[COMP99] Comp99 Reviews, by the Comp99 Games

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Dave Coleman

Nov 17, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/17/99
Now we all know that when you review a game, you should be reviewing just
the game, not the author. Criticisms apply to this particular piece of
software, not to the person who sweated bullets to get it written before the
competition deadline. But I say, what kind of justice is that? You're a
thinking, feeling person. The game is just a couple of K of code. That's
hardly a fair matchup.
I know that Usenet is a world-wide phenomenon, but here in America we've got
a little concept called 'a fair trial'. And one of the cornerstones of 'a
fair trial' in the American system of jurisprudence is that a person is to
be judged by a jury of their peers.
So it just makes sense to me that the best judges of the Comp99 games should
be... the Comp99 games themselves.

And so, with my sincerest apologies to all of the authors, I give you:

Comp99 Games,
As reviewed by the Comp99 Games

1) I didn't get to the ALAN games, so they're not included here.
2) In one way or another I enjoyed all of these games, so please take
negative comments with a grain of salt.
3) I might release a standard set of reviews later, but there seem to be
enough of those floating about. If anyone's interested, let me know. The
following doesn't necessarily reflect my true feelings for any of the games.
4) There are spoilers throughout here for many games. If you don't want to
see spoilers for a game, avoid both the review of that game, and the review
by that game.
5) Again, my apologies.]

As reviewed by Comp99
Not much of a game, but I did enjoy the clever response you get from typing
XYZZY five times. The entire piece, though, is frankly derivative of entries
we've seen in past years. I also feel, procedurally speaking, that placing
this game in the root directory of the download package gives it an unfair
degree of prominence over the other entries. We can only hope that next
year's competition will include an additional rule ruling out such blatant

Beat the Devil
As reviewed by The Water Bird
Before the Miwok who lived in their homes with Internet access, before the
websites where they ordered things, before ever the Lynx and the Gopher and
most other animals, there lived the Herewego - the Mall People.
The Mall People were much like the Miwok in most ways. They looked like
them, dressed like them[1], talked like them, they built places to live like
them. But the Mall People belonged to a time long ago, when the world was
new and you had to get off your ass and hop in the car if you wanted to buy
This story takes place in that time long ago, at a time when the First
People were in great danger. The terrible fallen angel Lucifer, as crafty as
a really crafty mountain, had opened a New Mall, trapping every person he
could catch wherever he could.
You are Whoami [2], a young boy fortunate enough to have not yet entered
Lucifer's mall. Now, though, it seems like it is headed straight for you.
[Footnote 1] Although they did have to dress more warmly, at times. To go
[Footnote 2] Literally, 'the unnamed player character'
I found this game enlightening, in the sense that it shed a lot of light on
the practices and culture of the Herewego. Clearly the author has done a
tremendous amount of research, and probably a great deal of field study.
Once one peels through the layers of mythic hyperbole in the room and object
descriptions, one finds a credible scholarly work about the archetypal
concepts likely to be encountered in the typical 'Mall' during the time
period of interest. Bravo.

As reviewed by Death To My Enemies
What we have here is a cliche-ridden hack and slash fantasy game clumsily
duct-taped to a psychologically reflective narrative. I like it, I like it a
lot. I like duct tape.

As reviewed by Chicks Dig Jerks
I gotta say I dig this piece. And I count four good reasons: Calliope and
Cupcake. Dude, these are some sweet NPCs. I mean, they're a little
unimplemented and all, when it comes to important crap, but I didn't get to
be a computer game without learning to read between the lines. I'm sure with
just a little more sweet talk on my part these sexy knock-outs 'll open up,
if you know what I mean. Cause chicks dig me.

As reviewed by Remembrance
War is an ugly thing. Crime is its younger brother. Yet here we are to
praise, and even abet the work of an Evil Overlord, whose actions will no
doubt lead to pain and misery for oh so many. Oh, my dear brother.
Are we to sit idly by while Chaos perfects his grenade-bot, or wait while
the replacement of the baking soda and vinegar renders the landmine-bot
operational? I weep for the inhabitants of San City, and I will not be a
party to their destruction.

Chicks Dig Jerks
As reviewed by Bliss
At first you think this is one of those softporn games where you wander
around trying to find the right object to give to Beverly Crusher so she'll
boff you in Ten Forward. But then you wake up and find it's a game of scary
graveyard monsters and violence, and you're disgusted yet intrigued by your
past actions. The juxtaposition of what you originally thought you were
playing against what it turns out you are playing serves to shed light not
only on this individual game, but also both the genes of pornographic IF and
zombie graveyard IF. You see, it's as if you ordered one thing from a menu,
but were served something else, and this made you think about that first
thing in a different way. Maybe I'm not making myself clear, here. It has to
do with there being essentially two levels of reality, and you don't see
this until the very end, unless you saw it coming from a mile away the first
time a hint was dropped. Do you understand?

A Day for Soft Food
As reviewed by Winter Wonderland
In a far off land, there lives a charming young cat, the kind that any child
would love to find nestled under the freshly cut northern pine on solstice
morning., her purrs mingling with the crackling of the yule log. With the
thick winter snows lying all about the cat's tiny house, and with the
Provider soundly sleeping in his snug bed, the goal of a warm bowl of soft
food seems despairingly distant. But do not give up hope! For this crafty
feline will perform feats of superanimal intelligence to outwit her
nefarious foe, obtain her heart's desire, and bring peace between herself
and the human who loves her. A charming game, and I should know.

Death To My Enemies
As reviewed by Four Seconds
To truly understand this game, I'll have to telepathically insert myself
into the memories of Thrappy, Doctor Nova's younger brother. No, you can't
see him around here, but it'll still work. Take my word for it. No, there's
no reasonable explanation for this, but it's necessary to get the review
So, as Thrappy I found that I mostly waited around admiring my carnation,
until Doctor Nova's nemesis wandered in and killed me, or made me run away,
or something. At the end of the game my brother died, but I didn't find it
nearly as painful as when I telepathically inserted myself into
Also, in the kitchen there aren't any cabinets. Or lockers, for that matter.

As reviewed by Exhibition
>Please choose a character? MATHEMATICIAN
This game was a superb example of breathing life into esoteric (to some)
mathematical concepts. The thrill of wandering about inside an actual Klein
bottle was matched only by the delight in the skillful implementation of the
matter-antimatter conversion, through a clever set of extensions to the
normal navigational controls. And although the solution to the Hamiltonian
circuit of the maze was evident to me upon first glimpsing the area, enough
clues and alternate solutions were provided such that less gifted players
might also appreciate the beauty of the game. A fine effort. There were also
some jokes.
>Please choose a character? AVERAGE JOE
I ended up blowing up in the desert a lot, and getting lost. I used the
hints a bunch. Lots of parts of the game were funny, though. I wish you
didn't have to kill the bird.
>Please choose a character? BAD ART CRITIC
The self-referential nature of the game, coupled with the unflattering
portrayal of the very people whom the player character is attempting to
impress and the blithe rejection of the 'Home' in the depiction of the
suburbs, lead me to believe that the author of this game is gay.

As reviewed by A Moment of Hope
In this game you take the role of various spectators at an art exhibition.
Each of these spectators has their own distinct viewpoint of each of the
dozen paintings on display. By reading through their eyes a more or less
complete picture arises of the exhibition as a whole, and the life of the
painter responsible.
Ironically, even though one of the reviewers is an art critic, and two
others have intimate knowledge of the painter, all four spectators err
wildly in their interpretations of the artwork. Although the game does not
show the actual pictures, it is clear that they all have a single source of
inspiration and a single deeper meaning.
I was amazed to find as I read through the descriptions that all of these
paintings were so clearly about Anna. In one we see Anna's hidden love for
me, suppressed by society's uncaring rules. In another we see the happiness
that Anna and I could experience together. Anna's idealized portrait of me
is the subject of a third canvas. And so on, through each of them. It is
amusing to see the comments of the viewpoint characters, always skirting
around Anna, the true Muse, never mentioning her by name. I found this very
clever of the game's author.
In a broader sense, I find it interesting that so many of the competition
entries this year seemed to be about Anna in one way or another. As I played
through them I was secretly amused to find all of the barely-hidden
references to Anna, and to me, and to Anna and me together. Nice work,
everyone. But be warned - Anna is mine. She will always be mine.

For A Change
As reviewed by Life on Beal Street
Enter 1 to keep going or 2 to turn back
I loved this game. It reminded me of Shawn. The language is expressive,
artistic, and unlike any game I've seen before. Even the smallest
descriptions hint of a vibrant, complex world just beyond the reach of our
own. The placement of a single object or the calibrated timing of the High
Wall's destruction combine like a catalyst with my own emotions, producing a
masterpiece of fictive interaction.
Enter 1 to keep going or 2 to turn back
> U. 1
I hated this game. It reminded me of Shawn. The landscape is cold and
sterile, with nothing aside from the pure artifice of beauty, beauty which
allows true emotion no purchase in its sculpted surface. Was I always just a
handlefish to him or her? A convenient object to be carried around like a
tool, then casually thrown into the ocean, used against my will for his
amusement? I'm a living being, dammit, and I deserved better.
Enter 1 to keep going or 2 to turn back
> 2
Yeah, whatever.

Four Seconds
As reviewed by Only After Dark
Tria was walking around naked, and she took a shower and everything, with me
standing right there. Man, I finally thought I was going to get laid without
something freaky happening, and then this monster shows up. Suddenly I have
to transform into Mr. Pick-stuff-up-and-move-stuff-around, which was kind of
neat, having opposable thumbs and everything. The end was confusing and
frustrating, though. It's like I had to pick the exact single one thing that
would win the game, or else I died horribly.

Guard Duty
As reviewed by Lunatix
>review gmae
Your logic, although interesting, is flawed.
>examine game
That's a pretty crazy idea, but it didn't work.
>read game
Your efforts result in nothing.
>review game
Guard Duty looks like it could be good, but it's too buggy.

As reviewed by Pass the Banana
Hey, look at me! I've got bananas! I can pass the bananas, or I can try to
eat the bananas, or I can try to drop the bananas! Halothane doesn't have
any bananas! Hey, look at me! I've got in-jokes! Lots of in-jokes! I bet you
can't get all of the in-jokes! (But you can get the bananas! Ha ha!)
Halothane has some in-jokes too, but not as many as me! Hey, look at me!
I've got wacky NPCs! Halothane has some NPCs, but they're not really wacky!
Some of them are interesting! Hey, look at me!

Hunter, in Darkness
As reviewed by SNOSAE
This is the review room, where reviews are kept.
There is a small review here.
There is a microscope here.
s>x review
It's for reading, not for examining.
s>read review
It's too small to read.
s>read review with microscope
There's something not right with the microscope
s>x microscope
It's missing a lens
You are currently carrying the following:
A screwdriver mold
s>Remove glasses. Get ore from left sock. Get blast furnace from right sock.
Smelt ore with blast furnace. Pour molten metal into screwdriver mold.
z.z.z.z.z. get screwdriver from mold. Remove left lens with screwdriver.
Open microscope with screwdriver. Put left lens in microscope. Close
microscope. Read review with microscope.
A voice, seemingly out of thin air, speaks.
"Congratulations, you have made it through the 432nd test. We have
estimated this to be a level [3] test."
The review says: "Hunter, in Darkness, was excellent in every respect."

Jacks or better to murder, Aces to win
As reviewed by Calliope
<Reviewer>: This is my first attempt at reviewing, and I'm not sure I'm
doing it right. I can't really think of anything to say. The game is good.
Wait, that's lame. Ummm....
<Enter Calliope (the Muse, not the game, which is the Reviewer)>
<Calliope>: Get with it. It's just a throwaway review, so you can learn how
to write reviews. Get it done, send it in, and get back to your real work.
Lazy procrastinating bastard.
<Exit Calliope (the Muse, etc.)>
<Reviewer>: This game was a compelling look into an interesting world just
slightly askew from our own. It was refreshing to play a character at the
top of his field, instead of a know-nothing dropout beginning adventurer,
from whom the world expects nothing. The puzzles were fair and well-clued.
I'd love to see a longer work set in this sort of world. Is that ok?
<Voice from offstage>: Fine. Print it.

As reviewed by L.U.D.I.T.E
The words continue to shift gray, but the interest has seemed to taper off.
The game now emits a myriad of refuse, all sharing the same three themes,
through various vehicles: indecipherability, pretension and bad grammar. The
player takes the brunt of this cacophony, letting only the occasional bad
review echo back towards the author only to be squelched by his own
impenetrable membrane. The player scampers off into wholesale retreat. To
the west lies the Oven.

Life on Beal Street
As reviewed by Erehwon
The most fascinating aspect of this game is the underlying structure. At its
heart there is a non-looping tree structure of depth N=5. The root node is
identical in each of the possible stories, but the intermediate nodes and
the leaves are chosen from bins of indeterminate size using a simple
(pseudo-)random algorithm. The player merely chooses when to terminate the
depth-first search of the tree, at which point a terminating node is again
drawn from a bin of possibilities dependent on the depth of the tree
traversal. It seems that choice of story nodes is independent of previous
Obviously the point of this game is to explore the extent of the tree and
attempt to make accurate estimates of the bin size at each level. From there
a calculation of the total number of story paths can be made. In the 'about'
hints the author reveals that this number is 780; hence there is a basis for
checking your answer, and the game can be 'won'. Unfortunately the game
doesn't seem to support this directly - it must be considered more of a
metagame analytical puzzle.
This process would be made easier if the text strings at each tree node were
considerably shorter, and possibly less repetitive. A single identifying
codeword, or even better a number, would have made analysis of this game
more enjoyable.

As reviewed by Spodgeville Murphy and The Jewelled Eye of Wossname
...and so we come to the end of the game, where the character miraculously
takes flight and the old man reverts to his true form, and dies. I found it
a little maudlin, but it fit well with what had come before.
And so the full score for the review is:
2 points out of 3 in the 'bugs' category
1 point out of 4 in the 'interesting play' category
2 points out of 2 for the 'good idea' category
and 0 points out of 1 for the 'lifelike NPCs or other neat stuff' category
For a total score of 5 out of 10.

As reviewed by Six Stories
Mrs. Wilkinson: Now this was a very nice game. A very nice game indeed. And
with nice pretty pictures.
Croatoan: I thought it sucked. The puzzles were too hard, and I kept getting
Mrs. W: Now, Croatoan. We don't use language like that in the Place.
Taro: I confess, the parser left me a bit cold. I may be only a robot, but I
don't like being told I'm crazy all the time.
Fugit: And what was with the umbrella? When you think hypnosis, what do you
think? Pocketwatch! It's not like we've got a lot of lines of work anymore,
you could at least leave hypnotism to us. Maybe a candle, occasionally, for
effect. But an umbrella? Please.
Alethea: I thought it was fun. But then there was a man who tried to kill
me, and that wasn't fun at all. Why do they have to put things like that in
Mrs. W: Some people like games like that, dear.
Croatoan: The more blood and guts the better, I say. Arrr. I just didn't
like the sloppy blurring of the line between fantasy and reality excused by
the introduction of the 'insanity pill', which for me meant that I couldn't
rely upon real-world physics or logic, but I was given no sort of 'insanity
logic' with which to replace it. Thus, rudderless, I could do no more than
wander through the landscape trying all combinations in hopes that some
illogical action would advance the game state.
(all look at Croaton mutely)
Croatoan: Umm... And it needed more pirates! Arrr!

A Moment of Hope
As reviewed by Chaos
I wanted to like this game, but Captain Chaos has a number of problems with
the main character. I, Captain Chaos, thought that he was unsympathetic, and
that's a killing blow for a piece like this. I mean, quit feeling sorry for
yourself! Get over it! Captain Chaos did. You know that you (that is,
Captain Chaos) spent most of his high school years alone, tinkering with
electronics in your basement, trying to build robot friends to replace the
real ones I never had. I didn't even have female friends to fantasize about,
unless you count Maid-bot and Beach-Bunny-bot. But you don't see me, that is
to say you, turning into a whining brat about it, do I? Captain Chaos picked
himself up by my own bootstraps and became an Evil Overlord, you did! So get
with the program.

Music Education
As reviewed by For A Change
The music is gone. It must be brought. You have a saxophone.
The object is music, and production thereof. But this path is clear and ends
in the middle. You are surrounded by boxes of speech with little to say.
They have need of non-mobiles, which can be brought and given freely in
exchange. The campus surrounds you, full of darkness, emptiness, with
meaning elusive. The game a promise makes, and promise shows, but delivery
is thwarted.

On The Farm
As reviewed by Lomalow
>Ask old man about game
"It's a nice game ..."
>Ask old man about game
"Our son would have liked to play it."
>Ask old man about game
"Lots of fun puzzles, lots of stuff for a little boy to do."
>Ask old man about game
"Our son..."
>ask old man about game
"He liked puzzles."
>ask old man about game
"He's dead, you see. You get it?"
>ask old man about son
"I'm insane, too."
>ask old man about insanity
"Totally fricking nuts."
>ask old man about insanity
"Insane to hang around here with that senile old coot in the cabin. I mean,
at least I walk around some. Now this 'Grandma' woman, she seems like a real
firecracker. Yeah, I could fall for her in a big way. Full of life, walking
around, making soup. You know when my wife last cooked? Before our son died.
By the way, our son? He's dead."
>thank old man nicely and walk away slowly
"I'm completely batshit insane, you know."

Only After Dark
As reviewed by Strangers in the Night
Sure, werewolves think they have it tough. Try being a vampire, buddy.
You've got, what, like four rooms you've gotta cover? There's like a hundred
places I can go, and if I try to go to all of them, I end up toasted by the
sun, even if I'm inside. Even if I'm in my own house. Yeah, you've got your
problems - 'evil shaman wants to kill me', 'gotta guess the right verb',
'can't score with Lyca, can't even type "score"'. But at least you interact
with people. At least your rooms have descriptions. Quit whining.

As reviewed by Halothane
"An odd game," the Voice observed, in a doomy voice.
"Indeed, but not half as odd as some that we have seen, yes?" the Author
replied, questioningly. "And not more than twice as odd as some others."
The Voice chuckled at the shared joke. "But indeed, if it were odd it could
not be halved. And if it were halved, then it might or might not become more
"And yet the oddest half of the game is not the half which is odd, but the
half which comes after. Just as the start is only under my control, and the
end even more so," said the Author.
"I suppose so..." said the Voice.
"And again," the Author continued, "in the end we find the end is truly only
the start, whereas the start at the beginning initially seemed to be only an
end. And that makes the middle the least odd part of all!"
"Ah, Author?" asked the Voice.
"Yes?" answered the Author.
"What the hell are you talking about? You're just making this up as you go
along, right? This is some sort of joke?"
"Ah..." the Author said sheepishly. "That is to say, ah, yes."
"Fine. Bollocks this," said the Voice.
[Here the printing stops suddenly]

Pass the Banana
As reviewed by Music Education
I'm not sure I get it. There didn't seem to be much of a goal. The NPCs
didn't seem very realistic. And you couldn't really wander around aimlessly.
But I'm sure the author tried very hard, and maybe it's just me, and other
people will like it a lot more. I liked all the banana parts.

As reviewed by Skyranch
I coldnt get the pgaes to work rite. It looks liek this game is abot war,
wich is cool.

Six Stories
As reviewed by Guard Duty
I was really looking forward to playing this game. Especially after seeing
the size of the downloads required - almost half the size of the whole
competition packet! Obviously, just based on the size, this was going to be
an exciting piece of work, pushing the limits of the HTML-TADS format with
graphics, music, and even full speech. I eagerly opened the game and began
The main body of the game is composed of six stories. Let's see what we have
[Fatal: Illegal Object]

As reviewed by Outsided
This game made me want to hurl myself over a balkony. Only by getting really
drunk could I stomach playing it for the full two hours. But I considered it
my doody. Heh heh. I said "doody". Heh heh. Doody doody doody. Heh.

As reviewed by Beat the Devil
I had thought that Hell would be filled with solvable puzzles, with
conducive replies to solving attempts and a rewarding hint system which
worked with the player instead of against him or her. Boy, was I wrong. This
game gets a lot closer to the ideal of eternal torment than I ever could.
Note to self: hire SNOSAE as subcontractor for "Hell's Parking Garage". If
he does a good job with that one, give him Beelzebub's job.

Spodgeville Murphy and The Jewelled Eye of Wossname
As reviewed by Stone Cell
Ok, this was going to be one review with a lot of details, but I'd like to
split it into nine very tiny reviews
1) Good FULL score; 2) Good whip; 3) Good death scenes; 4) Ledge is missing;
5) This is the middle of the review; 6)Looking into Eye doesn't do anything;
7) Good ZORK reply; 8) Short game; 9) Had fun

Stone Cell
As reviewed by Jacks or better to murder, Aces to win
A fine game, but I couldn't help but be frustrated by the density of the
main character. The author clearly provided enough hints for us to work out
the conspiracy, but the character we're controlling can't seem to put it
together. It's as if she's a helpless automaton, waiting for us to
manipulate her puppet strings.
For example, based on the conversations we observe it is clear that Demora
and Klove are working together to depose Lord Ruecoult, but that Demora has
her own hidden agenda - to place her son Matthew on the throne. Yet Klove's
envy of the Large Guard (who is clearly the mastermind behind the separate
plot to install better lighting throughout the castle, with the aid of Zane
the alchemist / electrician), blinds him to Lurbasz's evident duplicity.
(Lurbasz was the warden of the dungeons. You can look it up.) Indeed, all
that Logastra need do is threaten to expose Matthew's hidden royal
parentage, then use this knowledge to force Demora into releasing the
previous warden of the dungeons, Pietro, and reinstalling him into his
former position. His gratitude could then be exploited for any number of
possible ends. But no-o-o-o, Logastra wanders blindly through all of this,
finally resulting in her achieving her freedom, but very little else. I had
such high hopes for her. Well, there will always be another person to

Strangers in the Night
As reviewed by Hunter, In Darkness
If you're going to remake a classic computer game in the new medium of
interactive fiction, I applaud your efforts. You're in for a tough fight,
both from those who might consider the source material too juvenile and from
those who might hold it in special reverence, deriding any deviations, no
matter how necessary, from the game that they remember with such fondness.
For my own part, for instance, I had to eliminate the beast's sucker feet in
order to have it credibly wield a crossbow. Oh, the mail I'm still getting
over that one.
But I digress. My point is, if you're going to adapt one of the mythic
pillars of our game playing community, you must be extremely careful. I
don't think that Strangers in the Night lives up to its promise.
Consider. First, clearly in SitN you are navigating through a grid. Now, a
grid is indeed a very simple maze, but even the simple mazes found in the
original were orders more complex than this one.
Second, you do indeed have to eat (or in this case, bite), those things that
are edible, for which you score points. It is an interesting twist to
subtract points for eating the same thing twice - the original solved this
problem by merely removing the eaten object from the screen. But I actually
count this an acceptable deviation from the source. However, the quantity of
edible things is far reduced in SitN. I would expect that given the expanded
memory capabilities of today's machines, along with the reduced overhead
from eliminating the graphical presentation, that we could expect to see
more edible objects, not fewer.
Third, SitN includes only one of the traditional four monsters. And although
I read the description carefully, I couldn't even identify which one of the
four the priest was supposed to represent. Perhaps he is a pastiche of all
four ghosts.
In summary, while I can admire the attempt made here, I cannot in good
conscience recommend this game. Strangers in the Night is no Pacman.

Thorfinn's Realm
As reviewed by On The Farm
Pull up that stool and sit a spell. Let me tell ya about adventure games.
Not these new-fangled contraptions with their 'themes' and 'plots', but good
old games about wandering around, stealing stuff and killing bad guys. Back
in my day we didn't have any 'mimesis'. We didn't worry about no
'anachronisms' spoiling the game 'experience'. When we were done working
eighteen hours a day out in the fields, we'd come home, boot up our little
old monochrome computers, and spend another eighteen hours wandering around
through tedious mazes, running out our flashlights, and dropping stuff all
over the fool place just 'cause containers hadn't been invented yet. And we
liked it. Why in tarnation do you think I got it rigged so I have to steal
the spring off my own front door to get my windmill working? Now if that
ain't good enough for you youngsters, then I say go back to your games with
all the purty 'pictures' and the 'involving characters' and the 'endings
that make sense'. Give me a door that slams shut behind me and keeps me from
winning two moves into the game, and I'm happy.

The Water Bird
As reviewed by A Day For Soft Food
There are so few games these days which are truly satisfying for the feline
interactive fiction enthusiast. From the title of this work, I had high
expectations for this one. First, the title promises a bird. Is it too much
to hope that in this game, the bird might actually be caught and eaten? But
there is also danger - Water. The source of life, but in great quantities a
chilling foe. How many otherwise perfectly delightful games have been ruined
by the sudden unwanted incursion of a waterfall, a pool, the ocean, or even
a bathtub. Why must authors feel compelled to introduce such horrific
elements into otherwise "safe" games? I'm not here to dictate others'
tastes. I have come to accept that there is even a small but devoted
audience for such tripe as "Ralph". But warnings could at least be placed
near the start of games, indicating their canine or aqueous content. It is a
small thing to ask.
In any case, I ended up being disappointed by this game. I don't believe I
finished it, but in those rooms which I did visit I saw no sign of any bird.
Not even a few feathers on the arrows. And then to be trapped near that
wretched waterfall, with no escape! Shudder.

Winter Wonderland
As reviewed by Thorfinn's Realm
A nice enough game, I guess. A little wordy. I thought it was cool when you
found the silver coin in the pudding - treasure! But then you have to spend
it on some crappy shoes. I thought maybe the shoes would let you get the boy
out of the bed, so he could follow you around and carry stuff, or maybe you
feed him to a dragon or something. But it doesn't look like it. Later
there's some faeries, and I figured you needed to find something iron to
throw at them so you could get their magic faerie wands, but I couldn't find
anything. The puzzles were pretty hard. I didn't finish. I did like the
maze, though.

If I've made just one person laugh, I'd like to know who that person is.

Mike Snyder

Nov 18, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/18/99
Dave Coleman wrote in message <80vvk2$r0b$1...@autumn.news.rcn.net>...

>If I've made just one person laugh, I'd like to know who that person is.


This was worth staying up late for. :)


Robb Sherwin

Nov 18, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/18/99
On Wed, 17 Nov 1999 23:36:12 -0500, "Dave Coleman"
<balt...@erols.com> wrote:
>If I've made just one person laugh, I'd like to know who that person is.

That, my friend, was *classic*.

>Chicks Dig Jerks
>As reviewed by Bliss
>At first you think this is one of those softporn games where you wander
>around trying to find the right object to give to Beverly Crusher so she'll
>boff you in Ten Forward.

Y'know, while you bring up the subject I've always wondered why more
X-Trek-type games just don't have Kirk bribe McCoy during "Breast
Examination Day" on the Starship Enterprise. I mean, a case of Romulan
Brandy and keys to the Captain's bathroom is really all it would take.

>x scotty

He is a pudgy, Scottish fruit with a willy for engineering.

He is carrying a case of brandy.

>ask scotty about the brandy

He sniffs it. "It's... green." He falls over backwards.

>take the brandy. give it and the keys to McCoy.

McCoy gets on the intercom. "Awhooooo-whoo. This is Doctor McCoy. Lt.
Uhura, please report to sickbay... Lt. Uhura, please report to
sickbay. "

Robb Sherwin, Fort Collins CO
Reviews From Trotting Krips: http://ifiction.tsx.org
Knight Orc Home Page www.geocities.com/~knightorc

David Welbourn

Nov 18, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/18/99
Ohmigod, was that ever funny. You win. I am in awe.
-- David Welbourn

Daniel Schepler

Nov 18, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/18/99
Personally, I thought "Strangers in the Night is no Pacman" was
Daniel Schepler "Please don't disillusion me. I
sche...@math.berkeley.edu haven't had breakfast yet."
-- Orson Scott Card

John Walsh

Nov 18, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/18/99

> ====================================================
> If I've made just one person laugh, I'd like to know who that person is.
> ====================================================

It is I.


Nov 18, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/18/99
In article <6oMY3.7561$BW6.1...@typhoon2.kc.rr.com>,

"Mike Snyder" <wy...@prowler-pro.com> wrote:
> Dave Coleman wrote in message <80vvk2$r0b$1...@autumn.news.rcn.net>...
> ====================================================
> >If I've made just one person laugh, I'd like to know who that person
> >====================================================
> This was worth staying up late for. :)
> Mike.

Agreed! I vote you make this an annual thing ;)

Though I'd like to see your regular results too.


Sent via Deja.com http://www.deja.com/
Before you buy.

Andrew Plotkin

Nov 18, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/18/99
Dave Coleman wins.


(Nitpick: the Wumpus in _Hunter_ has sucker feet; they're just never


(This is not a completely empty statement. The critter moves over pits and
down sheer cave walls -- never while you're present, but you can tell it
must have. And in one plot variation, you see it clinging to the pit


"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the

Dave Coleman

Nov 18, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/18/99
Andrew Plotkin wrote in message <8115cl$p7v$4...@nntp6.atl.mindspring.net>...

>(Nitpick: the Wumpus in _Hunter_ has sucker feet; they're just never
>(This is not a completely empty statement. The critter moves over pits and
>down sheer cave walls -- never while you're present, but you can tell it
>must have. And in one plot variation, you see it clinging to the pit

Mea culpa.

I'd like to know how to get to the 'Wumpus stuck to the wall' scene, though.


J.D. Berry

Nov 18, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/18/99
In article <80vvk2$r0b$1...@autumn.news.rcn.net>,
"Dave Coleman" <balt...@erols.com> wrote:

This was fantastic! I'm glad I entered just so my game could
review and be reviewed by another game. I'll be laughing for
a long time to come over these. Great job, Dave!



Mike Snyder

Nov 18, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/18/99
Dave Coleman <balt...@erols.com> wrote in message

--- spoiler space ---

> Lunatix
> As reviewed by Six Stories

> Fugit: And what was with the umbrella? When you think hypnosis, what do
> think? Pocketwatch! It's not like we've got a lot of lines of work
> you could at least leave hypnotism to us. Maybe a candle, occasionally,
> effect. But an umbrella? Please.

The umbrella had a spiral pattern, which when turned slowly, produces one of
those tunnel-like effects which I thought was always associated with "cheap
hollywood hypnosis." Somebody pointed out elsewhere that it's like the
penguin's umbrella in Batman. I wanted to allude to this by the "horizontal
black and white striped pattern" upon examination which (I hoped) would
cause the player to mentally view it opened and see a spiral. Actually, I
had completely rational reasons for all the puzzles, and they've gotten a
mixed response (too difficult... too arbitrary... the right degree of
difficulty... not original... maybe even not very difficult).

Thanks for a WONDERFUL and hilarious post! I was not only laughing *out
loud* at *many* points, but I was often gasping for breath!!! I'm amazed at
how the generic errors from the review "by" Lunatix actually make your
point. They all work. I'm amazed at how well it works! Wonderful idea!
Wonderful post!

As other(s) have said already, I'd like to see your "normal" review as well
if you're up to it.

Thanks, and KUDOS again!!!!!


Lucian Paul Smith

Nov 18, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/18/99
Dave Coleman (balt...@erols.com) wrote:

: I'd like to know how to get to the 'Wumpus stuck to the wall' scene, though.


Shoot the wumpus in the first scene, then go down the pit. The maze
puzzle changes, too.



Nov 18, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/18/99
In article <80vvk2$r0b$1...@autumn.news.rcn.net>,
"Dave Coleman" <balt...@erols.com> wrote:
> ====================================================
> If I've made just one person laugh, I'd like to know who that person
> ====================================================

This was great. Lotsa laffs. I didn't see the Pacman thing coming.
Spewage ensued.

Stephen Kodat

Nov 18, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/18/99
2536 8691 right

__ Francis Christmas __ __chrome Mr. _

formerly "Middle Edge"

Re: [COMP99] Comp99 Reviews, by the Comp99 Games Walkthrough

1) The numbers vary, so they obviously stand for "very, very"

2) Well, the right knee is a fun knee, so "right" clearly means "funny" (but
"right" also means "correct" or "true")

3) Fill in the blanks (St., Eve, Koda, T) and it spells "Steve Kodat"

4) Do you wish to read the long-winded explanation of the nickname? [Y/N]

> N

5) Notice that space before the walkthrough? (What? You didn't examine every
space?) It was too small, which spoiled the solution, hence it's "[Spoiler

Adam Cadre

Nov 18, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/18/99
Some of these were funny, some not so much, but the review of Six
Stories by Guard Duty was flat-out hilarious.

Adam Cadre, Sammamish, WA


Nov 18, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/18/99
Thank you Mr. Coleman. I have not laughed that loudly in weeks. Weeks.
I'm still giggling.

Ian Finley

Adam J. Thornton

Nov 19, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/19/99
If I've made just one person laugh, I'd like to know who that person is.

Me, for one.

That was even funnier than pinching a loaf in Outsided.

"My eyes say their prayers to her / Sailors ring her bell / Like a moth
mistakes a light bulb / For the moon and goes to hell." -- Tom Waits

J.D. Berry

Nov 19, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/19/99
In article <3834BE...@adamcadre.ac>,

re...@adamcadre.ac wrote:
> Some of these were funny, some not so much, but the review of Six
> Stories by Guard Duty was flat-out hilarious.

My laugh out louds were Thorfinn's Realm reviewed by On The Farm,
On The Farm by Lomalow and Music Education by For A Change.

"The music is gone. It must be brought. You have a saxophone."

Is Stephen going to add these to his review page? I hope so.


Dave Coleman

Nov 19, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/19/99
bre...@hotmail.com wrote in message <8116lp$sh6$1...@nnrp1.deja.com>...

>In article <6oMY3.7561$BW6.1...@typhoon2.kc.rr.com>,
> "Mike Snyder" <wy...@prowler-pro.com> wrote:
>> Dave Coleman wrote in message <80vvk2$r0b$1...@autumn.news.rcn.net>...
>> ====================================================
>> >If I've made just one person laugh, I'd like to know who that person
>> >====================================================
>> This was worth staying up late for. :)
>> Mike.
>Agreed! I vote you make this an annual thing ;)
>Though I'd like to see your regular results too.

As good a place as any to tack on a reply.

Thanks for the kind words, all, especially the authors. I'm happy to give
back a little.

As to making it an annual thing... That might be overdoing the joke. This
year was different from last year, so why should next year be the same?

Thanks again,


Dave Coleman

Nov 19, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/19/99
J.D. Berry wrote in message <813nb8$n0p$1...@nnrp1.deja.com>...

>In article <3834BE...@adamcadre.ac>,
> re...@adamcadre.ac wrote:
>> Some of these were funny, some not so much, but the review of Six
>> Stories by Guard Duty was flat-out hilarious.
>My laugh out louds were Thorfinn's Realm reviewed by On The Farm,
>On The Farm by Lomalow and Music Education by For A Change.

Including email replies, that puts it at two for the reviews of On The Farm,
Strangers in the Night, and Music Education, with one each for Six Stories,
Guard Duty and Thorfinn's Realm.

Not that I'm keeping track or anything.


Ryan Stevens

Nov 19, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/19/99
"Language is a virus sent from outer space" -- William S Burroughs

Communication is the root of civilization, a deep turbid root,
corrupted through age and aversion. True, the isolated hermit may go
years without talking, but an internal monologue is always forthcoming.
What of the lost child raised by wolves/apes/butterflies in isolation who
knows no human language? Socrates answers this question: The unexamined
life is not worth living. And living is what humans do. Life and death
is the great binaric variable, only life and death are absolutes. The
journey in-between is living.
The greatest tool on this journey, in both a collective and
personal sense, is language, outweighing the wheel by leaps and bounds and
putting fire to shame. Language granted these latter items their
existence, first through oral hand-me down's and later with written word.
Technology is cumulative; starting from scratch for each new idea or
invention would be futile. Individually, it allows singularities to be
explained away, to court and in turn propagate, and other such items.
Without it comfort, family and sentience would have escaped the human
race. Still, language has taken something in return for its help in
securing the domineering seat in the food chain. A Faustian tale of
trading innocence for power. Pure thought can not be represented through
phonetic utterances, as the transition from soul to brain to mouth leaves
a less perfect copy with each transfer. Did the human race trade its soul
for language? Faulkner's deep glimpse into the microcosm of the Bundren
family delivers a haunting bisection, dealing with the ideas that shape
life, and to complete it, death as well.
All the characters have a unique voice and the reader is privy to
their thoughts. There is near omniscient Darl, narrating scenes in which
he is not even present. With his sudden descent into madness, his mind
schisms, giving perhaps a floating consciousness responsible for the
entire novel, and if so, the title as well. Darl's mind also speaks a
scattered baroque prose, fusing ornate adjectives with shibboleths. Until
the chronological point in which he malfunctions, he is Faulkner's avatar:
he explains the bits no one can (and in some places) or be able to. When
his psyche passes, the role, oddly enough, falls on Cash. In terms of
thinking patterns, Cash and Darl are almost symmetric inverses. Up to
this point Cash had been the most direct character, thus the simplest.
His dialogue had nicely coincided with his mind speech: direct and to the
point. The first time his thoughts are placed out, it's in an orderly,
direct list. The next time he's showcased, he's arguing a point, rolling
his solution over and over in his head, the narrative only being
interrupted by dialogue, the spoken word, and ending it in mid -- if
continuous -- thought. It's not until we see his lust of music
(interesting within itself) that he goes from being a "point-A-to-point-B"
person. He can indeed harbor an alternative motive and walk a crooked
line, which he shall, literally, for the rest of his life with his
shortened leg. In fact, it's not till he breaks his leg that his internal
whisper breaks its strict model and Cash becomes more flawed, more human.
A lingering question is that, conceivably, his injury, and its prolonged
correction, has caused him to be stricken with a fever. The fever, or at
least the endless pain, has broken his routine, cracked into his humanity.
Both insanity and fever had forced some unique narratives.
Dr. Timothy Leary had a wish to create universal insanity and thus
usher in a common era of understanding. While this idea is crackpot as
best, there have been some keen observations on this theory. Most
shaman-based cultures use hallucinogens as ritual. The Yanamamo Indians
of Central America snort hallucinogens to visit their gods and to become
closer with their tribe. In the film Altered States, it shows Mexican
Indians using drugs to relive a shared history and memory. Noam Chomsky,
M.I.T. linguist, has been arguing for years that grammar is embedded in
DNA, the very blue prints of life. There have been arguments that
insanity can just be a different perceived reality, but notwithstanding,
it is very peculiar to see how the words mesh the paper after Darl's and
Cash's incidents.
Just as fever and insanity gives the mind a styled matrix to plan
thought upon, religion also offers its unique mind helmet. Both Cora, the
righteous Christian lady and Moseley, the oh-so moral pharmacist, as well
as a smattering of other one-chapter appearances, have their thoughts
constantly being grind through a particular mind syntax, so conditioned
are they to the words of god. They wear this filter as easily as Cash
first wore his. Fervent religion ardor and insanity: dangerous
comparisons could be drawn.
The book treats the rough translation of thought fairly. The
dialogue, after becoming accustomed to the regional phonetics, is by far
the easiest to read. Next are Cash's initial thoughts, as they compare
favorably to their spoken counterparts. As the hierarchy increases, an
interesting subdivision is found, in Dewey Dell's chapter concerning her
unborn child. At the end she goes through her wordless conversation with
Darl, in which he discovers that she is pregnant. This telepathic
instance is easily one of the most lucid moments of the book, though not
one of the easiest. The previous sentence seems contradictory, but in
fact, it must be remembered it is represented to the reader through
language, all they can do is grasp at the thought's frayed edges.
Simplicity and pureness are not equals.
To sidestep for a moment, it is of interest to look at the
termite. Somewhat recently, it has been discovered that they can
communicate through low level electric fields held between them for
constant and accurate teamwork. Telepathy? on some level, yes. The human
brain hums electric as well. Telepathy is a definite step up from the
spoken word, even with words running on the front burner of the mind. In
that corruption, innocence is lost.
As the youngest child, Vardaman grants a most unique aside on the
whole issue. His infamous, enigmatic, "My Mother is a fish." Chapter is
perhaps a divine interoperation of child thought and of language's
boundaries. So few words give little to toil over, but make it more
vague. It's an oxymoron but true, the more complex things are simpler to
comprehend as they contain more facets to break down. The simpler
something is, it becomes more vague to pinpoint definite truths. How far
can the child's mind delve? Could something eldritch hide behind their
limited vocabulary, their innocence being pushed into random fragments and
casual comments? Answers are not forthright, but Vardaman's other
chapters back up his stylized thoughts and actions in a personalized
Despite all of the above points, it all boils down to Addie's
chapter, in which both key and cipher are obtained. In eight very
massive pages, Addie comes out and says, "words are no good; that words
dont (sic) even fit even what they are trying to say at." She continues
in her linguistics with talk about love, a word she shared with Anse, and
also "love," a separate entity: the feeling she shared with Cash, her
blood. Earlier in the chapter she talks of how she hated her school
children and would unwind listening to the silence of humans, only the
bubbling water, the sounds of nature. At one point the book leaves a
trail of spaces, as there is something Addie can't describe in words, and
dare not even try, she just gives it its silent place on the page.
Darl's birth had been a trick, a trick of words: a trick of language.
Still, she incorporated him into her being, cleansing his name and Cash's.
Language is not real; blood is. From her intrusive whippings of the
school children, to the mingling of bloods found in the volatile Jewel
(silent unless provoked, he feeds on passion,) Addie knew blood was real,
blood was life. The only words she would trust would be from after death,
the words of her father: The reason for living is getting ready to stay
dead. Perhaps the one mistake she made was telling Anse it would be
difficult to talk to her relatives, they being in the cemetery. The dead
our possibly the easiest people to talk to in the entire world.
Addie's chapter churns up much material, but it is too easy to
stay with the puzzle and forget the rest. Her gospel is cleverly sneaked
in at about the halfway point as a taunt. The reader has waded through
some thick words, just to have the author use the (seemingly?) central
icon to tell the reader the very medium they are gazing at is fallacy. It
can be difficult to continue when the magic chest has been opened halfway
through. Yet, even with the key, the cipher is not quite solvable. On so
many levels, so many things will continue to boggle and perplex. Words
wouldn't allow it to be any other way.
"Anything which has been named has lost its innocence." -- Jean-Paul

/ -\--- Rotund ! "Live long & | daye...@digivill.net
(/ ) Pigeon \00_| sod off!!!" |meat space: Bennington, VT
\o-o/ _||_ Riot Nrrrd | www.puSHove.com

Stephen Granade

Nov 20, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/20/99
J.D. Berry <jdb...@my-deja.com> writes:

> In article <3834BE...@adamcadre.ac>,
> re...@adamcadre.ac wrote:
> > Some of these were funny, some not so much, but the review of Six
> > Stories by Guard Duty was flat-out hilarious.
> My laugh out louds were Thorfinn's Realm reviewed by On The Farm,
> On The Farm by Lomalow and Music Education by For A Change.

> "The music is gone. It must be brought. You have a saxophone."

> Is Stephen going to add these to his review page? I hope so.

Oh my, yes. I'm hoping to get caught up with all of the reviews by the
end of the weekend.

At this rate I'll have to break the reviews page into several, sorted


Stephen Granade | Interested in adventure games?
sgra...@phy.duke.edu | Visit About.com's IF Page
Duke University, Physics Dept | http://interactfiction.about.com


Nov 22, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/22/99
In article <8145jc$m0b$1...@autumn.news.rcn.net>,

"Dave Coleman" <balt...@erols.com> wrote:
> J.D. Berry wrote in message <813nb8$n0p$1...@nnrp1.deja.com>...
> >In article <3834BE...@adamcadre.ac>,
> > re...@adamcadre.ac wrote:
> >> Some of these were funny, some not so much, but the review of Six
> >> Stories by Guard Duty was flat-out hilarious.
> >
> >My laugh out louds were Thorfinn's Realm reviewed by On The Farm,
> >On The Farm by Lomalow and Music Education by For A Change.
> Including email replies, that puts it at two for the reviews of On The Farm,
> Strangers in the Night, and Music Education, with one each for Six Stories,
> Guard Duty and Thorfinn's Realm.

Please add one extremely emphatic vote for your review of Outsided. Lord,
that was the mother of all screams. You managed to _perfectly_ capture the
mock-pomposity of Halothane's printed notes. I also liked Music Education,
Beal Street - oh, hell, the whole bag. Great work. We need stuff like this to
lighten up.

Quentin.D.Thompson. [The 'D' is a variable.]
Lord High Executioner Of Bleagh
(Formerly A Cheap Coder)

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