Circuit's Edge
Circuit's Edge
Infocom/Westwood
IBM/PC 1990
Adventure/RPG
Requires
512k and DOS 2.11 or higher
CGA, EGA, and 16 color VGA, MCGA, Tandy
Adlib or MT-32
Mouse supported

Circuit's Edge: Wander through a cross between New Orleans and Fez, Morrocco through seedy rundown hotels to tourist bars, native hangouts where you'll find your friends, to docks where you'll finally use that Alpine Jack chip to figure out how to climb into the warehouse...

A low mellotron organ plays low in the background while you walk the streets until you enter a club and hear the bumpin' disco beats. Everyone you meet in the clubs is a sexchange or somehow otherwise hung up or weird - the game is full of characters. Bill the psychedelic cabdriver. Friedlander Bey, the beneficent mobster. Yasmin, your cutie ex-girlfriend. Chiriga, provocative barkeep.

the bougainvillea - interface The game interface itself is pretty good at masking the game's essential basis in textual interaction (it's appropriate that Infocom, a company noted for its early success with pure text games like Zork and Leather Goddesses of Phobos, took this on during its early foray into graphical games). The game window is a picture of the lead character - you, or your partner in dialog or combat, in the upper left corner. The middle-right of the screen is a graphic shot of where you are; in a room, you can pan back and forth; in the city, using the keys will move you around. Along the top are the graphics of your personal hardware - what skill chips you have plugged in, and on the right is the display of your BioScanner chip - your vital signs. In the city, the lower right corner is a mini-map. The bottom of the screen is the text area, screen by screen hit spacebar to proceed, this is where the action is. You'll spend a lot of time reading in this game - the interface is a front end to a lot of text descriptions. You'll need to read it too - keywords and phone numbers drift by and you'll need to figure out what to bring up in conversation later.

howdy hooker But aside from the reading part, it's not particularly high-brow. Buy drugs from ugly dealers. Get jumped by street punks. Solicit hookers.

It's not what I do with my life all the time, but I like playing a game based in a city, populated by people more deliberately real. Wandering around the "Budayeen" feels more engaging after my fourtieth time slashing through another dungeon with longhaired beefy men and elfin women.

Perhaps I was partial to Circuit's Edge because I'd read and enjoyed the series of books it was based on - George Alec Effinger's When Gravity Fails. I thought it was odd that a pretty way-out SciFi author got his characters and situations wraught in interactive bits, but I was happy to see it.

Circuit's Edge is like:

B.A.T. 1 and 2
Rise of the Dragon
Neuromancer
BladeRunner

The game play - walking city streets, visiting bars and talking to sexchanges, using a cellphone, taking drugs, fighting punks, putting chips in your head - it was like few games in terms of grit. I guess if people play games to escape, this was too real; like computer gaming noir (and a bit like the game based on Neuromancer).

Besides the fun of the city, the play was rather linear - one event after another, with some linear time pressure, and the city didn't exactly support endless wandering. The interface and encounters are exciting enough, but the characters you encounter, while gritty, are limited in their variance. You can make them smile by complimenting them, and get better deals from merchants, or you can diss them and they will frown. Two choices. But NPC emotional states in 1990! Few designers care about the sexual history of characters in computer games, then or now.

medium merchant
medium merchant

happy merchant
happy merchant

subtle, eh?

And you can watch your own face change,

marid audran - normal
Marid - Normal
marid audran - beaten
Marid - Beaten
marid audran - stoned
Marid - Stoned
subtle, eh?

You can do drugs and screw hookers in this game, but you'll get beaten up and depressed if you do. The game has some morality permeating its seeming seediness.

Circuit's Edge review

This more complete walkthrough or The Awesome Dude's Walkthrough might give you a sense of gameplay.

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