review by Jonathan Blask

H.L. Mencken’s Verdict:
“There comes a time when every man feels the urge to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and start slitting throats….   And play a fuckin' rad IF game- aw yeah!”

Colm McCarthy’s Verdict:  
“IF?  I hate when people call it ‘interactive fiction’!  Just call them ‘text adventures,’ already.  Bitch.”

My Verdict:  
This is a fun demo that I’d like to see finished one day.

Game Information

Game Type: TADS

                                            The Review...

            Okay,  I admit that I have a certain fascination with authors who wrote several text games before I discovered the  current IF scene (right near the end of ’96), especially the ones that already left r*if by the time I came around.  I mean, the authors that are still around today are cool, sure, but they're only obstacles that must be crushed in my pursuit of world domination. Anyways, the filenames of these historic games mock me from every game directory at gmd.  Their index descriptions fill my head with visions of a wondrous time, the beginning of the Golden Age that we live in now. They say to me, you can try, but you'll never understand or imagine what it was like, little boy.  You silly little dweeb.

      Alas, there’s also a darker side to these old games.  Why did their authors leave IF behind them?  Did they really grow that weary with us, the IF community?  Is the real world really that intrusive (goddamn)?  Will I someday say ‘FUCK YOU, TEXT GAMES’ and go off and live in the woods some day?  I can’t say for certain, but through analysis of such authors, I can try to understand this chaotic spiral into madness and hopefully prevent it from happening to anyone ever again, whether it be by peaceful persuasion or threat of nuclear war.

            So it was with a curious mind that I downloaded nobeard.gam one day.  Some observations-  The writing, although not outstanding, is effective and fits the genre quite nicely.  I’m not quite sure how to rate the difficulty of the puzzles.  This is a game that I couldn’t beat when I first played it but then returned to it a year or so later and beat it quite easily (after first e-mailing Mr. McCarthy just to make sure it could be done).  I’d liken the difficulty to Kent Tessman’s Spur and I’d guess that the two games have a similar audience, as both take place in particularly adventurous (or, at least, romanticised) times of history. .

            The scoring system is entertaining, giving you information about different pirates as your score increases.  This was used earlier in Neil deMause’s Lost New York (in which it gave you rankings of mayors from New York), but it’s still used to good effect here.

            All in all, I thought it was a fun little game.  I don’t know why but I really like these action-adventure genre games.  I wish there were more games like this.  You cannot go wrong with pirates. Still, there's just one remaining question…

            Will this game ever get finished?

            Well, I swore that I would find him, as Jim Ellison would say, and I swore that I would track him down.  In a dirty darkened alleyway (in Bristol, of course), I said, “Whatever you do, Colm McCarthy, don’t turn around.” With my Sabre of Dood propped against his throat, he hastily admitted me that he’s considered finishing Nobeard one day, and I, for one, would like to see that happen.  Whether or not he does, though, a demo can still be quite enjoyable (as the fake Textfire games and Pick Up The Phone Booth And Die II show), and I'd suggest that people try it out.


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