Malcolm in the Middle returns … in an 8-bit browser game

Malcolm in the Middle video game
Alec Robbins
In its seven-season run, Malcom in the Middle was nominated for 33 Emmy Awards, taking home seven wins. The show also won a Grammy and the prestigious Peabody Award. The first season was the sole DVD release in the U.S., prompting complaints and petitions. Game designer Alec Robbins has created a new game to help appease the fans, by allowing players to experience Malcolm’s life firsthand.

The simple side-scroller captures the essence of middle child Malcom’s daily life. Sandwiched between two of his brothers (Francis does not make an appearance, though he is mentioned by Dewey) Malcolm must avoid making contact with either one. Up front, Reese can’t make up his mind whether to speed up, slow down, or stop altogether. Trailing behind Malcolm is Dewey, who has his own erratic walking patterns. You must guide Malcolm with the left and right arrow keys, speeding up or slowing down based on his brothers’ actions.

Related: A Boy and His Blob are back

As you move along, the three boys bring up references to the show, including their elder brother Francis, Malcolm’s best friend Stevie, and their mean mother. The action is accompanied by the show’s theme song, reduced to a looped midi. The theme’s lyrics are echoed in the death screen – when you go down, and are asked to continue, you can select “Yes,” “No,” “Maybe,” “I don’t know,” or “Can you repeat the question?”

The game’s repetitive nature hearkens back to the show’s presentation of life in suburbia. As you progress, however, things get a little strange. When you pass the 150,000 mark, the darkening sky turns red and the music grows discordant. The boys’ light chatter descends into the unpleasant, with one stating that “Television was our prison.” Eventually, they beg you to stop playing.

Malcolm in the Middle game grows dark

The last episode of Malcolm in the Middle aired in 2006, but licensing problems with the show’s music have delayed home releases of the show in the U.S. It was eventually added to Netflix, and binge watching ensued. In fact, Robbins created the game in two days during his own Malcolm binge.

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