[COMP99] Review Time!

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Craxton

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Nov 16, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/16/99
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Hiyas! Well, it was an impressive Comp this year. It's 1AM and I'm not up
for writing a big intro to this post, so let's just get right to it: First a
breakdown of my scores, then the reviews. These are not full reviews, just
little "capsule" reviews... general thoughts on the games. Hopefully my
criticism will be somewhat helpful.

And awaaaaaay we go!

----------------------------

Games Rated a 10
----------------
Lunatix
A Day For Soft Food
Halothane

Games Rated a 9
---------------
Winter Wonderland

Games Rated an 8
----------------
Chaos
A Moment of Hope
Beat The Devil
Lomalow

Games Rated a 7
---------------
Six Stories
Jacks or better to murder, Aces to win

Games Rated a 6
---------------
Calliope
Bliss
King Arthur's Night Out

Games Rated a 5
---------------
Only After Dark
Remembrance
On The Farm
Music Education

Games Rated a 4
---------------
The Water Bird
Strangers In The Night
The HeBGB Horror!
Four Seconds

Games Rated a 3
---------------
Death To My Enemies
Exhibition
Chicks Dig Jerks
Stone Cell
Life On Beal Street

Games Rated a 2
---------------
Spodgeville Murphy and The Jewelled Eye of Wossname
For A Change
Hunter, In Darkness
Erehwon

Games Rated a 1
---------------
Thorfinn's Realm
L.U.D.I.T.E.
Pass The Banana
Outsided
SNOSAE
Skyranch

Games Not Receiving a Rating
----------------------------
Guard Duty


1: "Chaos"
Rating: 8
A solid game. Very user-friendly, with side-puzzles and various things
that can be done just for the hell of it. The puzzles are very
intuitive, the interface clean. Bonus points for little things like
third-person narration and the control-bot, but the humor was kind of
flat. Lacks the inspiration of an A-list game, but still enjoyable.
If this is a prequel, I look forward to the finished product.

2: "Lunatix"
Rating: 10
If the purpose of entering this game was to promote the engine,
mission accomplished. The engine works extremely well, and the
illustrations help the player to visualize the surroundings. Having
the room descriptions in a seperate window is a good idea as well. No
more typing "LOOK" or scrolling up whenever you forget what's in the
room. The puzzles, most especially the first, are tough but fair.
The plot is a bit thin, but it works. More then anything, the game
reminds me of Shadowgate, which I have fond memories of. All in all,
excellant work.

3: "Death To My Enemies"
Rating: 3
Ummm... Okaaaaaaay...

4: "The Water Bird"
Rating: 5
Needs work. Seems to lack depth. Exploring the village and reading the
footnotes is kinda fun, but the game didn't really hold my interest.
Loses points for a kinda unfinished feel, and several bugs,
including one that stops the game cold. It's a really stupid bug,
too... the kind a cursory beta-test would easily catch. Up to that
point it was okay, though.

5: "Thorfinn's Realm"
Rating: 1
First off, it's a ADVENT clone, which is minus two points already: one
for no plot and one for no originality. Well, okay, there is the time
machine, but that's just a fancy enterance/exit to the rest of the
game- little relevance to the game itself. The second I stepped out of
the second room I had the door lock behind me, making the game
unwinnable. Of course, I didn't realize the game was now unwinnable
until I looked at the walkthrough. (Minus a third point) I knew I was
in for one of *those* games when I then immediately faced a twisty
maze. (Minus another point) After conquering the maze, I came to a
castle, which was totally dark, even where the room descriptions
indicated windows. Soon after I learned that the flashlight has
exhaustable batteries, and -according to the walkthrough- only one
place to get new ones. (Minus another point. The game is now down to
5, and barely ten minutes have elapsed.) Solving a few simple puzzles
yielded the first treasure- a necklace- only to discover that I
couldn't take it. I was already at the maximum inventory limit- four
items! (Minus one and a half points- a limit is annoying enough, but a
low limit means irritating back-and-forth to pick up important items
that you had to drop elsewhere.) I got the necklace, but was then
forced to give it up when the (randomized) Viking showed up. (Minus
half a point- only half, because you can retrieve it later on) At
more or less this point I decided to give up, but then relented and
tried to tackle the game again with the walkthrough. I found that the
room descriptions didn't mention several key exits (Minus another
point). Being a bit clearer on the exits might have made me feel less
hemmed in, and allowed me to have more patience with the game. Even
WITH the walkthrough, I eventually quit entirely, because I mislaid
an important item and didn't see the purpose in going back through
the whole frustratingly uninteresting game (Minus a ninth and final
point, BTW) to retrieve it.

I know, I know. It would be more helpful and polite to the authors if
I could say something constructive about their game. But the thing is,
if you try to clone a game that's twenty years old, the result will
not be a runaway hit game. Even if the genre is still around, it will
have been advancing and evolving for two decades, and many of the
fundamental theories of design will have changed. Dungeon-crawling
treasure hunts became obsolete years ago. Get with the program, son.

6: "Only After Dark"
Rating: 5
A solid, if lackluster work. A nice game, but insubstantial. Feels
rushed and thinly developed. Doesn't leave much of a lasting
impression. Good use of colored text, though. A fine first attempt.

7: "Spodgeville Murphy and The Jewelled Eye of Wossname"
Rating: 2
Last year, we got several one-room games, most notably "Dilly" and
"Enlightenment." Both were inventive games, frustrating at times, but
ultimately satisfying. This clone is one-room, but the author forgot
the ease of use, the attention to detail, and the fun. This game is
unresponsive and uninteresting. See, the problem with one-roomers is
that they give the player a very heavy sense of confinement and
powerlessness. You have to give him a lot of stuff to interact with
meaningfully, otherwise he gets bored and plays something else. Since
you can't make a one-roomer expansive, you have to make it deep. This
game isn't deep. It's shallow, frustrating, and boring. No hints,
either!

And how the HELL do I get through the roof? Yes, I tried TAKE ALL, I
*still* can't figure it out.

8: "Remembrance"
Rating: 5
For some reason, this didn't make much of an impression on me. It
seemed like someone attempted to clone Photopia, but left out the
detail and real emotion. Unlike in Photopia, where you got a detailed
picture of the main character, the main character is rather indistinct
here. I didn't find myself caring. And the outcome was predictable
from the start, unlike in Photopia where it kinda snuck up on you. In
fairness, I got the feeling I was missing the point here, so I could
be wrong...

9: "Lomalow"
Rating: 8
Now THIS is an interesting approach. Instead of solving puzzles, your
purpose is to gather information- figurative pieces to a big puzzle.
Once you have them all, you win. Scores big points for detail and ease
of use. Not perfect, though. Loses a few points for some
trickily-hidden pieces, some of them shouldn't be strictly necessary.
(Is it really necessary to know how old the animals are?) And,
although the story eventually makes sense, it seems vague and
insubstantial, with several loose ends. I wrestled over over giving
this an 8 or a 9, finally deciding on an 8. But this is an interesting
concept that deserves more exploration. Possibly this design could
work for a whodunit caper or somesuch.

10: "Strangers in the Night"
Rating: 4
Don't let the low rating fool you. I actually liked this game quite a
bit, not for what was there, but for what could potentially be there.
At present this game seems very hollow- It's your standard
treasure-hunt, albeit with an intriguing twist. Nothing special. But
the author states in the readme that the game is unfinished, and
that's what got me excited. This is a very unique concept for I-F, and
there's a lot then can be done with it between now and final release.
The author mentions fleshing out the game with more points of interest
and more people to interact with. Cool. Even better, give the victims
themselves more substance. More ways to interact with them then just
biting. Let the player learn something about their victims before
biting them. Perhaps the vampire has supernatural powers? Maybe he
could "turn" his victims? Perhaps the design lends itself to multiple
successful endings? A number of innovations could be introduced here.
The game has massive potential. I encourage the author to play around
with this concept, and I wait patiently for the final release.

11: "A Day for Soft Food"
Rating: 10
One of very few games that kept me interested for the whole two-hour
limit. An interesting twist on a puzzle idea that dates back to
Planetfall- the search for food. The twist- you're a cat, and although
you fill your stomach soon, it's bland, dry food, and you want SOFT
food. The author does a good job of capturing a feline point of view.
The plot is well-organized, the interface solid and bug-free, and the
hint system easy-to-use. Some real inventive puzzles here, even if
they are a bit complex for a cat to realistically solve.

12: "Calliope"
Rating: 6
Another good idea. A nice little short story, competantly coded and
well written. I like the concept, it could use some exploration. I
wish the author could have gone on a bit more, but the story works at
the present length.

13: "For A Change"
Rating: 2
This So Far wannabe is just one huge frustration. I could overlook the
nigh-impossible puzzles and confusing writing if it had a point, but
as far as I can see, it doesn't. Credit to the author for the
comprehensive hint system and dreamlike atmosphere, but the lack of
any reasonable puzzles, clear goals, or apparent order in the chaos
make it more of a chore then a diversion. All in all, a pretty sad
game.

14: "Erehwon"
Rating: 2
Okay, For A Change was tedious and obscure, Thorfinn's Realm was
boring and uninspired, but this is just a pain in the ass. I spent the
entire two hours wandering around the confusing game world, watching
stupid attempts at humor fall flat on their face, trying to solve
obscure puzzles, failing, resorting to the hints, failing again,
resorting to the walkthrough, and blowing up at regular intervals.
What is the point of this game- fun or torture? Next time, try more
logic, less obscure puzzles, and less matter-antimatter collision.
And forcing the protagonist to deliberately kill his only real friend
to win doesn't help.

15: "Hunter, in Darkness"
Rating: 2
A nice atmospheric piece. Very deeply cultivated sense of
claustraphobia and helplessness. Reasonably well-organized plot,
although I wish I had been able to actually kill the Wumpus, but oh
well. All in all, a pretty decent game. So why the low rating?

Do *not*, under *any* circumstances, put a twisty-looking maze in your
game. Even if there's a trick to it, even if it's not a "real" maze,
even if the solution seems obvious to you, just *don't* do it. The
player will very likely fail to see the trick and immediately be
prejudiced against your work. Especially in a comp game, some
numbskull (like me) is going to be sure to eat up the entire two hours
mapping, and give you a low score.

16: "L.U.D.I.T.E."
Rating: 1
Ah, Rybread Celcius. The patron saint of bad interactive fiction. To
quote:

"deep abstractions lead to shallow interpretation
shallow abstractions lead to deep interpretation"

My deep interpretation: This sucks.

17: "The HeBGB Horror!"
Rating: 4
From the little introductory blurbs, you get the feeling the author
thinks this game is badly done, silly, and amateurish.

He's right. :)

Give him credit, though. The game is well-coded and rather humorous at
times, in a dark sort of way. It wasn't interesting to me, but then
punk music was never my thing. The only real problem here is a case of
read-the-author's-mind syndrome. The solutions are a bit obscure at
times, and I found myself playing with the walkthrough. But the author
shows promise, and I look forward to his next work.

But you know, I'm giving this game a low score because I didn't enjoy
it, but I feel guilty because of it. See, one of the primary reasons I
didn't enjoy it has nothing to do with style, atmosphere, coding, or
puzzles. It's ALAN. The way it displays text- DOS-like white text on
black background, in a small window, conveys a subconcious message of
insignificance when compared to TADS or Inform.

18: "Music Education"
Rating: 5
What's the point? To make sure everyone's ready for the concert, yeah,
but the game doesn't really inspire you to care. It's basically
wandering around poking blindly at buttons until you get a result. And
the design is sparse, to say the least. It's easy to disregard
important items or exits because they're barely mentioned in the room
descriptions. A competantly coded, decently organized game with
absolutely nothing going for it. All in all, very forgetable. Too bad.

19: "Six Stories"
Rating: 7
A unique comp game, Six Stories starts off magnificantly and then
abruptly starts to suck. There are good points to this game, and then
there are bad. It uses the HTMLTads engine to it's full potential,
something no other game has done. The story includes voice narration,
pictures as well as descriptive text, sounds, and a cool introduction.
That's good. The beginning is well organized, and the atmosphere
immediately pulls you in. The game has a very professional feel to it.
That's also good. The main game area is a randomized sequence of rooms.
Oh, not so good. It comes off like a twisty maze, and even after you
find the tea room, you get the feeling you should be trying to thwart
the maze by mapping. Plus, if you leave the tea room then assemble the
compass, you hit a bug that stops your game's forward progress.
(although you can UNDO around this.) Then, after escaping the
"non-maze," the only thing to do is run through a sequence of rooms
and reach the end before you get caught. You go through several rooms
that could have been well-developed, puzzle-filled areas, but are just
checkpoints on a race course. That's kinda lame. But, non-maze and
overly brief structure aside, Six Stories shows massive potential.
With some more deveopment and fleshing out, this game could be a
milestone for the IF genre.

20: "Four Seconds"
Rating: 4
*sigh* Playtesting, Playtesting, Playtesting. At it's core, this is a
good game, but with so many bugs it might as well be a pile of dung.
The text for room descriptions is occasionally printed twice, and
whenever you die, the text gets all bunched together. The
implementation is shoddy: for example, the locker in Dekker's room is
described as a "cabinet" in the room description, but doesn't respond
to the noun "cabinet." and when you open the locker, examining,
looking in, searching it, etc., shows nothing, but LOOK reveals a data
disk. Later in the game, the solution to a time-critical puzzle hinges
on two items which aren't even mentioned in the room descriptions! The
logic behind the timing is often forced: Tria runs out of the lab, and
dissappears, presumably into the elevator, but you can catch the
elvator next turn, (Up forty stories!) and get to the medical lab
before she dies. At which point Cornelson is just getting out his gun.
Sure it works, technically, but believably? Forget it. Then there's
read-the-author's-mind-sydrome. Are you suppossed to know to put Tria
in the freezer? Doesn't seem like the most obvious course of action to
me. And to go into the medical lab after escaping the elevator? I'd
make for the exit! Now, Four Seconds might not have been such a
masterpiece even without these: It comes of as a slightly cliche
melding of Tapestry and Babel, and the endgame makes little sense that
I can see. But the bugs, design flaws, and oversights bring it down
from what could have been a seven or eight to a barely acceptable
four. In what seems to be a recurring problem this year, the game was
rushed out the door to make the comp deadline. Advice to future
authors: IFComp isn't everything. If you're going to miss the deadline
,miss the deadline. You'll get much more respect with a polished,
bug-free game then a rushed, substandered, untested turd. It should be
done when you're finished with it, not when Sept. 30 rolls around. And
hey, it's not like a can of peanuts is really worth it anyway.

(The ending is a major high point, though. When I die, I want my
heaven to be exactly like that.)

21: "On The Farm"
Rating: 5
A solid game, but something of a dissappointment. Getting your
grandparents to make up is not the most engaging premise for a game.
I preferred exploring the past of the protagonist's mother to
exploring the actual farm. I wish that angle had been better developed
,it could have been what put this one over the top. As it is, On The
Farm is a nice little game and nothing more. On the other hand, maybe
that's enough.

22: "Pass the Banana"
Rating: 0
Alright, this is the worst piece of I-F I have ever played. The worst
*IDEA* for a piece of I-F I have ever seen! You just do one thing over
and over and over until you win! And it can't qualify as a joke game,
either- it's not funny! "Pass the Banana" is being awarded the First
Annual Craxtonian Middle Finger Award for Outstanding Acheivement in
the Field of Half-Assed Game Design.

23: "Jacks or better to murder, Aces to win."
Rating: 7
Alright, I'm laughing. A cute, fun little game. I'm willing to bet
some people were put off by the design where much of the action is
done without direct input from the player, but I'm used to this design
philosophy from Hentai Games. The humor tickled me, mostly because I
got humorous imagery from a solemn, dignified high priest-type
character hitting a subordinate with a pea-shooter, and later making
leaps of logic that would put Holmes to shame- and being RIGHT to
boot! I dunno, it just rubs me in a way that elicits a chuckle. I'd
like to see more games like this- brief, easy, and positively
ludicrous. Just who is the "writer to be named later," BTW? The author
of "Reverberations," perhaps?

24: "Outsided"
Rating: 1
Outsided plays like "Detective" with crappy puzzles, variable colors,
poor proofreading, and a thoroughly incomprehensible excuse for a plot.
I know this is a first effort, but even so it's practically
inexcusable. Plus, even if you finish the game sucessfully, you die in
the end, for no reason whatsoever! (Although I suspect this is a bug.)
It's hard to imagine someone actually came up with a game WORSE then
Detective...

25: "Bliss"
Rating: 6
All right, I admit it. When i started this game, I didn't like it. I
had no reason to like it. The premise defines "hackneyed:" escape an
evil wizard's castle and kill a dragon. Plus, the first puzzle is
bugged: after the orc enters the room, you can get up and walk out of
the room without him even noticing- and he still catches you a few
turns later, in the hallway, exactly how he does if you stay under the
bed. But I stuck with it until the end, and I'm glad I did. The ending
is one of the great "twist" endings of I-F. Brevity, a lack of detail
in the writing, and some rather obscure puzzles keep this game off the
A-list, but I still recommend it. If you didn't get a chance to play
it during the comp, do so now.

26: "Winter Wonderland"
Rating: 9
Ugh. >_< You'll pardon me if all this "Christmastime Magic" makes me
puke. Aside from that, though, there's no true reason to dislike
Winter Wonderland. It has a whimsical nature that I sorta liked-
you're a little girl trying to navigate an enchanted forest and get
home. The puzzles are well-implemented and forgiving, and the hint
system extremely well-organized. Memorable characters are another
strong point. I don't have the heart to dock it a point for coming off
like every Christmas special I've ever seen. I DO, however, have the
heart to dock it a point for the annoying ice floes. The exit
indicator should not have been disabled here, and the fact that the
shortest command the parser responds to is "PUSH FLOE WITH POLE" is
also irritating.

27: "SNOSAE"
Rating: 1
Snosae is one sick, twisted game. These puzzles are too damn hard, and
the hint system is ludicrous! The hints guide you into several
unwinnable situations before finally leading you to the correct
solution. The game's programmers constantly refer to themselves as
"devious." "Sadistic" is more like it. For hard-core puzzlers ONLY.
Even then, prepare for a lot of save/restore and annoying
guess-the-syntax. And then there's the whacked-out homebrew parser
with few synonyms and no pronouns. And the premise sucks too! And the
game is way too long for the comp! And there's no UNDO either! And...
and... and... ARRRRRRRGGGGGGGGHHHHHH!!!!! The whole thing is just too
furshlinginerly stupid to go on about! I HATE THIS GAME!!!!!!!!!!!!!

28: "Halothane"
Rating: 11
OUTSTANDING! WOW! Very engaging, very entertaining. The plot, though
slightly cliched in places, is very involving. Puzzles and writing
style are reminiscent of Graham Nelson. In fact, I'm convinced that
it IS Graham Nelson writing this. Yes, I know Comp99.z5 says Quenten
Thomson. I also know that Nelson has a history of entering games in
the Comp anonymously, and being found out anyway (If it is Quentin,
well, be proud. Not everyone is accussed of being one of the great
gurus of I-F) >:===8) A bit too big for the comp- After two hours, I
had almost gotten up to Sweeney. I especially like the "pages" you can
find throughout the game. No major flaws, although a lot of "LOOK
UNDER" may annoy some players. And the author has this annoying habit
of giving differant items similiar names, making it difficult to refer
to things occassionally. But otherwise a great game! Apparently a few
secrets- I only got 256 out of 360 points first try, and 344 the
second. Anyone get all 360?

29: "Exhibition"
Rating: 3
Here's I-F done, not as a story, but as a character study- a
psychological analysis of four people- five, if you count the artist.
The differing reactions to the paintings reveal facets of their
personalities, and insights into the artist's. An interesting and
compelling premise? Yes. A good game? Well...

Maybe I'm a philistine, but I dislike this for the same reason I
dislike museums in general- there's nothing to DO. You walk around,
look at the paintings, and that's it. You can admire the crowds, or
scenery, but can't talk to the people, or interact with anything,
even the other characters. You just walk around and admire the
paintings. You can't even examine a painting more then once to get a
differant message. The characters could have been a saving grace, but
they're not. They're one-dimensional cardboard cutouts, and they bored
me. The critic, in particular, put me to sleep with his dry, technical
commentary. Then again, the entire game bored me. It's just blah, blah,
blah about stuff I couldn't care less about. And that's the big
problem- I just don't *CARE*. And if an artist can't reach his
audience, then his art, IMHO, is pointless to the world at large.

30: "Guard Duty"
Rating: Abstain
I'd heard this game was bugged to hell and back before I played it, so
my expectations were kinda low already. They dropped a bit more when I
encountered the actual bugs. Upon starting the game, I took
inventory... *CRASH* Illegal Object. First turn, too. I've seen
unwinnable as of first turn (FROTZ ME, Enchanter), but never
interpreter crash first turn. Anyway, I got the point: illegal object
in the inventory. Before the crash, I had seen thirteen inventory
items: twelve business cards and a cloak. I restarted, and dropped the
cloak, then took inventory. *CRASH*. Okay, that means the cards. Next
try- DROP ALL. No good. The game thought I wanted to drop several
crystal bridges. Funny, I didn't think I was carrying any crystal
bridges. Anyway, I dropped the cloak, then dropped a single card.
Success. Then I just hit g until my inventory was empty. I took a
single card, just in case, then tried to take the cloak. No good.
"You're carrying too many things already." Uh-huh. Yet I started off
carrying twelve of these things AND the cloak. I think I'm beginning
to see why this is called the Vile Object 0 Error From Hell. Anyway, I
decided to forget the cards and take the cloak, knocked on the door,
then went in. First thing I notice is that there's no clear path to
your next goal- suppossedly, you follow the deathlord guy, but he
disappears, and though you're told which direction to go at first, the
game eventually craps out in this department. Leaving you wandering
around the complex with no idea what to do. Add to this the fact that
the lights in the rooms seem to go on and off at random, and the
passages aren't two-way, and the whole thing quickly became comical.
After a while of wandering around and not seeing much of interest, I
gave up.

Even if the bugs had been worked out, I doubt I would have enjoyed
this game much- from what I've seen, there are a lot of empty
locations, and the room descriptions are unbelievably long-winded.
But I would of at least given it a chance. As it stands, this game is
unplayable to the point of being the funniest entry in this years comp.
To err is human, but to screw a game up this badly- THAT takes talent!

31: "Chicks Dig Jerks"
Rating: 3
Erm... This is... interesting, to say the least. The content doesn't
bother me, but if there's a point to this game, I'm missing it.
Playing the pickup artist at the beginning is kinda fun, but after
that the plot breaks down into an incomprehensible mush. The interface
is clutzy, too. The required actions aren't always obvious, and the
game rarely lets you do anything other then what you're suppossed to.
If you don't follow the walkthrough exactly, there's a possibility
you'll encounter some bugs. The whole thing seems like a dark, surreal
nightmare. There may be a good concept in here, but it's marred by bad
execution. And a light-year is a measure of *distance*, dammit...

32: "King Arthur's Night Out"
Rating: 6
I found this kinda fun. The problems of ALAN bog it down a bit, (see
HeBGB) but it's short, humorous, easy, and competantly designed, so I
liked it. Hmm... not much else to say.

33: "A Moment of Hope"
Rating: 8
I liked this a lot, but I wonder if everyone felt the same. It's been
my experience that many IFers don't like such straightforward, linear
construction. I liked it, though, because I have a soft spot for the
kind of romantic crap the protagonist obviously does also. Works
excellantly as a psychological study of this individual. How many
judges felt "Damn... this guy sounds like me!" I know I did.
Unfortunately, any piece of I-F that tries to be a linear, emotional
character-study has to deal with the metaphorical shadow of Photopia,
and Moment doesn't quite measure up. But still an excellant story.

34: "Stone Cell"
Rating: 3
Stone Cell tries very, very, hard not to be a bad game. True, the
atmosphere is very nicely done, and I'll admit the opening is
interesting, but the puzzles- ARRRGH!! Obscure, complicated, badly
implemented, and make little sense even AFTER you've solved them. The
worst relies on an item (bone) which isn't listed in the room
description, or even on closer examination of the surroundings. For
another, (chamber-pot) you have to repeatedly try an action which
doesn't appear to do anything interesting. For a third, you have to
use the verb "SPEAK" when no one is in the room. And if you think
that's bad, I dare you to figure out "CUT ARM ON NAIL" by yourself.
(Just "CUT ME", or even "CUT ME WITH NAIL" doesn't work) Then there's
the poorly-described cell door, which the game expects you to be able
to visualize perfectly. There are three endings which I found, but
none of them are realistically reachable without the walkthrough. I
STILL don't know how you're suppossed to figure out "Claretrime," or
disguising yourself with the sheet (WHAT was the lord suppossed to
mistake you for?) and the "true" ending (i.e. the one most difficult
to reach) doesn't make much sense at all. "A" for idea, "D-" for
execution.

35: "Life on Beal Street"
Rating: 3
The author says this story is actually 780 differant stories. Not true.
It's actually one story told 780 differant ways, with a couple of
differant endings. I dislike it for two reasons- one, it's boring. The
author means well, but his writing just isn't involving enough to
carry the idea. Two, the player doesn't really DO anything of
significance, and while I'm used to games with a linear design, the
player has to at least suspend enough disbelief to *think* he's doing
something significant. That cannot be done effectively by choosing
just 1, 2, or NO.

36: "Skyranch"
Rating: 1
While closing up shop at an experimental city in the sky, you trip,
getting knocked out and left behind. Apparently, either your character
is a real asshole, or everyone else is, because noone thought to look
for you before leaving on the last ship. But never mind that, the main
problem is the parser. It's one of the finickyest I've ever seen- you
can't X or EXAMINE, you have to LOOK AT. You can't TAKE, you have to
GET. You can't GET KEYS, you have to GET KEYS FROM RACK. I still
haven't figured out the verbs to talk to Lloyd, or get out of the
ferry. Plus the fact that there's not really much to do in the first
place. My smart-alecky sister had some fun with the parser, though:

> THIS SUCKS

What?

> THIS SUCKS A LOT

I can't make sense of that sentence

> YOU KNOW WHAT?

What?

> YOU SUCK!!!!!!!!

That doesn't make any sense to me.

> :P

So... What are you saying?

> WE'RE OVER! DONE! I'M LEAVING!

I don't understand what you're typing.

37: "Beat the Devil"
Rating: 8
And so we end where we began- with a not-quite-masterful but
nonetheless solid game. This is one of the few games that manipulates
the quirky humor common to I-F in a manner that gets an actual laugh
out of me. Although both the "escape from hell" idea (Perdition's
Flames) and the "seven deadly sins" (Mimesis) have been done before,
this game still feels unique. Most of the game is fairly
straightforward, though I never did figure out what was written on the
fishbowl. (And yes, I tried LISTEN TO FISHBOWL, got no response.)
Nonetheless, I finished with 101 points, though the walkthrough was
necessary in a few places. Overall, an enjoyable way to kill a few
hours, and the kicker is that Lucifer not only says "no thank you" to
your soul, but keeps his promise in the end. Never deeval with the
devil, but if you do, it's nice to know he's a good sport.

Mike Snyder

unread,
Nov 16, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/16/99
to
> 2: "Lunatix"

> The plot is a bit thin, but it works. More then anything, the game
> reminds me of Shadowgate, which I have fond memories of. All in all,
> excellant work.

Shadowgate....

I didn't *consciously* do that, but I recently bought Shadowgate Classic for
GameBoy Color and played it about a month before writing this. That's weird,
because I never intended there to be a similarity... but it couldn't have
been coincidence now that you mention it. Wow! :)

Mike.

Adam J. Thornton

unread,
Nov 16, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/16/99
to
In article <80qshe$663$1...@autumn.news.rcn.net>,
Craxton <cra...@erols.com> wrote:
>37: "Beat the Devil"

> out of me. Although both the "escape from hell" idea (Perdition's
> Flames) and the "seven deadly sins" (Mimesis) have been done before,
^^^^^^^

ITYM "John's Fire Witch." Look not to the Bruce for originality.

Bruce
--
ad...@princeton.edu
"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

bre...@hotmail.com

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

> 37: "Beat the Devil"
> Rating: 8
> And so we end where we began- with a not-quite-masterful but
> nonetheless solid game. This is one of the few games that manipulates
> the quirky humor common to I-F in a manner that gets an actual laugh
> out of me. Although both the "escape from hell" idea (Perdition's
> Flames) and the "seven deadly sins" (Mimesis) have been done before,
> this game still feels unique. Most of the game is fairly
> straightforward, though I never did figure out what was written on
the
> fishbowl. (And yes, I tried LISTEN TO FISHBOWL, got no response.)

DOH! I cannot _belive_ I forgot to code that! And there is no way
to read what's on the fishbowl, but the fact that you tried to listen to
it means you got the reference :)

> Nonetheless, I finished with 101 points, though the walkthrough was
> necessary in a few places. Overall, an enjoyable way to kill a few
> hours, and the kicker is that Lucifer not only says "no thank you" to
> your soul, but keeps his promise in the end. Never deeval with the
> devil, but if you do, it's nice to know he's a good sport.

Oh, he knows he'll get another crack at the main char. Not in my next
game (though Lucifer will make a cameo :) ), but down the line, there
will be a rematch ;)

b


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

David Given

unread,
Nov 18, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/18/99
to
In article <80vt24$v95$1...@nnrp1.deja.com>,
bre...@hotmail.com writes:
[...]

>> this game still feels unique. Most of the game is fairly
>> straightforward, though I never did figure out what was written on
> the
>> fishbowl. (And yes, I tried LISTEN TO FISHBOWL, got no response.)
> DOH! I cannot _belive_ I forgot to code that! And there is no way
> to read what's on the fishbowl, but the fact that you tried to listen to
> it means you got the reference :)

So, just for reference, what *would* have happened if you had implemented
it (I tried listening to it too)? Is there a hell version of dolphin song?

--
+- David Given ---------------McQ-+ "Those who do not understand Unix are
| Work: d...@tao-group.com | forced to reinvent it, poorly." --- Henry
| Play: dgi...@iname.com | Spencer
+- http://wired.st-and.ac.uk/~dg -+

bre...@hotmail.com

unread,
Nov 18, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/18/99
to
In article <0ho018...@127.0.0.1>,

d...@pearl.tao.co.uk (David Given) wrote:
> In article <80vt24$v95$1...@nnrp1.deja.com>,
> bre...@hotmail.com writes:
> [...]
> >> this game still feels unique. Most of the game is fairly
> >> straightforward, though I never did figure out what was written on
> > the
> >> fishbowl. (And yes, I tried LISTEN TO FISHBOWL, got no response.)
> > DOH! I cannot _belive_ I forgot to code that! And there is no way
> > to read what's on the fishbowl, but the fact that you tried to
listen to
> > it means you got the reference :)
>
> So, just for reference, what *would* have happened if you had
implemented
> it (I tried listening to it too)? Is there a hell version of dolphin
song?
>
Oh, probably something smartass. maybe an ad for my next game :)

B

> --
> +- David Given ---------------McQ-+ "Those who do not understand Unix
are
> | Work: d...@tao-group.com | forced to reinvent it, poorly."
--- Henry
> | Play: dgi...@iname.com | Spencer

> +- http://wired.st-and.ac.uk/~dg -+
>


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