Tales From The College Presents: A Breath Of Fresh Blair by Jesse Burneko(1996)

The Little Ugly Evil Guy On My Shoulder's Verdict: Jesse Burneko? I think I met him at a college drug party/"orgy" once. Man, that was a hell of a night. You remember, J?

The Little Handsome Good Guy On My Shoulder's Verdict: I think it's kind of stupid to write a game about your crappy school when you know most of the people who are going to play it have no idea what sort of mythology surrounds said school. Inside jokes suck. I'd rather play one of those Finnish language IF games than this.

My Verdict: This game is kind of pointless.

The Review...

It is my feeling that all people have the same raw amount of creativity(in so much as creativity may be measured) flowing through their veins. What makes one woman a hack while making one man a genius is how they use that creativity. This game is a perfect example of this. Jesse Burneko knows how to make adventure games in Inform. Not everyone has that ability. Not everyone is willing to learn. But Jesse Burneko was. Unfortunately, when Jesse felt he had become proficient enough to write up a serious work of interactive fiction of his own, he did not set his goals very high. He could have written an adventure game of any topic. It could've taken place in a castle, or in the deserts of Arabia. It could've been about the struggles of existence, or an affirmation of life itself. It could have been a thrilling murder mystery, a sprawling epic, a uproariously funny comedy. Instead, however, Jesse Burneko wrote an adventure game about a college he presumably attends or once attended. He called it an "interactive in-joke." Why? Why? Is this what we really needed? ANOTHER interactive in-joke about somebody's school? People never cease to amaze me.

Now, that said, of all the interactive in-jokes I've played in my life, this one ranks up near the top of the "Most Boring" list(Truly, I think a few of the old AGT entries from the 80s were superior). Does wandering around a bunch of halls trying to open doors and get machines to work appeal to you? It doesn't to me. Plus, this game takes this whole "minimalism" thing way too far...there are just too many two-three sentence room, event, and item descriptions. It's impossible to get excited about a game which doesn't even try to convey a sense of atmosphere to the player. "You are in a hall. Such and such is here." "You are in another hall. Such and such is here." "You are in yet another hall. Doors lead blah blah. Such and such is here." This game even makes skeletons which jump out of closets and chase you around seem boring. And the Satanism subplot? Useless. Puzzles are pretty boring, and not that hard. (Presumably "inside" knowledge would be helpful, but that doesn't mean the puzzles are "hard." Imagine if you HAD the inside knowledge. It would be easy as pie! Inside joke puzzles require no skill of the player.) The real kicker: the maximum score a player can make is 0. That says it all.

However, I think Jesse Burneko may not be completely talentless. His 1997 release The Zuni Doll garnered **** from Baf's Guide to the Interactive Fiction Archive. Of course, I think there are only about two Inform games released during the past five years that DIDN'T get ****-***** ratings from Baf, so maybe this isn't at all conclusive. Sometime when i feel particularly brave, I may give that game a shot. Meanwhile, THIS game I'd like to give a shot...in the head.

Simple Rating: 2/10

Complicated Rating:

Story: 1/10

Writing: 3/10

Playability: 1/10

Puzzle Difficulty: 4/10

Parser Responsiveness: 2/10

Complicated Rating: 11/50

Reader Remarks

Stinky Poo sprach the following on August 24th, 1999

I enjoy opening doors and operating machines.

Help me pleas! sprach the following on September 18th, 1999:

How do I get past the witch? Everytime I go into the house I get kileld! help me  l please!!

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