Foobar vs. the DEA was first brought to our attention via an email. Thanks to the power of Twitter we were able to get both the correct spelling of the name, and in touch with one of it’s creators, Richard Cross. Richard graciously shared some of the back story of the game via email, but we’ve been unable to schedule an interview. Thanks to a version of the game available at the Macintosh Repository and the Internet Archive’s snapshots of the game’s website, however, we were able to piece together more information about it and the other two games in the trilogy: Foobar vs. the FCC and Foobar vs. His Local School Board.
This video shows the title screen, instructions, and some game play from level one of Foobar vs. the DEA.
In the original game, Foobar is on a mission to save his boyfriend Ned who has been captured by the DEA (the US Drug Enforcement Agency). Although we did find several reviews and posts that merely referred to Ned as Foobar’s friend or “friend” (see here, here), the game very clearly refers to them as boyfriends. In addition, there is some gay coded references in the imagery of the game, including: a pink triangle on the forehead of Foobar’s mask and as the targeting site; “yummies” (or power ups) such as rainbow flag for an extra life or a condom (with an American flag) as the protective shield. According to Richard Cross’s emails the pro-gay rights, anti-war on drugs and anti-censorship politics were very intentional in the games.
The bosses for each of the four levels include:
- Marlboro Man is in charge of research for the big tobacco companies. They have falsified data to show that tobacco is completely harmless, but that marijuana is deadly even in microscopic quantities.
- Telehead controls the media. He is responsible for a smear campaign that makes people think that people who smoke marijuana become evil zombies.
- Czar Bot is the nation’s “drug Czar.” He has been programmed to enforce drug laws. He needs to be reprogrammed to work at McDonalds.
- NOSEY, the evil Microchip that has databases on everyone. He wiretaps phones so he can find social deviants who are smoking pot. When he catches them he reprograms them to be mindless zombie slaves.
The first game was available for free, but games two and three were available as a package deal for $20. In the second game Foobar must save Ned from the FCC (the US’s Federal Communications Commision). The four boss’s in this game are:
- DJ SNOT plays whatever the his station’s computer tells him to. The computer is controlled by the FCC. It tells him to play mindless elevator music 24 hours a day to control the restless populous.
- Orbit is the FCC’s “eye in the sky.” He only transmits FCC approved data. Censor has made sure that there is not a lot of that.
- Know-It-All it the chief justice AI. He thinks that people will be happier if they don’t think for themselves. He has chosen 7000 words that he finds offensive and declared that they cannot be broadcast or transmitted. Know-It-All knows more than you do.
- Censor controls the FCC. He enforces Know-It-All’s decisions and suggests new words to censor. Soon there won’t be any words left.
In the third and final game, Foobar must save his and Ned’s adopted son from the religious fanatics that have taken over the local school board. According to the game’s website: Foobar and Ned’s adopted son has been kidnapped by Pious because he won’t be brainwashed into believing the doctrines of the Church of the Rabid Goat. Foobar must defeat Pious’ 3 cronies and then destroy Pious to save his son. The four bosses in this game are:
- Dogma is a bio-enhanced dog in charge of education for the Church of the Rabid Goat. To Dogma, education means calling all other religions lies.
- Dick the Dictator runs the Church of the Rabid Goat’s zoo. All the animals have been genetically altered so that they are born again. He is responsible for creating mutant muts like Dogma that spread the Church of the Rabid Goat’s disinformation. He also runs the Church of the Rabid Goat’s political wing.
- The Hand of God takes bad little children, removes their brains and replaces them with brains that will make them happy. It grows the new brains at a secret complex.
- Pious is the leader of the Church of the Rabid Goat. He has appointed himself the director of the school board so that he can create an army of children to worship and glorify him.
We have been unable to find any copies of the second two games, but if you know where we might get the files please get in touch.
The Foobar games were created by Louisiana State University College alums Richard Cross and Tom Cruse. Richard graduated in 1993 and Tom in 1995. Following Tom’s graduation, they worked on the games while Richard was a University of Wisconsin Madison graduate student and Tom delivered pizzas and made games in Louisiana (as explained on the games’ archived website). The game itself and website did not have a copyright date that we could find, but the earliest announcement of the game available is an October 23, 1996 post to the InfoMac message boards.
According to Richard’s email, as well as the game’s website and a December 1997 post to InfoMac, Tom unfortunately died the following April. He was hit by a truck while changing a tire during a cross-country move to California. Richard’s 1997 post indicates that after this money sent in for the second two games would be used in a scholarship named after Tom at LSU.
LGBTQ references in this game:
- Cross, Richard. (1996, October 23). Subject: [*] Foobar vs. the DEA v1.0 – an arcade game. InfoMac. Retrieved from https://www.info-mac.org/viewtopic.php?f=213&t=14153&p=16227&hilit=Foobar#p16227
- Cross, Richard. (1997, December 10). Subject: [*] Foobar vs. the DEA v1.1.4 an arcade game. InfoMac. Retrieved from https://www.info-mac.org/viewtopic.php?f=213&t=10676&p=12121&hilit=Foobar#p12121.
- exparrott. (2006, February 10). Foobar vs. the DEA v1.1.4 an arcade game. applefritter. Retrieved from https://www.applefritter.com/node/14330
- Foobar vs. The DEA. (n.d.) Website. Retrieved from https://web.archive.org/web/20010903013758/http://www.desy.de:80/~cross/foobar/index.html
- Foobar vs. the DEA. (1997, December 12). MacUpdate. Retrieved from https://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/1551/foobar-vs-the-dea
- MR. (2014, April 14). Foobar Versus the DEA. Macintosh Repository. Retrieved from https://www.macintoshrepository.org/3640-foobar-versus-the-dea
- Various. (2015). Games You Think Only You Played. Giant Bomb. Retrieved from https://www.giantbomb.com/forums/general-discussion-30/games-you-think-only-you-played-1494584/?page=3
- Wallinga, Mark and Karneboge, Adam. (1997, March 4). Foobar vs. the DEA 1.1
Review. My Mac. Retrieved from http://www.mymac.com/1997/03/foobar-vs-the-dea-1-1review/