The Sharknado Effect

Are games like Ninja II, the original Stiffy, and the original Phone Booth game the IF community’s versions of Sharknado?

Sometimes an objectively bad game is unexpectedly adopted by the IF community, spawning tributes, parodies, and spin-offs, and thus elevating the original title in the process. Someone brought up the unexpected success of Sharknado as a parallel and I’m unabashedly co-opting this as the Sharknado Effect.

What other IF titles have benefited from the Sharknado Effect? What causes a title to become celebrated instead of discarded? What marks the difference between Snakes on a Plane versus Category 6: Day Of Destruction? Is it possible to capture this intentionally? And what sort of backlash might a title get if people sus that was the author’s intent? Or do they get a free pass if they managed to pull it off? Are there other IF titles beyond those mentioned that benefit from the Sharknado Effect?

Thought it might be fun to discuss.


Detective could be IF’s own Plan 9 From Outer Space.

Edit: firat instance of this effect I remember is this spag review (second one by Magnus Olsson): Game Reviews S - SPAG


There is an AIF game (it’s quite old and quite bad). And someone made a fun/mock/parody version out of it. There were comment texts and laughter in-game.

I don’t know how to create blur text on my smartphone, so I don’t go into details about the adult content here.


there’s a difference between Stiffy and the sharknado effect; Stiffy became a sort of “creative common” character, and in his multiple implementations he somewhat mirrors the growth and evolution of the IF (and perhaps also AIF ?) community.

Best regards from Italy,
dott. Piergiorgio.


Given multiple authors and mutation from original provenance, would the steamed hams phenomenon be a better corollary?

ETA: Also, hilariously, when I was searching for an appropriate link just now:


There have been benevolently-intended “troll” games submitted to IFComp with the intention of securing last place on purpose. I know there was one year with a toilet game that everyone appreciated for it’s distinct troll-iness since it was poorly written to offend on purpose. Sometimes this is called out in the title like “Worst Game Ever Written” but that can serve as underlining a joke to make sure everyone laughs.

There’s a level of parody or meta that some people find inspiring. Pick Up the Phone Booth and Die is this “exactly what it says on the tin” style humor making fun of random parser game actions, inspiring Pick up the Phone Booth and Dye, Pick up the Phone Booth and Cry, Don’t Push the Mailbox and the classic Pick Up the Phone Booth and Aisle which was a group-effort merging the original with the one-move Aisle parodying both games.

This is kind of an early version of meme-ing when something is so astonishingly bad that it makes an impression and people riff on it. People have built careers out of poor showings on reality talent shows. The trope “so bad it’s good” applies, but it’s hard not to cross the line - like satire, the best examples of this are not intended as humor. Sharknado works because like “camp” it’s played earnestly and seriously without winking at the audience that they’re in on the joke. And surely they were. This is “bad pitch room humor” and there’s a level of audience understanding how movie producers believe more ingredients = more revenue but you’re just getting something ridiculous like broccoli ice cream. The badness of it is so gleefully funny that people got on board. Then the joke was run into the ground.

The Incredible Erotic Adventures of Stiffy Makane was an experiment in AGT (I think) written by a teenager that was incredibly bad via through inexperience with the medium, AGT, and adult relations in general. Someone did several “MST3K” editions of bad games with commentary and this is one of them. There is an IFDB list somewhat chronicling the history. Makane has kind of become IF’s Florence Foster Jenkins or The Room.

The author, ostensibly Mark Ryan, didn’t stick with IF so there’s likely no worry of “offending” him, but like Tommy Wiseau, we hope he’d appreciate that his work became famous sort of inadvertently.


I think: No, it’s not possible. One can only make a game or movie with a wink of an eye, some irony, and some exaggeration.

A movie with this kind of irony was “Mars attacks”. I don’t know any IF of that sort.


There’s still a movie rental place near where I live and I’m patiently waiting for my copy of Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie to come in. It was the first thing I thought of when I read Pinkunz’s post. I’m so glad others have done this. It’s the only way to watch bad movies… which means it’s the only way to play bad IF. :wink:

(as Tom Servo reads the opening credits)
Tom Servo: Okay, let’s see here… Shatner, Shatner… no, doesn’t look like he’s in this one; we’re safe!


This topic did bring to mind a parser game called Scary House Amulet! (2002). It came 31/38 in 2002 IFComp.

The game doesn’t state its reason for being or intentions (obviously games don’t have to do either, but sometimes they do do it) and initial reactions to it were mixed, like ‘What’s this person doing?’ and ‘I think this is a joke but I’m not sure.’

You do see this combination of assessments more often in reviews of low-placing entries. Those authors may not come again and you know nothing more about what they’re doing to help you magically divine their intentions. The author of Scary House Amulet! was prolific. Others have reviewed the game and don’t question its is-ness at all. So that kind of leaves it in the desirable no man’s land.

Sharknado began in no-man’s land, but then it knew where it was. It was impossible for it to recreate the original relationship it had with the audience in any sequel.



But he’s in this one. William Shatner “sings” Mr Tambourine Man. I believe it was once voted the worst song of all time and it has become a classic because of this.


I don’t know, looking at responses to Dick McButts, it seems like people mostly appreciate the craft of the thing despite the obvious intentional nature of its badness.


And some will give it purposefully bad scores as they imagine that’s what the author intended.


Angling for a discordant musa × paradisiaca?


A whatawhata?


I admit that I am doing this (I got the “bad” version, what else should I do?) All hail Eris!


Interesting! How does it relate? I see only dessert and cooking bananas.
(I am totally missing out on something here, and I have no idea what it is…)

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“Most cultivated bananas and plantains are triploid cultivars either of this hybrid or of M. acuminata alone.”

Meaning, the banana found for sale in most grocery stores worldwide are the cloned hybrid musa × paradisiaca.

So a discordant musa × paradisiaca could be considered a discordant common banana, or in other words, a Banana of Discord:


Ooohhhhhhh, that’s really clever! I’ma start using that from now on.