Frenetic Five

video game trilogy

The Frenetic Five are a group of five fictional superheroes, and a series of three text adventures by Neil deMause starring those characters. The quotes that follow are from the three Frenetic Five games.

The Frenetic Five vs. Sturm und Drang

[The player examines himself]
Brett, aka Improv. Leader of the Frenetic Five, so chosen for your leadership skills, your fair-mindedness, and your ability to adapt any object into a tool of your wishes. Also, your name is on the lease.

[The player examines a pair of socks]
You picked these up during one of your battles in the Twelfth Dimension, which turned out to be where socks disappear to out of the dryer. Of course, this means that none of them match.

The scene outside the Frenetic Five World Headquarters is quiet … too quiet. You look down the block to the east, then the west, searching for the source of your uneasiness. Maybe there — off in the distance — could that be the sound of evil afoot?

No, it's just a garbage truck. You're always mistaking those for the sound of evil.

[Entering the hallway]
Stairs lead down from this second-floor hallway. The Clapper's room is to the south, the bathroom is to the west, and a corridor to the east leads to the other bedrooms.

[Moving west]
Good idea. No telling when you'll find one out on the road.

[Trying to vault the railroad tracks without a pole]
You're not holding anything to vault the tracks with.
"That's 'with which to vault the tracks,'" says Lexicon.

Before you stands the only way in or out of the mill: the two-story-high steel doors through which the thousands of flange workers trooped during the factory's heyday. The doors are long-closed now, sealed shut by the ravages of time.

[The player tries to open the doors]
Okay, sealed shut by the ravages of time, and a great big lock.

A computerized voice intones, "Password protected. 'Representation'."

Okay, sealed shut by the ravages of time, a great big lock, and an incongruously sophisticated computer program.

"Oh damn," you hear Lexicon say. "My glasses got scratched. Improv, do you have money I can borrow for a new lens?" You notice that his glasses have fallen to the floor next to where he is tied up.

"Imp's tied up, you moron," says Pastiche.

"Well, I didn't mean now..."

[After Improv tells Pastiche to get Lex's glasses]
She gets a pained expression. "Don't you remember?" she says. "I can't phase through rope."
"Good grief, 'Stiche," interrupts Lexicon. "Couldn't you at least be incapacitated by something rare, like Kryptonite?"

[On the roof, after the player tries to go north, west, or south]
It's a long way down that way. The Incredible Rubber Ball Man or The Human Paper Airplane might make it; for you, though, it's probably better to take the stairs.

The Frenetic Five vs. Mr. Redundancy Man

[The Validator is a super-person who offers praise in response to all actions; the player has just decided to hit him with a shoe]
A common reaction.

The Validator says, "Oh, attack the Validator, huh? Great idea!"

[Arriving at Mr. Redundancy Man's secret headquarters, a copy shop]
On an otherwise nondescript block deep in the paper-shuffling district, a freshly painted awning proclaims: COPYING — REPRODUCTION — XEROGRAPHY. To the west, a pair of doors lead inwards beneath plastic pennants flapping in the breeze.

[Description of awning]
You look more closely, and see that there are actually two awnings, one covering the other. How strange.

Pastiche sticks her hand in the paper cutter. "Hey, everybody, look at me!"
You've seen her do this trick too many times, so you're unfazed when her hand phases through the blade as she slams it down.

[Examining the secret door in the copy shop]
A heavy steel door, cleverly disguised to look like an otherwise unobtrusive wall panel. A sign on it reads: "To Top Secret Evil Planning Headquarters and Restrooms."

[Description of sign]
The sign is mounted atop a short wooden pole set into the floor — you half expect it to say "RABBIT SEASON," but it doesn't. What it says is: "We reserve the right to refuse service to all superheroes."

[In response to command to saw the sign down]
Wrapping the iron-filing-coated wire around the base of the sign, you saw back and forth until you have cut all the way through, and the sign topples to the ground.

Pastiche sings, "I sawed a sign, I opened up my eyes and sawed a sign..."

Removing the wooden sign has revealed a plastic plaque mounted on the wall.

[Description of plaque]
"We still reserve the right to refuse service to all superheroes."

[Upon trying to put an item under the copier lid while another object is already there]

[Secondary description of the hallway behind the copy shop]
Not so much a corridor, or even hallway, as much as a ...
"Vestibule," interjects Lexicon.
Yes, a vestibule. It only extends a few feet before ending at another door, this one of plywood.

[After getting past the clerks, the player tries to enter the restroom]
(Opening the restroom door)
You don't actually have to go. That was just a pretext.

Pastiche runs her fingers through her hair, and a good portion of her skull as well.

[In Mr. Redundancy Man's secret hideout]
Looking around the room, you see dozens of twin beds, double boilers, a single enormous machine with lights and bells and whistles and more lights, double-edged razors, four clones, and double-paned windows.

[Upon entering the hideout, Mr. Redundancy Man begins a monologue]
Mr. Redundancy Man looks up at your team's entrance, his face contorting into what can only be called a grin. "Welcome to my hideaway lair, my dear friends of mine!" he shouts over the sound of the machine. "Your arrival has come fortuitously just in time for you to witness the sight of my greatest and most triumphal achievement!"

"Eeeagh!" cries Lexicon, falling to the floor in anguish and clutching at his ears. "Make him stop!"

"I see, observationally, that the underlings in my employ have failed to stop you from succeeding in your entry," says Mr. Redundancy Man. "But no matter; and, I might add, it's of no consequence. Because those laughable buffoons will be an expendable extravagance once the plan I've plotted reaches its fertile fruition. Behold and observe," he says with a sweeping gesture, "my clones!"

Lexicon says to you in a pained whisper, "At least that's one time he didn't repeat himse—"

"And," continues Mr. Redundancy Man with a sweeping gesture to the other half of the room, "my clones!"

Lexicon loses consciousness.

"With my patented InstaClone Instant Cloning Mechanism Device, the days of manpower shortages in the business of the evildoing industry will be history, a thing of the past!" says Mr. Redundancy Man. "And what better, more productive way of marketing my brand-new invention than by setting loose my clones to loose themselves upon the world!"

[In the hideout, where Mr. Redundancy Man's cloning machine is kept]
Pastiche sings, "I think we're a clone now…"

"That does it," says Pastiche at last. "I've had about enough of this guy."

Utilizing her superpower to Hurl Herself Headlong At Supervillains Without Regard For Bodily Harm, Pastiche hurls herself — well, you get the picture.

[Objects found in the mess in Mr. Redundancy Man's hideout]
  • portable television: The TV is currently showing a baseball game. Looks like a doubleheader.
  • sandwich: It's a double-decker. Too bad it wasn't kept refrigerated.
  • ledger: Nothing there but lots of double-entry bookkeeping.
  • shotgun: It's double-barreled.

The Frenetic Five vs. the Seven Deadly Dwarves

[Description of Self-Immolo, the Boy Afire]
An accident involving a Buddhist monk and an eternal flame has left Immolo forever afire. Let go from his job at the Rare Books Division of the Metropolitan Library, he now walks the earth, doing good deeds and giving lights to strangers in need.

[Playing Battle Cry]
"C'mon, Henry," says the Girl Next Door impatiently. "Before the sun grows old and dies. You know it took Immolo forever to get it relit the last time."

[Description of Improv's shoe phone]
On the minus side, it's incredibly awkward to use, the sound quality is lousy, and the mouthpiece smells like old socks. On the plus side, it has pretty good arch support. Everything's a tradeoff.

[Description of the kitchen sink at the Girl Next Door's house]
After a party like this, it's filled with everything but the kitchen sink.

Mitchel, aka Lexicon. The man who put the dis back in discourse, Lexicon knows every word in the dictionary, plus a few that were edited out to make room for commercials.

[After telling Pastiche to drive the car]
"You got it, boss!" She presses confidently down on the accelerator. Nothing happens.

"It usually helps if you start the car first," Lexicon chimes in.

[Pastiche is driving]
"Hey, that sign didn't say 'Canada,' did it?" asks Pastiche.

"Hey, what was that movie playing where we just passed?" asks Pastiche, peering over her shoulder in a direction very much away from the road.

Newsboy hurriedly replies: "Twelve Angry Monkeys: Twelve ordinary citizens sent back in time to stop a devastating plague are unable to proceed when one man insists the plague is innocent."

[After telling Pastiche to drive, while she's already driving]
"What does it look like I'm doing?" She gives a sharp look at Lexicon in the rear-view mirror. "Don't even think of answering that!"

[After trying to exit the car, while Pastiche is still driving]
It may come to that, but for now you'll take your chances with Pastiche's driving.

[Description of the car, after entering it]
It has all the usual inside-of-a-car conveyances. No, not conveyances. What's the word?
"Appurtenances," says Lexicon.
Right, appurtenances. All the usual appurtenances.

"The dam powers this entire mine, not to mention much of the Metropolitan area," continues the executive. "If these fiendish dwarves carry out their plot, it will plunge half the county into darkness."

"The half the county we just drove through already seemed thoroughly dark," says Lexicon. "Though that may just have been because Pastiche neglected to turn on our headlights."

[After trying to move the mine executive's desk before he has left the room]
It's impolite to mess with people's desks while they're present. The polite way is to wait until they leave, then ransack the place.

[Entering the mine]
It's dank. You are likely to be eaten by mildew.


With a running leap and a yell, Pastiche delivers a death blow to the hapless root vegetable. Split neatly in two, its lower half falls with a THWAP! to the soft dirt floor.

"'Hii-yah?'" says Lexicon. "Do you think you could be any more cliched?"

"What do you want me to yell, 'Potato, ho!'?"

"I'll tell you who's a potato h—"

"I think you'd better just stop right there, word boy."

[Trying to "take" a vein of ore]
If it were as easy as that, they wouldn't need to hire miners.

[Response to trying to turn on any object that can't be turned on]
It's not your type.

[Trying to bend the crushed miner's helmet]]
Not even if you were The Incredible Guy Who Has The Superpowers That Uri Geller Pretends To Have.

[Response to trying to go "out", in a maze]
That's the general idea, yes.

As you reach for the stick, part of the ledge suddenly gives way. You scramble back to safety as the stick plummets earthward —
"All directions are earthward when you're underground," mutters Lexicon.
— as the stick plummets earthward, disappearing into a gaping crevice far below.

[Response to the player trying to ask himself about anything]
Talking to yourself is a sign of impending mental collapse. Unless you're Solipsistah Souljah, that is.

[Improv asks Medic Alert for help]
"Maybe you could, like, find some way to blow up the plant that powers the lights, and then we could escape in the dark."

"That's the dwarves' plan, you ninny."

"Oh. Right."