Frank’s Adventure (1, 2 & 3)

Let’s face it. Ever since the World Wide Web exploded, the porn industry has exploded right along with it. If this weren’t the case, then you wouldn’t be getting all those spam ads in you email box promising all sorts of lurid adventures and enhancements. There’s something for everyone out there with a sweet tooth for this kind of thing, and the biz rakes in the big bucks. Glory be to the Internet and its myriad of entrepreneurs.

But computer porn is old hat. Back in the glory days of the Commodore 64, you could get all sorts of silly text-based sex adventure games, strip poker titles, and even classier adventures such as the classic Leather Goddesses of Phobos from Infocom. It came with a scratch and sniff card and 3-D comic book complete with glasses. There were even crude versions of what we would now term as jpegs and gifs of people in compromising situations with their flesh rendered a hilarious hot pink. Aye, it was hard to get flesh tones right back then.

When the PC took over the home computer market, things didn’t change much. Sierra created one of the most popular “adult” series ever to land on a computer screen. Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards had the player taking the title role of loser Larry and trying to get him to score no matter what the cost. Plenty of sequels followed. Sex sells, and certainly digital sex was a new and interesting version allowing people to go one step further than just looking at pictures or watching movies.

When CD-ROM drives first hit the market, game companies went crazy with putting real actors in their games, giving a number of titles a seriously goofy soap opera quality to them. Sexy, wooden lead actresses would be cast in such games as Phantasmagoria which would often find them scantily clad while trying to solve puzzles of a 7TH Guest variety. And before you knew it, the game portions were stripped away and soon cocky developers were creating “girl in a box” type programs which allowed consumers to “control” a “real” woman (or man) and have them undress, etc.

Fast forward a few years. Japanese Hentai and adult Anime becomes a hot commodity online. An explosion of adult-geared games and videos featuring girls with different colored hair, school uniforms, and big eyes with a thirst for sex arrives via the Internet. The Japanese have a way with animating sex that would make conservatives cringe with horror. Games and cartoons aren’t just a kid’s world anymore. Look around and you’ll see this fact spelled out by the increase in mature titles for the home consoles.

Take a look around online as well. The free stuff’s out there. And one certain franchise called Frank’s Adventure takes Anime, Leisure Suit Larry, pop culture, drugs, and sex and puts them into a blender with the setting on high and the lid off. The final product is as humorous and offensive as it can get. Certainly not one for the minors, the Frank’s Adventure series recasts digital sex in a satirical light, exposing all of its one night stand dementia in bright colors, sleazy music, and addictive gameplay.

The premise is simple. Basically all three games have the player controlling Frank on a quest for scoring nude pictures and selling them to a magazine called Boobs Illustrated. Frank can get these pictures by walking up to girls on the street, who may offer him a photo for some money. Other times, Frank will find girls who are cocaine addicts and won’t give him a picture until he scores them a gram. Along the way, he’ll run into everyone from a dog that’s actually an old animated pooch from an early version of Monopoly on the PC to Brian from Family Guy.

It’s this oddball blend of pop culture icons running through the game that make Frank’s Adventure a bit more than just a weird sex and drugs game. Nike shoes get spoofed. Nintendo’s GameBoy gets the satirical treatment (known as the “LameBoy” in the game). And yes, the whole Anime/Hentai school of art gets sent up the creek as well. When Frank scores a nudie picture to sell, there’s nothing really sexy about the photos. It’s as if the game has uncannily focused in on the utterly hollow aspects that the porn industry is truly all about. There’s an almost disturbing feeling of dread and decay in these games, even though there’s happy music playing in the background and plenty of pretty colors to keep one entertained.

So consider these games a dressed down, “humorous” take of the Grand Theft Auto goldmine, only focusing specifically on sex and drugs and no violence. After all, Frank’s just looking to make a quick buck at the end of the day, acting almost like a paparazzo filtering naughty pictures into the tabloids. Another day, another dollar. Everything in these games is painted with an unflinching and unsympathetic brush. Sex, drugs, money, it’s all the same here.

Not to say the titles aren’t fun and funny to play, though I would assume it would take a certain type of gamer to want to play something such as this. Seeing the plasticity of the adult industry become even more plastic in this game is both unsettling and just desserts. With an adult movie industry recently halted due to HIV breakouts once again, it looks as though safe sex online might be fashionable once more. Either that or just an interesting way to hold up a mirror to the world’s sins and develop a game out of it. Frank’s Adventure is an oddball trip either way.