[Comp99] Cranky Witch Reviews (2/3) LONG

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Nov 19, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/19/99

Six Stories (HTML-TADS)
Author: N.K. Guy
Blurb: "The monkey pirate spits and curses. 'Shut the hell up and gimme
another tekka maki!'"

I would just like to say that the blurb frightened me.

Also, note to self: Turn the speakers ON before playing a multi-media

Let's see.... bonus points for the word 'keys' referring to all your
keys. 'get all from glove compartment' tries to get everything in the
game, in the glove compartment or not. The game doesn't understand 'sip',
as in 'sip tea'. There's my list of complaints.

I really liked this. It wasn't particularly interactive, it only had one
puzzle (obvious to me, and probably to most people, but cool), and the
ending seemed a little abrupt... but I really did like the stories. I
liked the voices (I know some people didn't) and the pictures were very
pretty. The intro scene especially was very well done. The
auto-description complete with pictures was kinda neat, although I'm glad
there was an option to turn this off.

Not much else to say. Nice job.
Chaos: An Interactive Explosion (TADS)
Author: Shay Caron
Blurb: "In CHaos, you are 'Captain Chaos'. Well, actually, no, you're
just an observer. Captain Chaos is an evil villain and builder of robots
whose ship has just clipped a tree and is slowly heading for the ground.
It's your job to help him fix his ship, land safely, and ensure the
existence of a sequel."

As with Six Stories, the blurb frightened me.

Let's see. Bonus points: someone who separates things into multiple
paragraphs. The inclusion of the Evil Overlord list link (I love that
thing). The descriptions are good, the asides funny, the 3rd-person
character thing kinda neat. Not something I'd want to do all the time,
but for a short game, an interesting thing.

Couple of problems: 'screw screw with screwdriver' -- was I stuttering?
Not that I didn't figure it out, but why not 'tighten' or 'turn' screw?
"Which headset do you mean, the headset or the headset?" Works, of
course, if you separate the two, but that was kinda annoying. Several
things I thought you should have been able to look at you couldn't (door,
gear, landing gear, legs, landing gear legs...)

I somehow managed to get 35 points of 31, saw 90% of the game locations
and all the items.

The puzzles were all fairly easy, the premise cute, the writing very good
in most spots. I liked it. Write more!

(Wow, three non-bitchy reviews in a row. That's okay, it's about to

Lomalow (Inform)
Author: Brendan Barnwell
Blurb: "This game has one puzzle, and the solution to this is given
immediately as the game begins. It's about loss, sadness, love, mystery,
supernatural beings, and moving to a higher plane of existence. It is all
about reading what comes up on the screen, and the only "puzzle" is to
figure out how to access and read all that text."

You said it, bub. I had some severe problems with having to ask the same
question over and over again. Kinda like tech support in reverse.

Okay, let's see. A compliment first. "the sleeping bag is shredded in
approximately 3457 places" was very amusing.

Interacting with the characters was annoying. Just plain annoying. It got
old really quickly. I don't mind long conversations. I do mind needing to
bang my head against the same thing over and over and over and over and
over and over and over and over -- now wait for the people to change
position and ask again! Wearying levels of repetition just are not my cup
of tea. They are not even so much as my cup of tepid water with a single
leaf floating therein.

Throughout this game, I felt that rather than being cajoled into having
deep feelings for the characters in the game, I was being bludgeoned by a
big bowl of Angst. Photopia, this was not. Photopia worked for me. This
was like being stuck in a quagmire of depression. And I have enough of
that in real life for any three people, thanks.

I do have to admit that the writing in this was good. It's just that it
left me feeling flat. The abrupt ending was also... hollow, much like the
rest of this felt to me. The premise was not bad, I just did not care for
the way it ended up feeling to me.

Life on Beal Street (TADS)
Blurb: "This is not a game, but rather an experiment in telling a story
using a dynamic and interactive medium. Leave your expectations at the
curb side and take a walk down Beal Street."

I once again agree with the description. This is not really a game. It is
a story... a semi-random choose-your-own adventure. I have nothing
against choose-your-own adventure style stories. I even think it's an
interesting use of the IF medium.

However, in "playing" the story, it seems to be a random road to
paragraphs of ankhsting (that is not a typo) about having been rejected,
and when you choose 'keep going' the game will still end. I went through
the stories several times and while I will admit the writing is
technically very adept and even to some extent evocative, overall what I
feel is not pity or sympathy or parallels to my own life but rather as if
the game was whining at me. There may be 780 stories here, but I had no
desire to see any of the rest after the first few; the plot remains the
same and it's far too short.

Try this again with a longer decision tree and a bit less whining and
perhaps I will end up liking it a great deal. Until then, buh-bye.

Bliss: An Interactive Harrowing (TADS)
Author: Cameron Wilkin

The introduction looks like a rather cliched fantasy setting, and once
again we're being locked in a cell. This did not bode well. But
eventually the twist in the story showed up, which did, yes, make it
somewhat more interesting....

I had to use the walkthrough a LOT in this. As usual, perhaps it was just
me, but there were things that I did not see as obvious at all -- hiding
under the bed, getting up to the roof (the desc of the shop didn't seem
to really indicate you could do this), and the whole crowbar thing fell
under my "How was I supposed to KNOW that?" clause.

Now, the twist in the story was both interesting and too cliche. I still
have not decided if I actually liked it. It was... definitely bizarre.
And the full circle of ending up as trapped as one starts was a good
tactic. Overall... I'm not sure what to say. I did not dislike it.

The writing was actually pretty good, and the surreal
trapped-in-a-fantasy thing was more interesting than a real fantasy game
would have been, but... well, I guess it just left me a little cold.

On the Farm (TADS)
Author: Lenny Pits
Blurb: "Visiting Grandma and Grandpa on the farm for the weekend is not
your idea of a good time. Mom has told you countless stories about the
great adventures she had growing up there. Days spent feeding the
chickens and pigs, and riding the horses, but that was before Grandpa got
too old to work the land. Now the farm consists of barren fields, rusting
equipment, and empty pens."

"How... pleasant," thought the reviewer.

The characters in this game are very good. I was impressed with them. The
diary was a great touch. Unlike the majority of the games I played, I
actually felt drawn into this one, and I actually kinda cared about the

I absolutely loved the 'xyzzy' teleportation ability. This was the first
game I thought to try it in, because of the Zork reference. And it's
really funny that if you teleport into a room with a character, it scares

It took me a while to figure out the point of the game, but since the
descriptions were consistently good and the characters actually fun to
interact with, I stuck around until I finally figured it out. I did need
the hints to figure out how to get the smoke, but most of the rest of the
puzzles were straight-forward enough. What's more, the puzzles actually
fit the game! That's something some games really do not do well, and I
was glad to see one where it was almost seamless.

On top of that, having a non-standard hero, just someone doing something
for their relatives, was a really nice change. Overall, I thought this
game was extremely pleasant.

[Uh-oh, another non-bitchy review. My reputation may suffer...]

ti...@ripco.com - you...@foad.org - help, I'm stuck in a bottle

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