AGGRAVATRON (Annoyotron 2) by Ben Parrish (2001)

Game Type: Hugo

Reviewed(brilliantly) by Eric Mayer

The Review...


How could I be annoyed by a game I finished without any hints? Let's be honest here -- I never finished a game I didn't like.

OK. So maybe there is a slightly egregious "guess-the-verb" interlude. But the verb could've been worse. A lot worse. It could have been, say, "procrastinate," or "obfuscate," or even "catheterize." (Hope I'm not giving too much away here) How many verbs are there in the English language? (It isn't "transmogrify" either.)

Besides there's a certain gambling thrill to feeding those random verbs into the parser, one after another till you're practically delirious with exhaustion and hope, hitting (attacking, beating, punishing, clubbing, slapping, punching, bashing, knocking, nailing, banging, smacking, whacking, whomping) that enter key over and over, waiting for the blaring sirens and flashing lights of whatever miraculous prose is going to replace the default message. How annoying is that?

There's some long halls, of course. Really looong halls. Halls that'll have you tickling the G-key till your computer cries for mercy. But you get to the end of them and how many times have you just kept heading south hoping you'd eventually get somewhere? Every maze I've ever got in I go south about 500 times, just in case, and it's never worked once, so far from being annoying, it made me feel like a genius.

Now I hope I'm still not giving away too much (but how can you spoil a game that's supposed to annoy you?) but you know how when a game flatly tells you can't do something you want to do? Let's be honest here. . .do you try again? And maybe more than once? Flying in the face of repeated default messages? And isn't there a kind of nobility in that? Isn't that what life's all about, spitting in the face of the big fat default message of our own mortality? Annoying? Hell, we're talking great art now! I don't want to give away any more of the delightful experiences awaiting the players of this game. Suffice it to say (Nope, that's not the elusive verb either, but I'll bet it'd be swell to code) that RAIF will be abuzz for the next two years debating the true significance of the annoying little old man who runs around in circles at the center of the universe. Ah, sweet ambiguity!

So I rate this game:

0. to annoy the author.
10 to annoy the critics.
15 because I finished it.

(Actually I should've submitted this to Mark Musante first and then I would've had $10 for the work Ben did and he would've had nothing. Now that would've really been annoying.)

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