UPDATE OCTOBER 30: YOU CAN PLAY THIS GAME. But read below so you know what the deal is:
If you’re the right age then you definitely remember Crocodracula, the terrifying soap opera for kids from the early nineties. If you’re too old, or too young, or your parents (wisely???) prevented you from watching, the show was a lot like Land of the Lost, but in a kind of modern gothic horror mode instead of cavemen and dinosaurs. I’ve also heard it described as “Dark Shadows for tweens” but I don’t know how accurate that assessment is.
HOWEVER, even nineties kids don’t necessarily remember that there was at least one Crocodracula computer game, released by Taleframe in 1991. I say “at least one” because the title, “Crocodracula: What Happened to Calvin,” makes it sound like they were at least planning to release other games, possibly based on other episodes/story arcs from the show. It’s hard to tell. Crocodracula information is really hard to come by for some reason.
The point is, I now have a copy of this game.
I don’t want to say too much, but I have a relative who works in law enforcement, and certain people were cleaning out certain evidence lockers, and I guess someone said “hey, Ryan likes text adventures, right?” and here we are.
Taleframe games are notoriously hard to play nowadays, due to their extremely clever and frankly mean-spirited copy protection methods. The first time I got this thing to run was on a modded increased-voltage Amiga 3000; however, after a lot of tedious futzing around, I now have a “stable,” “playable” version of this game that “will run” on modern machines.
This is the part where I give you a link to a sketchy .tfr file, followed by 17-step instructions on how to emulate 25-year-old conditions on your machine, making you install this so you can install that so you can run another thing, and then a week later, if everything works perfectly, you hate the game because it was so much trouble to play—and you probably hate me by association. And whether it works or not, you’ll spend the rest of your life wondering exactly what things I made you download. We’ve been here before. I don’t want to do that to you.
So I did the math. Although it would be sooooo much easier for me to give you the .tfr and wish you luck, I figured I could save the universe of Crocodracula fans thousands of hours of consternation if I expended the hundreds of hours it’ll take to convert this game into a format that doesn’t actively hate the user.
SO I DID. I ported What Happened to Calvin to Inform 7, and you can play it in your browser today!
I also finally have pictures of all the feelies! If you’re young enough to remember Crocodracula, you’re probably too young to remember “feelies,” which were physical objects that came packaged with Infocom games. Taleframe stole that idea (among other things) from Infocom and included some extremely cheap items with their games. Here’s what I found in my Crocodracula box—I can’t say for certain that I’m not missing anything…
This is Becca’s map of Opasassa, Florida. You can tell that it depicts specifically the landmarks that appear in this particular game, so it’s not the definitive Opasassa map or anything. Here’s a slightly cleaned-up version of the map that you can hopefully get some use out of when navigating the game.
This is a piece of paper with a bunch of numbers on it! It figures into the game somehow. I went ahead and digitized it for you; if you get far enough in the game, you will probably want to print this out.
It’s Becca and Zoe’s amulet! Or, a cheap facsimile of the amulet! I don’t think it matches the actual show prop very well at all. The chain is sized for fifth-graders, which I guess makes sense, but it serves as an uncomfortable reminder of how long it has been since I was in the real target demographic for this show.