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Video Game / Paper Chase

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— Intro text for the BASIC version

An Interactive Fiction game by Chris Skapura. It was originally written in TRS-80 BASIC and published in the article "Collegiate Capers" in the August 1983 issue of 80 Micro magazine. It was remade in Inform in the '90s.


You stand before the gates of one of the most vaunted and strangest of institutes: college. As a prospective student, your goal is to navigate through bureaucracy and academia to obtain the legendary "degree".

The original BASIC listing can be found here. The Inform version can be found here.

Contains examples of:

  • Adaptational Nice Guy: In the BASIC version, the physical education instructor is somewhat rude, calling you a wimp and potentially telling you to get lost. In the Inform version, he is more polite.
  • Adapted Out: The librarian appears in the BASIC version but not the Inform version.
  • Ambiguous Time Period: The intro text for the BASIC version describes the time period as "the not so unreal future. (It might even be today)"
  • Artistic License – Education: You can walk into college, enroll, and graduate on the same day, only needing to pass three exams.
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  • Artistic License – University Admissions: The player character walks in, fills in some forms, and gets registered as a student on the spot.
  • Bathroom Stall Graffiti: In the BASIC version, graffiti can be found on a bathroom wall reading: "if pro is the opposite of con / then what is the opposite of progress?"
  • Blackmail: You need to blackmail the dean for him to let you have the degree.
  • Dean Bitterman: The dean blatantly abuses his power to block you from getting your degree just because he "[doesn't] like your face." The guide on how to graduate says that the last step (after taking your paperwork to the dean) is to hope the dean is in a good mood.
    The dean is a tall evil-looking man, dressed impeccably, arrogantly even. Smoke curls upwards from his nostrils, as his small black eyes glare at you with disgust.
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  • Door of Doom: In the Inform version, the college entrance is described as a great dark gateway, inscribed above with the words, "Abandon hope all ye who enter here."
  • Drunk Rolling: If you drink enough to pass out, when you wake up, all your possessions will be gone.
  • Eat the Evidence: If you give the dean your transcript when he demands it, he crumples it up and eats it.
  • Frat Bro: Bluto is a member of a fraternity and encourages you to have a strong drink to prove yourself worthy of the pledge pin.
  • Gargle Blaster: Downplayed with the alcoholic drink (described as grain alcohol in the BASIC version and rum in the Inform version), which is strong enough to get the player character light-headed with only a couple of gulps.
    The bottle contains a dark, evil-smelling reddish liquid. The label is noticeable for its large number of X's.
  • Gender Flip: The English professor goes from male in the BASIC version to female in the Inform version.
  • Generic Name: The name of the college, Anystate University (BASIC version) or Anycity College (Inform version).
  • Gym Class Hell: You have to run a grueling forty laps — five miles — to pass physical education.
  • Inkblot Test: The psychologist shows you some inkblots on paper and asks what they suggest to you.
  • Jerk Jock: In the BASIC version, the physical education instructor says "Another wimp!" when seeing you and will tell you to get lost after you've passed.
  • Labcoat of Science and Medicine: In the Inform version, the psychologist, who is found in the psychology lab, is described as wearing a white coat.
  • Must Have Nicotine: In the Inform version, the English professor is constantly smoking cigarettes, filling the classroom and the air around her with smoke.
  • Nameless Narrative: Bluto is the only character with a name. Everyone else is referred to by their job/position.
  • Nerd Glasses: In the Inform version, the psychologist is described as wearing thick spectacles.
  • Press Start to Game Over: You can lose the game in two turns by leaving the college.
  • Tasty Gold: In the Inform version, when you give the gold coin to the bursar, he tests it by biting it.
  • Tear Up the Contract: If you give the dean your tuition receipt when he demands it, he tears it into pieces.
  • There Is No Kill like Overkill: How the dean destroys your documents. For the tuition receipt, he tears it into tiny pieces (and in the Inform version, also stamps on them), and for the transcript, he crumples it up and eats it.
  • Unintentionally Unwinnable: It's possible to take the bottle away with you and drink it away from Bluto. If you do this for the second-last possible drink, you won't be able to get an item that's necessary for beating the game.
  • Unwinnable by Design: There are some ways to get the game into an unwinnable state.
    • Losing any of the items you need to proceed.
    • Drinking before you take the physical education exam.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: The setting is intentionally vague, as reflected in the name of the institute: Anystate University (BASIC version) or Anycity College (Inform version). While the BASIC version mentions that it's in the U.S.A., the Inform version doesn't even have that.