Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Mr. Pibb: The 3D Interactive Game (MS-DOS)

I've never tried Mr. Pibb before, but my extensive research has revealed that it's a type of drink, it has its own 3D Interactive Game, and that I'm playing it right now! I'm cautiously optimistic as interactive games tend to be my favourite type of videogame.

According to this screenshot you're looking at right now, a mad scientist has taken over the school and turned all our friends and teachers into zombies! Probably not a coincidence this was made around the same time that Buffy was starting to get popular. Another thing that was popular in '98 was Half-Life, to give this some historical context. But can a cheap fizzy drink tie-in running in DOS compete with Valve's masterpiece? The answer may shock you! Or maybe it won't. I have no idea, I haven't even played it yet.

Wish me luck... 'cause I'll need it.

Whoa, you don't see many schools with a water fountain in the entrance lobby. I assume.

Straight away it's obvious that this is running on the ageing Build Engine (of Duke Nukem 3D and Shadow Warrior fame). Except that it actually isn't; the game was apparently made using 3D GameStudio and runs on the ACKNEX 3 engine. Which I have never heard of.

It's doing the old C64 trick of doubling the pixels horizontally, so it's actually running at half this resolution. But they get away with it I reckon.

I mean when they've got art like this staring out at you the resolution is the last thing you notice. Redrawing and cleaning up digitised art is apparently a luxury you don't get to have when you've got a cheap soft drink tie-in to get finished on a tight budget.

Right, that'd be one of those zombies then I suppose. So what do I do, spray Mr. Pibb on him and hope that the phosphoric acid burns through his necrotic flesh in the same way that root beer burns through ghost pirates?

Or I guess I could just take a swig and then burp on him I guess, see how that works. Just to make sure it gets the job done, I'm using this megaphone I found to amplify the effect.

Hey, I just noticed that you can see him using the megaphone on the top right. So now I know that the squiggly shape up there is meant to be a mouth!

The zombie is transformed... into a girl that looks entirely different? Uh, okay then. I guess we can blame this on the magical life-restoring sex-changing power of Mr. Pibb burps.

Sadly I can't hand her a Pibb and tell her to back me up, as she can't actually move. I tried to walk up and talk to her but all that achieved was to send her sliding into the back wall, like a cardboard cutout on a polished floor.

Before leaving the lobby I figured I'd grab that Mr. Pibb sitting next to her (seeing as she didn't seem interested in it any more and who can blame her?) To my surprise it turned out to be a health kit, not an ammo refill. Our hero is just naturally blessed with infinite gas..

It seems that the mad scientist running this show was also into cloning. Every zombie looks basically the same, but after I burp in their face four or five times they change back into all different kinds of students and teachers. Well, three kinds of students and one kind of teacher.

They seem happy enough about the outcome so I'm just going to assume that the school is run by identical octuplets for identical octuplets and get on with being a burp-slinging action hero.

These games never do colour code the locked doors on the auto-map do they? Instead they expect me to use my memory, which is excessively cruel of them.

I suppose I should be grateful they've given me a map at all though really, seeing as this was the point that first person shooters really started to phase them out entirely. So that's one thing this genuinely does better than Half-Life at least.

Damn, that's the second biggest air vent I've ever seen! It's like 6 foot square! I wonder how many students have found themselves pulled inside by its irresistible allure and had to be fished out by an expedition of angry teachers.

Well, it's going to be at least one by the end of today, as I'm going in.

This vent actually seems to go on for a fair distance. Works for me, I just want to get out of the building really. I already got my recommended yearly dose of running around creepy monster infested school corridors back when I played Silent Hill just 50 weeks ago, and I fear that any more might send me into a coma.

Fortunately 'first person school shooter' didn't really take off as a genre for various obvious reasons, so I think I'll be safe after this one.

Oh come on, the vent leads to a locked vent grill? What was the point of letting me crawl down here if it just leads to a dead end? So I just wasted my time coming all this way and now I've got to waste even more time getting back out.

I really wish it'd occurred to me to make a quicksave before I went inside. All these retro platformers and modern shooters I've been playing lately have gotten me into the habit of relying on checkpoints.

There is nothing right about this screenshot.

The trouble with the burp attack is that it's a very wide projectile, so if a zombie is even slightly obscured than the other object is going to get hit instead. Which is a bit of a pain in the ass when I'm in a room full of chairs for the creature to get stuck behind.

Getting my character to strafe is possible, thought it's awkward and ultimately unnecessary as the zombies are only one step above the cardboard cutout humans as far as AI goes and not exactly a threat. They've got a ranged attack, but even if it hits me it does so little damage that they might as well have not bothered. Basically they could've replaced all the zombies with unarmed balloons and it'd make no difference at all to the challenge level.

Whoa this school has its own swimming pool, complete with scoreboard? How exorbitantly ostentatious. When I was at school we had to all take the bus to the nearby leisure center for swimming lessons. I still vividly remember the time I slipped on the tiles, knocked myself unconscious and got rushed to hospital for an x-ray. I got the rest of the day off for that, it was awesome.

Uh, what was I talking about again? Who even cares, I'm going swimming!

A pair of buoyant pliers floating in the water... curious. I'm grabbing these for sure.

The changing rooms behind the swimming pool were a dead end, so aside from the zombies I suppose the pliers are the only reason I came this way.

Hang on, I've seen this room before! That vent up there must have been the one I was stuck behind a minute ago and I bet these pliers are my key to get it open.

Okay now I'm finally making some progress! I've reached the inexplicable flame deathtrap section of the vents. If you've ever seen that movie The Rock, where Sean Connery escaped Alcatraz prison by memorizing the timing on a series of fire-jets, well this is much the same thing. By that I mean it's obviously designed to prevent the inmates from escaping.

Oh, it all led to another dead end where a zombie has been stockpiling Pibb and megaphones, presumably to keep them out of my hands. Sorry mate, but I'm going to have to confiscate your stash and turn you back into a student.

And then I'll leave you here to get past the fire-jets by yourself. So, good luck with that!


Sink, sink you bastards! Oh fine, suit yourselves then. I'm going off to figure out what this game actually wants me to do. I still haven't gotten that gold key yet, so that's top of my list of things to stumble upon.

Success, I found the gold key by crawling through a tiny lunch tray hole in the cafeteria. "This is getting interesting!" proclaims the character in an incredibly grating cartoon voice.

The gold key unlocked the library, where I found the bronze key! Which is apparently also made of gold.

Then the bronze key got me inside a classroom where I came across the silver key hidden behind the teacher's desk. I was a bit disappointed really to find out that it was actually made from silver.

Anyway this had better not lead me to another bloody key. I'm getting a bit tired of running around this rectangle of corridors now, my character bouncing up and down like an excited bunny rabbit the whole time.


Aha, up the stairs and across the swimming pool hall I found a lift that took me down to the boiler room, where I came across... the bolt-cutters!

I haven't the faintest idea what the game wants me to do with these things.


Crap, I think I broke reality. I guess there's only so many times someone can check the same dozen rooms before wearing a hole in the fabric of space-time. Well this certainly ain't helping me find the mysterious bolt that needs cutting. Fortunately I remembered to make a quicksave this time around.


Okay this is getting ridiculous now. I've done so many laps of this bloody place and still I can't find a single bolt to cut. Now I know why they wished me luck on the title screen.

This is one of the worst parts of first person shooters for me, when I'm trapped inside a level until I come across the one thing I'm required to find. It doesn't matter how awesome your gameplay and level design is, an extended stay when all the enemies are vanquished is soon going to get old and eventually unbearable.

It doesn't help that I can't even look up a walkthrough or watch a video this time to give me a clue, because if anyone's solved this mystery, no one feels like sharing it with the world.


AHA! That's where you use the bolt-cutters: there's another air vent in the room overlooking the swimming pool! Now I'm finally getting somewhere again.

Oh come on you assholes, step away from the switch or explode or something! I can't even push them out of the way. All I can really do here is hope that they're blocking this corner of room deliberately and I haven't just made the game unwinnable by curing them too soon.

There was another lever in this room that turned off the "magnetic power grid" but I have no idea what that actually means. I mean I assume it refers to magnetic door locks, but the only locked door left in this place is the entrance and that's not budging.


AHAH! I've finally found the way out of here. Some of the regular passageways in this are as well disguised as the secret areas in an average shooter.

Oh by the way, this area is hidden beneath the fountain next to the school entrance. I'm kinda ashamed it took me so long to consider jumping in and ducking below the water level. I need to work on my zaniness I suppose.

That definitely looks like a magnetically sealed door to me. I'm guessing it either leads to the local Umbrella Corporation Labs, the Batcave, Aperture Science, the Hellmouth, X-Com, a Dharma station, Vault 13, the Dollhouse, UNATCO, the SGC, Torchwood, or the X-Men's secret basement. Though it could be the mad scientist's lair I suppose.

I gotta say, I was not expecting a river of green lava down. It's definitely lava by the way, not acid or sewage or whatever, because that black rectangle in front of me had to be activated by a 'lava raft' switch.

Okay so now I just have to step onto the raft as it's sliding past me, then jump off again as it comes back the other way. Simple.

"Looks like the zombies got ya!" But I slipped into lava! Though I suppose the colour of it would make a lot more sense if it's undead zombie lava.

Oh did I mention that I have to press the 'home' key to jump? Not as awkward as you might think, but next time I'm going to try this jump with the map on next time so I can see what I'm doing.

The mad scientist's got a pretty elaborate facility down here. He must have been building this in secret for years, getting everything prepared for the day he was ready to strike and take over the school. Then he'd finally have enough test subjects to perfect his 'identical zombie serum' on.

It must have been a bit of a let down for him when he realised he'd got the formula right on his first try and didn't actually need the school full of test subjects after all. Still, it never hurts to have a zombie army at your command I guess.

The mad scientist at last! He looks like a cross between a cartoon super villain and Dracula. Those chemical he's wielding seem to give him some supernaturally nasty burps, so I need to keep circle-strafing around him and use every bit of my antidote ammo to take him down.

Actually I can't circle-strafe at all with these controls and the zombie antidote doesn't seem likely to be much use here either, but it's the strongest weapon I've got so I might as well try it. I'm playing as a guy who's first reaction to seeing a zombie was to get a megaphone and burp on them; he's a bit unconventional but he's got good instincts and I can't argue with the results. This is going to work.

It's not working! Even burping isn't having any effect, though it's hard to tell without a boss health meter. I don't get what I'm meant to do here.

Oh duh, how did it not occur to me until now to look around the room for something to use against him? There's probably some kind of trap I can activate, or a super weapon lying around.

A switch and a cage, I can live with that. It's his own damn fault for putting his chemistry set on the wrong side of the bars really. And that's the entire game finished. The end.

Oh in case you're curious about what's written in the README file it mentions, it's a contest for people to send in their ideas for the sequel and suggest where the story should go from here. But as far as I know the game never did get a follow up, so I guess nobody sent them an idea in the end. Though the developers did get to make Taco Bell: Tasty Temple Challenge instead!

Okay here's my closing thoughts about Mr. Pibb: The 3D Interactive Adventure Experience: you could finish the entire thing in about twenty minutes or so if you knew where to go and it'd still wear out its welcome before the end, even if you turned the painfully repetitive music off. On the other hand it's surprisingly slick and the graphics aren't actually that terrible (for an ultra cheap product promotion game released a year after Shadow Warrior and Blood), but it's basically just a tedious one-level scavenger hunt for keys and air vents. The enemies are such a non-threat that they're more or less just collectables to grab along the way to improve your final score and the collectables are pointless. You can get a megaphone and a straw to increase your firepower potential but neither is worth looking for as enemies already go down fine to regular burps.

Well it's playable I suppose, but it's no Cool Spot or Pepsiman that's for sure.

Leave a comment! Or not, either's good. You do whatever you think will bring the most joy into your life and the lives of others.


  1. Here is a request: Street fighter...1!!! So little people even know What the first game is like.

  2. The player character looks like he's escaped from a Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff comic...

  3. Perhaps you should consider playing "Taco Bell: Tasty Temple Challenge" as well; it's another "Doom Clone With Product Placement" game.

  4. that was great


Semi-Random Game Box