Let me tell you all about Maze Madness.
You play as Freddi Fish, one of greatest female characters in gaming. Lara Croft and Samus Aran have NOTHING on Freddi. She's smart, determined, and completely badass. She also has an awful sidekick named Luther, who despite being in the title is not a playable character, and serves no purpose other than to screw up and force Freddi to undergo a challenging quest.
Your mission: recover a million missing kelp seeds. Sounds dull? Well, these kelp seeds are scattered throughout 50 different caves. Caves home to some of the most fearsome monsters to ever cross your computer screen. The first one you meet is the angler fish. This little guy is MEAN. Swim too close to him, and he will let loose a menacing growl designed to make you empty your bladder rapidly. And they only get more nasty the further you go. There's the shark, who will happily laugh as he tries to eat you. There's the crab, skulking in the shadows, silent except for the snipping sound of his deadly claws. There's the squid, who will emit an ungodly shriek every time it detects you. And worst of all: the dogfish. A Lovecraftian horror that will immediately lock onto your scent and never rest until it has hunted you down.
But hey, it's a game for kids, so the baddies can't really hurt you, right? WRONG! Every time Freddi is caught, she is forced to give up a PB&J sandwich to the creature in exchange for her life. Run out of sandwiches, and she will not dare enter another maze. It's painfully obvious that without those sandwiches, the enemies would gladly feast on her flesh. It is impossible to play this game without imagining your beloved Freddi in the place of one of those sandwiches; being ripped apart, chewed into tiny pieces, or even devoured whole. This is what's at stake.
And you WILL get caught. These dark creatures are relentless, and although you can temporarily stun them, there is no way to deal with them permanently. Freddi is always on the run, and the mazes are full of dead ends and traps. This game is difficult. The enemies are unpredictable. You can outsmart them, for a time. But all it takes is one mistake, one slip of the awkward controls.
Why does Freddi persist so? What value do these accursed kelp seeds have, that she must recover every last one? We may never know. However, I have a theory that this 'Grandma Grouper', the rightful owner of the kelp seeds, is actually a vengeful member of the undersea mafia, who will exact unbearable tortures on Freddi and Luther should the loss of her treasure be discovered. Who else could incite such fear in someone that they would rather face countless monsters than their wrath? One thing is clear: Grandma Grouper is not the nice old lady that she appears to be.
In short, Maze Madness is an accurate title, for you shall soon go mad when you venture into these horrific caverns, picking up treasure one little piece at a time. It is a poignant metaphor for life, as we stumble around in the dark, picking at scraps for our heartless overseers, with plenty of empty bonus items that do nothing except inflate a meaningless number, while we struggle to avoid the many dangers that could take our life at any moment.
This game was my childhood. It made me into the hardened man I am today, the man who can stare unblinkingly into the face of any horror, because I beat Maze Madness. I entered the depths of hell and braved the terrors within. This is not a game, it is a rite of passage, that all must pass if they are to become truly strong.
Buy it. I dare you.