[Comp00] Mini-reviews for a Few Games

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James Marshall

Nov 16, 2000, 3:00:00 AM11/16/00
Hi all. I've been around IF and this newsgroup for a while, but usually
just lurk and don't say a whole lot. I've never participated in the comps,
but I thought I'd try judging this year. Unfortunately, I only got through
10 games and I had hope to at least do all the Inform games, so I didn't
actually vote. (Due to semi-frequent hard drive space problems, i.e. I keep
running out of it, I've only kept the Inform interpreter and games on my
disk, so I was only trying Inform games.) A little note, too: whenever I
have to grade something on a scale, I almost always stay away from the
extreme high and low scores. So here on a 1-10 scale, 1s and 10s will be
pretty rare from me just because of how I rate things. OK, here are the
comments on the games I played in the order I got them from the Comp00.z5
helper game. They may not be great or detailed (I did say mini-reviews)
but I hope the little extra feedback is useful to someone out there.

Breaking the Code -- rated 2
Sorry, but this game made absolutely no sense to me. I had two pieces of
paper with (apparently) computer code, but couldn't do a thing in the game
so I gave up very quickly. I did make one attempt at compiling the code,
but that failed because of errors I wasn't willing and/or able to figure
out. Maybe if it had worked I would have gotten something neat, but this
didn't strike me as a good IF approach. I was tempted to give it a 1, but
the possibility that a correctly compiled code might give something cool
got it a 2.

YAGWAD -- rated 5
This was a nice game and I played part of the way through it. Maybe it
would have been better had I gone further into the game, but it seemed
like a classic story line. It just didn't grab me as anything really
special, but the game itself was fine so it gets an average score of 5.

Ad Verbum -- rated 8
An interesting idea for a game, base it on word play. Unfortunately, verbal
games are not my strong point. :) It was kind of fun, but I did feel like
I was relying on hints a bit too much. That could have been just because
I'm a bit weaker on word games though. I was interested enough to try to
get through it, but didn't finish before having to score it. I scored it
at 8 for the unique idea and good play. Maybe I'll finish it later. :)

Enlisted -- rated 6
Nice game, but the space walk part was rather hard and I gave up pretty
fast on it. It fits in the game, but I didn't want to deal with all the
turning, rolling, and thrusting involved, so I went to the walk through to
get through it. That's when I found that the trip out was correct, but the
trip back was wrong and I had to figure out how to fix it (not too hard at
that point, fortunately), but the incorrect walk through kind of turned me
off from trying the rest of the game on my own. Also, there's no help on
the other space walk that would be necessary if your character isn't of slim
build; not good. Generally good, but the difficulty of the space walks
combined with the problems in the walk through only got it a 6 from me.
Relevant comments e-mailed to author; if fixed I think I'd give it another
point or two, but I can't change the score at this point.

Dinner with Andre -- rated 4
Playing a female character is different, but this sort of real-life game
isn't the sort of thing I go for in IF. And being male, it's a bit hard to
relate to the situation in the game. :) The game itself seems fine, but
it just wasn't interesting enough to hold my attention and therefore it's
not getting a great score. I gave it a 4, just a little under average.

The Djinni Chronicles -- rated 7
This was a nice short game. Playing a djinni character was unique and
kind of fun. I was able to finish this game rather quickly, but I did
use some of the walk through to help. Even so, the game was interesting
enough that I was a bit disappointed to see it end so soon. I gave it
a 7 because it was pretty good; if it had some more scenarios/parts to
extend the game, it might have scored a little higher.

Transfer -- rated 8
Pretty good game and I enjoyed it. The trasfer machine was a neat idea
and it was worked into the game nicely since you had to use it to solve
certain puzzles. The hint system's "last free clue" concept was very
interesting. Penalizing you if you use too many hints didn't sound good
to me at first, but when I saw it in action it worked out fine for me.
Even though I've been using hints a bit more than normal (so I can get
further through the games faster for rating purposes), this system made me
stop at an earlier hint and think some more to solve the puzzle. It can
be turned off and/or circumvented, so it doesn't have to affect your score.
Good idea in the hint system, nice interesting game, so I gave it an 8.

Guess the Verb -- rated 7
The game title gave me a bad first impression, but as it turns out the game
itself is cute. The "guess the verb" refers to a carnival/fair guessing
game, you need to get Lalrry (the machine operating the game) to accept
payment so you can guess a verb from the wheel. If you guess right, you
get to guess again. If you guess wrong, you get sent to a puzzle section.
The solution to each puzzle involves the verb that did come up on the wheel,
so they get kind of easy once you catch on. Each puzzle section also
includes an object you can give to Lalrry to keep playing (you go back to
the carnival once you solve the puzzle). But, each time you guess right
or solve the puzzle, that verb comes off the wheel, so you can't get to
every single puzzle in one play of the game, thus giving it nice replay
value. There's also a list of AMUSING things to do once the game ends.
It was an enjoyable game, but to me the simplicity had both positive and
negative points, so I gave it a 7.

Asendent -- rated 3
Subtitled "An Interactive Hallucinatory" and it looks like the hallucination
feel is set up through the descriptions which misspell like every other word.
Maybe that's supposed to add to the atmosphere, but I found it a major
distraction; I didn't like having to spend time interpreting everything the
game's telling me. At least the goal is clear "find the BLUE RASPBREY" and
the game doesn't force you to misspell things to have them recognized. The
game is very short though and can be solved in 10 moves and you win the game
with 0 of 0 points, but end up dying anyway. I didn't really like it, but
since it did take me a little while to solve one puzzle, I scored it at a 3.

Got ID? -- rated 4
You're underage and have to get beer so you can hang out with the cool kids
at school. *shrug* Real life type games aren't my sort of thing and I lost
interest in this game pretty quickly. As with the previous RL type game,
there's nothing really wrong with the game or anything, but since it didn't
keep my attention for very long, it's only getting a 4 from me.

And that's all I got through. I would have liked to have played more games,
at least enough of them to have warranted submitting scores even without
playing every single one in the comp, but oh well, maybe next year I'll do
better. :)

. . . . -- James Marshall (CAS) . .
,. -- )-- , , . -- )-- , mars...@astro.umd.edu ., .
' ' http://www.astro.umd.edu/~marshall
"Equations are living things." .

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