Alter Ego (Activision) Review | Computer & Video Games - Everygamegoing


Alter Ego
By Activision
Commodore 64

Published in Computer & Video Games #56

Alter Ego

I'm so cut up I can hardly write. I've just gone through a particularly traumatic and painful divorce - yes, it was my fault - and my life is in ruins. Still, perhaps I can make a go of my next marriage. After all, I'm only 90 and the golden years are still ahead of me.

Alter Ego, Activision's brilliant, original and totally addictive role-playing game, gives you life as it is lived - or rather life as you might like to live it.

At some stage everybody wonders "What if I had done that?" or "If only that had happened...". In real life, you'll never know, but Alter Ego gives you the chance to find out.

It allows you to work through seven stages of life - birth and infancy, childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, middle adulthood and old age. All the time you can make decisions - sensible or stupid - and then learn to live with the consequences.

In the Alter Ego life stages you can experience the following: Birth and Infancy - love and support from parents, ways of getting attention, controlling aggression, learning to crawl, walk and sleep.

Childhood - moves towards independence, school, making friends, opposite sex relationships.

Adolescence - peer group acceptance, dating, career decisions, money, rebelling against authority.

Young adulthood - career, opposite sex relationships, buying a home, marriage decisions.

Adulthood - long term relationships, toleration, job and marriage stresses, children, illness.

Middle adulthood - family problems, raising children and career.

Old age - physical problems, illness, death.

Before starting the game you can select a "personality profile" by answering a series of True or False questions. If you want, the computer will select it for you. The profile cannot be changed once the game is in progress and it forms the basis of how the computer monitors and reacts to your moods, actions and teenager forever. In real life there are no Peter Pans.

The game is controlled by a series of icons. Selecting these puts you in a variety of situations, problems and circumstances.

The symbols are: Social: This covers etiquette, manners, making friends and social skills.

Intellectual: Test your knowledge and common sense. Questions asked in this section are very American-biased. You could end up looking very dumb.

Emotional: Covers calmness, confidence and expressiveness.

Physical: Self-care and physical health. Avoid drink and drugs for a high rating.

Familial: Experiences with mother, father, brothers and sisters.

Vocational: The joys and problems of work.

High School: Experiences about the so-called "best days of your life".

Risks: Are you sensible or stupid? Take a risk and reap the consequences.

Relationships: Make or break dates, find romance and perhaps a mate for life.

Work: One of life's necessities. Find the right job, for success and happiness.

College: Educational fun or misery.

Major Purchase: Flash your cash on homes, cars, boats and other material goods.

Marriage: Settle down to a life of marital bliss, or will it end in divorce?

Family: How will you cope with a bouncing bundle of joy?

There is also a screen on which you can continually check your status throughout the game.

As the game progresses, you literally build up an "alter ego". The experiences are very realistic and, in some cases, quite explicit.

For instance, everyone knows young children should not get into cars with strangers no matter how nice they appear. But what if...? Want to try? The result is you are tortured, killed and your body is never found. Life can be nasty and Alter Ego reflects it.

Alter Ego also has some sexually explicit experiences. But there is an option for you to not answer these (but I bet you all do).

The Alter Ego under review was a Male version, but a Female oriented one is also to be released. The game is intriguing, enthralling, funny, witty and thoroughly enjoyable. Peter J. Favaor, the man who conceived and created it, deserves the highest praise.

Right, how can I propose to what I hope will be my next wife? Over dinner?

And when my alter ego reaches the end of its days I'll probably look back and say: "Regrets, I had a few - but I did it my way."