The Evil, Ugly Guy On My Shoulder's Verdict: If I really wanted to play a "hard" adventure game, I think I'd be better served by running "Moist." This game left me limp and lonely. Not to mention frustrated.
The Nice, Handsome Guy On My Shoulder's Verdict: I never understood the appeal of these run-around-and-get-killed treasure hunt type games. The best IF deals with genuine issues relating to the human condition...not silly fantasy and fairy tales. Are we but children to be so fascinated by such idle past-times? Oh, I wonder.
My Verdict: This is an adventure game on rails. If I was a track, I'd beg it to run right over me. Twice.
Game Type: AGT
Author Info: I wouldn't know A. Fielding from a rock, but David Malmberg is the genius who brought us AGT in its "classic" and its "enchanced" formats. Though I'm unsure of his involvement in the scene at the present time, for many years he was an active adventure game propogandist...and AGT is still the most user friendly workable adventure game creation system that has ever been made. He has also authored and co-authored a number of games. David includes some information on the elusive A. Fielding with the game: "This particular game was inspired by a number of sources. The primary inspiration came from a neglected classic titled 'The Hardest Adventure' by A. Fielding which is the heart-and-soul of this game." Since David was nice enough to give Mr. Fielding joint credit for this game, I decided to follow suit.
Other Games By This Author: Crusade, Hurry! Hurry! Hurry!, plus several other AGT "ports."
Download Link: ftp://ftp.ifarchive.org/if-archive/games/agt/hardest.zip
This game, quite frankly, is insane. Absolutely nuts. You rather expect something of the sort from a game that goes out of the way to accentuate its difficulty with its very title, but it's more than just obscenely challenging. It is - well, it's just crazy. It starts out in that most cliched of adventure game settings: you are before a house(mansion, I mean). Get in and get the treasures and get the hell out. Even the recent puzzler blockbuster Mulldoon follows much the same unoriginal theme. But in this game, the settings are familiar by design... in this game, familiar rooms and settings and storylines are a confusion tactic. Simply put, this game is your enemy. It hates you. You do not have to do anything wrong to get killed in this game. Walk around for a few moves and find out. You'll die. A wizard will pop up and say you've spent too long on the adventure: eat dirt! Zork II anyone? Or you'll get eaten by a cyclops, swallowed by the ground, eviscerated by a gluttonous blob. Luckily, dying in this game doesn't mean a whole lot. Yes, you do get pushed back to the starting room but you still have all your items and everything you've done to alter the gaming environment remains the same. Of course, if you die twenty or so times the game will really end, but there's a couple of cool commands called "save" and "restore" that might help you get around that. Use them! As soon as you realize trying the "direct" approach to gain entry into the house is doomed to failure, you begin to explore your surroundings. It shouldn't take you long to encounter several scenes of pure unadulterated plagiarism. Walk around in the forest...hey, ain't these scenes from Adventure? Walk around some more. Hey, waitaminute...this is Zork! Quite a lot of Zork in fact. And it's not just a Zork lookalike. I'm talking rooms blatantly copied from the original game. It is so illegal that if I were David Malmberg I would not be laughing right now. Blank & Lebling could win a thousand cases in any reasonable court of law by suing penniless IF authors for ripping them off if only (1) Zork wasn't public domain and (2) Activision didn't own the copyrights anyway. Oh, well. The World's Hardest Adventure seems definitely aware of the history of IF... and it spits on that legacy. Why? Because it's a mean-spirited, completely wicked game. And that's the bottom line.
Satanic though it undoubtedly is, this game is also a joy to play. By AGT standards, the parser is magnificent and extremely responsive. What original content there is well written - what's stolen is stolen tastefully and well(if such a thing is possible). There are literally dozens of special sequences that may be summoned at various intervals by typing special commands. There are literally dozens of ways to die - and this game definitely does not cheat the player there. In some ways, it's more fun to die in this game than it is to live...which is good, since you spend most of your time dying in this game anyway. In most games, you die and you feel like a failure. In this game, you get a pat on the back for finding such a clever way of passing on...as well as a nice description of the actual event. It's surprisingly fun for a while - a nice break from nose-to-the-grindstone goal-obsessed IF. If you actually feel that you really do need to finish this game, you'll certainly encounter various obstacles along the way. It's not called The World's Hardest Adventure for nothin', you know. Part of the charm of this game is that the puzzles are not incredibly unique, but rather old stand-bys that are still consistently challenging. When you encounter a maze in this game you don't go, "Oh no! A maze!" Instead, you exclaim: "A maze! Of course. What else?" Certainly what makes the game most difficult to solve is not so much the actual puzzles as it is the overall organization of the game as a whole. And, really, it's not actually the world's hardest adventure game - that's just shtick. I have played at least a hundred adventure games harder than this, many of which I never solved.
This is an excellent, quirky, highly entertaining text adventure. Few games have managed to remain so derivative yet retain a high sense of "fun" despite it - this is one that succeeds at doing just that. It is often difficult to give a "blanket" recommendation of any game as players' tastes are so radically different, but this is a game I would freely recommend to almost anyone. It is not a game you need to solve to enjoy. It is not even a game you need to attempt to seriously solve in order to enjoy. Rather, just to experience the manic, insane gameplay is enough - though it's incredibly satisfying to win, too. It's also a walking advertisement for AGT-Enhanced. Looks great(excellent color scheme!), plays great. Honestly, why is everybody and their brother creating new Windows-based adventure game creators/helpers when there are already so many IF development tools that are available and chronically underused? Newbies have AGT and Alan, and a few others more obscure currently residing on ftp.ifarchive.org. IF needs to exploit the tools that it has rather than simply get more tools which will be quickly forgotten. It's about time these ignored development systems are revived instead of being placed in the trash can in favor of these promised new development systems which will probably never see the light of day...or, if they do, will probably not be free as AGT and Alan are. In closing, I just want to punctuate my review by saying that this is a game that succeeds on at least two levels: it's both a challenging puzzle game in the classical style as well as a blissfully entertaining and hilarious gameplay extravaganza. The only element it is missing is story. And let's not kid ourselves: that matters a heck of a lot in interactive fiction. The lack of a plot and a deeper story to this game means that it cannot be taken seriously. Luckily, I don't think A. Fielding and D. Malmberg had that in mind when they made it.
Simple Rating: 8/10
Complicated Rating: 33/50
Writing: 8/10(I'm particularly a fan of the madcap events which occur in reference to an unusual command or sometimes seemingly randomly of their own volition. And the death scenes? Masterful!)
Playability: 7/10(Death's never been more fun. This game should be banned for encouraging suicide.)
Puzzle Quality: 7/10(Highly derivative. But effective and challenging.)
Parser Responsiveness: 8/10(Top of the line. Really!)
Big Johnson sprach the following on February 28th, 2000:
Ooh baby! Right now I am the world's hardest adventurer! Hahah!
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