I can't seem to evolve, and it's driving me nuts. Either I starve to death or fail to mate, but for one reason or another, I cannot fucking evolve! Here I am, living in the Eocene period 55 million years ago as a diminutive and feeble Teilhardina belgica, a shrew-size primate. As I wander through the deep forest, looking for cockroaches and beetles and stick-bugs to eat. I am vulnerable to attack by larger primates, wolves, giant crocodiles, cat-like creatures, and possums. More than once I've been killed by iguanas. Evolution kicks my ass every time.

"Evolution," a cruel and unusual text game from the BBC online, has eaten my soul and spit out the pit.

At first, I figured it was the usual children's balderdash dribbly-poo crap you see offered to those idiots with nothing better to do than play games and write science columns. With that in mind, I clicked on "Evolution" to see how fast I could conquer it.

"Welcome to the Eocene," Evolution begins. "We will be following the life of a primate and its descendants. You control how an individual behaves, but time passes quickly, and we constantly jump forward to one of your direct descendants. Where you go, what you eat, and how you use your senses will all affect the lives of your descendants. If you die before you mate then your line dies out and the game is over."

If this game is for kids, I'm a monkey's uncle (apologies to my niece Bo-Bo)! A kid has the same chance of beating this game and evolving as Attorney General John Ashcroft has at inking a record deal with Vicious Kitten Records.

Suicidal tendencies? Hop on the back of an angry animal. "You attack the miacid. It yowls and shows off a fine set of teeth. As you try to attack it, it leaps on you and kills you. The miacid managed to kill you because it was much fiercer than you." No kidding. I'm so small I can barely gum a caterpillar at this point. Why? Because I CAN'T EVOLVE!

Basically, "Evolution" involves manipulating a directional compass so you move around a continent. You can climb trees or walk on the ground to find your food (stick-bug anyone?) and mate as many times as you can. There are about 25 different species supposedly available to evolve into, but getting past the first one and moving on to the second, an Otolemur crassicaudatus (Thick tailed bush baby) is nearly impossible.

"Evolution" should be a very simple game. Randomly generated circumstances combined with personal choices and a predictable outcome; and yet I still can't evolve! I'm a member of the most advanced species on the planet, for chrissakes! True, I may look like a dummy but well, I guess I am a dummy. Maybe I should be glad I've never evolved. It's possible that I just don't deserve it.

Evolution will kick your little furry hindquarters at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/beasts/evolution/evolution_game.shtml