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Romance Novel Comp 2002 Reviews

by Mark Musante

Choose Your Own Romance, by David Dyte

As the title of this game implies, this is a game reminiscent of the 'Choose Your Own Adventure' books from yesteryear: you're given a description of your current situation and then a few options which allow you to decide how the main character behaves.

The writing is up to Dyte's usual standards. It's got the right mix of humor and sincerity, and the story itself is short and sweet. There are enough different winning endings that you're bound to find one you'll like.

Forever Always, by Iain Merrick

Merrick starts off by turning the Romance convention on its head: the PC is a man. It's your task to stop the marriage of Felicity to your arch-rival.

This game is one of the funniest I've played in a while, with in-jokes (and out-jokes) that are clever and refreshing. Once you battle your way past some ruffians (battling with wits rather than swords) and enter the church, it's up to you to figure out how to stop the wedding from taking place.

This is where the game loses some of its appeal. Merrick has decided to use adverbs ('bristle angrily' and 'muse thoughtfully' are two that are suggested in the 'about' text), and this causes the game to explode combinatorially. What's the right adverb to use in a given situation? Why is it that one can whisper to Felicity and still have it be heard by others? What's the proper mood to be in for each statement you wish to make?

I have to admit that I never managed to solve this part of the game. I never won over Felicity's heart. The choices overwhelmed me, and I reluctantly stopped trying.

This is a flaw that should be easily overcome, however. A few hints dropped here and there would help to streamline the game and make for a more pleasurable experience.

I should also metion that this is a T3 game, which is still a bit dodgy. Interpreters are not ported widely (linux being a notable exception). But Iain does make use of a few interesting features -- note the status line graphics, for instance.

Overall: well done. Very funny, even if I never quite figured it out.

This article copyright © 2002, Mark Musante

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