Oldskooler Ramblings

the unlikely child born of the home computer wars

Stone Age Multimedia: Corruption

Posted by Trixter on August 7, 2010

(What follows is a continuation of an article about audio cassettes included with computer games; if you would like to start at the beginning, start with Homeword.)


Corruption was one of the legendary Magnetic Scrolls series: text adventures from the UK that are regarded by many to be on equal footing (if not better) than the venerable Infocom series of interactive fiction.

Playing the included audio tape before it’s required by the game isn’t recommended, but doing so sets up the basic premise of the story. The first track on the first side of the tape is a conversation with your boss that was used to frame you. In it, you hear your boss calling you into his office and confronting you about insider trading. (boss: “Using heavy inside knowledge — it’s a criminal offense.” you: “I agree.”) The conversation generally makes you out to be the bad guy (at one point, you bluntly answer accusations with “I’ll be frank: I admit it.”) For atmosphere, the tape has “Derek Rogers, March 25” scrawled on it in a kind of handwriting.

Sounds pretty damning, doesn’t it? There’s only one problem: You never had this conversation with your boss! You’ve been framed! You have to unravel your life and figure out the corporation’s secrets to win the game and get your life back.

C. E. Forman, an avid interactive fiction gamer, had this to add:

During the course of the game, you the player-character actually find this tape in one of your business partners’ offices, and can play it in the cassette deck of a car you break into. (Magnetic Scrolls also offerred a written transcript you could send for, in the event that the tape got damaged, since it’s a rather vital part of the plot.)

After the conversation, the theme music written by John Molloy starts. The title theme is extremely appropriate for the source material; the musical style evokes images of a mystery that needs to be solved, with sympathy for the hero. The other side of the tape, which is unlabeled, hides the original conversation you had with your boss from which the “framed” version was created. It’s a bit long, but is engaging to listen to as it demonstrates where your tormentor got all his sound bites from to make the version that framed you.

All in all, the tape adds a nicely textured clue that helps flesh out your purpose (and what you’re up against) in the game.

Highlight: The passage “Stupid sod spilled all the beans!” in the “framed” version of the conversation.

High Points: Good voice acting; realization that the “framed” conversation is very cleverly edited together once you hear the original conversation.

Low Points: Annoying reverb effect applied to both actor’s voices makes it hard for some to understand what they’re saying

Audio: For this installment, I’ve linked to the various available mp3s in the above article text.

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