They Might Be Giants IF Tribute: Apollo 18+20

They are fighting in space

How many people like They Might Be Giants’ 1992 album Apollo 18? I think I count six raised hands. This next question is just for those six then: do you also like interactive fiction? OK then. That one handsome fellow jumping up and down, waving his arms, this is the post written specifically for you and me! In fact, it’s possible I’m jumping up and down in front of a mirror. No matter. A gathering of wordsmiths have created a textual adventure for each track of Apollo 18, celebrating its 20th anniversary. They’re all short, mostly clever, often funny and you can play them online or download them.

The tastiest treat is the 21 ‘fingertips’ tracks, which are reminiscent of my favouritest ever piece of interactive fiction, Aisle. The ‘fingertips’ stories allow a single input and then end, in keeping with the brevity of those segments on the album.

Even if you don’t know or like the album, some of the games work as treatments of their titles as much as the lyrics, so you won’t be completely lost. This is exactly the kind of strange cross-media tribute we need more of, says I.


  1. Archangel says:

    Oh dear God yes. There was even once a MUD (remember those?) way back when based entirely on lyrics from TMBG, probably “Flood” era. There’s nothing — and do I mean nothing — like having to take a boat of car across the lake to visit Particle Man and escaping from the Hall of Heads to Istanbul (but not to Constantinople). And Apollo 18 is easily one their best albums. Thanks!

    • Baines says:

      The “Flood” era saw a boost in TMBG recognition/popularity in the US, as an episode of Tiny Toons featured both “Particle Man” and “Istanbul (Not Constantinople”) videos.

      • SCC says:

        They’re pretty well known here in Australia too as a result of Flood – lots of tracks got airtime on Triple J (Australia’s ‘youth radio network’ – funded by the government no less!) and they’ve had songs in the Triple J Hottest 100 lists starting in 1991 and continuing to the 2000’s.

      • stupid_mcgee says:

        Yep. That’s where a lot of people I knew in high school heard them. I had heard them a bit before, listening to Lincoln, but I later got Flood and fell in love with that album, despite the actual weakness of some of the Tiny Toons-used songs. (really it’s just Istanbul, which is ok, but i think the weakest song on the album) Birdhouse In Your Soul is incredibly catchy, Racist Friend is awesome, Dead is goofy and witty… Which is really what makes TMBG so awesome. Not only are they talented, but they have some wonderful wit and humor.

        Flood is just one of those albums where every single song is good, even the weak ones. I like Apollo 18, but I don’t think it’s as solid as Flood. Same with John Henry, which still has some amazing songs (I love AKA Driver), and was the last TMBG album I kept up with. I’ve heard their children’s stuff is actually quite good, which honestly doesn’t surprise me.

        Man, now if someone could make a bunch of games inspired by The Bee Gees’ album, Bee Gees 1st. I would be interested to see what people would do with New York Mining Disaster 1941.

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  2. Raiyan 1.0 says:

    Very niche; I don’t expect it to skyrocket in popularity any time soon.

    • bear912 says:

      You might be surprised. Their music has been circling the planet for so long that they continue to receive fan-service on multiple stages.

      Triple entendre, folks. I’m unstoppable.

  3. Schnapple says:

    Holy shit, I remember buying this from the mall in high school and reading the liner notes while I waited for our ride to pick up my friend and I. I remember the liner notes smelled funny and I was bummed that my CD player didn’t have a “shuffle” button (I didn’t know that “random” was the same thing).

    Good times.

  4. mechabuddha says:

    Dial-A-Song: free when you call from work!

  5. rawrty says:

    Thank you sir for making me burst out laughing in the middle of my office, for I am that one person jumping up and down waving his arms. I haven’t felt this special in years!

  6. Ruffian says:

    Just wanted to say thanks, always thought they were just a theme song band or something (I’m 23) so I’d never heard any of their real music before, and it’s mighty good. I just wanted to say thanks for introducing me to some new (for me) tunes. Also it’s pretty cool to see a music related article pop on rps, though yeah I realize it’s related to a game. Good stuff. Istanbul, had always been one of my favorite songs (only ever heard the oldie) and they’re rendition is pretty catchyriffic – diggin on “doctor worm” as well. It’s nice to hear horns in something other than straight ska or reggae too, that don’t sound uber cheesy.

    • Bill_Wiskins says:

      Sir, you are in for a world of delightful fun times. As far as I’m concerned, the Giants can do no wrong – absolutely sublime on every album (though I prefer later with-band albums to the earlier drum-machine-and-synth-noise ones). John Henry would be my personal recommendation, but…no. Just listen to all of it.

  7. billyphuz says:

    That album in particular causes me to jump up and down. Dinner Bell, Narrow Your Eyes — Jesus, every song on that album is my favorite TMBG song. Add the IF, and wow, this is the niche-est market I’ve ever been a part of.

  8. P7uen says:

    Christ alive, 1992 is already 20 years old :(