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Review by: Jordan Thomas
Published: January 9, 1998
Have you ever woken up in the morning, to find that absolutely nothing about your existence had any form, order, or harmony? Have you been victim to hallucinations, delusions of grandeur, or simple dizzy spells? Can you stand up without swaying madly, due to the obscene way in which your surroundings warp and mutate? Have you ever had a conversation with a Bogartian plant seeking a Messiah?
No? Where do you live, anyway?
The world of Sir-Tech’s Armed and Delirious is a twisted one. Warning: Not for the weak of mind, stomach, or nervous system. You take the role of Granny, the highly intrepid but only marginally sane protagonist. During one of her episodes of mania, her family was blown out into space by a sinister villain known only as the Rabbit. He also essentially trashed her house, and summarily made off with her treasured cookbook. Our foul mouthed heroine is livid, and begins an epic journey to retrieve her lost tome, and smack that bunny silly.
The gameplay begins in her ransacked home, where she must collect what few useful items remain, and find a means of transportation out into the swirling void. The interface is a rather strange beast, as it strikes me as simultaneously easy to use yet highly unreliable. Simple clicks on target areas of the screen determine what objects you can pick up and manipulate. The cursor shifts between various icon images to depict the type of action which can be taken. This mode of interaction seems basic enough, but often the most important information comes after the second or third click, which bothered me a great deal.
In fact, the game’s most central weakness lies in the very absurdity that the designers are attempting to spotlight. Most of the gameplay consists of pointing, clicking, and dragging objects in relatively random fashion in order to progress. Call me a relic, but I remember with relish the days of adventure/quest cohesion and literary storyline. Armed and Delirious has a unique charm because it is so incredibly off-beat, but in many ways this detracts from the feeling of actually figuring out the puzzle structure, rather than wading through absolute chaos. I know logic isn’t “in” these days, but non-linear structure can be taken too far.
The characters in this title are rendered and animated quite well, and they are the proponents of the title’s wild humor. It is quite ordinary in A&D to wander into one’s own bathroom only to find that a singing cow is not only taking a bubble bath in your tub, but has made gratuitous use of your hygiene products as well! Granny carries everything she acquires in her southward-migrating bra, and the vast selection of items is just as bizarre as the means of containment. This makes the game unique, and for that it deserves praise.
Visually, I must say that Armed and Delirious is quite impressive. Outlandish backgrounds, bent and warped in a most disturbing manner make up the world through which you will navigate. “Expect the unexpected” is a good rule of thumb to carry with you in this universe of the strange. Creatures of varied dispositions and mental status will help or hinder you, based on what you can do for (or to) them. Granny is a tough old biddie, and sometimes you’ll just have to be brutal. The game terrain is bright, colorful, and weird. Once outside your aimlessly drifting home, you ride your spacecraft (fashioned from an old washing machine, of course) from zone to zone, interacting with all the flora and fauna. Once again, this system makes for open-ended, interesting gameplay, but it also can lead to extreme frustration. This is due to the seemingly insignificant actions you must take in order to go on with the game. Some of the puzzles are downright moronic, so be prepared to wonder occasionally why you are bothering to solve them.
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