Comp 2001 Reviews by Jonathan Blask

Okay, I guess I’ll try to jot down some thoughts on this year’s comp games. First off, I’d like to note that for maybe the first time since I started voting for the comp, I am robbed of the usual indignation that occurs when I see some of my favorite games trapped in the bottom half of the ratings.
On with the games:

The Chasing – I think this is an instance in which the player isn’t given enough motivation to begin with. Sure, I know that I’m supposed to find those damned horses, but I’m not going to wander around the map trying to find the first puzzle.

Mystery Manor – Kind of like bad “Tales From the Crypt” fanfic, which isn’t to say that it wasn’t sort of enjoyable on some sort of level. Would probably be kind of cool to see something like this done well.

All Roads – As mentioned by others, sort of has a “twilight zone” or “outer limits” kind of feel to it, but I didn’t really think the ‘twist’ was executed well enough (resulting in loads of people chalking up their confusion to their own stupidity). Plus, I think at least one aspect of the enjoyment is because you are this mysterious assassin (which reminds me of RPG geeks getting excited about being a chaotically evil thief). That said, this game was tied with my other two highest rated games.

Bane of the Builders – fun in an old-school sense, and luckily, doesn’t feel too intimidating map-wise (which is a major factor for me, as a player). Still, I got to the maze and had to give up. Glancing over the source code and walkthrough, though, it seems like a reasonably decent attempt.

Crusade – Funny bits, and there seems to be sizeable chunk of game that I missed. Still, there was one section that I was having trouble with because I hadn’t noticed one chunk of text had changed, which I decided was bad game design.

Earth and Sky – Nice, easy-flowing beginning, but once you get to the actual first and only puzzle, I found it not as intuitive as I’d like and somewhat of a letdown. Then, you find out that that’s that; the rest of the game is yet to be finished. Here’s hoping that it’s good (as the genre can always use a good addition), but I have the feeling that I’ll be recommending Heroine’s Mantle to people when they ask for superhero titles.

Evil Sorcerer – I sort of liked the premise, in which the PC got really drunk and then found himself in this fantasy land (silly, yet about as good as the opening to ‘the Pawn’), but then the game became too much the standard fantasy romp for my tastes.

Film At Eleven – Has sort of the dry NPC-interaction that reminds me of Deadline and what not, but I didn’t really feel motivated to dig around and the writing didn’t grab me. I plucked around with the walkthrough for a bit but decided it was too long for me to keep at it.

Fine Tuned – This game is high-larious. After a dozen or so moves into this game, I had high expectations, hoping that this would be the well-coded comedy that I’ve felt hasn’t been well represented in the IF comp to date. Then I ran into a bit of poor game design and pacing problems, and then, later on, I encountered the bugs that ruined the experience for many. As it was, I thought the premise and characterization was so refreshing that this game was up there with my other highest ranked games.

You Are Here – I thought this basically accomplished what it sought out to do and did it well (I’d much rather wander around this joke MUD than an actual one). Still, I was sort of unhappy that something that I had written off as a joke (and a window into the lives of MUDders) was actually something important to the game.

Beetmonger’s Journal – This game started off well with the pre-game and what not, but once in got into the actual game, I thought it sort of shot itself in the foot with silliness and the ending was an anticlimactic let down.

The Coast House - What I really wanted to see in this game was usage of the room and object descriptions to further the story, much as Hollywood Hijinx did (would people complain if this device was used more often?). I wanted to see how things reminded the PC of his grandparents, giving it a bit of a more personal feel. As it was, for some reason, it was quaint and cute enough to inspire me to follow the walkthrough to the end.

No Time To Squeal – My first opinion of this was that the bit about the sport agent was great, but I felt sort of detached from all of the other characters. I found myself looking for a plot angle that never emerged. Discussing it with one of the authors, I found out that there were a lot of things that I hadn’t realized (while I noticed the obvious Carroll/ Jack the Ripper references, I failed to guess the overall theme). Some people, more knowledgeable of Jack the Ripper than I, noticed these things and loved the game immensely because of it. As it is, I think the authors should drop some hints or info for the ignorant players so it’s possible that they’ll make the optimal conclusion. The target audience, IMO, is too small right now, which is a shame because I think overall, this was an extremely productive collaboration. This was the third of the trio of my highest rated games.

And I have to admit that this is the second Sousa game in which he handles sports how I’d very much like to, eventually (even though I’m much less suited for the job), so there’s always a twinge of envy.

Fusillade - Started off interesting enough, although some responses need to be added and changed (like when you examine yourself after your arm has been cut off in the first scene). Also, the midi code seems to break somewhat when SAVE/RESTORE comes into play (the proper song doesn't kick in until you get to the next scene). Also, the game sort of lost me once I got to the Helen Keller scene (which is the third, I think); it was too incoherent and I didn't have much faith that it'd get better later on (and judging by the other reviews, I was right).

Prized Possession - Similar to Kathleen Fischer's (sp?) last comp game, but I felt that this one failed in many aspects. After the first scene, the game becomes too rail-roaded and unfair, penalizing the player every handful of turns for not guessing the proper action. Worst of all, after jumping through all of these hoops (with the walkthrough's guidance), I don't feel the player is properly rewarded. Still, this game was better than a lot of other games that don't reach as high.

Invasion of the Angora-fetish Transvestites from the Graveyards of Jupiter – I wanted to like this game. I’ve never been an Ed Wood fan; at least, not enough to actually watch any of his movies, but I respect it for some odd reason. So I would’ve liked to enjoy this IF homage (?) to Ed Wood. Alas, I ran into the same problems as everyone else. The one thing that I really wanted to mention, though, is that I thought the included .mp3 files seemed to go with the game well. Interesting, but not too distracting. I’d like to see more of this, at least.

So that’s it!!! Woo!


Reviews From Trotting Krips