Microsoft is not exactly my favourite fortune 500 company at the moment (see the May 2018 Update post for more info). To vent my considerable frustration, I'd thought I'll play a game whose sole reason for existing is to mock Bill Gates and his company. It's time to play Parroty Interactive's 1998 parody CD-ROM appropriately titled Microshaft Winblows '98.
If you've played any other Parroty game, including Star Warped which is also on this side, you'll know how painfully unfunny they are. But let's not allow that get in the way of bashing Micro$oft. When you first log in, you'll be greeted with an FMV video of two Microshaft employees named Meg and Graham. They've enlisted you to test their new OS called Winblows '98 but they seem preoccupied with their own personal troubles. Meg is a wannabe overachiever who wants to be more than the assistant to the assistant of Bill Gates. She's not-so-secretly jealous of her sister who is a stay-at-home mother of two and often goes on tangent about her. Graham is a janitor who says he's a bedroom hacker. All he wants in life is a programming position at Microshaft. And a date with Meg. His jokes tend to fall on the lecherous side. That's about it for backstory. Are you laughing yet?
After their ramblings, you get to the Winblows desktop which is a warped version of Windows '98. Right from the off, you can see four games available. Roll Ahead (a pun on Bill Gate's memoirs called The Road Ahead) is a dice-rolling board game. Compete againsSteve Jobs to reach the finish line before going bankrupt. If you land on a green space, you can build a corporation which will force the other player to pay you money if landed on. If you roll a question mark or land on a similarly marked square, a random event will pop up usually satirising actual events within the two companies. The outcome of these chance cards will either add or take away from your coffers or move you around the board for good or for worse.
Bill Gates' mug is disconcertingly everywhere. While the board game avatar is a
caricature, his visage on the pinball table is straight out of your nightmares.
Win Bill Gates' Money is a quiz show hosted by Steve Jobs that is a complete rip off of You Don't Know Jack. It's fun enough while it lasts but why not play the real thing? Pinbill is a Bill Gates themed pinball table that's set up to look like that 3D Pinball game that came bundled with Windows '95. Earn point by hitting his glasses or getting a lucky shot up his nostrils. Like the quiz game, it's fun enough for a short while but not a patch on the game it's copying.
Lastly, there's a Space Invaders clone called Winblow Exploder. I'm sure it's included for the pun alone as I'm sure more work went into that than the game itself. Shoot error messages cannily designed to look like an actual error and the insect-looking computer bugs that pour out afterwards. You control the spaceship with the mouse and it's not at all intuitive. The game it was based on did it miles better and it was pushing 20 years old at the time.
The attempt at adult humour comes off as juvenile and the satire is no better.
The icons on the left of the desktop link to skits and other jokes. The CampusCam Live icon gives you a list of live-action shorts films as if a security camera is eavesdropping on the shenanigans going on in the office. Click on MSTV Network and you'll be presented with a number of 'animated' (read: static screens) spoofs on TV shows. Shows like Star Trek, Xena: Warrior Princess and Touched by an Angel are parodied letting you know that this is the 90s in case you had any doubt.
The Reject Bin features a number of adverts for programs that were rejected by Microshaft and Bill's Personal Outlook mimics the emails, calendar and journal entries of an Outlook account. Only this one belongs to Bill Gates. Lastly, there's Internet Explorer which required an internet account to use. As the Parroty site is now long gone, it no longer works.
Figuring out the clues from your 'Shaftbox' will unlock the videos hidden by greyed-out TV screens.
Believe it or not, there is an objective to the game among the chaos going on onscreen. Once you've done everything you can do, you'll receive an email in your 'Shaftbox'. Contained within is a clue to unlock the next desktop, of which the only difference is the background image. Click on the Tech Support icon above the Billagotchi (a Bill Gates Tamagotchi, 'cos it's the 90s) and enter your answer to see if it's right. Your real reward is access to a few more of those greyed-out skits and shorts in the video sections. Play on to find out it any of them warrant a chuckle.
Parody video games are still something or a rarity and for good reason. The gameplay takes a back seat to the humour which is likely to be very poor. Still, I had a far better experience dealing with Microshaft than I did with Microsoft. Take that as you will.
To download the game, follow the link below. This exclusive installer uses PCem running Windows '95. Press Ctrl-Alt-PgDown to toggle fullscreen. Press Ctrl-End or middle mouse button to release the mouse. Tested on Windows 10.
IMPORTANT - Remember to shut down the emulated version of Windows before exiting PCem. This could potentially result in errors, lost saves and corrupt data. Close the program only when it is safe to do so.
File Size: 509 Mb. Install Size: 826 Mb. Need help? Consult the Collection Chamber FAQ
Microshaft Winblows '98 is © Palladium Interactive
Review, Cover Design and Installer created by me