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Population: Tire is a flash game on Homestar Runner. It's set in Strong Bad's back yard, known as Strongbadia, which features a stop sign that says "Population: Tire" on it (from which the game takes its name). You can play it at:

http://www.homestarrunner.com/pop_tire.html


Epic music plays as white text scrolls up over a crimson sunrise:

IN THE YEAR 19xx, THE CITIZENS OF STRONGBADIA ARE TERRORIZED BY A FACELESS FOE. AS A TOP SECRET CRACK COMMANDO OPERATIVE, IT IS YOU JOB TO PROTECT THE LAST REMAINING CITIZEN FROM TOUCHING THE TAINTED SOIL. YOU ARE SOLDIER!

SCORE POINTS BY BOUNCING TIRE WITH MOUSE. HIT INFIDELS TO INCREASE THE VALUE OF EACH BOUNCE. STRING COMBOS TO PREVENT THE VALUE FROM DROPPING OVER TIME.

YOU ONE ARE OF BRAVE FEW. ACCEPT YOUR MISSION AND STEP FOURTH.
AND REMEMBER; NEVER, EVER BREAK A COLD ONE.

(sic)


That is the extent of the official documentation available for Population: Tire. I didn't think it delves deep enough, which inspired me to write:

The Subtle Art of Population: Tire

Gameplay Basics

    Gameplay consists of bouncing a tire with the mouse, hitting various infidels such as seagulls, balloons, The Cheat, and avoiding cold ones. The object is to score as many points as possible before you mess up and drop the tire, resetting the score to zero.

Multipliers

    Earning and maintaining a high multiplier is the key to this game. Hitting infidels (bouncing the tire into them) increases your multiplier, which is the number of points you get whenever you bounce the tire. The multiplier drops down a point every five seconds, so you have to keep hitting things to keep it up. With a high multiplier your score can increase very quickly in a short time, so multipliers are the only practical way to get a high score in the game.

The Players

    Seagulls: Seagulls move laterally across the screen, and are unaffected by wind. Hitting them increases your multiplier by two.

    Balloons: Balloons appear behind the fence, and move up, and are effected by wind. Ramming the tire into them increments your multiplier.

    The Cheat: The Cheat appears on the ground and makes his way across the screen. The only way to hit him is to drop the tire onto him, which increments your multiplier, and then he pauses shortly, increases speed and switches direction. You then have a chance to hit him again before he leaves the screen, as many times as you can. A lot of specialized bouncing techniques are associated with The Cheat, as he can be used to increase the multiplier much more than the other infidels.

    Strong Sad: A traitor. A snake in the grass. He'll offer you an apple with a razor blade in it. Strong Sad has four states, indicated by the text in his thought bubble. They change randomly every second or few seconds (which is what makes him dangerous):+2, -2, Big, Fly, and Sad.

    • +2: Adds two to your multiplier. This is (arguably) the only good thing Strong Sad gives out.
    • -2: Subtracts two from your multiplier. Not good.
    • Big: Makes the tire bigger and bounce less high for a minute or so. The advantage is that it's harder to drop. The disadvantage is that avoiding cold ones becomes much more difficult, and you can only react sluggishly to other infidels, such as The Cheat.
    • Fly: Turns down the gravity for about a minute. The tire bounces higher, and comes down slowly. Cold ones are easy to avoid, but the number of times The Cheat can be hit is severely deminished, and seagulls and balloons are harder to hit. Also, because it's slower, you bounce the tire less, scoring less points.
    • Sad: The worst thing he could possibly do. It resets your multiplier to zero, which can effectively end a game, especially if you had a good one.

    Some of these can severely mess up your game, and because they can change at any moment, including the instance before the tire hits them, I recommend to simply avoid Strong Sad altogether. Some of my best games have ended at his merciless hands.

    Cold Ones: Beers that fly across the screen when your multiplier gets above +5. They are to be avoided, as hitting one will subtract 5 from your multiplier. There is a maximum of one cold one at a time for a multiplier between +5 and +10, and above +10 the maximum is two cold ones at a time.

Tire Bouncing Techniques

    Basics: Where you hit the tire determines the angle at which it'll bounce, and the speed the tire is moving when you hit it determines how fast/high it'll bounce. The speed that the mouse is moving doesn't effect the bounce (in fact, if the mouse is moving too fast the tire sometimes "misses" it)

    Shadow: If the tire goes above the top of the screen, use the shadow on the ground to locate it. You can also determine its movement and speed, which is useful. Many new players stare intently at the top of the screen waiting for the tire to come down, and miss the shadow altogether.

    Wind: Wind is indicated by the flag on the left side of the screen. It effects the tire greatly, making it difficult to control. It's easier to keep the tire on the side of the screen the wind is blowing towards. This has a stabilizing effect on the tire. You can use the upper corner to safely wait until the wind stops.

    The Cheat: The tire bounces especially high off of The Cheat, making it more difficult to get a second hit. While this can be very useful for avoiding cold ones, it makes it more difficult to get a second hit. While the tire is on the way up, you can hit it again, which seems to convert its upwards momentum into lateral momentum, hitting the tire into the wall and hopefully back onto The Cheat. If this fails, you can also use to the shadow to determine if the tire is going to hit The Cheat again without intervention (it often does), and just let it fall. Sometimes if the tire looks like it's going to miss it hits anyway, you have a fair amount of latitude. However, as a safety, if you think it might miss, keep the cursor just to the side of The Cheat it's like to miss on, to make the save if it does.


My highscore is sixteen thousand.

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