With your host, Rob Remakes

Tag: Maze Game

Four Minute Warning

Four Minute Warning is a small (very small) two screen videogame that tasks the player with collecting a few objects to take with them into a fallout shelter, all within the 4 minutes from the warning siren going off to the nuclear missiles hitting.

What sounds like a fairly simple task is made all the more difficult by having the play areas be rather fiddly and unforgiving mazes of clutter. But also, that’s sort of the point. The game expects the player to fail, this is the onset of nuclear armageddon after all. And, indeed, if the player doesn’t fail at their task then eventually, radiation gets to them anyway.

Whatever happens, that’s it. Over. Bummer, huh?

It’s a pro peace, anti nuclear war, anti Tory and anti Reagan vignette. It is unsubtle in every possible way and it’s a game that wants to remind the player that voting for warmongering rightwing hawks probably isn’t the best idea ever.

Part of what I find fascinating about it is it’s the sort of game that would have sat perfectly at home in the indie flash/art game period of a decade and a bit back, except it was made and released in 1985. It’s almost uncanny how well it would fit in the latter half of the 2000’s if you just swapped a few names round here and there and maybe had a black – rather than white – background.

Admittedly, these days nuclear war seems a bit further down the list of worries of where our more immediate existential threats are going to come from but still, I think “don’t vote tory” is as relevant a message as it ever was.

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I like a lot of things about Forget-Me-Not but the thing I like the most is that it’s the videogame as fishtank.

Pic from Arcade Life.

It’s the sort of thing that I could just stare at for hours as these boggle eyed creatures inside my monitor go about their business, entirely oblivious to my ingame existence for the most part.

Of course, we all know that it’s just a few simple systems and rules really but it somehow feels like peering into somewhere where there’s life. There’s few games that manage to pull this sort of videogame ecosystem thing off and due in no small part to being inspired by the old C64 game Crossroads, Forget-Me-Not manages it really quite skillfully.

It’s rare I’ll use the term for most videogames but Forget-Me-Not is fascinating. It’s fascinating to watch and it’s fascinating to see how a few simple but well considered rules make for something so special.

Forget-Me-Not is out on so many things now it’s likely you’ll have a device that can run it. If you’ve not ducked in before, well, get on that.

(First published in 2015, post updated April 2022)

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