When you begin to play “The Adventures of Frank Little,” after clicking the start button, you read several sentences presented in white text on a black background. The text lets you know that it is July 1917, and you are Frank Little, organizer for the International Workers of the World. You have just arrived in Butte, Montana to organize the hard rock miners in protest of the Anaconda Company. You are told that there was a terrible mining accident the previous June where 163 miners were killed. You learn that the Pinkerton Detective Agency has been hired by the Anaconda Company to infiltrate the miners, and Anaconda also has the army on their side. Your job is to rally support for unionization as you collect coins in the city and try not to get killed.
As you begin game play, you see your character, Frank Little, as a small avatar on the bottom of the screen dressed in simple brown clothing and wearing a brown hat. You are on a city street in front of the Butte train station, and other men, women, and army workers pass you by. You hear street noise, people talking, and music that includes violins. The street backdrop is a black and white image from the Butte archives and shows the train station, employees, and army workers. Above your head hovers a neon green bar signifying your health. Using the arrow keys, you can move to the right or left, and using the spacebar, you can jump. As you jump, you hear a high pitched “boing” noise. Brown arrows pointing to the right and left invite you to walk in either direction.
As you move to the right or to the left, you enter a new scene, and you are always introduced to the new scene and scenario through brief sentences written on the screen. After reading, you enter various locations in Butte, identifiable by the other people there (citizens, store owners, Chinese immigrants, miners, brothel workers, etc.) and the street backdrops that consist of black and white images from the Butte archives. You walk along a city street, collecting coins and red health hearts along the way. You pass a store with coins on top, and you can jump up to collect them. You purchase noodles to eat at Mai Wah in Venus Alley. You stay the night at a boarding house, which costs three coins. You see assembled workers and you rally support, and you tell the workers you will give a speech the next day. You stay again at the boarding house.
After your speech, you feel like you are being followed, and then you discover that contact with certain people on the street decreases the green bar above your head to yellow and then red. When you touch members of the army, it hurts, and you say, “ugh!” You run through a forest and are confronted by ninjas and skeletons, and if you touch them, they further decrease your health. You find that collecting red hearts increases your health again. Exiting the forest, you find yourself at a lake where you can rest and collect more red hearts. Back in Butte, you walk through the streets, give another speech, take a rest at a brothel, and are advised to try to stay alive. You pass a house, and you can knock on the door. When admitted, you learn of a plot to kill you, and you decide to leave town. You escape with your life, and the game ends.
If you decide to bypass the house, however, and proceed to another workers’ rally, you may find that danger is near once again. When you return to the boarding house for the night, the owner gives you up to your enemies, and you are dragged behind a car with rope and subsequently lynched, and the game ends.