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Drugged up on drugs
September 17, 2008 7:56 AM   Subscribe

Games auteur Messhof has been mentioned once before on metafilter but his latest (windows only) game, Randy Balma Municipal Abortionist, hasn't. It's trippy, frustrating, disturbing, short, and totally free. You might like to play some Punishment first to get an idea of this guy's sensibility before heading straight for the ubercrazy.
posted by Cantdosleepy (16 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
I've played this before and it's worth playing if only to experience the disorienting feeling that the game designer doesn't like you at all. If you play games, then you get used to the idea where the game is kind of secretly on your side. If something is mind-shatteringly difficult or confusing or maybe even downright bewildering, this is a fault in the game and not with you. You always expect the game designer's hand to descend from the heavens and nudge you over the goal line.

Randy Balma is plently disorienting on its own, but it was kind of meta-disorientation that I experienced when I played the first level. Not really blowing any surprises or anything, but it involves you driving this rickety bus through traffic, and the controls randomly change so at no point are you ever sure that you know what you're doing. But that's okay: that just sounds like innovative game design. The thing is: it's maddeningly frustrating because often your bus gets turned around, and while you try to turn it around to face the right direction, 500 cars crash into you and knock you senseless and there is nothing you can do for minutes on end. This has nothing to do with any control schemes: every minute or so, the game randomly rips the controller out of your hands and yells at your for a minute or so, and then mercifully puts the controller back in your hands. Maybe it rips it out in 10 seconds, maybe it lets you go a few minutes, but there is nothing you can do about it either way. It's a mean-spirited game.

And you even expect this section to be mercifully brief, but it goes on FOREVER. It goes on to the point where you doubt it will ever end: in my case I went on with it just to see if it went anywhere, and it went to the point where I doubted that it went anywhere: where i really felt like I had truly wasted my time playing the game.

You realize pretty early on that this section isn't poorly designed, but rather that it is specifically designed to be frustrating and unpleasant, designed to enrage you and make you motion sick. When you're used to having the designer --- and this goes for flims or novels or any kind of roughly narrative art -- when you're used to have the creator hold your hand and walk you through the experience as painlessly as possible, it was kind of jarring to be suddenly thrown in there and be made to suffer and then kind of meta-narratively laughed at for suffering. Because guess who's fingers were mashing those arrow keys.

Also, PS, everybody mentions it and it's absolutely true: this game will actually make you feel physically ill, and the perception lasts for several minutes after you're done playing.
Thoroughly unpleasant, but then again, that was the whole point of Big Black and they were a pretty good band.

But Big Black never made me so queazy and angry as this. It's an experience, for sure, but not one you'll probably like very much. Basically: a masterful, groundbreaking hangover of an experience. And of course this is going to make you want to play it, and you'll come out of it maybe not regretful, but thoroughly not entertained. It's like the time I climbed Fuji: I hated every second of the ascent, but damn was it good to talk about afterwards.
posted by Tiresias at 8:53 AM on September 17, 2008 [5 favorites]


A game you love to play because it feels so good when you stop?
posted by DU at 9:06 AM on September 17, 2008


This guy is brilliant.

I'm going to finish my game because of him.
posted by The Power Nap at 9:29 AM on September 17, 2008


I love this game and other kinds of game deconstruction. If you've got an Xbox 360, definitely check out Space Giraffe, a Tempest-sort of game that's deliberately visually disorienting. I'm stuck at level 64 where the graphics get wonky enough you really need to play by sound and intuition. Screenshot of level 64 here.
posted by Nelson at 9:32 AM on September 17, 2008



And you even expect this section to be mercifully brief, but it goes on FOREVER. It goes on to the point where you doubt it will ever end: in my case I went on with it just to see if it went anywhere, and it went to the point where I doubted that it went anywhere: where i really felt like I had truly wasted my time playing the game.


I had this sensation playing Altered Beast until I figured it out.
posted by Mister_A at 9:39 AM on September 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


I found it kind of relaxing. But I'm not sure what that says about me or the game.
posted by xchmp at 9:58 AM on September 17, 2008


From Tiresias' description it sounds like the Metal Machine Music of video games.
posted by Midnight Rambler at 10:18 AM on September 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


I played this with a buddy, and I know I won because I seized first.

Seriously though, when you get to the title screen is that the end or just a fourth stage?
posted by BrotherCaine at 11:10 AM on September 17, 2008


Seconding xchmp. It was like a distillation of being wrecked and playing Mario Kart. I recommend listening to Motorhead's "Bomber" while playing.
posted by beefetish at 11:13 AM on September 17, 2008


offtopic: soulja boy reviewed braid and it is awesome.
posted by chunking express at 11:14 AM on September 17, 2008


BrotherCaine: I had the same question, and my only intuition is that it seems that all the music files in the game's directory have been used at that point so yeah, it's most likely the end.

As far as slightly trippy indie games go, Ryan North pointed out Rom Check Fail this week and I thoroughly enjoyed that as well.
posted by kaytwo at 11:17 AM on September 17, 2008


Mondo Medicals and Mondo Agency are somewhat trippy (disclaimer: I haven't played agency, have only taken a peek at medicals)
posted by juv3nal at 11:36 AM on September 17, 2008


I hope that the ending words of "Randy Balma Municipal Abortionist" was the end of the game. Otherwise, I guess I am too impatient.
posted by TwelveTwo at 11:46 AM on September 17, 2008


What is the significance of the title? "Randy Balma Municipal Abortionist" has got to be the weirdest title for anything ever. Does it mean anything or have any connection to the game, or is it just a random combination of words?
posted by DecemberBoy at 3:36 PM on September 17, 2008


Judging from the game - I'd say 100% Random.
Could have been called "Horny Jambalaya Slapshot Recursive".
posted by zenzizi at 5:06 PM on September 17, 2008


Could have been called "Horny Jambalaya Slapshot Recursive".
No, thats the sequel.
posted by TwelveTwo at 5:28 PM on September 17, 2008


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