Lost in the Minus World – Review # -2: Zooming Secretary


 Hello again, Nintendo fanbodies! MC here, still locked inside Dylan’s panic room. Still eating Snickers bars for sustenance. Still wondering what the upside was to take on this gig in the first place…


But enough of my problems – today should be celebrated as a momentous occasion! It’s Questicle.net’s first foray into the murky waters of homebrew NES games! True, the site has covered a number of unlicensed titles, from questionable Bible-themed board games to renegade versions of Ms. Pac-Man, but even the worst of the unlicensed games usually had a small team of people working on the development side and at least some pittance of bankroll behind the project.


On the other hand, most NES homebrews are one or two person jobs worked on for little to no compensation. They’re labors of love by enthusiasts and serve as a means for a coder or an artist or a musician to further hone their craft. They’re the games you play once you’ve plumbed the depths of the NES library, not knowing whether you’ll get another crummy snake game or the next Retro City Rampage.


We won’t look at every single NES homebrew out there – the field is too vast and there’s far too many games in a half-finished state to make that task remotely feasible. But the notable releases (for better or worse) may be featured in this series from time to time, provided I can get the air conditioning working in this room.



Good to know Mikhail Gorbachev landed an office job after the fall of the Soviet Union.



                                             Paul McCartney’s “Another Day”: the Video Game.




PUBLISHER: PinWizz and Shiru




GENRE: Arcade


RELEASE DATE: Dec 28th, 2011


Have you ever dreamed of typing out endless TPS reports for a soulless corporate machine? How about sitting with a phone surgically attached to your ear all day, dialing out an endless quantity of mundane appointment confirmation calls while the best years of your life slowly drift into the ether? Or maybe you’re like me and you just wanted to see what it’d be like to be Dolly Parton in 9 to 5 for one day?


Well, dream no longer, friends! You can live out all of these fantasies and more with the much-needed secretary simulator known as Zooming Secretary, a homebrew that invokes the classic arcade games from the earliest days of the NES. Work your way up, up, up the ziggurat lickety-split by running around the office answering phone calls. (I like to imagine you’re working in the same office suite as the Wall Street Kid.) Every time a phone rings an icon will appear over the phone telling you the information the caller wants. You’ll need to run over to the appropriate filing cabinet, collect the files, and bring them back to the phone before time expires. Complete a set number of calls to move on to the next stage, but miss too many calls and you’ll be back on the streets combing the newspapers for job advertisements.


These seemingly simple workday tasks are complicated by your co-workers, each of whom has a different means of keeping you away from the phones and closer to the breadline. Take your overbearing boss, for instance. He thinks he’s helping by shouting overcomplicated instructions at his employees, but in reality all he does is slow you down. And then there’s Chatty Cathy, whose constant prattle will confuse your poor secretary and cause her to mix up the files she’s carrying. Swing the momentum back in your favor by triggering a speed boost power-up when you run past the coffee machine, then rack up some extra points in the bonus stages, where you’ll discover you’re working too hard and are now dreaming about answering phones.


The simple arcade mechanics coupled with the early 80’s style graphics and sounds make it hard not to love Zooming Secretary. If you’re the type who fancies chasing high scores in games like Mario Bros. or Popeye, you’ll want to try Zooming Secretary. You can download the game for free here: http://shiru.untergrund.net/files/nes/zooming_secretary.zip.


7 Swingline staplers out of 7



                                        And that’s why unemployment figures are rising again, folks.


Matthew Conway can be found talking even more nonsense on Twitter at: @Mattaconda


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