phone Booth And Die 2, by Rob Noyes
Pick up the phone booth and Cry, by Danny Miok
Pick Up the Phone Booth and Dye, by Eric Schmidt
Referenced in The Amazing Maze, by Daniel Gunnell
Nominee - The hole game, Best Individual Puzzle - 1997 XYZZY Awards
The self-proclaimed classic of minimalist design: There is a phone booth in front of you. If you pick it up, you will die. What do you do? Would be a waste of time, were it not so short as to be almost nonexistent.
-- Carl Muckenhoupt
|Average Rating: |
Number of Reviews: 10
Write a review
Okay, it's clearly a joke game. And yes, it's a one room game with only one item in it- the phone booth.
And as the title says, if you pick up the phone booth, you will die.
The writing is very cute. I enjoy how it your score is related, whether you die or win. (Yes, there is a winning ending). Despite other reviews, it's really not all that hard to find- I found it on my second try (after picking it up, of course!)
Don't expect too much, it's a joke game. But I've played others that aren't funny. This one was. Play it for a laugh. Then move on. But don't hate on it, because it does well what it promises to do.
When looking at the reviews so far for this game I am, frankly, surprised and appalled. A plurality of folks (probably well-meaning folks, but you never know) gave it only one star. Please bear with me as I dissect how very wrong they are.
I know we can't strictly rate games by their time period but one has to give credit to Rob Noyes to not falling into the traps that were common for the time.
Instant Death Rooms: None to be found. In fact, you are given fair (one might even say explicit) warning of any possible deaths. Zarf would have no choice but to give this game a merciful rating, a rarity in 1996.
Crimes Against Mimesis: None to be found. There is no need to explain why a phone booth is in a nondescript New England town in 1996, as phone booths were still fairly common. Even the haunting message from the operator one hears upon victory (is it victory?) is a testament to the harsh realities of telecommunication in the nineties.
Unrealistic Inventory Restrictions: None to be found. In fact, much like today's games that aren't as obsessed with inventory, you are strongly discouraged here from carrying anything!
Guess The Verb: I found at least one synonym for the game-winning action, and the most obvious verb is used anyway. One might argue that the puzzle itself is a leap of logic, but honestly, who hasn't wanted to do that to a phone booth?
Confusing Maps: Wait, so when I go southwest from the castle entrance to the antechamber, I have to go north to get back to the castle entrance? I don't know either, man. What I can tell you is that you won't have to worry about a map. Just you, a phone booth, and your wits.
Absurd Length: Noyes really anticipated the player of 2020. Who hasn't played Curses! or The Muldoon Legacy and died a little inside from the monotony (and a little on the outside from banging one's head into the monitor)? No such worries here. You can play this entire game and still have time to take your dog for a walk or remember to feed your children.
I could go on, but needless to say if you haven't given Noyes' timeless classic a try then you've probably lived too complicated a life.
This is certainly a minimalistic work, but the title actually undersells it. In a clever twist, picking up the phone booth and dying is only half of what Pick Up The Phone Booth And Die has to offer. Uncovering the other half is the real challenge here.
There are a lot of things I like about this game. It's efficient, in that it manages to pack a lot of punch into an extremely small package - with only two potential actions of consequence, only one of which can be executed in a single playthrough. The metatextual aspect, using the game's title to give crucial information even before play begins, is a neat trick as well.
But it has to be said that the game is woefully under-implemented. There are quite a few things that are described in the text but not implemented as objects: the town, the square, the smiley face. There are also quite a few default failure responses to actions that really ought to have been given more attention. I was disappointed, for example, that smelling or touching the phone booth yields only Inform's default message. With a world this small, it would have been relatively easy to really focus on the details, but unfortunately they haven't received so much care.
At the core of this game is a pretty good joke. But I feel that the best jokes are those which go all-out. Pick Up The Phone Booth And Die, unfortunately, does not.
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