Journey to Alpha Centauri (In
Real Time) / Julian Fleetwood (1998)
|The Evil, Ugly Guy On My Shoulder's Verdict:
|Ah, what a great idea. I'll just leave this
game running for three thousand years so I can win. Ha, ha, ha. Now all I have to do is
discover the secret of immortality and find a way to prevent all power outages for the
next three millennia... Ha, ha, ha.
|The Nice, Handsome Guy On My Shoulder's Verdict:
||I am not going
to say anything rude about this little game somebody coded in their spare time as a means
of learning Inform. I have better things to do with my time than tear apart text
adventures written by amateurs for fun...UNLIKE SOME OTHER PEOPLE I KNOW.
|(.sarcasm)It is games like this that makes
the IF Archive at ftp.ifarchive.org the greatest free gaming repository on the
|Julian is a young man from Australia on a mission - what mission that is
I cannot tell you. He maintains an excellent homepage replete with content, links, and
wonder: visit it here. Personally I think his site
was at least 10% better when it contained a link to Reviews From Trotting Krips, but
that's just me.
The Internet has oft been compared to the Wild West of 19th century American yore and
lore in various mainstream print publications during the past few years. This is mainly
because that particular romantic imagery is a lot more appealing than, say, the image of a
lot of little twelve year old boys glued to their respective computer screens trying to
find a way past their parents' kiddie lock software so they can view a lot of nekkid porno
pictures and then maybe download a gig or two of that crazy c00l war3Z stuff. But also the
comparison is fairly accurate to a certain extent. The Internet and the Wild West are/were
both lawless, free, vast, and ungovernable. For every livery stable or general store in a
two-horse, dusty Western town, there were also a couple whorehouses, saloons, and gambling
parlors to be found. Likewise, the Internet. Only in the case of the Internet none of the
buildings actually have signs. What looks on the surface like a hardware store, or, say,
an interactive fiction review site
might turn out to be just another effing brothel. You
just have to sort of stumble around blindly to find what you want for the most part. So it
is even with our well beloved interactive fiction archive at ftp.ifarchive.org. There was
a man named Muckenhoupt who once tried to index the whole archive, but I think he stopped
updating regularly around 1997 and of course he's almost completely vanished since
November '99 - nobody knows where the heck that guy is. Reviews From Trotting Krips has
stepped in and successfully picked up some of the slack, but we've only reviewed a very
small portion of the contents of the immense IF archive thus far. When it comes time for
me to pick what game I want to download next I pretty much commit myself to the hands of
fate and choose something at random that looks like it "might be interesting."
Usually it's not because I tend to download a lot of AGT games hoping they'll be better
than even I can possibly expect them to be, but I was hopeful as I downloaded
"Journey to Alpha Centauri" from the Inform directory of the archive. Sure, it
was only 50k, but I've created dozens of stupid little BASIC programs that are a lot
smaller than that - even more importantly, I've played a lot of stupid little BASIC
programs that are pretty dang good and a lot smaller than 50k(ever played Donkey?
Crap, that game ruled.) Unfortunately, this game...just isn't much of a game. It's another
frigging joke excuse for a text adventure. OH
Lord have mercy on my poor pitiful soul.
Did I just say this was another frigging joke excuse for a text adventure?
Like it or not, that is exactly what this game is. Julian Fleetwood took the concept
from a bit of dialogue in some novel by Terry Pratchett: the idea was that if it takes
three thousand years to reach Alpha Centauri from the planet Earth, a computer simulation
of a journey to Alpha Centauri in real time would also take three thousand years.
So, Julian Fleetwood's adapted this concept and made a text adventure out of it. You are
placed aboard a spaceship headed for Alpha Centauri. There are no rooms inside the
spaceship for you to visit. There are no switches, buttons, or controls that you are
allowed to mess with. There is no paranoid robot or hyperintelligent ship computer. None
of that. There is, however, a timer on the top of your screen that is slowly counting down
every second, minute, hour, day, and year remaining before your voyage to Alpha Centauri
is completed. So, essentially, what you can do here is look around the room you're in(not
much to see), type "help" and read a few things, type "xyzzy" for
laughs, watch the timer count down for a few minutes, and then quit. That, my friend, is
the game. The entire game. I peered at the source briefly and there doesn't appear to be
any way in which to win the game aside from...umm... leaving your computer on for three
thousand real years. The message you get for winning is kind of lame anyway, so I would
say that it's just not worth it.
Surprisingly, unlike most other small one-room joke games, this one isn't even
implemented that well. Julian had some helpers who aided him in creating the game(and whom
he generously notes in the help section) and you'd think would have cleared out most all
of the bugs in such a small game as this one, but for some reason I found myself often
having to repeat commands before the game recognized them. Even with commands like
"help" and "quit" the first time I typed them resulted in a
scintillating blank line appearing on my screen rather than the function I requested being
invoked. Nothing particularly serious about that - the comp version of Eric Mayer's The
HeBGB Horror! also had some similar instances, and that certainly didn't lessen my
enjoyment of that game. But it does make this game seem even a little more questionable -
okay, it's a joke. Fine. It's got only one room and no objects or NPCs. Fine. But does it
also have to be BUGGY? I realize that this game was not uploaded to ftp.ifarchive.org to
be an example of a text adventure that is supposed to be brilliant and impressive. Nah.
This fellow wrote a game and wanted to share his work with his fellow humans. Nothing
wrong with that. But the truth is that in its present form this game is not really
anything but clutter - if only a few authors tried a little harder to make their games
better there would be an unbelievable reduction in the number of crap games on
ftp.ifarchive.org...and that would be better for us all. Better for newbies just getting
into IF who might be repelled by a pointless, unwinnable game - better for veterans
looking for something to really dig their teeth into - better for me looking for new AGT
games that don't suck. Most importantly, it would also be a more satisfying experience for
the author of the game to create something that is worthwhile and at least entertaining to
play. Eh, I'm probably just wasting my words here anyway...just consider yourself warned:
don't go downloading alpha.z5 and expect a game you can really play. Instead, you should
download it for the neato timer! Yeah. That's the ticket.
8 / 50
|Umm...I enjoyed the help files.
|Considering the solution to the game involves waiting three thousand
years, I'm guessing that you can't make puzzles too much worse than this.
3 / 10
|Very poor. There are few things to look at to begin
with, but there are even fewer ways to interact with those things.
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