Sunday 10 January 2016

Game 65: Free D.C.! (1991) - A. B. and C.

By Ilmari

A clay figure? What next, a game based on Captain Scarlet?

I had never heard of the game, when I volunteered for it, and after doing some research on its producers, I am still not sure, whether I should look forward to the experience.The company producing Free D.C.! was called Cineplay. It is no wonder if no one recognises the name, since in addition to Free D.C.!, they published only one game, a presidential election simulation Power Politics (1992), before quickly fading away to obscurity.

The founder of Cineplay, Kellyn Beck, might be more familiar, since he had huge part in producing such classics, like Defender of Crown and Centurion, published by Cinemaware. It is a bit debatable how much of classics these games actually were. Some people have fond memories of their evocative mood, while others describe them as putting style over substance - pretty to look at, but nothing much to play.

It was definitely gorgeous - at least if you had Amiga

The other side of the Cineplay equation was something called Will Vinton Studios, Vinton getting an executive producer -credit for the game. This was also something completely out of my realm of experience, and quick googling landed me on some commercials that made me question the sanity of my whole project.

Raisins made out of clay and Michael Jackson? Sometimes I am glad I don’t live in America…

With somewhat deeper research I found calming information. Will Vinton was also behind a long surrealistic claymation film that deeply influenced me as a younger person: the Adventures of Mark Twain.

Amoral and solipsistic angel called Satan? Heavy stuff for a claymation movie

So, based on the makers, the game could be an embarrassing tale of attempted comedy with slapstick figures or a philosophical and thought provoking piece - in any case it should look gorgeous. With nothing else left to do, I opened up the documentation. Well, at least the game has nothing to do with the Crisis on Infinite Earths nor with Hannah Montana, but District of Columbia, which now works as a zoo, holding the remnants of humanity (eight persons). The game box appears to suggest these are all the humans to exist, but the manual refers to other human preserves.

I surely wish the producers would have thought
out of the box and whole of humanity would have been
locked into … I don’t know… Burkina Faso.
Free Ouagadougou! would have been just an epic name

It’s a bit unclear what has happened to human race, but robots appear to be calling the shots now. Lately, some human specimen has built a device that is capable of deactivating all the robots, and the Zoo Interface has reactivated a human detective, Avery Zedd, to work on the case. To make the matters worse, Zedd has been implanted with a capsule releasing poison in his veins after twelve hours. I am guessing that I'll be ultimately breaking out of the Zoo and turning against the robots.

In the advertisement for a hint book, game prides itself of having no puzzles (why then need a hint book?) and focusing on stories, which might be good or bad thing, depending on the cringeworthyness of the dialogue. The manual is written in a tongue-in-a-cheek mode, but I am still hoping the overall experience will at least be more of a fun satire than embarrassing farce.

5 CAPs for the first one to recognise each activity

Since the game seems to be about humans locked in an elaborate prison, I've chosen to take my post titles from episodes of a classic series on prison breaking - that explains the curious title of this introductory post. Can you guess what series I am talking about? 5 CAPs for the first one to guess it, and 5 CAPs for the one to guess first what the title of my next post will be. Enough talking, it’s on to D.C., let’s hope I survive!

Note Regarding Spoilers and Companion Assist Points: There's a set of rules regarding spoilers and companion assist points. Please read it here before making any comments that could be considered a spoiler in any way. The short of it is that no CAPs will be given for hints or spoilers given in advance of me requiring one. As this is an introduction post, it's an opportunity for readers to bet 10 CAPs (only if they already have them) that I won't be able to solve a puzzle without putting in an official Request for Assistance: remember to use ROT13 for betting. If you get it right, you will be rewarded with 100 CAPs in return. It's also your chance to predict what the final rating will be for the game. Voters can predict whatever score they want, regardless of whether someone else has already chosen it. All correct (or nearest) votes will go into a draw.

Million Adventurer Visits

The Adventure Gamer has just passed a milestone of millionth visitor on the site. To commemorate this occasion, we've decided to hold a little competition. In the comments section of this post, describe what your Dream Adventure Game would be like. All participants will receive 5 CAPs, the more imaginative writers will get 15 CAPs extra and the best author, decided by an authoritative panel of judges (i.e. TAG reviewers) will receive on top of that, additional 30 CAPs. You will have time to post your Dream Adventure Games until the Won! -post of this game will have been published. The CAPs for this competition will be awarded in the Final Rating -post for this game.


  1. Oooh nice. Never heard of this game, but I'm in just for Defender of the Crown. Hope I can spare some time to try this one between the Robin Hood sessions.

    I'm not fond of sports, but these are my guesses for the "activities":
    1. Baseball?
    2. Volleyball
    3. Tennis
    4. Basketball
    5. Hockey? (not sure if they use a ball)
    6. Soccer/Football
    7. Rugby/American Football
    8. Bowling

    1. No, I think 5 would be golf. The others all sound right.

    2. Oh, man. Of course it's golf... XD

    3. Number 1 could also be cricket, but as it's a game from a U.S. company I'm going to agree that it's baseball.

    4. Yes, I am pretty sure Charles nailed all of them, except golf, which Reiko got. (BTW, no one seems to have made any score guesses yet).

  2. The prison breaking series is The Prisoner - A. B. and C. was the third episode. I'll guess Free For All (episode 4) as the next title.

    1. Yep, you got the series right, but the title is still wrong. I won't be doing them in any order, but I'll be trying to get a title suitable for the content of the post (like here, ABC could refer to an introductory text).

    2. I didn't guess it just because it was the next episode, but because it had "free" in the title. Guess that would be too obvious, though.

      I'll guess 54 for the score. Sounds like an interesting premise, but the combination of "no puzzles" plus hint book makes me wonder if there are going to be "read the designer's mind" moments.

  3. I seem to recall that in order to work out where this son of a gun sat in terms of being an adventure game, I watched the first 5 minutes of a Let's Play. It did not make me think "adventure game", but it did at least loosely hit enough criteria. I'm going to say 40, and that the title character actually looks more like The Hood from Thunderbirds. (Permanently raised eyebrow.)

  4. 39!

    And I'm claiming the character on the right of the cover art looks kind of like a Fallout ghoul wearing a military cap

  5. Looks like the puppets from Thunderbirds on the cover to me, and I gotta say Thunderbirds clearly beats Captain Scarlet on the intro alone.

    Oh and since I don't know anything about this game the dice says... 96??? Well if that turns out right I got some magic dice on my hand... better switch and the result is... 24? Yeah I go with 24.

  6. This looks, uh, unique. I shall give a unique guess of the score: 41.

  7. Out of curiosity, has anyone ever played this? It has proven to be ...ahhh.. rather curious.

  8. This looks *terrible*. Guessing 29.