DESERT HEAT by Papillon (2000)
Reviewed by Eric Mayer
Here's a game for the puzzle-challenged player like me -- a choose your own adventure! This was the game I played second in Comp 2000, after AD VERBUM, and maybe I would've been warmed up and enjoyed AD VERBUM more if I'd started with this instead. Actually "warmed up" may be a poor choice of words since this is also, as the author describes it "female-written semi-erotica." I missed the "female-written" first time around and was going to criticize the story for being a not very credible male fantasy. In short, you are "Aika Sabakan, a free woman of high social class, and no one can force you to do anything against your will." You don't need any spoilers to figure out where that's headed, right?
So what do I know? Maybe women want to be chained up and raped by brutish strangers (well, that's more or less the idea but it is pretty soft core). Someplace deep down in the depths of the piggish male id that probably sounds good in theory, if the id theorizes, but my brain doesn't buy it even if a woman did write it. (Besides, I have learned from playing Robb Sherwin games that women are more likely to be bitch goddesses who will rip your head off or wait, did I learn that from life?)
Anyway, I'm not saying the idea couldn't work. I recall a fantasy series years ago, ATLAN by Jane Gaskell, which concentrated heavily on the female protag's travails, so to speak. But there was also more to the books. Obviously, they were longer than a short IF game would be and I suspect any writer would need to do a lot more character developing than there's room for in a game of DESERT HEAT's size to get the reader to buy into the idea. Otherwise you've got a cartoon and who's really going to get worked up over Minnie Mouse? (Stop right there. I most definitely don't want to know!) But then again, I've never been one for erotic writings. I found D. H. Lawrence's "John Thomas" and "Lady Jane" stuff pretty silly.
As for the CYOA aspect it struck me as an excuse to find the naughty bits (but that's probably just me). There is some story and I'll give it this -- a lot of different endings. CYOA, though, gives me fits. When faced with two or three choices I tend to want to save and try one choice then go back and try another, exploring the branches bit by bit rather than playing straight through the whole story and then trying again. My method probably does a disservice to the stories. Anyway I didn't want to spank the writer too hard.
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