The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

Counterfeit Monkey

On a discord, someone asked about “That interactive game where you manipulate words” and someone answered “Oh, it’s ‘Counterfeit Monkey‘ a free-to-play text adventure (like Zork). From the introduction:

Anglophone Atlantis has been an independent nation since an April day in 1822, when a well-aimed shot from their depluralizing cannon reduced the British colonizing fleet to one ship.

— Counterfeit Monkey (by Emily Short)

I don’t love IF (bad memories of the Infocom games) but the newer games are more forgiving. And of course you have the WWW for help (online Invisiclues!). And the game is short enough to be done in a few hours. Counterfeit Monkey has topped some polls for IF games, and the reason it stands out is that it is a frankly brilliant idea. Many RPGs set up a magic system that is a giant box of rules. With the simple idea of linguistic manipulation, CM has built the best magic system I’ve seen. For example, if you have the “p-remover” you can turn a clamp into a clam …. (but can’t do anything to a lamp, because a ‘lam’ is nonsense).

A fireball has one use, but that p-remover opens up a world of imagination. Honestly, it would be impressive in an RPG, but in a programmed computer game (that had to code in all the possible interactions) is just impressive. (And the game keeps adding linguistic tools).

Even with only the barest of interest in IF, this was worth playing. And there are often multiple (multiple) solutions to any puzzle, with only a few things being sort of esoteric “try everything” options. (Often I was clear what I needed to do, but didn’t have the right inventory, so I’d use the invisclue to tell me where I needed to go. I’ve made my peace with easy mode).

Written by taogaming

May 7, 2021 at 6:37 pm

5 Responses

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  1. Hooray! I think you’d also enjoy Hadean Lands.


    May 8, 2021 at 1:12 am

    • I have been tempted. I suspect it is much harder (although if there are invisiclues….)


      May 8, 2021 at 8:56 am

  2. You dis infocom, but there’s a similar plot device in Leather Goddesses of Phobos… a “t” remover.

    This does sound cool though.

    Fred Bush

    May 9, 2021 at 7:57 am

    • I came to make the same comment as Fred. The payoff of the t-remover came when putting a rabbit into it.

      Peter Sarrett

      May 10, 2021 at 3:44 am

      • I am doubly chastised. But stationfall was brutal, so I don’t think I bought an infocom game after that.


        May 13, 2021 at 11:27 am

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