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Continued from Part 32: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back
After I installed the Flash Player plugin my first thoughts were of Garfield.com, an award winning website which, while a bear to navigate back in the day, was home to a wide array of Flash based games and amusements based around the titular comic cat created by Jim Davis. The original website was taken down after the purchase of Paws Incorporated by Viacom in 2019, but caches of the old Garfield.com content can still be found hosted on the Internet Archive.
The most elaborate of these Flash diversions were a pair of point and click adventure games created as a cross-promotion with Perfection Pastries, titled Garfield's Scary Scavenger Hunt and Garfield's Scary Scavenger Hunt II: Donuts of Doom. To start, load either the archived ssh.swf or the shh2.swf files from Mozilla. Some elements will show outside the frame of the game, as these were meant to be covered by other web elements, but beyond that the games are perfectly playable.
The main challenge of the games, other than solving basic puzzles, is to prevent Garfield getting too scared by avoiding clicking on too many scary visuals. This goes against the training instilled in any child who grew up with the Humongous Entertainment games or Living Books, where clicking on everything to see all of the animations play out was very much the point. As an adult it becomes a question of resource management, seeing how many animations you can view without Garfield pussying out.
Being first released in 2002 with the sequel coming out in 2003, Garfield's Scary Scavenger Hunt does run a touch slow on a computer which would have been high end in early 1999, with the framerate crawling with the busier animations unless I set the Flash Player to output in lower quality. The keyboard controls also bug out with Garfield becoming stuck in place, forcing you to click the on screen direction arrows, but I remember having this problem when I was a child as well.
One thing which has given Garfield's Scary Scavenger Hunt something of an afterlife online is its realization of a cryptic and unsettling remark by Jim Davis about the disappearance of Lyman, Jon's housemate and the original owner of Odie. When pressed, Davis has offered "don't look in Jon's basement!" as a possible explanation. Well, in the basement of the haunted house you can indeed find Lyman, starving and chained to a wall in the dungeon.
The fact that Lyman also appears in the shower upstairs often gets overlooked, although his severed head can be found in the oven when playing through the second game, with Jon taking over the role of screaming in the shower instead. As part of the cross-promotion you are tasked with collecting a number of Garfield branded donuts and muffins that were really being sold by Perfection Pastries at the time, despite the fact that a muffin also appears as a puzzle item in the game.
The only wrinkle I had in playing Garfield's Scary Scavenger Hunt on Linux is that the special prize you win at the end of the sequel is a custom screensaver, which while sporting support for a diverse range of systems such as Mac OS 9 and Mac OS X as well as Microsoft Windows, offered no version that would work with the popular XScreenSaver package included with most Linux distributions at the time. The screensaver files were also not included with data from the Internet Archive.
Outside of Garfield.com there was another Flash effort that I was fond of as a kid, and while not a game in and of itself, it does at least have the benefit of having its website still be online and accessible in older web browsers. Radiskull and Devil Doll were a series of animated shorts created by Joe Sparks from 1999 to 2002, centered around two demonic best friends who like to rock and go on adventures. A story arc emerges after Devil Doll falls for an angel from heaven, and drama ensues.
After the dot-com bubble burst work on Radiskull and Devil Doll stalled, meaning that even twenty years later we have yet to see the final episode release, leaving us on a cliffhanger. Despite the hellish imagery and satanic vibes Radiskull and Devil Doll remains family friendly throughout, and seemed to have carved a niche among women and young children based on some of the fan responses lovingly curated by Joe Sparks himself on the website.
Later episodes will even acknowledge that the shorts are being played from Linux, which is a nice touch. Earlier episodes play flawlessly on Dianoga, but it does get a bit choppier as the series progresses and ambitions increased. This of course merely scratches the surface of the Flash content available on the internet, focused as it is on my own recollections, but for now I have some unfinished business with a game where I only had access to the shareware before.
Carrying on in Part 34: Abusing the System
Return to Part 1: Dumpster Diving