Digital Review

CD-ROM Reviews: 'Man Enough' and 'Midnight Stranger'

There are entertainment CD-ROMs hip enough to dispel the image of computer users as social maladroits. Man Enough (Tsunami Media, CD-ROM for PC/Windows, $39.95) and Midnight Stranger (Gazelle Technologies, CD-ROM for Mac, $69.95) aren't among them. Both of these discs have the crass, soft-core appeal of those old How to Pick Up Girls books, except that here, you can try out pickup lines on real live women. Well, they're not actually real — they're on video, really — but you can use your mouse on 'em, and I guess that will have to do until such time as users of this stuff can procure a life.

Man Enough is by far the shabbier of the two. In it, the (presumably male) user goes on dates with six different women, answering their remarks by choosing among three possible responses. Choices range from the hubba-hubba to the wimpy; if you play your mouse right, you end up in a mildly compromising position. Oddly, Man Enough doesn't have the courage of its own sleaziness, as the final encounters are all interrupted before anything happens. Expensive frustration, then — and God help the boob who tries these sub-Club Med lines out on human females.

Midnight Stranger is a thornier case, partly because it's clearly been crafted with intelligence. Here, you're in an unnamed city at night, interacting with 18 different characters and responding to their comments by clicking on a ''mood bar'' at the bottom of the screen. You're in solid with everyone if you keep clicking the affable end of the bar: You can eventually have soft-core sex with women in itty-bitty video windows, or find out where the alien artifact is hidden so the stand-up comic won't get murdered, or listen to the lesbian dominatrix discourse, quite cogently, on her graduate thesis. Far more disturbing, you can also rape a woman you've just met, a scene that may be intended to shock the user into contemplating the nature of CD-ROM voyeurism but is in mighty bad taste nonetheless. Midnight Stranger boots you out of the game after this choice, warning you that rape ''is not acceptable conduct, even for a game.'' Or for game programmers. Man Enough: D+ Midnight Stranger: C+

Originally posted Oct 14, 1994 Published in issue #244 Oct 14, 1994 Order article reprints