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Have You Played... Flaschbier?

Gamifying alcoholism

Flaschbier is one of the games I remember playing the most as a kid on the family Amiga. An obscure game with many similarities to the better known Mr Do! and Boulder Dash, this 2D platformer tasks the player with guiding a long-nosed alcoholic through each level, avoiding falling boulders and patrolling cops and trying to reach bottles of beer that to my eyes look identical to little pixelated Real Madrid football club crests.

It was a challenging and hilarious game that kept me playing for years. Carving new pathways through the yellow tiles (is it meant to be hay or something?) would allow the cops to change their patrol patterns in sometimes unpredictable ways, so timing was essential every time you wanted to make a break for the beer. And I still remember the tension of having the cops whizz past you but not spot you because you weren't quite on their patrol path.

I only realised yesterday while looking up Flaschbier after all these years that the game is apparently based on a well-known German comic character named Werner, an unemployed biker who drinks lots of Pilseners and frequently gets into trouble with the police. It all makes sense now.

The best thing about the game though was the sound that Werner makes when he gets caught by the cops. The agonised howl of a man who knows he no longer has any chance of satisfying his addiction for the day. It was the silver lining of every failed attempt.

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