Be prepared

Altoids: The curiously weird role-playing game

Many companies have recently begun crafting little Flash games to advertise their products. Most are just simple, one-screen-sized renditions of classic old-school arcade titles. But the folks at Altoids have really gone the distance — they hired a cartoon artist and programmer to create an entire role-playing adventure.

You play the part of a zitty, sweaty shut-in who meets a girl on instant messaging and convinces her to go on a date. He has to make it to the club, cadge his way in, and impress her. Amazingly, it’s a pretty complex game, including many of the classic tropes of RPGS; there’s even an inventory of objects you carry around and manipulate to solve puzzles.

They get bonus points for the wittily self-referential dialogue. At one point early in the game, I’m trying to figure out how to get into the lineup for a nightclub — there’s a picture of it above — but the screen doesn’t scroll any further right. So I start talking to the woman on the far right:

Me: How did you get into the lineup?

Her: By walking to the end and standing behind the last person.

Me: But the screen won’t scroll that far.

Her: That’s because you’re a loser.

Okay, that’s cute enough that I want to buy some Altoids right now.

(Thanks to Laura for this one!)

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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