My declaring this game as the Game of the Month for September basically secures the Bastard Award for me by making two of the three GOTM's thus far games released by my own company, damage inc. But I talked to Abbott about it, and he agreed that it deserved the honors, so here we are.
What's so great about pop? tuc himself billed it as his kudzu-esque game, a title which it rather richly deserves. Pop is all about atmosphere, and it delivers in spades. The game feels like Alice in Wonderland on acid, with garish guava-groves, a delicious meal with uuros maluuros, brightly designed hallways and a stampeding statue. tuc's excellent sense of humor also shines through rather often... from the definition of parakeet in the dictionary to the guy who says 50 things to the brilliant ending, possibly the best ever to grace a ZZT game. The puzzles are also quite well-done... I was stumped for rather a long time for how to proceed past the statue. But the puzzle difficulty is in an inverse ration to how far into the game you are, so it's a lot harder to start than finish, which tucan may have intended as a metaphor or not.
The game does have a few flaws... the aforementioned easiness of the later puzzles, for one, and the bugs that were present in the version that I played (tho' I understand that he's fixed those.) The fun of playing, however, far eclipses my nitpicky gripes.
And to those concerned with replay over all: even if you do manage to beat the game, however, the real meat of the thing only comes once you've found all 8 of the gems in the game, which are quite well hidden (and there are a thousand temptations taunting you to spend them, so you've got to be careful!)
Flaws aside, pop is simply brilliant. It's quite rare that a game like this appears, and top honors are well deserved by tucan, one of the greatest ZZT miracle workers of all time.