Leather Goddesses of Phobos is a 1986 text adventure videogame, produced by Infocom, written by Steven Meretzky, and it exists entirely because of a whiteboard joke that nobody in the room said ‘hey, maybe let’s just not?’ to enough times. In this 1930s schlock sci-fi inspired ‘sex farce’ game, you get to explore locations like Mars, Venus, and Cleveland.
It was, ostensibly, one of a small number of sexy text adventure games from that period of time, produced by Infocom. It boasted a scratch-and-sniff feely, and a setting for its content ranging from ‘tame’ to ‘lewd.’
It’s also a sex comedy written by a couple of dudes that dates back to 1986.
Smooch Month is a hard month for games.
Part of it is the purpose of the Game Pile. Ostensibly, the Game Pile is a sort of backlog. I use the game pile as a way to basically journal about my journey through the games I’ve bought and played, a sort of ongoing practice of thinking about games and using games as an avenue to talk about everything I want to. That means that the pile of games I have to draw from is sort of biased towards games I bought already, and games that interested me as they came out. Direct upshot: I just didn’t have much smoochy media in my game pile to work from.
Plus, when the time comes to look at smoochy media, a lot of it just fails to interest me enough to have something to say. There are lots of visual novels in my collection, but I bounce off them, and forcing myself to finish three visual novels in one month seems like a sure-fire way to make me mad at one of them.
Part of why is because I just haven’t defined ‘smooch media’ well. It’s not just games with a form of ‘romance’ in them. That’s a lot of games. Hell, that’s Duke Nukem 3D. And, bear in mind, if I could use this month as a reason to talk about that game, I would! Because the theme is about forcing me to think creatively about the media I engage with and to reach outside of my normal media trends. I like that.
More and more, games in Smooch Month though are becoming cumbersome. Full-sized RPGs like Dragon Age if I want to go into new territories, or revisiting old games, if I want to talk about specific smoochy dynamics in games that really mean something to me. There is room for that after all – I never really dug into how Mass Effect 2 handles its romance, because apparently I thought I needed to spend some time specifying the replacement of the Mako.
When it comes to drawing me into writing and engaging with media games of a type I normally don’t, that’s fine. Heck, that’s great. Smooch Month is great for that sort of ‘effort’ exercise. I can think of games I wish I had played so I could talk about them in Smooch Month – and there was even going to be an article here on Nier Automata until I realised I didn’t think the game was very smoochy, based on what I knew.
Which means eventually, Smooch Month game piles come to this: The eerie question of hang on, what have I ever played that qualifies?
Oh and uh, of course I didn’t play Leather Goddesses of Phobos.
But since you got this far, here’s one genuinely funny joke in those games. You can wind up at the south pole of Venus. If you’re there, your exits are NORTH, NORTH, and NORTH.