Review by Orb

I love bad movies. Sometimes, films in this genre are made badly on purpose (Russ Meyer's Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!), but sometimes the creators are really, really sincere, and the resultant effort, considered serious art by its maker, is the stuff by which bad-art legends are made (Ed Wood's Glen or Glenda?).

I've been discovering some old adventure games that seem to qualify as a new subgenre of their own, all along this line of thinking. I think these came about around the time a few technical advancements were being made, CD-ROMs were first on the horizon. You know what I'm talking about. The odious, bargain-bin-anointed "Multimedia" titles. And like bad films, some of these are so busy reveling in their own clever and artistic achievements, they can't see the forest for the trees.

The game Mirage handily fits into this newly coined genre, which for the sake of clarity I'll call Trash Adventure. Ephemeral blips on the adventure gamer radar.

Mirage is actually a western that takes place in the town of BrotHell. Here's a sampling of explanation from the game docs: "The doors and windows of your imagination will open or close if you find the key to survival. Awaiting you is your just reward as you uncover the dead and bury the living in the hallucinogenic terrains of the 'Mirage' desert. ... Lost in the hallucinogenic terrains of the Mirage desert. Your thirst and your hunger for pleasure could lead you to a phantasmagoric land trapped forever inside your own imagination. In limbo with the ultimate deadly psychosis called 'Mirage'."

Well. Thanks for clearing that up.

Throughout the game you are given pieces of video that spell out the real story: your job is to rescue a girl named Jenny from a group of desperate, ugly thespian wannabes.

The graphics are that flimsy multimedia-type. You know the kind, a static screen that's an altered photographic image, and there are maybe two, or even three, areas that pulse a little bit, slyly winking at you to get you to try clicking on them and see if something wondrous may happen?

The cast is bad-film superb. The women are leftover "actresses" from the legendary Vivid Video's house o'porn, in their first real acting jobs with their clothing on. The male actors look like they were ripped off from one of Vivid's set crews. The first giveaway to this, of course, is the notice on the back of the CD case—"All actors are on file and over the age of 18." What a hoot! For an adventure game?

Puzzles consist mainly of clicking on the right thing and finding the correct hot spots in each room that will lead you to the next correct room. There are three inventory items that are collected at the beginning of the game and three more in the middle. All but one aren't actually ever used. I kind of got the idea that these were needed in order to get through more of the rooms, but this isn't really spelled out anywhere. There are multiple wrong rooms that can be chosen that will lead to a game over "death" screen. These are enigmatic and inexplicable, although I'm sure the guy that thought them up was having some sort of idea about them; however, the player just can't decipher it.

One of the great things about this package is that it comes with a separate CD entitled "The Magic of Mirage: The Behind the Scenes Look at the Critically Acclaimed Game." The guy in charge of the music, cryptically named "Saint," looks suspiciously like an escapee from a Thompson Twins video. The entire package is pure high camp, all the much better because it has no idea it is at all. A truly Ed Wood kinda gaming experience.

You and I both know this isn't going to qualify for a good verdict. But one has to ask by what standard should it be judged? Are we going to apply a John Waters criterion to it and give it a star? Or with a straight face call a spade a spade and give it the cornpoop it deserves? I can't decide. I think the player will have to figure that out for him or herself. The End

The Verdict


The Lowdown

Developer: The Dream Designers
Publisher: Atlantis Interactive
Release Date: 1994

Available for: Macintosh Windows

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System Requirements

Macintosh LC or greater
68030 or greater
2X ROM drive
System 7 or better
16-bit color
6 MB RAM minimum

IBM 386 or better
2X ROM drive
Sound card
16-bit color
Win 3.1 and above
6 MB RAM minimum
DOS 5.0

Where to Find It

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