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Video Game / Max Blaster and Doris de Lightning Against the Parrot Creatures of Venus

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Max Blaster and Doris de Lightning Against the Parrot Creatures of Venus is a 2003 Interactive Fiction game by Dan Shiovitz and Emily Short.

A secret weapon that could destroy the Earth is being built on Venus. The two main characters are on a mission to stop it.

You can download the game here.

Contains examples of:

  • Action Hero: Max Blaster of the Captain America good looks and a trusty blaster at his side.
  • Action Prologue: One for each of the protagonists, told from the baddies' perspectives.
  • Affectionate Parody: Of pulp serials.
  • Alien Invasion: Max and Doris have to stop a super-weapon that will be used to enslave all of Earth's parrots.
  • And All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt: Parodied. One of the T-shirts in the Xavian gift shop, which they plan to sell to humans after their invasion, has the slogan "my planet was brought under the dominion of the Xavian empire and all I got was this lousy t-shirt which is not nearly as good as having feathers anyway."
  • And the Adventure Continues: In the game's Golden Ending, Doris and Max have a newfound respect for each other once they realize they successfully stopped the invasion and worked together the whole time. The Director calls them in for a mission on Saturn, and they happily accept.
  • Barrier Warrior: Max's special equipment is a forcefield generator that can take various forms, such as a sphere and a long rod.
  • Book Ends: Early in the game, Ch'awwwk's Evil Gloating causes him to laugh so hard he falls off his perch. Doris can make a snarky comment that she hopes Ch'awwwk's weapon has as bad balance as he does. Towards the end of the game, during the brief epilogue where you control Ch'awwwk, you laugh and fall off. The Director makes a similar comment to Doris.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: Captain Dotar Sojat's spoils are: platinum bars from the asteroid belt, titanium neuro-packs from Centauri and leather corsets from the moons of Mars.
  • Classic Cheat Code: The game has a silly response to "plugh" or "xyzzy", akin to a tie-in promo found in 80s comics. The command turns out to have been the "secret word" of the day. Max and Doris break character to address an unseen audience of "Max-and-Doris Patrol Club Members" and give them a message to decode using their special decoder rings. If you decode it successfully, it gives you two commands you can use for bonus material.
  • Clown Car: In Doris's prologue, one of the attendees at a Mad Scientist meeting announces that they've arranged for a VW bug to be placed onsite so that their army of sad clown robots can emerge from it and seize the area.
  • Compressed Hair: After Doris sheds her disguise, examine the wig:
    It's amazing how Doris de Lightning was able to fit her long red hair under this short brown wig.
  • Da Chief: The Director, a stoic man smoking a cigar who you meet with to be informed of your next mission.
  • Double Entendre: Played for laughs.
    • Examining Captain Dotar Sojat's stash of plundered treasure will result in the text "People have often complimented you on the quality of your booty."
    • If you take Captain Dotar Sojat's box of codekeys, it says your jumpsuit has no pockets. A footnote attached says "(The stories about you having a rocket in your pocket are sadly exaggerated.)"
  • Evil Gloating: Ch'awwwk even has a screen to illustrate his expository speech.
    Ch'awwwk: What good is it to have a secret weapon if nobody wants to know about it? Guards, seize them! Make them listen eagerly! Damn it, I want enthrallment!
  • Famed In-Story: Max is well-known to the point of having licensed action figures that are even localized across the galaxy. Doris, however, is not recognized by the Xavians who confuse her for Max's sidekick.
    'I am not his sidekick,' you snap.
  • Fantastic Measurement System: Xavians measure temperature in ziknoks. Or the other standard units, yelpips.
  • Food Pills: In Doris's path, you come across a box of food rations for Xavians. It contains a multitude of small, green pills that apparently contain an entire meal. You can eat one, but not any more, because then you're already full.
  • Footnote Fever: IF games don't usually have footnotes. This one does. Most of them serve to add on to existing jokes. Type "footnote n" to see the nth note. Sometimes, there are footnotes within footnotes.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: When using the computer around halfway through the game, attempting to toggle a switch more than once will result in a runtime error that doesn't let you use it again. Thus, if you unplug the wrong cable, you're stuck with no way to get out of the room.
  • Golden Ending: A variant. While ending the game with 90 points does result in you stopping the Alien Invasion and heading home, either Max or Doris, depending on who sent the bomb up, will have died in the explosion. If you figure out how to get the bomb into the base with nobody holding it, both characters survive, giving you 100 points and a more satisfying ending.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: Max can outwit Xavian guards. Max.
  • Hopeless with Tech: When Max has to use a computer, he fumbles with it for quite a while, pressing random keys until he comes to a password entry screen. If he examines the hardware components, the descriptions are confused and vague. In contrast, Doris is knowledgeable in hacking and was top of her class in basic and advanced electronics (she brags that she didn't even have to change her teacher's files).
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Max is an Action Hero with appropriate physique, while Doris has several puzzles based on her inability to reach things.
  • Hurricane of Puns: The Xavian hideout contains a lot of bird-related puns.
    • All the articles in Newsbeak magazine are loaded with bird jokes.
    • Checking the Xavian's storeroom boxes also results in this:
    >examine boxes
    You can faintly make out the Xavian lettering* beneath the dust. The boxes are all labeled "Catering Supplies".
    * And man, the handwriting is terrible. Talk about chicken scratches.
    >open boxes
    The boxes are firmly taped shut*. Figures.
    * This being Xavia, I need hardly mention that it's duck tape.
    • If Doris tries to jump out of the launching port, the game warns against it, saying that she might become addicted to jumping. Then, she'll be "chowing down on jumping beans, jumpropes twined around your body and stalking the streets looking for shuttles to jump-start."
  • Innocently Insensitive: Max's first reaction to Doris: "So who's the little lady?"
  • Intro-Only Point of View: The game starts by featuring playable interludes with Captain Dotar Sojat, who is attacked by Max, and then Doctor Hackles, who is foiled by Doris. These characters don't appear after the intro, and mainly serve to give both heroes an Establishing Character Moment.
  • Improvised Parachute: When Doris is stuck in a large tree, she uses a large leaf around the size of a bedsheet to get to the ground safely.
  • I Work Alone: Max, but this time he gets a partner and that's it.
  • I Told You So: When Max saves Doris from a snake that she initially assumed was just a vine.
    Max: I hate to say it, but I told you so. I told you early and I told you repeatedly. I told you loudly and I told you quietly. I told you—
  • Janitor Impersonation Infiltration: Doris disguises herself as a secretary to infiltrate those Mad Scientists.
  • Jet Pack: Doris wears rocket pants for the mission - useful for scouting.
  • Kidnapping Bird of Prey: Bird People, and it's not to eat them, but Max and Doris do have to escape the Venusians' nests at one point.
  • Lampshaded Double Entendre: The pants in question are Doris's rocket pants.
    You don't know exactly how much power is in these pants note 
  • Laser Hallway: In Doris's route, she comes across a red laser barrier. There's a shutoff button, which you can activate by either throwing something at it or using a long pole. The game has a footnote explaining why they're red:
    Fashions in fortress defense must change with the times. Once red got boring, for a while no lair was complete without a maze of green laser beams, and then for a brief space purple was all the rage. This tipped things over the edge, leading to, in quick succession, hot pink, silver, and taupe, until trends converged to infrared. That in turn lasted about six months before evil overlords everywhere got tired of accidentally walking into the invisible laser beams and getting dropped into the shark pit, and now it's back to red. There have been some brief flirtations with mixing red and blue lasers, but you have to issue intruders special glasses and it's not really worth it.
  • Left Field Description: The narration is fond of making somewhat bizarre and definitely humorous comparisons. Especially in footnotes. One example is the Affectionate Parody-flavored description of old pulp serials Purple Prose tendencies:
    Making your way through the Venusian jungle is a bit like working security in the front rows of a rock concert mobbed by giant broccoli.
  • Mad Scientist: A whole conference of them in Doris's prologue. They want to Take Over the World with sad clown robots performing antics.
  • The Many Deaths of You: Seeing that most of the game is spent sneaking around enemy base (even if the enemy in question is a bunch of none-too-bright Bird People), it has lots of interesting ways you can fail. For instance, if Max walks into the Xavian kitchen, or if Doris trips the security alarm from passing the Laser Hallway.
  • Marionette Master: Ch'awwwk's weapon will grant him control over the birds of Earth (this is the clever bit), in order to take over the Solar System.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: Doctor Hackles' list of failed past plans includes one involving genetically-modified badgervarks.
  • Mundane Utility: Max hangs onto the ship with one hand, and uses the other to shoot Captain Dotar Sojat's crew with a blaster. A footnote speculates that if he had a third hand, he'd have possibly ordered pizza.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: The evil overlords Captain Dotar Sojat can consider selling his microchips to are Ivan the Implacable, Racquelle the Ruthless, and Undor the Unkind.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Captain Dotar Sojat and his hardened crew of space-pirate-lizards.
  • Quicksand Sucks: Early into the adventure, Max gets stuck in some quicksand. It slowly pulls him down, and if you spend too long trying to get out, it's Game Over. You can get out of it by using your force generator to create a rod and having Doris pull you out. Alternatively, if Doris kills the snake first, she can use it to pull Max out.
  • Red Herring:
    • If you try to open the taped-shut boxes or the cold cases in the Xavian stockrooms, it'll say that you need a hacksaw or a chisel. You can read each box's label to learn its contents, too. You don't end up collecting either of these items, and you only open one box, which contains Food Pills.
    • The break room contains a large cylinder of what appears to be soda, and a "Refill" button. You might assume you can fill something with soda, or overflow the container, but you actually can't do anything with it.
    • The gift shop, which has a large array of locked cases. Only one of them is open, and it's the only one to have something you might need. You can't open the locked cases in any way.
    • A few items you come across, like the metal bowl that holds the granola nuts, can be picked up but serve no practical purpose.
  • School Grade Hacking: When Max can't figure out how to work a computer, the more technically-inclined Doris takes over. She says that was at the top of her electronics class for two years, and didn't even have to hack in and change her teacher's files.
  • Screams Like a Little Girl: While playing as Doctor Hackles, type "yell". The text says that you scream in a not entirely manly way, and someone laughs.
  • Self-Destruct Mechanism: In Max's prologue, he hits the spaceship's self-destruct button on his way out. It was discount.
    One time unit to destruction. Thank you for choosing Dynablast, Inc, the company that puts the "pal" in "astro-napalm"...
  • Sequel Hook: If you translate the message you get from entering the Classic Cheat Code, it describes the game as "the first Max Blaster and Doris de Lightning adventure". Combined with the And the Adventure Continues ending, it seems like a sequel may have been planned, but it was abandoned. In October 2022, Short said that she doesn't remember if there were any plans to make more.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Teamwork Puzzle Game: When Max and Doris are in the same room, you can switch between them. Each one has special tools that the other doesn't, such as Max's forcefield generator vs. Doris's rocket pants. If they get separated, there's different puzzles depending on who you were playing as, which you solve to get back together.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: For a while, at least, Max's casual sexism and Action Hero level of intelligence really irk Doris. She snarks at him like there's no tomorrow.
  • Timed Mission: In the final real gameplay segment, you have 20 turns to figure out how to explode Ch'awwwk's evil weapon with your bomb. If you fail, the weapon goes off, enslaving all the birds on Earth and letting the Xavians win.
  • Venus Is Wet: A proper pulpy jungle inhabited by Bird People.
    Making your way through the Venusian jungle is a bit like working security in the front rows of a rock concert mobbed by giant broccoli.
  • Use Item: Averted. The game won't accept the word "use", forcing you to use different commands like "turn dial to 1" or "put acorn in projector".
  • Your Mime Makes It Real: The sad clown robots lock Doris in a mimed box. She counters by trapping them in it instead.