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Ghost of the Fireflies (DOS)

Ghost of the Fireflies DOS Title screen / introduction


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Arguably boasting the most intriguing premise of any Paul Panks game, Ghost of the Fireflies sees the player initially directing the actions of Camphora, a phantom beetle, through the environs of Atsuta Jingū... plotting revenge against Sugawara no Michizane for reasons not initially clear. Navigating this tricky scenario is achieved with the assistance of Raiythius, a sassy Zen hellhound sidekick with a penchant for conveying enlightenment through physical pain and micturition.

While the setting of this text adventure is quite explicitly and thoroughly Japanese, the game boasts even stranger cameo appearances than previous Panks games, including a suffering Jesus of Nazareth at the start screen, Bruce Lee as the shopkeeper (with Mr. Miyagi in the eaves) and founding father Ben Franklin, murdered for cheating in a gambling game with Wyatt Earp and his posse at the Oibara Inn. All this plus the game's author himself (hinting at some bizarre post-modern denouement) as the frontman for the house band the Singing Nobunagas!

The gameplay is largely a matter of roving between areas picking up that which is not nailed down and killing that which can be overcome through physical combat (but now nearly featuring -- see trivia -- an alchemical magic system of sorts).


Ghost of the Fireflies DOS Meeting your sidekick and conspicuously rejecting the epitome of Western thought in favor of a more Orientalist perspective
Ghost of the Fireflies DOS This storefront swings both ways
Ghost of the Fireflies DOS Entering the game proper
Ghost of the Fireflies DOS An in-game map

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Shortly after release, it was announced that due to a bug (inconsistent use of the variable names gp and/or gd to represent the quantity of gold in the player's possession) the game was unwinnable, with potential inventory items in the shop remaining unpurchasable. Closer analysis of the source code by some dedicated players suggested that purchase of the shop items is not required for game completion; however, due to the author's poor track record in previous installments of the IF compo, it is not unlikely that the relatively few voters still receptive to his submissions might have been dissuaded from thoroughly investigating this game, arguably his most sophisticated and potentially-successful competition entry to date.


  • Interactive Fiction competition
    • 2007 (13th annual competition) - #27 our of 27 (likely due to the disqualification of two simpler games by the same author)

Pseudo_Intellectual (61314) added Ghost of the Fireflies (DOS) on Oct 25, 2007