Harry the Handsome Executive
|Harry the Handsome Executive|
|Release date(s)||September 20, 1997|
In the game, the player controls Harry (last name not given), who is an executive employed at the mysterious corporation ScumCo. As the game progresses, the player discovers secrets of ScumCo's inner workings through the periodic interlude messages, as well as memos scattered throughout each level. Employment at ScumCo is an extremely boring, mindless job for nearly all employees except Harry, as evidenced by his co-workers' often incoherent babbling throughout the game.
The game is Ambrosia Software's first piece of software to be limited by registration status, allowing only the first five levels of the default scenario to be played without registering.
The game itself is a top–down, side-scrolling action game. However, its uniqueness lies in the means of movement: the protagonist is constantly confined to a swivel chair. As a result, movement forward is much slower than in other such games – Harry can only inch forward in short, precise steps. He moves much faster when scooting backwards, or "power kicking" off walls, desks, or other obstacles, and positively flies when on a plastic runner.
The game opens with the first of many interludes, describing Harry's return via aircraft from a seminar. He is rudely awakened by a stewardess who informs him – in less-than-obvious terms – that he has a secret message "from a Dr. A. E. Ubermann, for a certain Harry in seat 12C." Initially, the player is sent around ScumCo's offices, performing mundane tasks such as delivering papers to an incinerator.
Soon, however, the customer service-and-PR robot staff rebels against the "anti-people, anti-proletariat, anti-robot oppressors" of ScumCo. Harry steps forward as the company's champion, and challenges the robot rebellion. Soon, the robots are chased into the basement, and methodically rooted out by Harry. Harry's secretary, Pam (who makes many appearances prior to this point, as well), informs him that Ubermann has a new assignment for him: to progress further into the ScumCo obelisk's basement and de-infest it, as it has become haunted by the ghosts of swivel chair warriors.
Deeper into the basement, Harry complains that he wants to go home, but Pam informs him of another assignment. Apparently, Ubermann and his "cronies" have been dosing the employees of ScumCo for years with a mysterious substance known only as Inimolex-F. Pam tells Harry to enter the lab and destroy every last trace of Inimolex-F. At the end of the lab levels, a memo is passed on to Harry reading "Harry: Report to Deep Rock Reservoir for your next assignment. Hurry up, you lazy bum." The matching level, "It's Cooler Here," is the only one in the default scenario to make use of the game's wave-drawing capacity.
After entering the drain at the reservoir, Harry is greeted by Ubermann and a "re-educated" Pam, who is now a very empty-headed, stereotypical blonde. Ubermann tells Harry about the power of the swivel chair, despite Harry's continually expressed disbelief. Suddenly, Ubermann opens a dark portal and enters it, followed by Harry. When the trip is over, Harry finds the three of them standing in front of a temple to the swivel chair, supposedly constructed by Thomas Jefferson and his followers. Ubermann declares that he has come to pray to receive the power of the swivel chair. Harry follows Ubermann and Pam into the temple, and receives the power himself, after passing the Three Tests of the Swivel Chair. (The entire Temple level is made partially in reference to the final scenes of the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.)
Upon the end of the Temple level, Harry checks his situation – he is lost, with no weapons save the Power of the Swivel Chair. Suddenly, he sees Pam, who is back to "normal," but seems to have no recollection of any of the game's events between Harry entering the labs and now. As Harry begins to protest this, the world around him dissolves back into his office. He is escorted to see Dr. Ubermann, whom Harry protests to loudly about the Temple and the other events. Ubermann responds by informing Harry that Inimolex-F is a powerful hallucinogen, and that despite Harry's successful completion of his assignment to destroy the substance, he went into the labs without proper protective gear, and his mind has responded by creating this fantasy. Ubermann then directs Harry through a door, through which, Ubermann claims, the board is waiting to hear about Harry's exploits and to promote him.
The door leads, in fact, to another section of ScumCo, beyond which is a strange military complex. Harry scoots through, only to find Ubermann waiting in a mysterious room. Harry asks, in anger, "What the hell kind of promotion is this?" Ubermann responds by telling Harry to "cut the crap." Apparently, the Power of the Swivel is, in fact, real, but only Harry was able to obtain it. Ubermann tells Harry of his plans for the world – to introduce a strange kind of beings from a place called "The Other Side" into the world, to provide humanity with an alternate reality. But, Ubermann says, the environment on Earth is too hostile to such multidimensional beings, and as such, Inimolex-F was being used to prepare ScumCo's employees for habitation by these beings. Ubermann offers Harry the chance to join him as his lieutenant, to which Harry replies "Screw you, Ubermann."
After one final level, devoted solely to destroying Ubermann, Pam breaks out of her trance, and begins sobbing uncontrollably. Harry decides that the entire company must be shut down, all the labs destroyed. He explains, "We've been manufacturing people, Pam. It can't continue." After this, the game abruptly ends, leaving questions as to the nature of The Other Side unexplained, but not completely unsatisfactorily.
Harry finds numerous items to aid – or afflict – him in his quest through ScumCo. His primary weapon is a staple gun, which can be refilled by packs of staples lying around the offices. Later on, two other versions of the staple gun are acquired – the B.A.D.A.S.S. (Bi-Angular Directional Accelerated Staple System), which fires in randomly spread directions in front of Harry or can be charged for a full-spread blast; and the shrapnel stapler. Both require different staple packs from the regular staple gun.
Harry also can find soda cans, most often obtained by kicking broken soda machines. They cannot be consumed, as they are too shaken up, but can instead be used as grenades of a sort.
Donuts and coffee abound in the offices, basements, and labs of ScumCo, and moving Harry near any of them replenishes his "comfort," or health. Water coolers and soda machines also can be found around the areas, but soda machines are indestructible, used for dispensing soda cans, and Harry detests water – blowing one up while too close to it will drop Harry's comfort substantially. (When Harry's comfort level drops to zero, he disappears in a spectacularly fiery explosion!)
Keys come in three colors and are used to unlock doors of the same. However, papers can also sometimes be picked up and taken to incinerators, which awards points to the player, unlike regular doors.
Office plants and toxic barrels are also quite common, and can be pushed around. They can be used to great effect if placed directly in the path of a mail cart, causing large explosions (and killing the mail cart operator). Ramps, both movable and not, allow Harry to jump great distances.