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Roody Yogurt Reviews IF Competion ’12 Games! (Part Two)
Oct 24th, 2012 by Roody Yogurt

The Lift by Colin Capurso

More so than any other type of game, weapon pedantry is really annoying in CYOA (“OH NOES YOU CHOSE THE KNIFE WHEN YOU SHOULD HAVE CHOSEN THE CROWBAR!”). Starting off with that kind of situation was an instant fail in my book. The only nice thing I can say about this piece is that the premise recalled the Outer Limits episode “The Elevator” for me.


The Test is Now READY by Jim Warrenfeltz
(I played the first version)

Starting your game off with someone shouting “run, you magnificent bastard!” is pretty funny.

That said, I hate games that explore morality (I saw another review call it ethics and maybe that is the better term). How I play games doesn’t have enough of a correlation to how I view the world to have any kind of meaning, so you’re really only signing up to hear what the author has to say about it. Even if the author’s point is about the ambiguity of it all, again, it’s a meaningless exercise that bugs me enough that I intentionally avoid it.

Oh, yeah, I had something to say about the intro, too. I think I would have preferred the fake-prompt method to keep the intensity up, where each keypress equals one letter in the prompt, although the full-command it does here will definitely be useful if somebody plays the game on something like the ifMUD’s Floyd bot. Also, the pedant in me doesn’t like the fact that the introduction uses a command that I can’t use (“LOOK BACK”).

Response-wise, the game could use some work:

Frank says, “God, Harry, I thought we were dead for sure – I mean… well, metaphorically dead, you know, not like… well, the walking dead.”

>talk to frank
That’s not a verb I recognise.

>ask frank about dead
There is no reply.

>

Between the lack of implementation and discovering that it was a morality game, I closed the book on this one after finishing the first section.


howling dogs by Porpentine

All of the slow, looping prose felt like the CYOA-equivalent of unnecessary-IF-pauses. While being far from deducing What’s Going On, I enjoyed the ideas of martyrdom/saintdom and its relation to the persecution of women and how it is injected into a futuristic setting, but the pace was far too plodding for me and I eventually threw in the towel before completion.


Kicker by Pippin Barr

By the end of a playthrough of Kicker, it’s clear that it isn’t really much of a game (nor is it trying to be). In it, you play a football (or “American football”, for non-US people) kicker. The entire game seems to be based on random outcomes. Even when it is time to kick the ball, your success seems to have no correlation to how many times you’ve >PRACTICEd, >STRETCHed, or >EXERCISEd (I couldn’t think of any other commands to improve my chances).

While not a small amount of work to code, I imagine, I can’t say Kicker is really “IF comp material” nor is it really enjoyable. It seems to me like it’d have been better done as a Textfire game or something, where it would have had the good graces to end after one quarter. Oddly enough, the Textfire games were released in the 90s, which is also the last time I really laughed at a kicker joke.


Valkyrie by Emily Forand

According to the blurb on the IF comp site, this game is a collaborative effort among community college students. I don’t think this is a successful game as it is, but I don’t want to be harsh. Technically, there are misspellings and ill-constructed sentences. After reaching a dead-end (yes, it’s a CYOA), the ‘go back to the start’ link didn’t even work.

I don’t think the tone of the writing works well as text, but I found myself imagining that it could work in some sort of audio-based CYOA system (isn’t that a thing? I thought there was a thing) where they read the passages aloud. That might force some urgency.


STAY TUNED FOR PART THREE!

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Roody Yogurt Reviews IF Competion ’12 Games! (Part One)
Oct 21st, 2012 by Roody Yogurt

Transit by Shaye

Transit is a game from the perspective of someone separated from a friend at a foreign airport, with no means of communication. Looking over the prose again as I write this review, I see humor where I missed it before. For me, I think the humorous/surreal/exciting elements really need to be turned up some notches; it was really a struggle to care about the story when I initially played. It was only the small size of the game and a feeling that the author wasn’t ill-intentioned that kept me playing.

That said, I am biased against CYOA, and since I didn’t feel this piece elevated the form, I gave it a pretty low rating.


Shuffling Around by Ned Yompus
(I played the first release)

It seems that there are a fair amount of IF players who enjoy these wordplay games. I, for one, don’t since these games always seem to have a fair amount of puzzles that are stupidly arbitrary, allowing one word but not allowing another reasonable word. This game seems to try to avoid frustration by empowering the PC with a hint gadget, which I thought was interesting.

Still, I thought a game about anagrams that only accepts one word commands kind of keeps the limitation of the implementation on the brain. Also, the sad fact is, I couldn’t even finish the tutorial area when I couldn’t find some guard, but I was kind of happy to be given an excuse to quit.


Signos by M4u
(I played the first release)

This was an interesting game. I mean, the first time I played, within a handful of moves, I had gotten myself stuck in some dark room where I (seemingly?) couldn’t do anything. I thought that was enough to determine a score, but I figured I’d play around a bit more just the same. I have to say that I’m intrigued by the philosophy angle the other rooms I explored had, even if I didn’t accomplish anything meaningful in any of them.

It was kind of odd that the game provided options to GET characters. I imagine Quest has the capabilities to specify what kind of default commands are allowed with objects and characters and that the author just hasn’t learned how to do this yet. That’ll be a big improvement when it’s fixed.

I also thought the background music contributed positively to the mood of the game. While not successful in the making-making-me-want-to-play-it-to-completion category, I thought the tone was nicely not off-putting, so even though the game’s flaws really weigh it down, I also feel oddly endeared to it.


Changes by David Given

Changes starts off with a disturbing gory scene, and a pause. After the keypress, there’s enough of a scene change to make the pause’s existence justifiable. A couple of turns in is where the true moment of horror is, though, as I read the prose and thought, dear god have I woken up as a furry??

Fortunately, Changes doesn’t go as far down that path as one would worry it might. Overall, it’s one of the better comp12 games I’ve played so far. There are enough rooms to require mapping for somebody like me but not so many that I felt weighed down. The efficiency-lover in me wonders if it could be trimmed further, though. There’s also a certain daemon that is really tiresome if you trigger it before the plot calls for it.

The game is strongest in the “game proper”; the sci-fi backstory stuff is interesting but the prose is not really engaging yet. Maybe that could be improved.

Overall, the puzzles are intuitive enough, but the execution of some could be improved (like the [rot13]qvirefvba bs gur qrre ureq[/rot13]). The only real stinker is the last puzzle (ohvyqvat n gevcbq bhg bs fgvpxf) which was so bad that it docked the final score several points. I think Changes could be a fully-successful game with some polishing. Hopefully, it gets there.


Lunar Base 1 by Michael Phipps

First off, I was a betatester for this game so I will not be rating it.

The other year, I wrote a review of his previous game, Hallow Eve. You can find it here.

Some may call his new game disappointingly railroaded, but I think that compared to his earlier game, it is nice to see the ideas within more easily accessible.

The game is odd within its own right. Things like, why are astronauts taking the time to reminisce about childhood? In a game like this, the point is not so much about realism as it is about telling an earnest story.

I imagine there are still some annoyances. I hope you can now look out that one window if the other astronaut is not in front of it. Some of the phrasings and punctuation didn’t sit right with me when I played it, but I never got around to compiling my issues for the author since in a way, those things are not the point of this kind of game. It tells its story well enough and is a fun little romp and succeeds in being more engaging than your average game.


STAY TUNED FOR PART TWO!

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Jolt Country is presented by Ice Cream Jonsey.
Twitter: @icecreamjonsey

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