Now that the Vivian Girls have established themselves in the realm of music, they seem to be following in the footsteps of media mammoths such as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Disney and the Simpsons, and have been branching into other entertainment sectors. The current field of conquest for the indie-punk trio seems to be computer games.
While the Vivian Girls' "decide-your-own-adventure" game is currently free for downloadable play, one would expect that it is just the teaser, before the group expands the game into a pay-per-month online service similar to World of Warcraft, Star Wars Galaxies or Ultima Online.
This first iteration of the game is a text based adventure where the band asks you to be their tour manager. Within the context of the game, the girls test your ability in the role of tour manager to solve problems that occur on tour, manage the inventory of their goods and reliably handle the cash.
But, while the game has management aspects, the most fun aspects are the nods to punk culture along the way. At one point, you have the option of staying at Ian MacKaye's house, and if you choose not to, the band audibly tells you how much they hate you. At another point, the band asks if you can open for them, because all the openers canceled. A wrong choice might mean getting on your employer's bad side, but if you save the day, you get to be the hero.
Although game designer Katy Goodman has stated she is currently expanding the game, it would be nice to dig a little deeper into the life of touring. Grueling 14 hour drives are not addressed. Brutal road food never gets a chance to wreak havoc on your digestive system. Also, what will you do when you have to take a whizz while driving 85 mph down I-95?!
Still, despite the game's simple nature, it shows a great deal of promise in both the fields of supply chain management challenges as well as forcing the player to make on the spot decisions that could greatly affect the entire tour. Perhaps warranted would be the ability to buy premium content such as rare songs or a translator that allows you to understand the accent of your New Zealand drummer. The game shows unique promise and further expansion could make the game the first successful rock tour simulator and let you live the life of a indie rocker from the comfort of your own Tandy 340.
Controls: 3/5 Computer keys seem to function properly within the game's context, but sometimes it is unclear if one is supposed to hit enter or to input words.
Sound: 2/5 Computer keys click when you tap on them, but a midi Vivian Girls soundtrack might help make the inventory management sections more exciting.
Graphics: 4/5 The text is easy to read.
Gameplay: 4/5 Much like dealing with real people, the correct answer to a question is not always the most obvious choice, yet when one makes a faux pas, careful verbal navigation can get you back on the right track.
Final verdict: Better than Zork, worse than Golden Axe.
Play the game here.