All right, let's take a vote.
How many of you want to read another column about the IBM-Apple technology sharing deal? Now how many would like to hear about one of the niftiest games of the year?
You mean there are actually seven of you out there who'd rather read about IBM and Apple? Well, that's tough. I'll write about them in three years or so, when they come out with something useful.
Meanwhile, we'll have some fun.
About two months ago, a rep from Disney Software showed up in the office with a demo of a game called Hare Raising Havoc, starring Roger Rabbit.
The only way to describe it is to call it an interactive cartoon, and it was one of the silliest, most delightful pieces of wizardry I've seen.
If you're into slapstick and enjoy superb animation, the production version will keep you in frustrated laughter for days. Hare Raising Havoc is based on the title character from the movie "Who Framed Roger Rabbit." Roger, as you may know, is the first citizen of Toon Town, and, as usual, he's in trouble on the movie set.
As the program opens, Mommy has left Roger in charge of Baby Herman (If Herman comes to harm, it's back to the science lab for Roger). Naturally, Herman disappears out the window, and it's up to Roger to find him and bring him back before Mommy returns in one hour sharp.
So much for the plot. Your job is to guide Roger, and it's not easy. That's because Roger is a Toon, and no Toon ever did anything the easy way.
For example, you start in the living room. In a standard adventure game, you'd walk out the door to the next room. But not in Toon Town. The doors are locked and the key is in the fishbowl. And the fish is a piranha. And he bites. And once you get the key, it doesn't open the door.
How do you get out? By thinking like a Toon, of course. Just use the magnet, the sofa and the ceiling fan.
Roger's predicament goes from bad to worse in a succession of five additional scenes: the kitchen, the bathroom, a street scene, a construction site and a dairy plant. Each is crazier and more complicated than the last.
The possibilities are endless, and that's the fun and the frustrating part. Just imagine how much potential mayhem Roger can create with a pull-down ironing board, a sink, a stove, a toilet, a plunger, a bathroom scale, a wet floor, a space heater, a banana peel, a pile of dirty dishes, a nasty mouse, a bar of soap and a roll of toilet paper. And that will barely get you out of the house.
Playing the game couldn't be simpler -- or more difficult. Outside of installation instructions, the manual consists of a single page. It tells you to use the joystick or cursor keys to make Roger go left, right, up or down. The fire button or the enter key "makes Roger do something." You never know just what.
If you don't find Baby Herman in time, and that will undoubtedly be the case, the filming comes to a screeching halt, Roger gets chewed out (and hammered on a bit) by the director, Niles Darfegnugen. You can try another take, or quit for the day.
Roger's animation sets a new standard for PC games, which is not surprising, considering the Disney source. While characters in many graphic adventure games move like fleshed-out stick figures, Roger is a real cartoon rabbit, with rubber limbs and an cast-iron constitution.
He bends and climbs and jumps, and when he gets hit on the head with an ironing board, he really collapses into a puddle (complete with stars circling his forehead). The quality of the action is amazingly close to a real movie cartoon -- by far the best I've seen.
If you have a Sound Blaster sound board, an IBM PS/1 audio card, a Tandy computer with sound support, or Disney's own, inexpensive Sound Source device, you're in for a real treat. The program includes digitized voices of the real characters and a delightful variety of sound effects.
The Sound Source, a self-contained unit with a speaker that plugs into your computer's printer port, is a real bargain--about 75 percent cheaper than more expensive and sophisticated internal sound cards.
All of this wizardry requires some computing horsepower. For starters, you'll need a hard disk drive with five free megabytes of space. No kidding. A lot of that is eaten up by the sound files, which will keep your drive humming constantly.
The program comes on five 3 1/2 -inch disks packed with compressed files. While the installation program is bulletproof, it takes almost half an hour to copy the files to your hard disk and decompress them. If you only have 5 1/4 -inch drives, you'll have to send away for a 10-disk set, at an additional cost of $9.95.
Hare Raising Havoc requires 640K of memory and a color video card and monitor. For adequate performance, you'll probably need an AT-class machine with an 80286 processor or better. The faster the machine, the better.
If you really get stuck and can't figure out how to get Roger to the next screen, Disney Software maintains a 24-hour computer bulletin board. With a modem, you can dial the bulletin board and get hints or actual walk-throughs, although the latter will spoil all the fun.
In short, Hare Raising Havoc creates a whole new genre of computer game. Its superb animation and zany humor are a delight. If you like pratfalls, it can make your day.
Hare Raising Havoc
Hare Raising Havoc, $49.95, is a delightful new genre of computer game that puts an interactive Roger Rabbit at your fingertips. Lots of pratfalls and zany good humor.
Requirements: IBM-compatible computer with 640K of RAM, a hard disk and a color video board and monitor. An AT-class computer or better will give the best results.
Publisher: Contact Walt Disney Computer Software, 500 S. Buena Vista St., Burbank CA 91521.