Ratings and Reviews by J. J. GuestView this member's profile
View this member's reviews by tag: Ectocomp 2014 IF Comp 2018 1-10 of 35 | Next | Show All
The Magpie Takes the Train was written for me, as my chosen prize for winning IFComp 2018, and what a prize it turned out to be! I definitely made the right choice. It is a sequel to my competition game, Alias 'The Magpie', and stars the same player-character, the sauve, irreverent and somewhat audacious gentleman thief Sir Rodney Playfair, otherwise known as the 'Magpie'.
This delightful almost-one-room game centres around a second heist for the eponymous jewel thief. This time he's after the Gavinchian Rose, a valuable ruby brooch. Rushworth captures the Magpie to a tee. The dialogue is wittily hilarious, the puzzles are clever, logical and well clued, and the characters are as disreputable a bunch of blisters as you could care to meet. There's the haughty and overbearing Cornelia Hogg, her talkative parrot Horus, her waspish personal attendant Beatrice Foxtrot, and the Marquis, who, well, to say any more would be to give the game away, so to speak! Much fun is to be had from interacting with the characters whilst adopting various guises.
The game's features include an innovative, inventory-based conversation system and a bunch of amusing Easter eggs. There's a tonne of fun to be had from trying silly things and you can even try your hand at mixing drinks - with somewhat questionable results!
The Magpie Takes the Train is everything I could have hoped for in an authorised sequel. It's a lovely tribute to Alias 'The Magpie', a smashing game in its own right and a wonderful bit of fun!
I first encountered Return of the Diamond in a book called "Games and other programs for the Acorn Electron", published by Penguin Books.
The game is very simple, with just nine locations. It does, however, contain all the basics of a simple parser game. There is a light source puzzle, basic combat and an inventory limit. It can be quite frustrating to play, and despite its size, it took me two or three tries to beat it.
Return of the Diamond is significant for me as it was the first example I found of how a text adventure could be coded. It became the basis of all the games I would write in BBC Basic, and in time I learned to expand the two-word parser into four, and make many other improvements. I would find better examples in time, mostly in the pages of Electron User magazine, but this was the game that got me into programming and writing IF.
The Dragon Diamond is the first of a trilogy of games, and thus far the only one to have been ported to Inform. The story and setting are not the most original, but it's enjoyable enough for all that. The game's best feature are its puzzles, which are quite clever. Some items have several different uses, and many of the puzzles have multiple solutions. I did have guess-the-verb type problems with some of the puzzles, however, and though the author has rated The Dragon Diamond as "Merciful" on the Zarfian forgiveness scale, I also found at least one way to get the game into an unwinnable state. These quibbles aside, I would still recommend The Dragon Diamond as a good game for a beginner, as it is quite short and includes a hint system.
Fin de Sickleburg is very short one-room game by Caleb Wilson, author of Lime Ergot. It's so short, in fact, that to say anything about the subject matter would be to give too much away. This one has multiple endings and a limited verb set, which means that you have to get quite creative with the way you use the commands to find all three endings. The writing is well-crafted, creepy and atmospheric, and very fitting for the Gothic horror genre. Each of the three endings reveals a little more about the player character and the game world, so it's well worth making the effort to find them all. It took me less than ten minutes. Good fun if you're a fan of Gothic horror and have a few minutes to spare.
A game designed to answer the question, what might have resulted had Scott Adams decided to release a series of games based on Shakespeare's plays. Ghost King is written in the same programming language, and within the same tight memory constraints as the original Adventure International titles. The author has tried very hard to capture the essence of those early text adventures, right down to the terse messages, odd use of capitalisation and occasional typo. In this he succeeds magnificently, and at times you could really believe you're playing a game made in 1980. It also succeeds in translating the main story beats of Hamlet into a series of object-based puzzles, retaining some of Shakespeare's best lines, and including a "find the *treasures*" side-quest into the bargain.
If I were to assign an Adventure International difficulty level to this game, I'd have to make it "advanced". You do need to be reasonably familiar with the play to get very far with it, and some of the puzzles are less intuitive than those in the early Scott Adams Adventures. I was a beta tester, but I was unable to solve it without hints from the author, whereas I've solved most of Adams's "moderate" games without hints. Ghost King does a great job of juggling the complex subject matter with the antiquated authoring system and quirky style of an Adams game, but loses something of the latter in translation. If anything, the author could have been a little more irreverent with his source material, thrown in the odd anachronism, perhaps, or a little more low-brow humour. (There is one particular word-play puzzle, though, that made me laugh out loud!)
Overall, this is an excellent pastiche, right down to the cover art, and highly recommended to fans of the Scott Adams Adventures. It does exactly what it sets out to do, and does it well.
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