Rob M's reviews

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Nov 16, 2006, 3:23:29 AM11/16/06
Well, these are mostly brief comments, based on my scribbled notes from
playing, followed by general comments from how I remember it now. Note,
I didn't play a large chunk of the entries, so if your game wasn't a
z-code game, it's probable that I didn't get to it.

I'll try to do the non Z-code games first, but I'm not referring back to
the games, so I may mis-align one - oh, and as an author in the
competition, my ratings didn't count against you:

Tentellian Island - 4
Scribbed notes: Buggy. No save or undo. You get a knife, but cutting
anything other than the fish appears to crash the game. Why does the red
crystal stop the blue bulbs?

General comments: Considering this is coded from scratch with no prior
platform support, I'm probably judging it fairly harshly. The multiple
endings are nice, but I had to resort to reading the source to find them.

Huh?! Is this like Sisyphus?

Requiem - 7
Hmmm. Bit railroady, but there's a few choice points.

General comments: Huh? Was that all I wrote? I quite liked this one,
enough to play it to conclusion, but I did have to resort to the
walkthrough for substantial portions... I found a number of
unsatisfactory endings fairly quickly, but doubt I would have found the
real ending without help. Otherwise, competently put together, and an
interesting hook, although surely there's a paradox in here if you get
the optimum ending.

Simple Adventure - 3
Argh. You can't die so what's the point of the fights? Why is everywhere
dark? Can you talk to anyone?

General comments: I finished this by accident. Much of the game was
dark, as I couldn't work out how to light the lantern. But I found the
sword, found the dragon, and killed it, without really learning why I
was doing any of it.

Aunts And Butlers - 7
Doesn't work in Firefox. Otherwise pretty competent. There's a maze
which at least isn't mazelike. I don't get he underground search for
clothes at all!

General comments: Another one I liked. There was enough amusing to keep
me interested, even if I had to resort to the walkthrough for large
chunks of it.

Swordsman - 9
Well, that was cool. Unusual phrasing worked. Easy-ish puzzled.
Non-obvious ending.

General comments: I very nearly managed to finish this one without the
walkthrough. There were a couple of things that tripped me up (I missed
one of the doors to the barn, and I didn't think of using the broken
sail to climb the windmill) but otherwise, I thoroughly enjoyed this
one. In fact it was my number 3 game of the competition.

And now the Z-code games, in the order I played them:

The Apocalypse Clock - 5
Very buggy. Nasty time limit. Spelling mistakes, otherwise ok. Towel joke.

General comments: This was the first towel joke I found in the
competition. I stumbled into the tunnel through the picture but couldn't
get back out, the direction didn't work. With some bug fixing and
polishing, this could be a reasonable game.

Bible Retold - 7
Competently coded, couple of amusing moments, very close to source
material. Town based on book of Mark is a bar steward.

General comments: Okay, other than the book of Mark bit, I liked this
entry. And that's even though I didn't like the source material. I'm
usually pretty dense when it comes to puzzles, and this one had me
stumped a lot of the time. The Book of Mark town felt like an arbitrary
maze with no benefit. The sheep was cool.

Fight Or Flight - 9
Pretty good NPCs. Some tension, but it appears to be false - can you get
killed? Well written, nearly navigable. I still don't get why Sydney
gets the brick? Nice choice of alternatives, but the walkthrough for
"flight" doesn't seem to work.

General comments: Okay, I admit it, I liked this one. It was my top
choice out of the games I played. Yes, it has a few flaws - the NPCs are
well differentiated, and they're a bit bland after the initial discovery
scenes are over - but I liked the ambition in this one. The whole choice
between staying and fighting or running away was clear, but as commented
above, I couldn't get the running away ending - I always died short of
the road. The fight ending was fun though.

Strange Geometries - 9
Well written, non obvious, another game that left the scoring enabled!
Tough - not sure I'd have finished in 2 hours. Can you be killed? No
hints / help.

General comments: Again, I quite liked this, but had to resort to the
walkthrough for large chunks. I'm not sure the ending was clued well
enough to make sense. The start felt very Cthulhu like, but whether that
was the intent or not, I'm unsure.

Hedge - 8
Minor error - overrode the "hit bouncer" but didn't stop the action.
Very fuzzy backstory. Otherwise good.

General comments: I resorted to the walkthrough for most of this, being
particularly dense as to puzzle solutions. There were a few scenes that
made no sense whatsoever, even as a buildup to the ending, and the
backstory didn't appear to be clued strongly enough for me to know what
was supposed to be going on.

Labyrinth - 6
Competently coded. Bar steward to map. Don't really get it.

General comments: Okay, I admit it, I resorted to the walkthrough for
this entire game. The textual descriptions of the rooms and the rotation
of them left me completely confused and I couldn't translate them into a
3D model I actually understood. This was probably really clever, but I
just didn't get it.

Legion - 7
Interesting. Sort of vaguely follow it.

General comments: I got stuck fairly early on. Maybe I couldn't get into
the right mindset. Nice, alien PC, but interaction appeared difficult at
first - I never really got the hang of this one although I did try.
Eventually resorted to the walkthrough and enjoyed the storyline.

Madam Spider's Web - 8
Pretty easy, even I solved it. No obvious flaws.

General comments: Okay, I resorted to the hints for one puzzle - the
snake in the bath which I felt wasn't clued - but otherwise this was a
really nice game. The transition back to real life was still a little
harsh, as I blundered over the clues and missed their relation back to
the car crash. The rat in the loft was lovely.

Man Alive Part 1 - 6
Feels very railroad-ey.

General comments: Yes, I resorted to the walkthrough for much of this. I
couldn't find the front garden so came to an almost complete dead end on
the "cheering people up" puzzle. But the sheer exuberance of the PC kept
me plugging away, so I guess it was a good choice of source material!

Man Alive Part 2 - 4
Very, very railroady.

General comments: This one just didn't do it for me. It was horribly
railroaded, gave very little options for interactivity, and just didn't
feel as exuberant as the first part. Maybe it would have worked as part
of a single game instead of standing on its own, but I still don't
understand why this was split in two.

Mobius - 8
This is fun, if evil. I like the technical status line. Must have been a
bar steward to code (time limit used to to keep tracking table small?).

General comments: This was just hard. I liked it, but struggled to get
anywhere, and the interactions between objects from one loop to another
didn't seem to make logical sense. Once I resorted to the walkthrough, I
couldn't follow why I could reach through closed objects because of
previous iterations.

Moon-Shaped - 9
It's little red riding hood. Or a werewolf game! Competently written so
far. Hansel & Gretel, Red Riding Hood, Wolf-curse.

General comments: How could I not be predisposed to like this. I spotted
the werewolf motif almost immediately, but I was predisposed to see it,
and started referring to this as "the other werewolf game". There's a
couple of oddities that make me think it started as a coding exercise
(the mushroom lifted verbatim from Ruins), and there were a couple of
bugs around finding the path through the thorns, but otherwise I didn't
have to struggle too much for the first half of this. The ending wrapped
everything up neatly. This was probably my fourth favourite game.

Pathfinder - 5
Lots of guess the verb. Railroaded - but that's the point.

General comments: Okay, didn't like this one. Yes, it was reasonably
competently put together, but I didn't like anyone in it, and the ending
made little sense. I pretty much resorted to the walkthrough from the
murder onwards and didn't feel like letting up. The old fashioned PC
puzzle didn't make much sense, and frying an electric fence with some
snow seems unlikely.

Polendina - 4
well that's cheery! And way too guess the phrasing specific. And
anticlimactic. And just plain tired.

General comments: None - I don't remember this game at all...

The Primrose Path - 9
Really quite elegant, but where does the PC begin and the player end - a
little muddled on that point. The rain was lovely. And I don't get the
"Irene's father/Ivy" ending.

General comments: My number two game. Yes the ending was muddled, but
otherwise I really liked this one. The stopping time in the rain puzzle
was absolutely my favourite scene of the competition. The endings need a
whole bunch of polish as they don't really flow from the rest of the
game, and there's a couple of breaking-the-fourth-wall moments that
don't appear to make sense.

Game Producer - 4
Okay, not great. Annoying. Solution doesn't work.

General comments: The walkthrough was fixed for the specific character
selections at the start, and I picked the wrong ones. The keeping awake
timer puzzles just annoyed me very quickly. I just don't want to play
this any further.

Sisyphys - 1
Is this a one joke game?

Star City - 5
Nice feeling around in darkness bit. Feels like lunar lander! Still
can't win it!

General comments: Great up until the lunar lander bit that I just could
not solve. I tried several times, even trying to follow the walkthrough
suggestions, but smashed into the planet every single time... which just
turned me off. This would probably have received a better grade if the
ending was easier to follow.

The Tower Of The Elephant - 8
Competent adaptation. 2 paths, 1 endgame. NPC relatively thin. Spider

General comments: Okay, yes, I'm not a bit fan of adaptations, but this
was pretty good. It got a bit railroad-ey when you made it into the
tower, but the fight with the spider-thing was really nice. I didn't
feel the desire to go back and play through the alternate path, as very
little appeared to be different.

So, there we are... that's all I played. I started Delightful Wallpaper,
but only played it for about 2 minutes before taking a break and never
coming back to it, so I didn't feel competent to judge it.

Otherwise, pretty good competition. I'm completely satisfied with
finishing in the top half considering the deficiencies I can see with my
own entry, especially considering the quality of entries this year. But
my own entry deserves its own post. So to recap my top three:

1. Fight Or Flight
2. The Primrose Path
3. The Traveling Swordsman.


Andrew Plotkin

Nov 16, 2006, 1:05:08 PM11/16/06
Here, Rob <> wrote:
> Hedge - 8
> Minor error - overrode the "hit bouncer" but didn't stop the action.
> Very fuzzy backstory. Otherwise good.
> General comments: I resorted to the walkthrough for most of this, being
> particularly dense as to puzzle solutions. There were a few scenes that
> made no sense whatsoever, even as a buildup to the ending, and the
> backstory didn't appear to be clued strongly enough for me to know what
> was supposed to be going on.

This would be the surreal-world puzzle game genre that I've heard so
much about. Sly back-references do not make a story, however. And you
can ignore most of the surreal stuff in your stumble to the ending,
which leaves me without any desire to go back and look at it again.


"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the borogoves..."
Bush's biggest lie is his claim that it's okay to disagree with him. As soon as
you *actually* disagree with him, he sadly explains that you're undermining
America, that you're giving comfort to the enemy. That you need to be silent.

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