The "Retro" Money-Making Machine
Alas, good old nostalgia! What is better than idling in a slightly melancholic mood while pondering the past? Almost anything was better in the good old days: Colours were more intense, one-liners smarter and verb lists longer. We were content with the little things. Who needed more than peeps, pixels and bizzareness?
Nowadays you can turn those nostalgic feelings into hard cash. At least if you can offer some familiar faces from back then too, which keeps you from getting lost in that flood of Kickstarters. Of course Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick had no problems with that.
Good humour takes proper setup and precise timing: Leading up to and delivering a punchline is an art form of its own which is harder to master than most people tend to believe. Yet it is one of the most important skills that separates the amateur jokester from the true comedian. Of course this is also what makes or brakes any video game that tries to make its audience laugh and it is especially the adventure game genre that has a tradition of delivering prime examples to both the best and the worst in comedy. One of the former is Alias 'The Magpie', a piece of interactive fiction telling the story of a hilarious art heist in a masterful way.
In this cyberpunk adventure's intro, we witness Joshua Reevs receiving a new task. Several technical achievements, like the hover board or the aircar, have become commonplace in every day life of 2099 in the twilight of omnipresent neon billboards located in run-down corners of shady districts. Those are inhabited by gangsters, thieves and day labourers, and order is only barely maintained through the constant droning of the giant screens, but also such respectable law enforcement officers as Joshua, whose military instincts have been sharpened fighting on the front lines. None other than the governor of Union City, capital of America's New Order, Hugh Martens, is the customer acting quite mysteriously. The almost omnipotent mega-corp Genesis, exerting its power on the government through straw men, has been threatened and attacked by an underground terrorist group. One of the gouvernor's agents, disguised as a journalist, has not returned from a meeting with the terrorists. So Mr. Reevs, aka the player, finds himself on top of the apartment building where said agent Simon Ruby used to live.