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The Top 7... sexy text adventures

Kids today! With your colored pixels, your moving objects, your talking characters and your fancy multi-button controllers… you don’t know how spoiled you are, do you? Oh, sure, you’ve read about the early days of gaming. You’ve emulated the Atari and NES. You’ve laughed at a Pac-Man reference, or worn an ironic Pong t-shirt.

But unless you were a gamer in the primitive age of the text adventure, you don’t really know. You can’t. You’ve never had to play on a machine with less technology than a fast food drive-thru. You’ve never had to switch floppy disks to continue a 200 kilobyte adventure. You’ve never had to navigate an entire world using only a keyboard – no mouse! – or type out “look” and “examine” just to get a vague idea of what the hell is happening around you.

And you’ve never had to accept THIS as a sex symbol:

We’re not joking. That thing – from 1980’s Mystery House – is supposed to be a woman. Hey, at least she’s made out of lines and shapes! Two to three decades ago, such advancements were considered a high-tech luxury, and more often, gamers were forced to create characters – including female love interests – within the dark and desperate recesses of their imaginations.

Could you have survived? Would you have been “geek” enough to make do with nouns and adjectives instead of skin textures and boob physics? Read on as we dust off seven supposedly sexy examples. 


Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
(1984)

One of the most famous text adventure games of all time. Based on one of the most popular novels of all time. Starring one of the geek universe’s most beloved heroines of all time, Tricia “Trillian” McMillan. To give you some perspective, here is how she is drolly described in the book: “A slim, darkish humanoid, with long waves of black hair, a full mouth, an odd little knob of a nose and ridiculously brown eyes.”

And here are the actresses who portrayed her on television and in film:

Surely, then, with the entire English language at their disposal, the developers of this text adventure version could dream up something comparable. Surely, with Hitchhiker’s original author Douglas Adams on the design team, they could find the right words to stroke a million eager gamers’ fantasies… or at least stroke their funny bones. Surely, they could do better than:


Above: Get used to screens that look like this 


A Mind Forever Voyaging
(1985)

Alright, alright, so the majority of text adventure descriptions didn’t leave that much up to the player’s imagination. Some were quite mature, in fact. How about a game that was named after a William Wordsworth poem? How about A Mind Forever Voyaging, the serious-minded political thriller in which a sentient artificial intelligence runs government-sponsored computer simulations that determine the best domestic policy for the United States of North America (which now includes Canada)?

Why, that sounds incredibly, overwhelmingly adult. Just wait until you meet your new simulated wife, Jill!

See? “Beautiful.” Now we’re getting somewhere. If you were a male gamer back in 1985, you knew exactly what to type next…



Damn you, storytelling! 



The Witness
(1983)

Are you still with us? Has the lack of color and movement scared you away yet? Shall we try another?

The Witness shows potential. It’s a murder mystery, it takes place on the eve of World War II and it stars a hard-boiled male detective. Legally, this game is required to include a sexy femme fatale. For context, here are some famous examples:

Sure enough, when millionaire Freeman Linder is killed, the culprit is revealed as his young and sultry daughter, Monica. Let’s take a “look”!

Ohhhhhh yeah. We don’t know about you, but this description won us over at “effective make-up.” Then they go and throw in a navy Rayon blouse and tan slacks? Goddamn. At that point, the Cuban heels are almost too much. Sensual overload.

Dialing down our dry sarcasm machine for a moment, though, you have to admire the difference in priorities back then. The screen above reads like a book, with attention paid to small, character-building details rather than to exactly how much bare flesh can be flashed before the ESRB gets flustered. Seriously, can you imagine any recent heroines getting away with slacks?

Not all text adventures were so highbrow and conservative, we assure you. Many ‘80s game designers were just as obsessed with skin and sex as their ‘90s and ‘00s counterparts, if not more so. But without the benefit of graphics, how well do you think their erotic efforts turned out?

Next: Two games with the word “porn” right in their titles – promise!

Topics

Top 7

45 comments

  • christinahelton - September 17, 2009 3:19 p.m.

    I played all of the Zork games, Planetfall, Hitchhiker's, and Leather Goddess of Phobos when I was a kid. The funniest thing about the latter one was it came with a "scratch and sniff" card. The only one I remember though was the one where you smelled rotten pizza in a bathroom.
  • TheWebSwinger - August 18, 2009 1:22 a.m.

    Ahhh the article Charlie was born to write. And the role Chris was born to play.
  • RamenDragon - August 16, 2009 1:44 a.m.

    Wow, this article actually inspired me to write a song about text adventure games. Congratulations, Bearhat.
  • BrushieTundra - August 14, 2009 5:18 a.m.

    OMG I played Witness on my TI-99 4A. It was a damn fun game. FYI- Had to load it onto my computer by cassette tape.
  • BigBossOSE - August 11, 2009 4:51 p.m.

    @Cyberninja good to know that getting first comment was worth posting before you actually read the entire article, dickhead. As for not imagining games with just words, it sounds like you haven't been into games nearly long enough to appreciate this site.
  • STR33TFiR3 - August 11, 2009 3:22 p.m.

    I played
  • crumbdunky - August 11, 2009 7:58 a.m.

    Full text games were just a product of their time that, sadly, offered a little less the mystery adventure books of the same time. After all you could take a book into the bath/bog but not your ZX81/Speccy/C64.
  • CountFenring - August 11, 2009 6:03 a.m.

    haha... I had a very shitty day. Thanks Charlie, you made it a little better. Thanks.
  • dahsif - August 11, 2009 4:32 a.m.

    HAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHA @ the last part. HAHAHAHAAHHAHAHA The mystery surrounding that masterpiece is killing me. Tight red dress; black nylon stockings, chained to a tree...MMMMMMMM
  • Mittenz - August 11, 2009 3:44 a.m.

    :You enter the room and see Chris Antista sprawled on the bed in a tight red dress :As you aproach, you detect the scent of pizza in the air WHAT DO YOU DO: 1.discuss games as an artform 2.tell Chris how much you love talkradar 3.unbuckle belt 2."OMG CHRIS YOUR AMAZING" I WANTS
  • Ninja-KiLLR - August 11, 2009 12:01 a.m.

    now that last one. there is something to think about. lol
  • 435 - August 10, 2009 11:46 p.m.

    As someone who regularly engages in text-only games online... LAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAWL
  • GamesRadarMikelReparaz - August 10, 2009 10:26 p.m.

    Holy shit, FlyinMX just wrote our next podcast. (Maybe.)
  • FlyinMX - August 10, 2009 9:42 p.m.

    You guys should do a playthrough of doctor Otto with Chris making all the decisions. I would laugh my ass off at that!
  • manaconda - August 10, 2009 9:07 p.m.

    charlie that was hilarious, instant classic. cant wait to hear more about it on the podcast.
  • Hinro - August 12, 2009 9:24 p.m.

    I actually played a text based game. They aren't as bad as people think they are. If you use your imagination then they're fine. Of course, if I had the choice between a modern game and a text one I would most likely pick the modern one because you know exactly what you are seeing. However, the stories of the old games were far better and more discriptive which, to me, means it's a better game
  • ELpork - August 11, 2009 7:36 p.m.

    Wow.... that last one was.... umm... hmm..
  • adadadad - August 11, 2009 7:03 p.m.

    FIRST! GD GD ARTEILCLE. MAY THINK SEXY TIM COMES WITH A FEW LETTERS (ALPHA NUMERIC) "XBOX 360" MAKE MAY SWOON. /WIN. RESPECT TO XBOX BROOTHERS.
  • MechGyver - August 11, 2009 3:44 p.m.

    Arrrgh!ME likes what me sees boyos! Keep jackin!
  • STR33TFiR3 - August 11, 2009 3:24 p.m.

    I played Amnesia - a good text adventure which was the first appearance of New York city in a game. And I loved it.

Showing 1-20 of 45 comments

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