Very short reviews from a first-time judge

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Richard Bos

Nov 17, 2000, 3:00:00 AM11/17/00
These reviews are _very_ short. I'm not a great reviewer, you see. Two
remarks in general, though:

Juvenile humour is _not_ funny, unless it's done surpassingly well. And
it has not been done surpassingly well in the games I played. For
juvenile humour to work, the material must be so good that toilet
fixations and bad-ass attitudes don't jar. Contrary to some people's
expectations, this is not easy, and most people should not even try.

Similarly, bad spelling isn't, in and of itself, funny. A misspelling
that leads to a pun can be funny. Bad spelling can be very effective to
indicate that an NPC isn't very careful with its language; Big Mama's
little boy worked qua spelling (though not qua language). But merely
spelling every second word wrongly for the jarring effect does not amuse
at all.

Yes, those are MO. No, I'm not qualifying them. If I seem dismissive in
these reviews, for one of the above reasons, believe me, I _meant_ to

Ok, here goes, in approximate order of playing, with the rating the game
got written after the name:

Breaking the Code: 1
Fuckhead. *plonk*

Metamorphoses: 6
Was ever so slightly buggy - nothing serious, but it happened to throw
me out of the fictional world, which this well-created game didn't
deserve. Also, I didn't find the trick of using the oven and hourglass
reasonably guessable; it was easy to figure out how to fiddle with them,
but not why, and on what.

And the Waves Choke the Wind: 7
A promising but unfinished game. Would've been an 8 at least, probably a
9, had it been a complete game of this quality. Good story, well
written, easy to get immersed in.

The Masque of the Last Faeries: 5
Noticably badly punctuated, rather buggy (I still haven't found out how
to actually win with 100%). The background idea was quite interesting,
but the game wasn't nearly as well worked out, or, apparently, tested,
as it deserves.

What-IF?: 1
Presents no game but 7 alt.hists, then gets his facts wrong. Tsch.

Prodly the Puffin: 2
Just not funny. Not a lot of game play, either. Maybe you have to be in
to the joke to enjoy the game, but I wasn't.

1-2-3...: 3
Hard to play, because no directions are given and subjects of
conversation are unclear and the game depends on them. Little to no real
interaction. No fun.

Shade: 6
Weird. Very weird. Nevertheless, it amused me, but I'm still not sure if
I got Zarf's meaning.

Stupid Kittens: 2
Is this funny? No, this isn't funny. Stupid Polly.

Castle Amnos: 5
Vague, undirected and buggy. Solutions in help file didn't always seem
to work. Interesting way of dealing with magic, though. If a little more
text had been written for it and a bit more beta-testing time spent, it
could've been a pretty good game.

On the Other Side: 4
Great idea, shame about the execution. It is perhaps not the author's
fault that computers are just too stupid to play IF themselves, but hey,

My Angel: 9
Well programmed, well written. Original presentation, likely to become
old hat after a couple of similar games (would you play a second "Space
under the Window"?), but not after two hours. The whole set-up works
well with this story, anyway; and I liked the story. And I still haven't
seen everything I want to see.

Ad Verbum: 8
Looked like just another guess-the-verb game at first, but turned out to
be a collection of word games and linguistic gymnastics, for which I
happen to have a particular fondness. Not easy though, especially
without a thesaurus.

Dinner with Andre: 5
Technically OK (though with one slight bug with a solution in the help
file not working), but I just couldn't manage to care. Call me a sad
geek, if you wish.

Comp00ter Game: 1
Ha. Ha. Ha. Oh, how we laughed. Sheesh. Grow up.

Nice. Well written traditional (though with a twist in the hero!)
hero-romp. Not ground-breaking or anything, but certainly enjoyable.

Infil-traitor: 5
Truly ancient style, with a proper two-word, three-letter parser and bug
in you-can't-go-there routine. Compiled version buggier than Basic
code!? Amusing for its reminiscence value; it had me fooled for a while,
until I examined the source. Gets points for old times' sake, not for
the game itself.

Asendent: 1
Yeah, yeah. Whatever. The thatmuchth to think he's funny. Well, ho, ho.

Transfer: 8
Classical game, classical setting, of course; but well executed, with an
interesting gimmick and some good puzzles - and one bad one. Another
game that breaks little new ground, but uses the old ground very well.

Guess The Verb!: 6
Ok, so the basic idea is good. The execution of Lalrry and of the
sub-games is good, too. It's just a great pity that the result is
five-and-a-half too short and simple games. All this effort would've
been a lot better spent on one good game.

The Djinni Chronicles: 4
Dunno, I just couldn't get into this game. The whole thing seemed
rather... purposeless? The things I was supposed to do were too alien
for me to achieve mimesis, and a simple "grant wish", while strictly
speaking not a cop-out in this game, seemed too much like one for me to
enjoy it.

The Big Mama: 7
Yes, that name _is_ corny. Still... a good game, immersive even if
sometimes unwieldily hampered by the PC's fixed character. Perhaps
surprisingly (well, it surprised me!), the shortness and instant
multi-replayability helped rather than hindered immersion.

Letters from Home: 4
Nice exercise in coding a crossword; too bad that the rest of the game
was somewhat haphazardly executed and just not a consistent pleasure to
play. Many of the letters were a bit _too_ hard to guess; I mean, "get
Delano" from a photograph in a newspaper? No, sorry. But the crossword
was nice.

Punk Points: 2
Here's a clue: cool is a word used to describe a temperature range.

Well, that's as far as I got. My first comp turned out to be one with
its high points and its low points, but all in all, interesting, and
worth the effort. I gave no 10s yet, because to me 10 means perfection
or near that, and no game seemed to merit quite that; but, disregarding
the games that seem to have entered merely to shock or to get a cheap
laugh, most of the games were really quite enjoyable. The judging
process itself was interesting, as well. No, I'm not disappointed with
my first competition at all.


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