MASTURB JOE IN ALPHA ZONES / i Grec / PC
 
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Video game preservation is a topic that probably won't penetrate the greater public consciousness until it's far too late. We already see many examples of games disappearing from circulation after just a couple of years in the mobile and MMO space. A lot of older digital media that was once freely available and widely circulated is also disappearing, however, simply due to lack of anyone preserving it and keeping it uploaded.

One of the examples nearest and dearest to my heart: the wild freeware games of Quebecois self-styled anarchist i Grec. I remember his games being quite common on freeware sites in the late 1990s to early 2000s. Flash forward about ten years, and you can't find them anywhere. Masturb Joe is the only one I can still find, and that only thanks to the Wayback Machine catching some obscure Geocities site that is now long dead.

As the naked protag with the giant pixellated erection would probably indicate, i Grec's "made for fun" games are free-spirited and care not for social conventions. His work was oddly prescient of the for-profit indie scene of the last ten years or so, however; his catalog was mostly a mix of reimagined arcade premises with zany concepts laid over top, or retro-styled demakes of more modern mainstream titles. I'd say Masturb Joe is more toward the former, though it's not really a direct copy of any particular concept I can think of. It's just retro-arcade-like in its simplicity.
 


So our titular Joe has a burning desire to Masturb, which he has to do outdoors for some reason. Any time he isn't engaged in menage et moi, his Desire bar rises, and will steal a life if it fills up. If you ruffle the rooster out in the open, however, a Trouble bar quickly fills, which will also kill you if maxed out. The only safe place to burp your purple buddy is behind a tree near the center of the screen, but apples will randomly fall out of it that will kill you on contact. You also have to periodically duck out to grab random objects, which you need 10 of to move to the next level. Each new level adds new dangers to the playfield, like a hovering fish or surprisingly deadly raindrops.

The game quickly gets challenging, mostly thanks to the environmental obstacles like the raindrops, which come down pretty fast. I can't remember how far I got in this back in the day, but I had extreme trouble getting past Wave 4 on every playthrough for this recent review. I'd love to know if there's an ending for this game.

If you can look past the porniness, it's a basic but very solid classic "score attack"-style game. The sound effects (stolen from all over the place) really help, and it even has a very basic original score.
 
Links :
 
Download (Wayback Machine)
 
List of i Grec games (at bottom)
 
Videos :
 
 
 
 
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