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party poker

Beam Spock down.

[Computer text adventure game "The Kobayahsi Maneuver"]

This macro is from the ancient (and completely unsuccessful) computer game The Kobayashi Maneuver. In the distant past, computer games relied on “English” instead of tiny ninja figures running, jumping, and shooting. The Kobayashi Maneuver was instantly recognizable as one of those complex, time-consuming text adventures – sort of a radio play of Star Trek II. Although some may have found it vastly entertaining, our taste for this type of game had been totally numbed by countless generic Scott Adams adventures (see I can’t do that ... yet!).

So it was that when the initial story scrolled past, painting a vivid picture of a Star Trek crew sporting the usual amounts of loyalty and enthusiasm, we were overwhelmed by the need to find the quickest way to end the game. Eventually, the Enterprise pulled in to orbit around a very inhospitable planet. As Captain Kirk, we issued our first command:


Chekov whirled about in his seat; he pointed out that there was no way that a human or Vulcan could survive in the planet’s methane atmosphere. Nonetheless, we persevered:


Now Sulu objected. There was a nice speech about how a captain shouldn’t deliberately send crew members into certain death, court martials, etc., etc.


Reluctantly, Spock entered the turbolift. After he beamed down, the bridge crew watched in horror as Spock writhed in agony on the surface. You are finally court martialed and executed.

The astounding part about all this is that our ridiculous move was not simply covered by the game designers, but covered in such loving detail that we had no choice but to continue on the path of doom. Our adventure experience was both succinct and sublime. Used whenever discussing the details of a plan, especially a desperate one; utter the words in a slow, staccato fashion: “Beam. Spock. Down!”

Neal Manson

Tags: computer | game