[Comp 99] Doe's Reviews, Pt. 2

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Marnie Parker

Nov 16, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/16/99

Pass the Banana - Inform (6)

I didn't "get it". I guessed before I played it who had written it. Not
hard, since I had heard it rumored on the If-Mud that Jota had entered
the contest, there was a new banana producing machine in its Adventure's
Lounge and some kind of "pass the banana" in-joke was making the muddy
rounds. Only other likely candidate would been Spatch, but if you ask the
Banana characters about Jota, they reply. Spatch, they don't.

Of course, I didn't "get" the If-Mud banana joke either. I figured it was
another of those "you-have-to-have-been-there" type of things. Or a
Monty-Python riff. Naturally, I have never "gotten" Monty-Python movies either.

Or simply because it was Jota. Since I have never "gotten" him at all. Well,
I mean, take the stupid sticks. A month or so ago, all day long, a group of
us on the If-Mud (some coming/some going) played a web game called Pooh
Sticks. Only, I never figured out, WHY. Has to be the most boring game ever.
Premise: Winnie the Pooh-like, you drop your stick from one side of a bridge
and wait to see it float out the other side. Except on the web, supposedly your
stick is bounced around the world, from server to server. Whose stick emerges
first, wins. It takes AT LEAST an hour (often longer). You can wash your car
and play Pooh Sticks, clean your kitchen and play Pooh Sticks, work on your
WIP and play Pooh Sticks. In fact, I thought that was it's only advantage.

But we played Pooh Sticks. Unsurprisingly, Jota won quite often and pressed
the rest of us to keep playing. While we kept complaining about how long it
took, how stupid it was, how pointless, how boring, etc. I, myself, played four
games. WHY? I was waiting and waiting, hoping eventually I'd "get it."
At this point in the story, it-is-probably-needless-to-say, I never did.

Programming : 8 Technically, very good. But not much to do and some
spacing problems.
Prose : 6 Okay, but very little. How hot head is was nice touch.
Plot : 1 Didn't really notice one. This is more a "game" game than
an adventure game.
Puzzles : 7 One puzzle, although it can take a little while to "get it"
and despite being simple, is cleverly done. One has to hurry.
Flaming Head : 1 Bonus point.
23 / 4 = 5.75 = 6


Life On Beal Street - TADS

Unreviewed. I "beta tested" this. Since I had seen it prior to the contest, I
didn't feel I could come at it with fresh eyes. However, I feel it, along with
"A Moment", are very well-done "puzzleless if" (although this one was truly
puzzleless and plot branching.) Also interesting, but nothing to do with
nothing, is the similarities they shared while having different perspectives.

Note: I thought Beal's plot branching was unusual and extremely effective.


Calliope - Inform (7)

Obviously a game by a newbie, "my first game" feel. But nice conceit of a game
within a game with the player being the blocked, uninspired author of said

Programming : 7 Okay. TV Daemon should have had "^" on end of lines for a
carriage return, new line before prompt. Annoying.
Prose : 7 Object descriptions nice. Calliope's ramblings best.
Plot : 7 Author writing game for comp, been done before, but still
has an amusingly take on the subject. Wings are nice touch.
Puzzles : 5 Two simple puzzles, but I had problems figuring them out
anyway, commands a bit too obscure.
Flaming Head : 0 Bonus point.
26 / 4 = 6.5 = 7


A Change - Inform (8)

Surrealistic, dream-like, the distorted use of language threw me quite a bit
at first; initially it is very perplexing. Then as I played more games I felt
the haunting imagery of this piece would make it one of the most memorable of
the contest. I, anyway, didn't forget it or confuse it with any other entry.

Programming :10 Technically, excellent. Fair amount implemented and no bugs.
Prose : 9 Original, disconcerting, but with a fair amount of internal
consistency. Impossible to describe adequately, but
right-brained. So will not click with everyone's
Plot : 5 Lest effective, basically a "dungeon crawl", wander around
and solve puzzles. Would have been better with more initial
motivation supplied for the player. Something about shadow
hurting the land, possibly. Also some rewarding revelation at
the end rather than just reading the author's notes. (In my
opinion well-told stories don't require notes.) Either the
introduction or conclusion should/could have provided a
"frame" to pull it more together and give the logic a theme.
Puzzles : 9 Best part, again right-brained. While basically logical
context, the context was so unexplained they were harder than
the author probably thought. I had to restore to the hints in
practically all cases. Not sure how this problem could have
been gotten around, some kind of an underlying motif probably
(see Plot). I also never used the light indicator and won
anyway. But I am compelled to add that doing so poorly at
these skewed but still logical puzzles, I felt I failed some
kind of intelligence/how-to-be-creative test. Maybe I did.
Flaming Head : 0 Bonus point.
33 / 4 = 8.25 = 8


Chicks Dig Jerks - Inform (5)

Didn't like title. Didn't much like game. Despite hearing some positive
about it on IF-Mud, the reaction I started with remained pretty much the same.
Of course, the title is deliberately misleading, but the twist, while
humorous did not compensate for bad programming and poor plot development.

Word to the Wise: I didn't understand a lot of the conversation in the bar.
The author apologized for it, maybe it was crude, but to me it was frequently
incomprehensible. I begin to see why it is recommended writers not use dialect.

Programming : 4 Not much implemented and bugs. Upon replay, one time a guy
I needed to interact with in the end game was there, one
not, although the description/daemon included him. Couldn't
remove a vital object from another object after I had carried
them beyond their original location. Game often responded
the annoying, "You can't see that here." or "I don't know the
word..." when they were obviously mentioned. Also lots of
strange spacing, often no new line before prompt. Needs work.
Prose : 7 Best part, very evocative sometimes. Even if I didn't always
follow what some of the emotions involved were supposed to
But, big but, no directions were given. Directions in the
sense of motivation (what to do) and in the sense of movement
(where to go). The lack of clear motivation was initially
confusing, the lack of clear compass directions always was.
Plot : 6 Obviously not my sort of "thing" to be a predatory
eager-to-score male, but again, almost puzzleless IF. This
time advanced by conversation. Not a bad way to move the plot
along, but the final conversation by using a twist upon a
twist almost cancelled out the first twist. Also more
background on the protagonist's employment and the town
would have made the story hang together better because it
definitely had farce potential. Note: Contains sexual
This did not affect my rating in any way, because I found
them neither offensive or particularly arousing.
Puzzles : 1 One real puzzle, which I would not have "solved" without the
walkthru. Seemed not only unlikely (which is okay sometimes),
but overly complicated while also being unlikely. Also buggy
(see Programming). Needs work and coherency.
Flaming Head : 0 Bonus point.
18 / 4 = 4.50 = 5

doea...@aol.com -------------------------------------------------
Kingdom of IF - http://members.aol.com/doepage/intfict.htm
Inform Tips - http://members.aol.com/doepage/infotips.htm
IF Art Gallery - http://members.aol.com/iffyart/gallery.htm

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