Posted 16 November 2005 to rec.games.int-fiction
Here are my mini reviews of the games I played this competition. They were played on a Sony Clie S-300 PDA during my commutes to work on the London Underground. Because of the platform I was using, I only played Z-code games. The reviews are in order of playing.
Two things stood out for me, the first was games that did not implement a help, about, info or hints command at all, and the second was games that let the player get stuck very early on.
But once again I enjoyed this annual occasion, were the voting gave me the incentive to play games that I would otherwise not play and read the results and reviews.
This started out well, with a good introduction to the crime busting cop scenario, but went downhill from there on. No about or help despite a hint in some graffitti later on to type help. The agents who start out with you seem to be largely unresponsive and certainly no help. With no in game help, I then got stuck and was flumoxed as to how the player was supposed to work out the solution to the initial problem, especially given the contraints of a competition.
About the Colour Pink
The ever popular deserted planet scenario was the setting here. The game has help and about and for me it worked well as the puzzles were reasonable. The intial setting was a bit dull apart from the pinkness. The change to a fantasy setting opened the game out and was quite enchanting.
Although I liked the setting and the image of Aphrodite with sunglasses, I was put off by lack of help or about, and my complete inability to solve the intial problem. While I could have read the walk through, to progress, the solution was unreasonable to expect the player to find.
So I have to redo my education, but in an american high school. I quite liked this and indeed made some progress, but did not feel very motivated by the game.
A metagame with just 2 choices and that is it.
The Sword of Malice
Another game with no help or about. The dungeon setting was a bit of a cliche and another game where I got stuck at the first puzzle. I read the walk through and could not recall it accurately enough to continue.
I enjoyed this, despite some oddities in description, such as frock for habit or cassock and a curious mixture of real and fake bible quotes. There were some other impementation problems, such as a vanishing rabbit which I was allowed to remove from one of the Brothers' cells despite the Brother being present, the door to my cell being invisble, and the desk being moveable despite being in bed. However these small problems illustrate how much the game kept me going with atmosphere and the ability to do quite a bit even when stuck.
The about description mislead me into thinking there would be lots of talking, instead there was lots of disappearing! The cumulative effect of playing multiple characters, revealing what was happening was very effective. I particularly enjoyed being the dog. However as the final character I got stuck, which let down the atmosphere, as here I was seeking out the bad creature and I could not find or would anything happen to me!
Son of a ...
The derelict motel setting apealed along with the ever increasing number of things going wrong. The problems were on the whole reasonable coupled with help and about.
Phantom: caverns of the killer
Archaelogist in ancient Egypt, with no help, about and apostrophes and facing a maze, so I lost heart and gave up.
The title for this game was odd, given the strangeness of the rooms. Whatever they were, they were not dreary. HoweverI got stuck on the second problem and the game help was no help.
An interactive tragedy, I found compeling. Although the prose and poetry was other the top at times, the whole tone was consistent and the use of first person added to the effect. One of the few games I finished (with help) and the ending I found to be a little too self sacrificing. There were a few implementation oddities, such as the ankle appearing early on (when I did a take all) and putting the bottle in box gives an error message that already inside the wine bottle.
Another game that drew me in and gave help so I could finish. The episode structure helped along with the choices that made a difference. It all felt competent quite well realised.
I found the english in this comprehensible if a little disturbingly odd at times. However my mission was not that clear, or rather how to complete it. So quite a bit of charm, but a story that ran out.
I really liked the start to this game and the writing, setting and responses to my problem solving attempts. However no in game help and I got truly stuck with the dog. But certainly a game I would like to revisit.
Sadly this game crashed Frobnitz 1.0.1, so unable to rate.
Sadly this game played very slowly on my PDA, so I gave up, but liked what I saw.
This article copyright © 2005, Peter Polkinghorne