The Little Ugly, Evil Guy On My Shoulder's Verdict: Who the hell is Robb Sherwin?
The Little Handsome, Good Guy On My Shoulder's Verdict: Hey, I know Rob Sherwin. He's this mechanic guy. He's fixed my car a couple times. He lives out in this shanty just outside of town with his seventeen year old girlfriend and their three children. Really, a nicer hairy illiterate mechanic you'll never meet. But how the heck did he start writing adventure games??
My Verdict: One of the most amusing and entertaining interactive bugfests featured in this year's competition.
As I write this review, I face a dilemma. I mean, it's friggin' obvious that I'm not going to blast my fellow Trotting Krip's game - even if he had written the next Detective I'd have to find some way to be kind. But the thing is that this game, that just happens to have been written by one of the webmasters of this site, really is something special: I've never played a game quite like it before. It drew me in from the start like no other game in the competition has so far. Very accessible, very playable, very funny. It kicks! It's not a matter of the game being average and me being biased. The game is excellent and I'd be a fan of it whether I'd ever heard of Robb Sherwin before or not. It's zat goot!
First of all, I should note that as I write this review I'm assuming there is going to be a post-comp release which fixes the bugs which really screw the comp version up(Robb's said there will be one.). So I'm just going to pretend the bugs don't exist(there's only one which really bothers me, anyway). This will be nicer for all those involved, plus it means I won't have to change this review after the post-comp release. Hey, I'm lazy. So, the game is about this guy, and his friends, and lots of chicks, and some zombies and crap. You start off in a bar with your bud Keegan, who suggests trying to pick up chicks - seems like a sensible thing to do when in a bar with your bud, right? Sure. Then the game starts getting interesting. Utilizing the dialogue menu first developed by Adam Cadre for his game Photopia(you select what you want to say to a particular person by picking a line from several different choices - each choice naturally brings a different result. It's sort of like the interface in Martian Memorandum), you must chat up as many chicks as you can find with the express purpose of getting a couple phone numbers. Cool, huh? So get going! Even if you mess up by choosing obviously improper lines(a good bit of fun can be had by doing this on purpose, actually) there are always more girls to talk to. Even the monkey from Pass the Banana could figure it out! If you do succeed in getting the two phone numbers, there shall be more to do, of course. I won't say anything about it other than that a pickup truck and a graveyard are involved.
What is truly astonishing about this game is how free flowing it is. Most interactive fiction games are "pretty good" - many IF games are "really good" - a few IF games are "great" or even "brilliant", but most of them don't succeed in transcending reality to the point where the player can become completely involved in the game and forget for a few moments that he/she is just playing another lousy computer game. To a certain extent, Chicks Dig Jerks does this by placing the player in a friendly, open environment wherein he is allowed to roam unchained and unrestricted by the author. The game is straightforward and reasonably simple. There's maybe one "puzzle" according the Infocommian definition, but it makes a lot of sense, really, and you ought to be able to figure it out without too much trouble. In order words, this is not the sort of game to incite such remarks from its players' as "Damn this parser!" or "This puzzle is too friggin' hard!" The author has chosen to sacrifice challenge for gameplay(not a bad idea for a comp game, really), and I suspect most of his audience will appreciate it. We need good games that newbies can play to the end, y'know.
The plot of the game is kinda screwy. I think it is supposed to be making some sort of social comment about how people waste their lives chasing after the opposite sex when life as they know it is threatened by evil forces unnoticed, but I didn't really pay much attention. I like the plot, anyway. The writing is great. Funny, slangy, entertainy, sometimes digressive, sometimes straight and to the point. There's some swearing, too, but nothing terribly offensive. Likewise, there is some sexual content present but it's not really very offensive - less so than Sierra's Leisure Suit Larry series at least cuz there aren't any pixellated boobies or anything like that. (Sorry, I've always wanted to include the term "pixellated boobies" in an interactive fiction review. Ah, now I have! "Lizabeeth, I'm comin' to join yeh!") It definitely sets new standards for "adult" shareware interactive fiction after the horrendous series of AGT games(Susan, A Night With Troi etc) destroyed the genre's already non-existent credibility. In short, you should expect to have a hell of a half hour with this game. And who knows what other wonders Robb has in the development stage? It's scary to think about it.
Simple Rating: 8/10
Puzzle Quality: 5/10
Parser Responsiveness: 9/10
Complicated Rating: 38/50
you biased reviewer, you!!! sprach the following on February 14th, 2001:: mwahahahahah
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