Futz Mutz by Tim Simmons [Comp00]

IFDB page: Futz Mutz
Final placement: 25th place (of 53) in the 2000 Interactive Fiction Competition

For my first 45 minutes of playing Futz Mutz, I thought it was delightful. It’s got a whimsical premise (you’re a 9-year-old who has been inexplicably transformed into a puppy and trapped in a pet store). It’s got lots of fun multimedia stuff, like appropriate dog sounds, a little biscuit up by the score on the status line, jazzy background music, a cool title sequence, that kind of thing. The code and the writing, while a bit error-riddled, mostly did their jobs well. It was well on its way to a high rating.

Then something happened that was a bit like a splash of cold water in the face. I looked at a TV in the game and got this description:

A commercial for some new movie is now showing on the TV.

"Don't miss 'Curses of the Skcus Mrofni' - starring G. Nelson. Tonight at 9 on HDO!"

Oh, ha ha. “Inform Sucks” spelled backwards. Gee, how clever. I though this game was supposed to be about a 9-year-old, not written by one. I was a little disappointed by this, but I shrugged and went on. After all, there had been a few IF references before this, a friendly nod to Mike Roberts and a more-or-less genial poke at Stephen Granade. Then, about five minutes later, something else happened. This was less like a splash of cold water and more like a kick in the teeth.

I won’t reprint it here — it was a personal insult to Suzanne Britton, basically calling her a whore in a couple of different ways. Now look, Suzanne is a friend of mine, so I got very, very angry when I saw this. But even if she wasn’t a friend, I’d think that this is way, way out of line. I do not understand the point of lashing out at specific members of the IF community like this. To work within the dog metaphor, it seems like biting the hand that feeds you.

I tried to continue playing, but my heart wasn’t in it anymore. So I turned to the walkthrough and finished the game. Then it was rating time. I sat there for a minute, trying to figure out what to do. Should I ignore the insults and try to rate FM as a game notwithstanding its snide jabs? I ruled that one out pretty quickly. Should I abstain from rating it at all on the grounds that because I had such a strong emotional response to it, I’m not fit to judge it? Hell no, I decided. I’m going to rate it exactly the same way as I have all the other comp games: based on how much I enjoyed the overall experience. Then I’ll write a review telling just what I thought of it, exactly as I have for the other comp games. And that’s what I did.

Rating: 2.0