Sparky's Verdict: Player, I understand what a pain a slob can be. But you kind of went overboard there.
Brew's Verdict: I don't see what the big deal was. At least there was nobody from Bah-stahn leaving near you stating that he GOT KILLT every night he went looking for BEAVAH
My Verdict: The kind of dialogue and characterization I'm looking for in a game... marred by puzzles I should like, but don't.
Game Type: TADS
Author Info: Leon Lin wrote two great games that I know of -- and then apparently disappeared from the IF scene. I could be totally wrong here, he could be around with a handle, a la Michael Gentry.
Other Games By This Author: The One That Got Away
Download Link: ftp.ifarchive.org/if-archive/games/tads/kissing.zip
College games represent quite well in the amateur interactive fiction pool of wares because everyone is under the impression that their college experience was a madcap, hilarity-dominated one. The people you meet during your four years at the University (much longer or much shorter for some of us, natch) provide ample characteristics for an author to draw from for the rest of his or her life. It works, in Kissing the Buddha's Feet, because the author, Leon Lin, listened effectively throughout those years and wrote from those experiences.
University doesn't always lend itself to effective fiction at a later date. For instance, I went to college with a guy that probably weight 85 pounds and walked around with a goatee and cloak. We called him Dr. Death. This was all very funny to us because it was a real guy who did all these things (wearing a goatee in 1992 still meant you were making a statement, and that statement was "I am a goddamn freak.") -- the humor is based strongly upon the fact that it occurred in real life. Trying to translate that guy into any sort of fiction comes off as implausible because he was just too out-there, too rich, too psychotic, too much.
While Lin's characters are not all completely believable and bubbling over with depth, he has nevertheless given them memorable qualities still not prevalent in video games in this day and age, and certainly revolutionary for 1996. It is for that reason that even though I found almost every character in the game unsympathetic except John, the game was still enjoyable to play: We see:
-- John: John is a complete slob in the player character's eyes. Ergo, I had a difficult time sympathizing with the player character, who comes off as some sort of anal retentive neat freak by default. The hell is this shit about John's beer cans? Are we supposed to be impressed because the player character is some sort of prancing fancy boy? Going to college involves mass consumption of alcohol, gross indulgence in casual sex, and occasional studying. Granted, Psyche 101 -- the course John is having trouble in -- is like the easiest class anyone should ever take, but I can't condemn the guy for having difficulty with some elective. I applaud his tenacity -- my personal bane was Assembly, so I understand where he is coming from. The player character's motivations for getting him to pass the class are abhorrent -- since a "better" (cleaner?) roommate couldn't be found, he stuck with John for an extra year? I think I am somewhat qualified to speak of what it means to be living with another human being you are woefully incompatible with. I can't fault John at all here.
-- Alice: She is apparently the "leader" of John's group of friends. She totes a devil-may-care attitude, but trying to kiss her results in a punch in the nose. Is this because the player character embraces his cleanliness with a prudish and wholly unattractive manner? Or is this because Lin wasn't ready to add to the growing body of Adult IF work?
-- Evan: Evan is the kind of guy who is great fun in a video game but wouldn't translate into someone you'd actually want to have to hang around with in real life. Sort of like TV's Bob Costas. Evan is one of those guys with an opinion on everything and works well within the constructs of the game.
-- Bob: The drunk. At Syracuse, our loud, respected boozer was known as Wilbur. He is also the best euchre player I've ever known in my entire life. That ability alone should get him into Professor Xaiver's School For Gifted Youngsters. He's also bigger than Colossus. Bob has the potential for coming off as a cliche, but how many IF characters do you know are completely intoxicated for virtually their entire on-screen performance?
-- Carl: I didn't find the Carl character anything more than slightly moot. I guess he's there to be the guy the PC hates.
Although this is really is a short game, Lin has a great mind for pacing and story development. You're given a few moves to organize your thoughts and soak in the ware's ambiance before John's four friends arrive. Kissing the Buddha's Feet has incredible atmosphere and at times really felt like that off-campus apartment I'd spent many a night of my youth in.
The tasks required to finish the game are pretty mundane and if the game has a glaring weakness, it's in that department. Finding remote controls and shutting doors are a realistic implementation of what you'd really need to do in order to get John to concentrate, but that doesn't necessarily make it fun. And, as I've mentioned before, this wasn't a PC I enjoyed role-playing. Ergo, it's a credit to the writing that I was still able to find the game enjoyable and that I do look upon it with fondness. It's more than the sum of its parts. I can chalk up any personal desire for the game to come off as slightly more risqu as player bias and recommend the game to anyone with an interest in IF.
Simple Rating: 8.9 / 10
Story: 8.2 / 10
Writing: 9.6 / 10
Playability: 9.3 / 10
Puzzle Quality: 5.5 / 10
Parser Responsiveness: 8.4 / 10
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