Spring Thing ’09 – Jim Aikin’s A Flustered Duck!

April 25, 2009

Did you know that, for mating purposes, a male anglerfish will attach itself like a parasite to a female anglerfish, connect his circulatory system to hers (somehow), and then atrophy until he is nothing but a pair of gonads hanging off of her side?  This is how anglerfish Do Eeet.  Isn’t that creepy?

Not, of course, that it has anything to do with ducks, or, presumably, Jim Aikin.  I just now learned that and wanted to share.  Oh, and the rest of the Realm of Obsidian review (for lack of a better word) is up.  It’s just tacked onto the end of part one because I didn’t feel it deserved its own post.

This paragraph goes out to my mom for giving birth to me.  It was very nice of her and she didn’t have to.

Let’s get it on.

[spoilers begin here]

I have been very slightly spoiled on A Flustered Duck.  I have heard that the opening is three pages long.

Oh, it’s only one page on my screen.  And the gist of it is that I have to get a diamond ring out of a duck.

> G
> G
> G
> G
…no?  Damn.

I found the saddle and bridle I use to ride Bessie the pig.  I am still processing the fact that I ride pigs.  I am a pig-rider.  Rider of pigs.  All mountin’ my trusty steed, which is a pig, and riding away into the sunset, on a pig.  Yeah.  I got nothin’.

Granny is so far a pointless NPC.  Maybe she’ll perk up later on, do something useful.  Maybe she’ll turn into cheese and I can eat her.  I’m in a weird mood, and I like cheese.

Gah, I don’t know.  Whatcha got for me, hint system?

Oh!  Apparently I am supposed to keep trying to catch her, and after four times, she’ll fly away.  I really hate shit like that, ’cause – and maybe this is Just Me Here – if I try to do something and am told I failed, and not encouraged to try the thing again, I don’t try the thing again.  I don’t think to myself, “Well, that first aspirin didn’t do much, but maybe the last one will.  I better keep eating them just to make sure.”  That sounds like a recipe for madness right there, doesn’t it?  “It says I can’t open the door because it’s locked.  Maybe it’s just fucking with me.  I better try to open it again.  No?  Third time’s a charm, I hear.  Or fourth.  Seventeenth?  I better keep going.  You never know!”  I like being able to trust my failure messages, dammit, and if I’m supposed to repeat a failed action I want that cued or clued or whatever the fucking word I want is.  Ngah!  Angah!

Granny’s kitchen makes me want to say “land sakes.”  Laaaaaaaand sakes, child!  Oh, and “if’n.”

…non-Euclidean windmill, eh?  That’s odd.

Crystal trees are odd too.  That’s two odds.  Or one even.

You’ve always considered yourself quite handsome, in a rustic sort of way.
Do people actually have thoughts like that about themselves?

You know, I try to be a mature adult, and then I read things like You mount Bessie the sow, and it all just comes crashing down in a torrent of snickers.

Hmm, there is a troll in this game.  This is the sort of game with trolls in.  And Volkswagens.  Got it.  We’re copacetic, you and me, game.

The dummy is wearing something or other — it’s different every time you come into the shop, but you’ve never paid much attention to women’s fashions.
Because they go on women and not pigs.

The statue stands about waist high, and is cast in the form (extremely politically incorrect) of a dark-complected young man whose features, were he flesh and blood, would indicate African ancestry.
Where I’m from, we just say “lawn jockey,” as in “no shit, your mom collects lawn jockeys?*  That’s pretty fucked up.”  If we had to say “no shit, your mom collects statues cast in the (extremely politically incorrect) form of dark-complected young men whose features, were they flesh and blood, would indicate African ancestry?  That’s pretty fucked up,” we would be all worn out and require naps, multiple.

Speaking of liberals, I am making liberal use of the hint system.  Segue!

The thing about making liberal use of the hint system, though, is that I have no idea why I’m so insistent on putting this poodle in a jar.  Free poodle, I guess.  Oh, I should go give Granny her whiskey.

Incorporeal marshwoman does not want me taking her vines, is what sort of game this is.  Perhaps I should go pick her some flowers.  If she doesn’t want flowers, I can throw the dog at her, grab the vines, and run.

I am not sure why I want a pie, either, but boy do I want one.

I don’t feel too horrible about using hints, since this is the sort of game where you ASK BETTY ABOUT GINGHAM and she gives you some, which you use to cover the drawing-room window so the vampire in the wine cellar feels comfortable wandering around upstairs, scaring the cat, who jumps on a high shelf knocking over a porcelain clown, which shatters on impact and turns out to be full of rubies.  And then you’re all “well, shit, what am I supposed to do with these rubies?”  That is not an actual example but it would not be out of place.  Also the hint system is very well done.    I have only played one other Jim Aikin game (April in Paris) and the hint system on that one was also very well done.  I am starting to suspect he only writes games to showcase his marvellous hint systems.

I’m not sure which is more of a hassle, having to go back and get my pig every time, or having to tie her up and untie her every time.  They’re pretty equally obnoxious.  I wish I had macros.  This to me is a bad sign.

…I accidentally went a little too far in the hints and the thing was all “once you’ve gotten the hatbox away from the cobra…”  Seriously?  What cobra?

So far, I have destroyed some poor bastard’s prize rosebush to get him out of the way while I stole from him, then kidnapped his dog (in an airtight glass jar no less!) for reasons I’m not even sure of.  Now I am going to demolish a 10,000-piece puzzle that Granny spent – how many months?  Oh, most of a weekend.  Well, that’s all right, then.  Commence the obliterating!

Oh!  This cobra!

Oh, dude, is that what the dog’s for?  I am such an asshole!

Well, it didn’t eat her while I was looking, so that’s good, I guess.  Still, I kind of hope this game ends with me giving Suzette the ring and her calling me out for being such a douchebag.  Because I am such a douchebag.

Now I am tormenting a blindfolded man with delicious pie.  This is actually pretty fun.  Chase that pie, motherfucker!  Chase it!

Know what time it is?  It’s mapping time!  But not only is it mapping time, it’s blindfold-putting-on-and-taking-off time!  Hooray!

Oh, I see, this orchard doesn’t map realistically.  We’ll have plan B, then, identifying rooms by their possible exits.  God, I love mapping.  Was that sarcasm just then?  I honestly don’t know.

Well, huh, now it maps.  Did I fuck up?  Hmm.  With you in a moment.  Humming the mapping song.**

…wait a minute, I just went south from a room with no listed south exit.  That’s what was fucking with my map.  Quit fucking with my map, unlisted south exit!  I’m’a cut you!

I just did it again going west!  This orchard is nutballs!  It’s mad as a foo-foo bird!  It’s positively wackariffic!  I’ve been eating yogurt!

Okay, this made me laugh out loud:

Only the fiddler remains.  But not because he enjoyed your impromptu concert.  His eyes are filled with tears, and not tears of joy.

“I’m really sorry,” you tell him.

“Oh, it’s nice of you to say that, lad,” he replies, “but it’s far too late.  After hearing that miserable row I haven’t the heart to play another note, not as long as I should live.  You keep the violin, much good may it do you.  I’m going to go throw myself down the deepest well I can find and drown.”

I just killed a leprechaun with horrible violin-playing!  And my score went up a point!  I think it’s keeping track of how much of an asshole I am!

And now an otter wants me to play the shell game.  I’ll probably wind up setting it on fire and stealing its shoes.

…I won three times in a row.  I am awesome.  I wish I had some Pez to put in my new dispenser.

You know what this game could use?  Automated stufferating.  Like, you know how every time you want to go south across the gorge, you have to tie your pig to the Volkswagen, dismount, lean right (or left) four times, then lean forward and dismount?  Maybe you could friggin’ not have to friggin’ do that every friggin’ time.  It’s just, y’know – okay, have you ever lived in a cold climate, and winter is just a pain in the ass because there’s all this shit you have to do before you can even go anywhere?  All having to put on your coat and your gloves and your hat and long johns and three pairs of socks and turn your car on and brush the snow off of it and scrape the fucking ice off the fucking windshield and then when spring happens and you don’t have to do that anymore it is such a relief. I am looking forward to not playing this game anymore the same way I used to look forward to spring.  That strikes me as less than ideal.

You can render the game unwinnable by typing PUT POTION INTO FUNNEL instead of something more reasonable, like POUR.  Fortunately, I have a save file handy, because I don’t ever trust myself to be reasonable.

Thank.  Fuck.  Suzanne’s got her ring.  She seems very happy about the prospect of being tethered to a leprechaun-murdering douchebag.  Maybe that’s her fetish.  Maybe our sex life will consist of pulling the limbs off magical creatures in our Pulling-The-Limbs-Off-Magical-Creatures Sex Dungeon, formerly known as Granny’s rec room.

Man.  I don’t know about this game.  It’s pretty easily Best In Show out of the three I’ve played so far; I mean, everything worked and had descriptions, which is always good, and it had a certain polish and cohesiveness, and the environment – my theory is that the game took place on a planet where archetypes go to die – was interesting enough – oh, and I got to map something – but.  But.  Maybe there are people who could’ve actually solved those puzzles without hints or adventure-game-style brute-forcing, but man, are those people ever not me.  Oh, and the pig micromanagement was annoying as hell.  I say “oh, and” as if it had just occurred to me right then and was not in fact my main beef with the game.  I’m lying.  It drove me friggin’ nuts, especially since I kept forgetting to dismount after tethering.

I’m going to go bludgeon Kewpie dolls with a wooden spoon now.  Feel free to let yourselves out.

*  Yeah, this friend of mine from high school, his mom collects lawn jockeys.  He says she’s not racist, just really into lawn jockeys.  I still think it’s pretty fucked up.

**  Which, as we all know, goes “mapping mapping mapping mapping Pepsi gives you AIDS.”

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