An Important Appointment / Jennifer Earl (2000)

The Evil, Ugly Guy On My Shoulder's Verdict:
What the hell is the world coming to? Chicks writing IF? That "Worlds Apart" thing was bad enough, but this... Oh, how I desperately long for those heady, glorious days of AGT porn....
The Nice, Handsome Guy On My Shoulder's Verdict:
This game was a lot of fun. Well written and entertaining!
My Verdict:
Hurrah for multiple endings!

Game Information

Game Type:
Author Info:
Some IF Comp 2000 notes are here. She is also the author of the IF adaption of Joust for the IF Arcade mini-comp.
Download Link:
The entire Dino Comp 2000 package(650 KB) includes this game and a lot of other great ones.

As soon as I had played this one through twice, I mentally linked it to a game from a few years ago which I had really enjoyed: I-O. What's funny about this is that I've just now discovered that Jennifer is the girlfriend/paramour/whatever of none other than Mr. Adam Cadre, the celebrated author of I-O. I imagine that those two have a pretty solid relationship based upon the really important things in life. Things like love, trust, and a shared belief in the benefits of including multiple story paths in interactive fiction. Especially that last thing - if more relationships were built around solid game design concepts like that, I definitely do not believe that one out of two marriages in the United States would still end in divorce. Like I-O, An Important Appointment is highly entertaining because of the freedom it allows its players to themselves fill in the details of the game's story. While the final, victorious end of An Important Appointment is the same no matter what the player did along the way, the real fun in this game lies in trying different things on the way to this final destination. You can "win" the game and feel like a loser if you did things you didn't want to do just because you thought you had to do them in order to win. Or you can win the game and feel vaguely unsatisfied because you didn't bother to try to do things you wanted to do while playing because you just knew they wouldn't work. Revenger and A Dino's Night Out had multiple story endings, but neither quite gave the player the same feeling of freedom this game conveys. True to Dino-Comp standards, the game is tiny and can be completed in five minutes - this is convenient for both the IF player on the go and the IF author on a busy schedule, but this game's freeform spirit would probably have shown a little better in a larger game. What's here is good, but imagine how good it would be if we had even more choices, more ways to fill in the story! So, really, I did quite like this game, but what I'm REALLY waiting for is... Jennifer's entry in the 2000 Interactive Fiction Competition. Knock us out. Okay?

Note: what follows is a descriptive account of my experiences playing An Important Appointment. I rewrote my original draft of the review and so these next paragraphs didn't really fit anywhere, but I didn't want to get rid of them altogether. But beware: a lot of what I say below I already said better in my opening paragraph.

The first time I played this game through I did something I did not want to do in the course of winning. I'd become so jaded after playing games like The Loneliness of A Long Distance Runner and Why Did The Dinosaur Cross The Road? that I had come to accept that killing living, beautiful creatures was just something I would have to do repeatedly while completing DinoComp games. Now, see, I don't mind killing trolls, orcs, zombies, Nazis, or wumpuses in video games. I don't mind killing innocent people or animals in video games so long as I'm playing a role where that sort of reprehensible behavior makes some sort of sense. That sort of thing doesn't bother me. I know the difference between virtual reality and reality. But when every other text adventure I play has me killing my friends or darling little chickens it...well, it makes one start to ponder over certain things. After all, am I not a man? Have I not a conscience? Oh, I do. I do indeed. Killing in text adventures has rather gone out of style over the past few years - I can remember in my early days of playing IF it was a rather common objective in both the commercial and the freeware games. You gathered treasure, you escaped houses and dungeons, and you killed the bastards who would stand in your way. There were many variations on the theme, of course. Like Steve Neighorn's game about the tsunami hitting the island - there, you couldn't kill stuff, but you had to gather treasure and avoid getting killed. Then there was Steve Neighorn's game about the haunted house. There, you just went around and killed stuff while gathering treasure, but you didn't have to escape from anywhere. You'd come to the haunted house to kick ass and take names, not run away with your tail between your legs. But as the years have gone by, I've come to expect my text adventures to be rather more peaceful than the latest shooter or RPG. This is why I was so disturbed as I heartlessly killed off(albeit indirectly) another one of nature's beautiful creatures merely for the purpose of completing a text adventure game. Maybe I've just been stressed out lately, but at that point I was all ready to forsake violent video games altogether, reducing myself to merely playing Japanese social RPGs. You know, that kind where you play some cute little blue-haired girl, maybe one named Masako or Miyako or something else ending in "ko"? Do not think for one minute that such a game would be a ridiculously easy waste of gameplaying time. It is not so easy to assume the role of a little blue-haired Japanese girl, you know. There is so much to do! First, you must go around and talk to other little girls with cool hair and neat accessories. You cannot hope to slay the evil black dragon of Gubei if you do not first get some information from the townspeople. Er, I mean... such social activity is necessary if you are to garner information about the game and its objectives - peaceful as I'm sure they are. If you grow bored giggling and gossiping your life away(and you probably will, even if you are a little Japanese blue-haired girl yourself), you can always go to your room and play with your little purple kitty cat, "Prince Tenje." Eventually, perhaps you will win the game - but even if you do not, the experience of playing will have given you much. Such a game reassures one that the world is peaceful and beautiful, though it is not. Everything appears to be in perfect harmony, and so the soul rejoices. Oh, yes. That is exacly the sort of video game I need.

Er, anyway, so I have been under a great deal of stress lately. I'm in no mood for conflict. The absolute last thing I needed burdening my conscience was the blood of a virtual rodent friend. So I put my trust in Jennifer Earl, a girl I knew nothing about, as I loaded her game up once again, hoping against hope that I could find another way to win the game, a way which would not involve me killing my little rodent friend. And Jennifer delivered. Oh, did she ever. I did win the dang game again, but this time my conscience was clear. I did kill some other stuff along the way, but for some reason it just didn't bother me. Me and Mopsy were okay, and that's all that mattered, dammit. I could hold my head up high as I told the world that I had played An Important Appointment, and I had won. Thank you, Jennifer. Thank you very, very much.

This game has exactly one thing going for it: openendedness. It's really small, but while you're playing the game there's a bunch of different things you can do along the way that don't really affect the story ending, but do make the whole experience a lot more satisfying. It's fun to play two or three times through, trying different things and seeing what happens. Everything else about the game is just okay. The story is silly but clever: you are a cloned dinosaur attempting to become the first "Sauran-American"(Jennifer's term...I really like it). In the not so distant future, even clones will fight for rights and citizenship. You've got your day in all you need to do is GET to court. The writing? Oh, it's just fine, for the game. The puzzles? There aren't really any. The bugs? Jennifer says that there are a few, but I didn't really notice anything too serious. I'm not counting the endless street thing as a bug, though...maybe it is.

All in all, a very nice first game - here's hoping Jennifer will release many more in the years to come.

Simple Rating
4 / 10

Complicated Rating
19 / 50

6 / 10

4 / 10

6 / 10

Puzzle Difficulty
1 / 10

Parser Responsiveness
4 / 10

Pretty good, but I wanted to be able to talk to the doorman and stuff, so I docked a point or two just to be spiteful

Reader Comments:

Adam Cadre
May 2nd, 2000

Spoiler Alert: the street isn't actually endless. Sure, if you try to *walk* down it, you'll never get anywhere. But pick up the pace a little and your destination is mere moments away.

May 4th, 2000

While we're throwing spoilers right and left, I just want to state right here and now that eating the doorman in this game made me laugh harder than I've laughed in some time. I know I preached nonviolence throughout my review, but man...that really, really made me laugh. I just didn't expect it would work. You can't just go up to a doorman and gobble them down, just like that. Or CAN you??? Very, very funny.

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