The Evil, Ugly Guy On My Shoulder's Verdict: Living proof that no text adventure written by a guy or girl named Bob is worth playing. Screw you, Bob Nance!
The Nice, Handsome Guy On My Shoulder's Verdict: Wuz for tea, darling?
My Verdict: Squid? WHY? WHY NOT? EAT SQUID.
Game Type: Alan
Author Info: Bob Reeves has recently released a collection of his pointless Alan games to GMD which is well worth checking out. They are free, after all. Little else is known about the man other than that he likes bunnies more than he should, is left handed, is five feet and eleven inches tall, and sleeps in festive orange undergarments.
Other Games By This Author: To Get To The Other Side, Mazemapper, They're After You!, The Mean Story
Download Link: ftp://ftp.ifarchive.org/if-archive/games/alan/plsg.zip
Note: As far as I know, Dinnertime is only available for download with Bob Reeves' other blockbuster games zipped in the file I've linked to above. Sorry.
Coo! So the other day I was waltzing through Ye Olde Interactive Fiction Archive(GMD, naturally. Real men and women get their IF games from Germany. Only wussies use mirror sites! That's why I never update the Australian mirror of Reviews From Trotting Krips. Heh, haw, ho.) the other day, and I quite innocently happened to buzz into the the games/alan directory. Imagine my surprise, my joy, my consternation, my pain, my pride, my prejudice, my utter delight at finding a new collection of Alan games, all written by a fellow named Bob Reeves. Sounded good. Sounded like fun! As you can imagine, I didn't waste any time downloading the zip file. No sirree! And you know what? I can honestly say I spent about ten minutes playing each of Bob's games. Except "Mazemapper", which seemed really, really stupid and tedious. I spent FORTY HOURS on that one. Two minutes, that is. Anyway, I've never really spent more than five minutes on any of Rybread Celsius' games, so it's no mean achievement for Bob's games to keep me occupied for ten whole minutes each. (By the way, in case you're interested in hearing my opinion on the great "Is Rybread Celsius a genius or a fool?" burning topic, I'll state here authoritatively that though I've never spent more than five minutes on a Rybread game, I've really enjoyed those several five minute sessions, every second in fact. Someday, I'll possibly spend more time with them and write some reviews. Wouldn't that be nice?). But Bob's games kind of suck! No offense, Bob, I'm sure you're a nice guy well beloved by your beautiful wife and nine starving, barefooted children, but I don't think it's terribly unreasonable to ask for more of an adventure game than is provided here in Dinnertime. As Bob notes inside the valuable documentation included with the games(also check out the awesome accompaning novella and all the cool "feelies", including fake burgers'n'fries), Dinnertime is more of a puzzle than a game. It's a really terrible, obscure puzzle that doesn't require any serious cognitive thought processing from the player - Bob says it's based on a puzzle from Adventure, though I don't quite remember which one he's talking about. At any rate, this just goes to show why ADVENT isn't my favorite game in the world, though I've played more versions of it than I have any other game, aside from maybe Donkey Kong and, er, poker. Anyway, the "puzzle"'s answer requires the player to type only one two letter word in response to a bossy room description, and then it's all over. Definitely a bit of a drop from Infocom standards, heh? I had to load up the special hints program(a runnable Alan file apart from the games) in order to figure out what I was supposed to do. I mean, I never would've guessed to type that particular two word answer which the game requires in order for a healthy completion to be achieved. Oh well. A short game this is, but it's definitely not sweet.
However, aside from the puzzle, the rest of the game looks really promising. There are three whole locations for the player to explore. One's a kitchen complete with stove, refrigerator, and squid, then there's a dining room type deal, and then there's an awesome death trap which is one of the most nicely implemented features in the game. As anyone who has reveled in the forbidden pleasures of Space Quest III can gladly tell you, it is the cool death scenes which truly make a game. But the parser is downright weak - not nearly so strong as Mikko Vuorinen and Eric Mayer's Alan comp entrants this year. Not even close, in fact. It stinks to high Heaven! Nay, it pollutes even the foulest reaches of Hell! I can smell this game's parser even in my living room! Or is that just my girlfriend? Ah well, at least Bob didn't enter this game into the competition - if he had, I would probably given it a much less diplomatic review. But the game does get bonus points for including a squid, one of the most sadly, unjustifiably ignored cephalopods in all of interactive fiction. Was a nice touch. It gets no other bonus points. However, Bob Reeves seems to me like he is capable enough of writing quality adventure games if he would only put the time and effort needed into the task. His other games ARE better than this one, though not by much. This game may be short and stupid, but at least it's not offensively and intentionally annoying or boring like The Silence of The Lambs is. That puzzle could probably have been improved a bit, though.
In short, Dinnertime is a puzzle rather than a game. And it's a horrible, nonsensical puzzle. But it does have a nice squid.
Simple Rating: 2/10
Complicated Rating: 11/50
Puzzle Quality: 1/10
Parser Responsiveness: 1/10
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