QfG5: Silly Clowns

I just noticed that the options menu, the one with the Save/Load buttons and so forth, had a new option added to it.

qfg5-clownActually, that’s not quite right. I noticed an option menu that I didn’t remember, and wondered if it had always been there without my noticing. Silent Hill plays tricks like this in order to create unease in the player, to make you doubt your memory. But any sense of unease here was diminished by the text of the option: “Silly Clown”.

This is a reference to QfG2, which had an undocumented Silly Clowns option in its drop-down menu. It wasn’t obvious what it did — you select it, nothing happens. I can personally attest that checking it causes a couple of sarcastic comments to be added to one cutscene. I’ve seen it claimed that it also adds certain jokey mirages to appear in the desert areas — for example, one can glimpse a golf club repeatedly being swung on the other side of a dune, as if stuck in the world’s largest sand trap. It seemed to me that I got these things without Silly Clowns selected, but I could be mistaken.

According to a FAQ I just found, the Silly Clowns option in QfG2 was born when “someone mentioned how all the productivity software (spreadsheets and stuff) always seemed to have at least one menu item that did absolutely nothing… So we resolved to have a menu option in QG2 that did nothing.” The QfG2 Silly Clowns option doesn’t quite do nothing, but it really seems to do nothing whatever in QfG5. I’ve looked on Google. Nothing.

In fact, as further evidence that it’s just a joke: If you press the Silly Clowns button a second time, it tells you that silly clowns cannot be turned off. Continuing to press it cycles through eight messages, inlcuding the initial one saying that sily clowns are now activated. It reminds me of the “increase lewdness” option in one of the Leisure Suit Larry games — I think LSL3. You could keep increasing the lewdness indefinitely, appending a modifier to the description of the current mode each time to no effect. So this kind of thing is a Sierra tradition. It’s also part of why I describe QfG5 as “goofy”.

qfg5-cooksIt should be noted, however, that there are some silly clowns — or former clowns, anyway — in the game, working as cooks at the inn. You never see them, but their antics are described by the proprietor whenever you eat a meal there, as excuses for the food’s oddness. The nice thing about this is that they’re not explicitly described as clowns until very near the end of the game. I was imagining them as merely gnomes, like their employer. We know from previous games that gnomes are fond of puns and practical jokes, which isn’t far removed from slapstick. But clowns makes more sense.