IF Comp ’11 – Carolyn VanEseltine’s Beet the Devil!

November 8, 2011

Right, that’s it, no more Binding of Isaac until I’ve done all this shit I swore a solemn oath to do, like revenge myself upon the… wait, lemme count my parents quick.  Two.*  Huh.  Never mind, then.

What have we got left?  Oh, hey, there’s that Beet the Devil game by one-half of the people who wrote one-half of last year’s zombie hospital games, unless I’m forgetting one or more zombie hospital games.  (It is bizarre how comp games come in thematic clusters.  Know how many Australian hide-and-seek games there were the past three years?  None Australian hide-and-seek games, that is how many.  A ha ha ha!)

* A ha ha ha!

(Future Jenni says:  I totally typed that first sentence and then played a ton more Binding of Isaac, because I am a terrible person and Binding of Isaac is a really good game.  Then I went and opened the door to my flying car several times just to hear it go whoosh.  Seriously.  The future is great and you should move here.)

[spoilers begin here]

The dog on this game’s cover is friggin’ adorable.  Look at those eyebrows!  Awww.

Now I’m trying to remember if I’ve judged a competition with no dog games in it.  2008 had that one where you were the dog, 2009 had Rover’s Day Out… was there a dog last year?  Oh, there was a super cute hamster.  Yes, reading through last year’s blog posts to determine whether or not there was a dog game is totally an effective use of my time, why do you ask?

Oh, man, do you want to see an example of a thing I love in a game?
>take underwear
You collect your clothes.
>wear clothes
You pull on your underclothes and pants and shirt and socks and boots, and then you’re all dressed.
Ahh.  Efficiency.  Maybe there’s a compelling reason to make players type the commands to take and don each individual item of clothing, but I sure can’t think of one.  Oh, wait, yes I can:  you hate your players.

Smoke and divots and scorching and stinky brimstone – there’s only one thing this could mean.
There has been demons in your garden.
Well, I’ll be blowed for a widder’s Sunday hat, that scaredemon di’n’t work worth a painter’s toot after all.  Fixin’ to hope they hain’t been nibbling the pumpkins.  Right pesky critters, demons.  Reckon.

Alone of every vegetable in this garden, it looks untouched by demoniac wrath[.]
What a great sentence.  I’m taking that beet.  I have a strange feeling I’ll need it.
God meant you to have this beet.
See?  God meant me to have this beet.  Thanks, God!

There’s devil-taint all over that turnip bush!  It’s right unnatural, and you won’t be having a thing to do with it!
I almost shot granola out of my nose, reading that.  If your goal is to provide one sentence that makes me shoot granola out of my nose, you could do a lot worse than “There’s devil-taint all over that turnip bush!”  Although if that’s your goal it is an incredibly shitty one.

With a careful look around, though, you find one onion that might be worth something.  You pull it up, and – yup, that one’s not so bad off.  Almost makes you tear up a little.

The puppy bumbles out of the hay and pounces on your boot, wagging its whole rump enthusiastically.
PUPPY!  Puppy puppy puppy PUPPY!

Hmm, I wonder which of these vegetables the ferryman would like?  I sure hope he takes vegetables.  I ain’t got no damn money.

I feel as though there’s something I could do with this onion that would get me past this giant floating eyeball, but I don’t have anything sharp enough to cut it with, and I’m not sure what else to try.  Are there hints?
In your head, you speak a few hopeful words to the Lord.  The ghostly white onion shines with holy light!  You glance around real fast, but it seems like no one else saw it.
Thanks, God.  I’m trying not to say that too sarcastically because people get upset if you’re rude to God.  Like, historically, that is a thing people get upset about.

Oh!  I didn’t know there were going to be teeth in that chair.  (I am starting to think Carolyn VanEseltine has a thing for unusually-located dentata.)

Nothing cuter than artichoke demons!  But what am I supposed to do with you guys?

Y’know, I’m glad to have both hints and location-specific walkthroughs, but I wish the hints were more verb-focused than vegetable-focused.

I am not sure I ever would have thought of cooking brussels sprouts to stink out the big-schnozzed guard.  I don’t cook a lot of brussels sprouts I guess.

“That’s real hot,” the imp shrills.  “I can taste that evil all over you.  Go on in!”
I so dare you to use that line during your next sexual encounter.

>give bone to puppy
The puppy chomps joyously into the rawhide bone and promptly flops down on its tummy.  Rawhide bones are so distracting that there’s no room for anything else in the puppy brain right now.

>give bone to demon
Crossing its wrists* gorgeously, the demon does something unprintable with the ghostly white rawhide bone!
“That was nice,” the demon purrs, discarding the ghostly white rawhide bone to the ground.
Um.  Wow.  I am shocked.  And now the puppy is chewing on it.  That’s… that’s not right.  Or sanitary. 

The demon attempts to do something unprintable with the ghostly white limp celery stalk, but the celery is so limp and floppy that it doesn’t work.
Well, that’s a puzzle solution you don’t see every day.  My goodness.

“You’ve GOT the bowl,” the demon roars.  “What are you WAITING for?”
Have I got the bowl?  I’ve got a tomato, and a little dog…

Oh, there is a bowl here.  Not sure how I was supposed to know that, since X DISHES yielded “You can’t see that here.”

Boy, it sure is easy to defeat demons with vegetables!  I am learning so much about hell.

Let’s see, demon on a couch, television on… I deduce that today’s vegetable is… the potato!

Damn.  Is today’s vegetable the potato?  Wait, I can turn off the idiot box?  Just, like, turn it off, not use a tomato on it or anything?  Wow.  I’m dumb.  I blame the American public school system.

Having trouble with these puzzles.  What is an appropriate target for my anger?  I don’t know.  I like that things in my inventory have acquired new adjectives to let me know how annoying I find them, though.

With a howl of raw frustration, the demon yanks the potato from your hands.  “No potato!  No potato!” he snarls.
Flinging the potato to the ground, the demon proceeds to jump up and down on the potato until it is thoroughly mashed.  Then, he kicks the mash to little bits, yelling, “I hate you, potato!  I hate you, potato!”
The demon pauses to catch his breath.  “There,” he says mildly.  “That’s how you should do it.”  Then, with a scream of infinite rage, he flings down his clipboard and storms out of the room.
I actually laughed out loud there.  Thanks, potato!

Oh, that’s awesome, the demon therapist wrote down all my actions on his clipboard!  Nice freaking touch.  Points for that.

“You know,” the demon says thoughtfully, “the more I think about it, the more I think it’s a bad idea for you to have any vegetables along when you go see The Man.”  The demon waves a hand at your half-stewed tomato and miracle beet.
This fucker is not getting my beet!  God gave me that beet!  The game is called Beet the Devil!  I mean, come on!

You raise the miracle beet high overhead.  It glows in its own light, pure and beautiful.  Everything goes slow and dreamy as you bring the beet down… and then, with the righteous wrath of a gardener who wants his bird dog back real bad, you beet the Devil.  You beet that old Scratch until he is well and truly beeten.
Fuckin’ A I do!

That was a good game.  Entertaining, lots of polish, cool moments where the game referenced what you’d done and hadn’t done.  I had trouble with some of the puzzles, probably because I was looking for consistency (also, I don’t think I would have tried sitting on that uncomfortable-looking chair in the reception area), but the hints and location-specific walkthroughs meant I never quite gave up trying to solve things myself.  This one’s going near the top of the list.

*  Crossing its wrists?  I am trying to think of anything, printable or not, that I cross my wrists to do, and all I can come up with is “giving the secret hand sign to the other members of the X Blam Robo Fury Society,” which never happens because there are no other members of the X Blam Robo Fury Society.  It’s cool, though, I get to eat all the lemon bars.  I don’t really like lemon bars, truth be told.  Oh, they’re okay, but they’re nowhere near my favorite dessert.  I don’t know why I keep bringing them to meetings of the X Blam Robo Fury Society.  I also don’t know why you’d cross your wrists to fuck a rawhide bone.  That’s the unprintable thing, right?  I’m not off base here?  The succubus was fucking a rawhide bone?


  1. I also don’t know why you’d cross your wrists to fuck a rawhide bone.

    I don’t know, I just did a little thought-pantomime experiment, and crossing your wrists seems perfectly natural to me.

    (“Thought-pantomime experiment” means that no actual props were used, and that my clothes stayed where they were. Still it’s probably good that I’m not continuing my image-posting ways.)

    • I don’t understand this at all. Are both hands on the bone? Why do you need both hands? Have I been fucking rawhide bones wrong all these years?

      • I was thinking both hands on the bone. Like, say you were committing seppuku, you’d want both hands on the hilt of the dagger, right? And you might not be able to get as good a grip if you just clasped them; you want to wrap your hands around the hilt, especially if it’s sexy seppuku. So that equals crossed wrists, especially if instead of your tummy you’re going for something that you have to approach in a more upward direction.

        I don’t know, sometimes I try to explain things and I feel like the explanation doesn’t help.

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