It’s been a while since Garry Trudeau created much of a stir with his irreverent comic strip. Still, it’s nice to see his distinctive signature scrawled across the boxes of DOONESBURY FLASHBACKS: 25 YEARS OF SERIOUS FUN and DOONESBURY ELECTION GAME: CAMPAIGN ’96 (Mindscape, CD-ROM for PC, Flashbacks, $40; Campaign ’96, $30). The former contains every Doonesbury strip since its 1970 inception; the latter is an exercise in political parody that makes Mark Russell look like Moliere.
No matter what you think of Doonesbury the strip (it hasn’t made me smirk more than faintly in years), you’ll probably admit that Flashbacks is one solid piece of programming. Not only does it hold 9,000-plus daily and Sunday strips, but you can search by character, theme, geography, chronology, and key word, meaning it took me about 10 seconds to locate the hilarious 1975 sequence in which gadfly Raoul Duke becomes governor of Samoa and prompts a bungled invasion by the U.S. Marines. There’s also an animated trivia game, clips from a 1978 Doonesbury TV special, and a bibliography of articles about the strip and all the controversy it has generated. If only the disc were searchable by funny and not funny, it would merit an A+.
Campaign ’96, unfortunately, is as dull as a speech by Gerald Ford and as buggy as Richard Nixon’s tape recorder; after I’d spent 20 minutes selecting candidates, campaign managers, and spin doctors, real and imaginary, a mysterious ”type mismatch” error crashed the program, forcing me to start from scratch. Beyond its glitches, this game is just not very amusing. Campaign ’96 has no particular point to make or punchline to deliver, rendering it as drab as the genuine article. Flashbacks: A Campaign ’96: C-