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Enjoyably bizarre interactive novel
Infocom is the undoubted master of the interactive fiction genre, with classics like Zork, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and The Lurking Horror to their name. The bizarrely titled Lane Mastodon vs The Blubbermen is a spin-off from one of their other most well-known games, Leather Goddesses of Phobos, and is part of their short-lived InfoComics series (see also the two Zork Quest games and the equally strange Gamma Force in Pit of a Thousand Screams). The game is deliberately less complex than other Infocom games and is instead more like a graphic novel, similar to Pangea. The story is inspired by 1950s style sci-fi pulp adventures and sees the heroic Lane battling against the invading Blubbermen, with the narrative unfolding via a series of comic book-style panels. The player, or perhaps reader would be more appropriate, follows the story in traditional fashion, and is able to zoom, pan and rotate at their will. Occasionally, they will be presented will decisions to make, which spin the story off in new and unpredictable ways and which provide a reasonable amount of replay value. The graphics on display here are fairly simple but which contribute to the game's charms and while the story might not be the greatest in the world, it is certainly entertaining enough in a cheesy sort of fashion. The dialogue is suitably over the top, the descriptions are nicely vivid and the action comes thick and heavy. If you're looking for a story with a difference, but don't want to play a traditional game, then this is worth seeking out.