ralphmerridew (ralphmerridew) wrote,
ralphmerridew
ralphmerridew

IF COMP 06 reviews

General comments on scoring:
I rank games relative to each other; I give a 1 to the absolute worst and a 10 to the best, with the other games scored in between, and try to give 1-3 to games that I did not enjoy overall, that show significant flaws, or that I feel to be lightweight. (I also care more about distinguishing the high-ranking games than the low-ranking games.) In addition, I will give a "*" to any game which I think is something special, an "X" to any game with enough problems that I wonder "Why did this person think this game was worth entering?"

This is my first time writing reviews, so quality is very erratic.



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

Beam

The randomizer put this game near the end of my list, but I wanted to make sure it ran correctly under Geas, so I played it first.

The opening area is largely empty; getting out requires refering to an object barely mentioned (the branch), going in a direction not mentioned (in), and using an object which, when used via dragging, gives the error "You can't use that here." The hints in the hints file do not mention anything about getting out of the initial area; in fact, the walkthrough doesn't hit any of the puzzles that are clued by hints. There's a big, empty area. An object appears the second time you enter one room for no particular reason. It times the player against a fastest run time without indicating that the move count is unimportant.

About the only good thing I can say about this game is that I didn't notice any spelling or grammar problems.

Final result: 1 X

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

Floatpoint:

I didn't decide to write reviews until a few games in, so I don't recall my exact thoughts on this game; while I enjoyed it, I didn't enjoy it as much as later games.

Final score: 7

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

Visociaca:

I tried running this, but got the error of "Program too big to fit in memory." (Also a "no xms" error, but that seems to be a problem with the computer.) I'll have to try running on a different computer.

No rating for now.

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

Strange Geometries:

Again, I played this before deciding to review. The Abbott idea could have been interesting, but wasn't well thought out; the world isn't consistent with that geometry.

Score: 5

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

Aunts and Butlers:

Tips for people making their own IF engines:
1) Don't pretend to have understood a command when you haven't. On a few occasions, I mistyped a word, and I got a response I took to mean "command understood, but nothing interesting results", so I didn't try that again.

2) Having "undo" is good, but implement it correctly; a timer will trigger after undoing.

Beyond that, the page flickering after each move quickly got annoying and kept me from running through familiar geography, and siginficant parts of the game felt motivationless.

And I discovered this truly strange bug:

A solicitor in a black suit sits in the armchair.
You can also see a teacup.
"Mr. Fodge," says the solicitor. "I represent the estate of Miss Cedilla Fodge. We have located her will, and it would seem she has bequeathed her entire fortune to yourself. The money will be in your bank account tomorrow morning. Good day."
He prances out. The butler shimmers in, with a bottle of champagne on a silver salver.
"Congratulations, sir," he says. "You appear to have won. Refreshment?"
An exit leads west.You take a swing, but the Sergeant's well-trained reactions have your hand in cuffs before it arrives anywhere near his sizeable jaw.
"You're comin' with me, sonny-jim!"
You are powerless to protest as you are hauled into a small, tiled gaol-cell and - due, no doubt, to some tragic administrative error - permanently forgotten about.

*** GAME OVER ***
You completed 100% of this adventure.
The London Illustrated News describes you as the best prime minister Britain never had.

Score: 3.

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

Labyrinth:

It was solidly implemented; I found no bugs, even in the rotating cube portions. I happen to like unabashed puzzlefests, but the puzzles here were mostly external (the nim game, the logic problem, and especially the cryptogram). OTOH, puzzles that involved object manipulation would have gotten annoying quickly; even after figuring out the spells, moving about was still tedious.

Score: 5.

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

Carmen Devine:

There is the potential for a good game here, but it will need work. Some of the problems are minor, like the fact that the book only mentions one needed item, or the extra / missing newlines:

But the real problem is that the game is too shallow; most of the rooms seemed to be just empty places that I would just pass by; most of the items seemed irrelevant. (Or rather, learning the backstory to the game didn't have any effect on my future actions. For example, if I'd needed to learn what sort of creature had been loosed to use the proper prayer, then the presence of the foxglove would be a useful hint.)

Score: 3.

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

Star City

I had a bad feeling when I read the credits and only saw one tester listed. Again, underimplemented. Too many synonyms were absent, and the whole landscape just felt too empty.

Score: 3

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

Pathfinder

It printed "The screen only shows what has been printed previously. It cannot be erased, only changed." whenever something updated, which was odd.

It should have had a phrase for "knock on _____".

I was told I was given a knife, but didn't get it.

There wasn't enough effort to handle alternate paths (examine the blackberry after killing steve, or drop the paper before entering the sedan).

Messages on the pathfinder sometimes scrolled up prematurely.

Once I get to the Pathfinder office, I found that important exits aren't listed.

If the game wasn't worth the author's time to get it right, it's not worth my time to play it, either.

(not played to completion)

Score: 2 X

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

Madam Spider's Web

After the run of weak games, Madam Spider's Web is a welcome change. It was well tested, well implemented, and well directed; overall, it's the sort of game the competition was supposed to encourage.

Also, while I didn't need them, I'd like to praise the hint system. It did a good job of cluing actions and motivations behind actions for all the puzzles.

Score: 8

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

The Sisters

This fell too much into the cut-scene interspersed with brief gameplay for me; puzzles seemed a bit too much lock-and-key; the world felt underimplemented. There was a bit too much "random searching of scenery" (a personal annoyance of mine). The door to the cellar doesn't block passage, which allows a player to bypass a significant part of the game.

Side comment: Take advantage of any special features of the system you use. For example, the automap in ADRIFT is great; don't disable it without good reason!

Score: 4

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

Delightful Wallpaper

First part: I rather enjoyed this part; it reminded me of one of Robert Abbott's logic mazes and the wine cellar from Savoir Faire.

Second part: Unfortunately, I didn't notice the "___ remain" in the status line, and didn't think to check my notes, so I didn't realize what my goal here was. I thought it was "develop an interesting story" as opposed to the correct "kill everyone". But I did like the various poems that could be created, and appreciated that they were modified as appropriate.

In sum, this is the sort of game where walkthroughs are less useful and even a few general questions will really help. The two parts are very different in style, and putting them in one game hurts the overall game. It's a likely candidate for the banana.

Score: 6

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

Visociaca: (retry)

If an author is doing something significantly different from the norm, that author should make an effort to assist people into using the game.

(not played to completion)

Score: 1

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

Legion

And here's another Banana candidate. While I can't identify any particular flaw, I never managed to get in the right frame of mind, so the game as a whole never grabbed me.

Score: 4

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

The Tower of the Elephant

_Tower_ is at best an example of why direct adaptations of static fiction to IF rarely work; the game is on rails, and there is little justification given for the needed actions other than trial and error; exits are completely omitted from descriptions.

Score: 2

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

Tentellian Island

Wouldn't play on the computer I tried. Will get back to this later.

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

The Apocalypse Clock

Silly, in a bad way; the humor didn't work for me. Lots of unimplemented scenery / vocabulary, such as the front door or the on/off switch. The computer / tape deck is buggy. (Put the tape in before turning on the computer, or turn on the computer without putting the tape in then open the door.) The opening text makes no mention of testers. I expect a game this small to be extremely well tested.

Score: 3 X

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

The Primrose Path

Another game I enjoyed, but can't verbalize my thoughts.

Score: 5

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

Polendina

Polendina is loaded with missing line / extra line problems and extraneous periods. It hasn't had any betatesting (or has been carefully constructed to give that impression).

Score: 1 X.

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

Hedge

See final comment from Pathfinder.

Score: 1X

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

Fight or Flight

1) The "about" text did not list any betatesters.
2) I found a missing line problem a few moves in.
3) Soon after that, I saw the word "hydroulic", instead of the correct "hydraulic".

So this game starts off on the wrong foot.

Then it switches to the counselors. They show some individuality.

Then the monster attacks Jeb. I can't just tell the others for some reason; they show no reaction. Instead, I have to bring in the car hood.

There's a brief interlude in which the counselors plan, and then all life is sucked out of them; they just stand around waiting for me to appear and give them orders; those orders aren't always correctly handled. (Sometimes, it'll show the result followed by "____ has nothing better to do.")

My character is supposed to be familiar with the camp and his fellow counselors, but the author doesn't manage to communicate that; I never saw any reason why I should give the bow to Jason instead of some other counselor.

The game avoids a 1 solely by having a bit of personality for the counselors in the story parts.

Score: 2X

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

MANALIVE 2

The randomizer happened to put MANALIVE 2 before MANALIVE 1. There wasn't an "about" or "credits" verb, and the hints menu didn't list any testers.

Taking the paper objects doesn't have the side effects of touching them. The few areas I explored were loaded with unimplemented scenery and unresponsive NPCs. I shudder to think of the length of the game if something this shallow filled the Inform limits. (And why didn't he just go to z8 or glulx?)

(not played to completion)

Score: 1 X

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

Another Goddamn Escape the Locked Room Game

_Escape_ is loaded with silly, illogical, tedious puzzles that would get any other game an instant "1X". But such puzzles are so characteristic of the genre being parodied that the game could not have been written without them. It has some weak spots where I7 hasn't caught up to I6 (for example, it prefers the band-aid box to the glass box instead of disambiguating). OTOH, the explanation of why the player has been locked in the room is simply brilliant. Also a banana candidate.

Score: 5

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

PTGOOD

Why waste effort reviewing something that isn't even trying to be worthwhile?

Score: 1 X

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

Wumpus Run

"Wumpus Run" handles the mechanics of the old game fairly accurately, as far as I can tell, but falls down on some of the new things. (For example, it's possible to take the ladder and climb it in any room; I think the "Oops!" in-room description for the dead Wumpus should be changed; there were occasional glitches with descriptions, such as "{deadWumpus5}" or describing the starblade as being in the Wumpus's eye after I'd picked up the starblade. I personally can't give a game which is primarily a port even a medium score unless it has an exceptional implementation. (This is also a banana candidate.)

Score: 3

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

Tentellian Island

I'm on a different computer now, so I went back to play this.

Right off the bat, I discovered that it gives “That doesn't make sense” in response to bad compass directions. It doesn't have “verbose”. Then it's loaded with unimplemented scenery. Next I manage to crash it with “cut growths” when no growths are present. Then it won't recognize “box” when it's listed separately. Trying to “laugh”, “cheer”, or just wait underwater has no unusual effect. And even ignoring the problems with the engine, the game itself doesn't have anything to distinguish itself.

Score: 2 X

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

A Ballymun Adventure

Room descriptions are bland, and the game is loaded with too many empty rooms. Within the first few rooms I ran into inconsistent exits. The opening setup implies there will be a large number of other students also trying the same thing, but I never ran into anybody else.

Score: 1 X
(not finished)
Played it on a Windows interpreter, and discovered that the map won't even work there.


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

Mobius

The replay gimmick was well executed, but I ran into a slight problem; I had a solution which seemed to work, except it ran into trouble with my hand passing through the receptacle into the last step; I don't understand why.

Score: 5

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

Sisyphus

Was there a point to this game?

Score: 1 X

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

The Bible Retold

There are a few minor glitches, but this game as a whole was decently implemented.

Unfortunately, the game as a whole didn't grab me, and the village of Mark somewhat annoyed me.

Score: 4

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

Unauthorized Termination

This did have a good core implementation ("names" verb, listing known facts, and using the tracer), but somehow the overall story didn't work for me. (Some of it was that the plot depended on the bad guys making unnecessary lies.)

Score: 4

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

The Initial State

It has:

Amnesia on a spaceship

Poor implementation (compare "cut wires" vs. "use scalpel on wires")

Repeated "Don't bother" comments



I don't know why I kept doing so.



Score: 1


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

Game Producer!

Score: 6

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

The Traveling Swordsman

I enjoyed this game the entire play through; despite a few glitches, it was well implemented and written.



Score: 8 *


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

A Broken Man

A little ways into the game, I was getting killed upon entering rooms for no reason.



As above, I can't be bothered.



Score: 1X

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

Enter the Dark

Missing synonym "x"

Rooms missing exit lists

Scenery objects not implemented

_Examining_ objects frequently gives "You can't do that."

"shoot ___ with crossbow" just gives a blank line



At this point, I went to the walkthrough and saw the correct command was "kill crow". But that just had the crow flying off with a "you don't have a good weapon" message. (Considering I couldn't even examine the crow, I saw no reason to attack it.)



So I restarted and followed the walkthrough and THAT didn't work.



QUIT



Score: 1 X



(not played to end)


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

Simple Adventure

Tavern with a lamp upstairs? Check. Store in the east part of the town? Check. Locked area in the west part of town with the key just lying around? Check. Treehouse a bit south of town? Check. Wolf and hellhound directly south of town? Check. Anything to distinguish this from other PAP games? ....



I noticed some bugs (prices in the store tended to jump around, "You can't wield that here!" instead of "You're already wielding something!", and you could somehow see an exit list in the dark), but somehow didn't care about it, coming directly after Enter the Dark. I was at least able to play this game to the end without hints.



Score: 1 X



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

Moon-Shaped

This one caught me by surprise; the title seemed a bit bland, so I wasn't expecting too much.



But it was well written; it portrayed an interesting alternate look at the two fairy tales; the puzzles fit well with the setting; everything was well-implemented (though a way to recall flashbacks would have been very nice); it was fun from start to finish.



Score: 9 *


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

MANALIVE I

Eight games to go, and 4 of the next five seem extremely inauspicious...



Well, this game was at least playable to the end, but I still didn't care that much about what was happening. The implementation was sparse and it still had to drop to a long cutscene at the end.



At one point, I had to randomly try entering rooms along the stairs, even though I'd tried entering them and gotten a "You can't" message, and nothing in the description gave me reason to believe anything had changed. Another time an object appeared in an old location for no reason.



Score: 1 X


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

Lawn of Love

This is the first Santoonie game I've played to the end. It hasn't produced any particular desire to play more.



Score: 1 X


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

Fetter's Grim


The first time, I tried "wield ___", which didn't work, and I won the first few combats against random people who had < 100 hp. Then I tried to read the bible and the game locked up.



Then I looked at the walkthrough, and discovered about using weapons. Then I started encountering people with 200+ hp, and lost repeatedly.



I tried using the candle so I could see in the dark areas; that didn't work so I followed the walkthrough. Imagine my surprise at having to walk through several dark rooms (though I was able to somehow know which exits were available and examine objects while in those rooms). But at least I got the lamp and could now see nonsensical room descriptions.



Then the walkthrough instructed me to attack jesus, who had 200+ hp and who won effortlessly.



I decided that since the game wasn't playing fair, I wouldn't either. I made an attack, noted my HP at the beginning of the fight, then looked through the save game for that number and increased it by 2000.



Now able to win combat effortlessly, I played through the end.



I've played several of the author's other games, and while none were very good, they at least made sense, even if the games were just "There's a (insert monster type) causing trouble; go kill it. And kill a bunch of random creatures on the way, too." (which was about all the plot Ultima I-III had.)



But this game has left me completely baffled.



Score: 1 X


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

Xen: The Hunt
Extremely linear; the repeated time limits distanced me; I never formed any attachment to the characters. I lost faith in the game after the train scene; running into a policeman while holding the item should have been handled better.



Score: 3


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

Green Falls
I wonder whether PAP is aware there was a notoriously buggy game in a previous comp called "The Curse of Eldor". Then again, that game at least had some variety of puzzles, and I thought the retired grue was funny.



OTOH, this Curse of Eldor has just one puzzle, done repeatedly.



See also my review of Simple Adventure.



Score: 1 X


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

The Elysium Enigma

Another solid game. NPCs were well done, though I would have


Score: 9


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

Requiem

I enjoyed the first few playthroughs; while I don't generally care for stories that blend the supernatural with the everyday, it didn't bother me here. The writing style was fine, and I found its being CYOA after a long comp was refreshing.

OTOH, trying to find the "winning" ending was less enjoyable; the game had many parts that had to be played through each game (the package scene particularly irritated me for some reason), and the actions which caused true plot change didn't stand out much. (The supernatural aspects hurt the linkage between cause and effect.)

While I found some bugs (attempts to limit interaction occasionally blocked "undo"; I once ran through the streets naked and holding a baseball bat; the dream sequence gave a response that belonged in the tapestry scene), I didn't mind them for some reason.

In short, not a bad game to wrap up the competition.

Score: 5


Subscribe
  • 1 comment
  • 1 comment

Comments for this post were locked by the author