Prestigious Platforming: The Pretender

Colonel Blenkintrousers hurls abuse through his whiskers every time I attempt wordplay.

Somehow, despite The Internet having my phone number, a browser-based platform-puzzler in which the player controls a Victorian magician rescuing ghosts has existed since 2009 and yet I didn’t receive a call about it. Outrageous blaggardry of the first water.

The game in question is The Pretender and the release of a third chapter in the top-hatted trickster’s adventures and the diligence of Jayisgames has served to notify me of his existence. There’s a basic but pleasingly worded story and I’d say it’s worth going back to the start for the full experience since there’s much pleasure to be gained from the antiquated banter.

As is so often the case in both life and art, elemental manipulation is the order of the day. Levels usually have one solution and a few dead ends, which can be frustrating, but they are short enough that starting over isn’t too bothersome. And did I already mention that the ghosts sometimes excitedly shout out “brandy” when rescued? They do and I should have done. In fact, that should have been all I said.

And then I should have added that despite being a huge Batman fan, when it comes to my Nolan I prefer The Prestige to The Dark Knight. More games and films about magicians would be a fine thing.


  1. Magnetude says:

    Not sure about Dark Knight vs The Prestige, but I have to say I may have preferred magician battles to Inception. The Prestige felt like one of those honest story films that people used to make before the 80s happened and no-one could pay attention to anything that wasn’t on fire.

  2. Screwie says:

    When I watch it, I always like to imagine The Prestige as Wolverine vs Batman.

    • thegooseking says:

      Funnily enough, I was thinking this exact thing just yesterday.

      But then I thought, neither Wolverine nor Batman featured David Freaking Bowie.

  3. c-Row says:

    I like all three of them, but The Prestige was the weakest in my opinion. Not bad or even mediocre, just not as excellent as TDK and Inception.

    • Saul says:

      I couldn’t get that excited about the Dark Knight. Yes, Heath Ledger’s Joker was excellent, but it all seemed a bit too much pomp and not enough circumstance. And I haven’t seen The Prestige yet, so I really should get on that.

    • Berzee says:

      I on the other hand just never saw The Dark Knight >_>

    • wu wei says:

      I found Inception to be insipid, with all of the philosophical depth of a piss smear. The whole idea that our brain can produce multiple simultaneous & nested simulations of reality was just so ridiculous, absolute bottom-of-the-barrel garbage SF. It said nothing about identity, reality, memory etc other than Christopher Nolan doesn’t know jack shit about how the brain works.

    • tw says:

      @ wu wei
      As abrasive as your comment is, I have to agree. Inception tried to be a lot deeper than it actually was.

  4. Omroth says:

    Yes! The Prestige is one of my top 3 films of all time. Absolutely love it.

  5. Xocrates says:

    My problem with the prestige is twofold: First Bowie’s creation causes a fairly drastic genre shift for the movie, and secondly Jackman’s plan at the end makes no godamned sense, particularly because he could have easily (and logically) taken Bale’s route.

    It’s not a bad movie by any means, but certainly the least consistent of Nolan’s movies.

    • Choca says:

      “Jackman’s plan at the end makes no godamned sense, particularly because he could have easily (and logically) taken Bale’s route.”

      That’s the point of the whole movie in my humble opition : Angier became obsessed with the Turn in Borden’s magic act even when everyone around him was telling him that it was just what it was (trying to avoid spoilers here) and that drove him to insane lenghts to find a secret that didn’t really exist.

      He forgot that the whole point of any magic trick is the Prestige, people only care about the secret behind the Turn until they know it. Even Borden’s wife says it when he shows her how the gun trick works. Once the secret is out, the magic is gone.

      Most people are mistaken in my opinion when they consider The Prestige as a twist movie, there’s no twist, there’s no secret, just an obsession about it. The whole point about Borden’s magic trick was that he made it look extraordinary when it was, in fact, just a trick. That’s the beauty of this movie for me, making you share an obsession with someone who was told the obvious truth from the very begining.

      That’s why the last lines are : “Now you’re looking for the secret. But you won’t find it because of course, you’re not really looking. You don’t really want to work it out. You want to be fooled. “

    • Xocrates says:

      @frightlever: The consistency problem has nothing to do with believing what one is told or not. The consistency problem is one of tone and character.

      Bowie’s creation turns what is essentially a realistic period movie into sci-fi, and, critically, it’s the only piece in the movie that fits that definition, so it stands out like an elephant trying to hide among mice. For someone who’s watching the movie for the first time it’s extremely jarring and it personally took me out of the movie completely.

      Jackman’s issue is more understandable (and Choca does provide a good argument for it), but again, there really isn’t any indication that the character would actually be that stupid. Because what he’s doing is Bale’s sthick with a bloody stupid addition that he had no reason to do.

    • Magnetude says:

      @Xocrates: The thing is, ***SPOILERS*** you don’t know whether Tesla is telling the truth or not until the very end of the film, which leaves the film in a state of quantum superposition of period drama and sci-fi until the reveal… which in itself is really quite clever. And it seems a little fussy to dislike a film just because it dared to use elements from different genres anyway. Sci-fi is essentially a genre which asks ‘what if?’ and follows that question to a story, which makes The Prestige a sci-fi through and through – what if Nikolas Tesla had invented a cloning machine? It just dresses that up as a period drama.

      And the truth is that Jackman would never be able to do Bale’s trick quite so well, because he didn’t have the natural advantage that Bale was born with… the perfect double. He couldn’t rely on the drunk actor so he had to find a new way of doing it. And because he couldn’t do it Bale’s way, he became convinced that Bale couldn’t either.

    • Xocrates says:

      @Magnetude: I didn’t dislike the movie because it used elements from other genres, I don’t even dislike the movie to begin with. I do think that the sci-fi element simply does not fit the movie however.

      He DID have the advantage of a perfect double, in fact he had MANY of them. What I was complaining about was that at the end he was doing the trick standard style but also killing the double, something which he blantantly didn’t have to do because, as I said, he’s doing the trick standard style, therefore he could easily, and logically, make one double and then do the trick normally.

    • Magnetude says:


      But he couldn’t keep the double alive, because the double was the same as he was – a heartless, selfish, jealous wretch. If he let him live, it would only be a matter of time before one of them killed the other, and – because he was selfish – he wanted to be sure it was *him* that survived. Even if he persuaded himself before he went in the machine that he would let the double live, so that the double would know he had good intentions, he had no guarantee that the double would let him live, knowing that he was just as cunning.

      I think my favourite line in the film is when Jackman is talking about the process, and says that that was the worst bit – never knowing whether he’d be the one on the stage, or the one in the box. Every night he committed murder or he committed suicide, and even at the end of the film we still don’t know which it was.

      Edit: Essentially Jackman’s dilemma comes from the fact that he is so bitter, paranoid and selfish, he literally cannot trust himself.

      Double Edit: Just remembered that the other reason he does it over and over again, dying every time, is on the offchance that Bale will come backstage so he can frame him for murder. Which is quite the gambit.

    • Xocrates says:

      While I admit that I haven’t seen the movie in quite some time, I don’t recall Jackman ever coming across as so downright evil or insane as to do that. Obssessed and a jerk, sure, but I never to the point or casually disregarding human life.

      Also, the double wasn’t just like him, it was him. If he walked into the machine fully convinced of his plan, then so would his double. If he was willing (if unhappy) to let the drunk man stand for him, I don’t see how he would be unwilling to change places with his completely identical double every other night.

      Anyway, like I said, I haven’t seen the movie in a while so this argument can be either due to me mis-remembering or different character interpretation. Either way, I suggest we call it a day at least until I rewatch the movie.

    • Magnetude says:

      It’s been a pleasure. Until we meet again, Xocrates.

    • Raiyan 1.0 says:


    • Jahkaivah says:

      (Spoilers again)

      While the sci fi element did come in a bit left field, it’s worth noting that Michael Caine’s character states fairly early in the film that the trick is in fact real. A pretty good sign that there was going be some of that later down the line.

      Plus the otherwise incredibly misleading trailer for the film (it makes it look as if Bale’s character is the one who does the sci fi trick) hints to it as well.

      That said it might have been nice if they had avoided going down that road however. One of the things I really liked about the film was that it made sure to explain how every trick was done.

      As for why Jackman’s character did the trick the way he did, there is loads of reasons which have been mentioned already, for one thing unlike Bale he is actually teleporting, it’s just that he leaves another him behind when he does.

      It’s also worth noting that his method was actually much less risky from the perspective of keeping the trick under wraps. Jackman has first hand experience knowing how difficult keeping two lookalikes a secret can be.

      By killing himself every time he only had to hide a whole load of corpses instead of having to manage someone else, somebody who would want everything he wanted, unlike Bale’s character he possibly didn’t want to have to share a life with somebody else.

  6. Augmentation says:

    I thought that a certain twist in The Prestige was sort of.. jarring. A bit too jarring for me. It didn’t make the film bad, it just sort of knocked me off my chair into a puddle of slightly old urine.

    As for this game series: I really can’t understand the attraction. I see a lot of love for it all over the place but can’t really get it. In fact, I have the same sort of feelings about this game series as The Prestige.

  7. Burning Man says:

    Of all the ones I’ve seen, Arkham Asylum was the best realization of a Batman experience. That includes all the movies and the handful of comics I’ve read.

    Maybe one day in the far far future I can compare it with Arkham City.

    EDIT: Played about 10 little levels in the game and it is rather lovely.

  8. Chucrute says:

    Old hat? One refined for it.