10 Best Media Objects of 2006 (Part 4)

Here’s Pickle!
Here’s Pickle!

What is this anyhow? For the answer, see Parts 1, 2 and 3. And now, another one:

4. Pickle’s Book (Flash website, 2004): I’m probably the West’s number one fan of Japanese artist Thoru Yamamoto thanks to some cool HyperCard stacks he made back in the stone age of multimedia (also known as “The ’90s”). Now he’s built what must be the single most complex and immersive Flash game in the history of the web, the amazingly detailed, multi-level fantasy world, “Pickle’s Book.”

Pickle, our cranky little cartoon avatar, lives in a book where each page is a gateway into a mini-universe. He is stalked by a chortling arch-nemesis who plots his demise and a pack of conical mole men who constantly bother him for cookies. Like a 21st century pop-up book, almost every screen is spring-loaded with interactive gimcracks--everything is clickable, even Pickle himself. To proceed through the game, you must click and drag and, most of all, experiment. “Pickle’s Book” may be aimed at kids (it’s my 2-year-old’s morning ritual) but is startlingly deep and rewards adult-level exploration. Devoted players can unleash a dragon, unlock secret levels, and even trigger a scripted drama where the Book is destroyed by a demon and a hard lesson is learned. It’s rather amazing. Try it yourself and see, but to get to the cool stuff, you have to pay for a year membership (2500 yen: about $20). Cheap at twice the price.