Ratings and Reviews by tggdan3

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The Conversation I Can't Have, by Morgan Rille

2 of 7 people found the following review helpful:
IF- well, technically not. , March 10, 2014
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

Interesting concept- a way of having a theoretical conversation where the author defends her homosexuality.

No parser- you link to a new conversation topic via clicking on keywords in the text. As such it's more like a Wikipedia conversation than an IF. Not exactly a "game", not exactly interactive, and certainly not fiction.

That being said, let's go onto the content. Seems fairly poetic in tone. I guess I would like to imagine that we're in a time and place where this type of conversation isn't needed. Are we still in some kind of world where gays are looked at still as abusers or victims or that it's some kind of "nurture" cause?

Very short, might be of some interest to the LGBT community. Would have liked to see it more like Emily Short's Galtea where the author can be communicated with like a real conversation- but let's face it, that requires an impressive level of programming knowledge (I couldn't duplicate Glatea myself and I understand the programming logic she used- it's that complex).

Maybe I'm very cynical and very na´ve, but I feel like this would have been better made 10-15 years ago when homosexuality was still demonized, but perhaps it's not "Deep enough" to have reached me, or perhaps I'm under the assumption that "it got better" for the gay community and it really hasn't.

As a concept I like it- would have liked to see it go deeper if possible, perhaps not focusing on the artist's specific individual experience but branching out into an interactive story (perhaps like Photopia where we explore the protagonist via separate character's points of view instead of just listening to the author speak". I'll have to give it 2 stars. Normally I'd go one, but I'll give the benefit of the doubt in that homosexual themes are not adequately represented in IF- but the work isn't interactive or fictional, and there is a lot more I'd like to have seen done with the concept.

Counterfeit Monkey, by Emily Short
tggdan3's Rating:

Who Are You Talking To?, by Matthew Kim

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Not Interactive, August 18, 2013
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

So, let's look at the term IF- interactive fiction. Interactive implies some kind of input from the user. Fiction implies that it's not based on real events.

This should be called a NON-INTERACTIVE CONVERSATION. Someone is speaking to you, and on each page you have EXACTLY ONE thing you can respond back. You click on that response (you don't type it- you click on it, there is no other input allowed) to go to the next page.

This may have been better put with both characters' lines in it as a poem or something, but it really doesn't belong in the IF medium.

That being said, perhaps it says something on how one-sided a breakup conversation is, since nothing you say will probably MATTER anyway, but for people on this site, it's not exactly IF.

Divis Mortis, by Lynnea Dally

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
Really Good and leaves me wondering, February 13, 2012
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

First, the really good:

I like the writing, which I found to be eerie with tons of little touches you should find in a zombie apocalypse scenario (such as the severed head in the stove). The author tackles the abandonitis well with little hints in the background that suggests that the survivors may have turned on each other, and that someone went to the effort of pre-looting and cleaning up bodies. Kudos.

What it leaves me wondering on is why I finished the game with only 89 points. The puzzles were all fairly straightforward, there were none I had to go to hints for, and they were intuitive. It took me a while to figure out a couple of them (such as how to get to the second floor) but that satisified me even more as I solved them.

There was a slight (perhaps purposeful or not) ability to cheat a bit- using GET ALL tends to grab the important items, which gave me some hints as to what to grab. (Though this is deceptive- there are objects you end up needing that don't fall under the "all" category). Also looking behind objects gives no response, no error message, which left me worried that there were items I was supposed to look behind, as the command was parsed with no error message for the wrong things.

I was impressed with the way the zombie "cure" issue was tackled. There is a bit of an ending twist, though I guessed it right away (perhaps having been tainted by 9:05), though when I tried an action which I thought made sense given the twist, the game told me I was on the wrong track, so I did a little eye roll when the twist was revealed later.

I was a little bummed that it seemed like the only way to progress was to act violently towards a survivor, thought it made sense. Perhaps there was another way that I missed.

There are also items that you get that seem important, but perhaps are not, such as a variety of objects you can wear to cover parts of your body. There are also a few issues where you can screw yourself up if you do things in the wrong order. This adds to the flavor though in some cases.

All in all a good game. Wouldn't mind seeing an expanded zombie game, perhaps in a larger area. Interested in seeing other works by the author.

Three Cows and Two Doors, by NOM3RCY
tggdan3's Rating:

My Girlfriend's An Evil Bitch, by Divarin

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful:
Not Ready, March 31, 2011
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

This review hurts me to write. By its description, I expected a simple little game about an evil girlfriend. What I found was an epic game of survival in the wilderness and gathering evidence to use against a spiteful bitch trying to kill you.

However, the game isn't ready.

First of all, trying to put <noun> on <any other noun> assumes you are trying to put <noun> on a fire. (As it gives me a bad error).

Second (and biggest) the game crashed on me when I slept during my second day of survival.

The game has a huge map, and you has a purchasing system. On the down side, you kind of need to know the map (my first go through had me crashing my car without any supplies). This may break some mimesis.

This has the potential for an AWESOME game, but game crashing bugs (especially when you appear to be on the right track, (rather than during some random unrelated action).

I played release 6, the most recent release. These things MUST be corrected for the game to be considered playworthy. I would rate this a 5 star. However the game NEEDS TO BE PLAYTESTED SEVERELY! Please complete this game and let me know when it can be played again!

> by @, by Aaron A. Reed

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful:
Short but Sweet, March 2, 2011
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

This game was great for me. Maybe it was my jaded view with "minimalist games", but this game was minimalist for the minimalist.

The game includes (Spoiler - click to show) an item called "$" and an NPC called "@". To win you give $ to @ then leave.

The game's source code is 140 characters. How much can you do with that? Well, if you code your error messages with 1-2 character responses, you can do more than you'd expect. Attempting to leave before the "puzzle" is solved, gives you a "@!" remark- clever as it tells you that you must do something regarding "@".

Aaron Reed's commentary is great also, because it gives detail to the "story" where there wouldn't possibly be any, making it kind of silly, though detailing at least the thought that went into the game. (Since @ is a character in the game AND the listed author- we have self insertion, etc).

Now I don't want you thinking you're going to get some kind of IF gem here. It IS a 140 character SOURCE CODE. No room description, no item/NPC description, nothing spectacular. What I do reccommend this for is for the people out there attempting to make "minimalist" games that are nothing more than doors floating in space. This game looks like Aaron Reed saw the other games and said "No, I'll show them how to make a minimalist game" and did so (hopefully shutting the door on the whole concept!).

3 stars. 5 stars for what it was, 1 star because, compared to most real games, it's quick, has no story, is simple, lacks room descriptions, etc. However all this works for the game in this *RARE* case, so I'll average it.

A welcome reprieve for the disheartened reviewer.

Encounter 2: The Study Group, by Christopher Cole

2 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
An AIF game rated cruel?, February 7, 2011
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

The concept of this game is that you are the one guy at the study group with three girls and it breaks into a game of truth or dare- and of course, being AIF, the goal is to get the girls to do sexual things to you and to each other.

From a programming standpoint, the game is sloppy. The girls never ask you (or each other) any truth or dare questions, and the simplest way to overcome their anxiety is to dare them to drink until they almost pass out (you can tell when they're almost ready to pass out by telling them to drink until they pass out then typing UNDO- seriously, only one of them shows signs that they're about to pass out, and they mention that they're 'not drunk enough' to do things even when they're one drink away from dropping).

You need to participate in this as well, believe it or not from the error messages. You need to strip (you have to dare yourself to strip, not just do it. Odd.). There are also actions you need to perform on the girls, and it won't let you until they're "ready" (ready being some kind of inside tracked thing based on how many key dares you've gotten them to perform already).

Oddly enough by saying TRUTH or DARE, it gives you a list for the given girl with the syntax needed to request it. (Some of the syntax is needlessly complicated and simpler forms are not understood). Also odd is that dares not only will not be repeated once done, but will give the error message that you tried something outside the game if you ask them to repeat a dare (or truth) they've done before.

Another odd thing is that some girls give some options while other girls don't. I won't get too explicit here, so let's just use HUG for example. You might be able to dare one girl to HUG another, but can't dare the 2nd girl to HUG the first, or ask the first girl to HUG the third. There are some actions you need to do to the girls which are drastically UNderCLUED and odd (such as sucking toes to one particular girl). And if the girl is not "ready" for the action, the game will give you an error message that implies that the action is not allowed at all.

To "win" you need to ask a girl out on a date (any one of them) and have them say yes. They won't say no, because a glitch prevents you from asking them out until they would say yes (giving the error message that instructs you how to ask them about things). The author acknowledges this in the opening scrawl, but if he knew it was there, he should have fixed it.

If AIF is your thing, you'll probably like this. If it's not, you won't. It's very easy to get stuck (once a girl passes out there's no way to win unless you've already used up all her options).

An Informal Time, by Anonymous

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
It's hard to intentionally be Ed Wood, January 14, 2011
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

I get it. The idea of "it's bad, but it's bad on purpose so the ironic fairys are going to come down and make it good". Unfortunately it doesn't work that way.

You know, there are authors out there you think of when you think of great games: Short, Cadre, Plotkin (to name a few).

Those familiar with this site will also have gathered a few names of people who always (or almost always) deliver sub-par games. It's stuff like this that gets you added to that list.

Even if the game is designed to be "so bad it's good", it still needs playtesters, it still needs to make sense. It should not be just a random assortment of actions and moves. That's boring and unimaginative. (Or "minimalist"). Rather, perhaps a parser which is more personified (that you actually fight with) or having a clear goal set which is plagued by intentional errors, where deciphering the error is an actual puzzle, that might be fun.

For example: The door is to the north.
You can't because the door is in the way.
You can't because the north is in the way.

Something like that could be cute if there was some way to get around the parser, such as:

Inside is a lantern.
(First entering the northern door)
Yes! You got through, and have the lamp.
NORTH ROOM... blah blah.

Something like that could be a cute experiment. As it is, this game comes down to "Here are some random rooms, I know I don't have anything good here, so I'll just mark it as ironic and move on".

Nice concept though, if the "game" actually seemed related to the concept.

IF Aquarium, by Michael Kichline and Michael Eckhart
tggdan3's Rating:

Trapped in a Small Room, by Anthony

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Ug!, January 4, 2011
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

First of all, bonus points for the lemon-flashlight puzzle. Very clever. However, you describe the "wire" as "wires" but the game does not understand "wires" as the "wire". Frustrating.

When you get to the "exit" you cannot "enter" the "exit" (and the game doesn't recognise hole).

The trap door is to the west, apparantly (up and down do not use it), which is odd, considering trap doors are usually built into floors.

The purple book should probably not state (in which is a key) when you first see it.

I assume the fact that you cannot leave through the exit is a mistake, since it clearly says that I can.

Also examining myself seems to examine the flashlight.

This game is not hard (it tells you what to do at each step) but the lack of synonyms and several errors (not to mention the extremely tired premise of trying to escape a room that changes for no reason and contains no logical puzzles) dooms this game to obscurity. I was really excited about the lemon-flashlight puzzle, as it was clever, but then, the game tells you when you look at the flashlight to put the lemon on the wires. (And putting the lemon into the flashlight doesn't work- well it DOES work, but doesn't turn on the lights).

Sleep Cycle, by Thomas Cross

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
What the heck happened?, January 4, 2011
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

I expected some abandonitis when I read the description... what I didn't expect was...

You aren't feeling especially drowsy

>X Me
As good-looking as ever

The Creature approaches from the east
>X creature
You see nothing special about the creature

It sildes up to you then slits your throat in an instan.

You scored 0 out of a possible 0.

(And when the creature follows me around it is reported to me twice)

You don't see any such thing.

Okay, enough rant. Polish the game! What creature is this that can slit my throat? I pictured some kind of rat type of thing, apparantly it has a knife? There should at least be a description! The way it is nonchelantly brought up I thought there was SUPPOSED to be a creature here. (Apparantly Vionlence is not the answer to this one if I try to kill it!).

Another thing- list the exits somewhere! The first few rooms list the ladders that lead in various directions, but there are also a bunch of rooms off in the cardinal directions that are not listed in any way. (For that matter, what good does N,S,W,E,U,D do in space? There is no magnetic north here! But I can forgive that one).

The game has some typos "even the maintenance bots can't make it smell like nything else". The writing is done well, and the atmosphere makes me really want to play this game, but there needs to be some kind of indications as to what can be done. I couldn't pet the creature, or examine it, but this creature which is described (as it kills me) as not violent, kills me without provocation and in an intelligent way that describes malice (it's apparantly not eating me).

It (the game) kills me because I can tell there is a good game here, but little things like this really turn me off. The library should respond to the word books (even if there are no physical books- a digital library should respond to the word, even if to refer me to a console). And having exits listed is a must-have, even if it's just listed in the status bar or something. If a creature is going to kill me after a number of turns, I can't spend most of them bashing into the walls trying to discover where the exits are. (And I should get some indication that it's hostile!).

I reccommend some beta testing and a new version- it looks like the premise and writing is good, but these polishes are a must-have!

What-IF?, by David Ledgard

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
Not a game but not necessarily a waste, December 3, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

One of the things I noticed on the inform7's website was its usefulness in classrooms. It seems like the author here was trying to portray history (or possible alternate histories) in a unique way which could better benefit his classroom.

As the other reviews state: this is not a game- there is nothing but a menu of 6 choices, with certain historical events with a "what if someone important had died" question.

As a non-game, it would have been nice if certain meta-commands had been disabled (I'm still as good looking as ever and am carrying nothing). Perhaps a hypertext document would have been better suited than a Z-code project, but it's not fair to just slam it, because that's one of the things that inform 7 is marketed as.

Even still, IFDB might not be the place for it as it isn't a game or story in any real way, and so people looking for such won't find much here.

Basic Train-ing, by bpsp

3 of 8 people found the following review helpful:
CROWNing moment of AWESOME!, December 3, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

Okay, the stuff that makes this game AWESOME is hard to talk about without giving things away.

At some point in the game you will control various characters. The narration tone switches with characters very well! The various characters are needed to complete the task. As you learn what's going on, (and complete the game) the reality is fantastic, and the realization is brought on slowly, shown to you rather than told to you, another great storytelling piece. (Spoiler - click to show) You are toys that trade a magical crown to become animate, neither is aware of the others actions

I rated this game 4 stars. Some bugs and a VERY annoying guess the verb made it miss 5 stars. (Spoiler - click to show) You need to use a grappling hook to flip a switch. You can't THROW HOOK AT/TO SWITCH or PUT HOOK ON SWITCH or HOOK SWITCH... you need to OPEN SWITCH WITH HOOK. I had to go to the walkthrough to figure this out which really angered me considering I knew what to do.

Some minor nitpicks, it's awesome when you switch characters the first time and read how they react to the change in atmosphere, I only wish that change in atmosphere was reflected each time the atmosphere changed (Spoiler - click to show) such as when the train stops, reverses, or when other characters break doors, etc Also there are 2 doors that you cannot see through, so you better remember what was described when you first opened them, since there's no way to get that description again, which is unfortunate. Also UNLOCK and CUT seem to by synonyms, and often times you have to OPEN objects with unlikely "keys", which could have been better hinted/described. And the puzzle where you have to get a mirror is GENIUS!

The ending is priceless and ties the whole thing together, though in a way, (Spoiler - click to show)sad, considering the ultimate fate of the "player"s.

I'm really excited for other people to try this game, it's an excellent use of switching characters and an environment that you are forced to discover as you progress.

The game isn't long (27 moves in the walkthrough, though it took me over 100, partially due to that annoying guess the verb), but it's really well written. Some implementation caused it to not get 5 stars. Hopefully a revised edition comes out soon!

CASK, by Harry M. Hardjono

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
up and climb are two different words. I didn't have time to accomodate both, December 2, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

This is an actual note from the walkthrough. I'm glad he cared so much.

You are locked in a room by your employer for some reason. You must escape. All is fine except that everything is drastically underimplemted and buggy.

Here are just a few of the nightmares you'll find.
>cut drum with saw
Which do you mean, the hole in the drum, the drum cover or the big wooden drum?
>enter wooden drum
But you're already on the old wooden chair
(You need to enter the drum. The idea is get on the chair and type UP. Climb chair and enter drum do not work. :( )

>enter hole
You can't, since the hole in the drum is in the way

>x drum
Which do you mean, the hole in the drum, the drum cover or the big wooden drum?
What do you want to cover?

>pull wire
Nothing obvious happens.
>get wire
You reach for the wire, to no avail! The wire is too high!

Going beyond this:

You need to fix a machine with some wire. You need to turn ON the switch to disable power to the machine. (Oops- not turn OFF the switch?).

The game starts out reasonable but then gets worse, with keys hidden in rats (which print in the room description but not the item descripton, and apparantly you HAVE TO put the rat on a chair to discover this), and that horrible drum which DESPERATELY needs an instance of DOES THE PLAYER MEAN ENTERING THE BIG WOODEN DRUM: IT IS LIKELY.

The story is almost nonexistant, and upon freeing yourself from the wine cellar your employers have trapped you in for no reason you need to contend with a charging elephant. Yep.

This game is possible, but you better know the "official" verb usages for things, since synonyms are not used, and use the walkthrough. (It's nice that in the walkthrough he aknowledges known errors then says he doesn't feel like fixing them, hence the title of my review.)

Hopefully the next game would be better, but his next game already got some pretty bad reviews and low ratings, so I'm not too hopeful. This game could have been good- it just needed a little testing, and if he couldn't figure out how to solve known bugs, he might have wanted to AT LEAST have the game prompt you on the RIGHT way to do things... (or gone to the forum and asked someone).

Big Red Button, by Mister Nose

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Everlasting Edition?, December 2, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

Reading the previous review, apparantly you push the big red button and die.


The everlasting edition is just what it sounds like- it has no end.

So there's a room with no description and an item with no real implementation. (They forgot to even make it fixed in place, since I was able to take the Big Red Button). Yes, capitalized each word too. Well what can you do?

I guess this is what I get for selecting: 10 random games produced this year.

Guess the Verb!, by Leonard Richardson
tggdan3's Rating:

The End of Earth, and you are a victim/survivor of this incident at least, depending on which way you look at it., by NOM3RCY

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful:
Very Very Frustrating, December 1, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

You have 7 turns to solve this game. On Turn 7 you die. This is common in his other games as well.

First off, this is a game. That is refreshing. Aliens are going to attack and burn the world and maybe you can survive.

There are some typos (thr fire can burn anything), and the game is minimally implemented. (All default responses to examining things). Exits are not listed in any way, which is frustrating regarding the low turn count. I have to undo after every turn just so I don't waste that precious minute.

I wasn't able to figure out the survival ending (if there is one). This is mainly due to the under-implementation of things. (Spoiler - click to show) There's a rock you can't take. Some experimentation reveals that it's a supporter, though you can't climb on it or hide under it. Treetops are described but don't "exist", nor can you climb trees. You're in your house with a bolted up door- presumably done by you to hide from the aliens, in fact, you refuse to open it for fear of ruining your snowball's chance in hell, however you will break the window and climb out it without a fuss.

The concept here was good, but the author really should have done one of two things: 1) greatly increased the turn count- otherwise we are expected to guess the author's mind on how we are supposed to solve this puzzle, or 2) have certain actions take no time (such as going in a direction that doesn't exist, or examining things). Every item needs a description, even if mundane. There's a rod. How big is it? How strong is it? Is it a lightning rod, a ladder rung, a sceptre, or a car (hot rod)? There's a sturdy rock. How big is it? Is it a boulder? A pebble? The size of a basket ball? A big boulder I might try to lift with the rod (lift is not a verb i recognise), a small rock I might try to hit like a baseball up at the aliens in hopes of knocking down their ship (there are no aliens here).

I'm glad the author has tried this- it's definately a departure from the "look I made a room" things he tried before and has gone into game territory. The next step is finding the beta testing website and having others test the game- all this could have been fixed before release.

The big problem is that the concept was good, but the lack of implementation and the RIDICULOUSLY low turn count did not allow for any experimentation to FIND the solution.

Crawler's Delight, by A. Troll

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Well, it's AIF I guess, November 30, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

Trying to write an AIF review is difficult- because AIF is really two different things: It's adult entertainment, and it's (supposed to be) a story or game.

I suppose commenting on the plot of an AIF would be like commenting on the acting of a Cinemax after hours movie. The plot has you, the adventurer, having been captured by the goblin queen and chained to a wall- apparantly after having eaten a magical equivelant of viagra.

The writing is what it is- it's fairly well written, considering the subject matter.

The implementation however was the biggest nightmare I've seen in an IF game in a while. Perhaps this is common in AIF, I'm not as familiar with the genre, but it seems like there should be more to the game than just hitting Z to bypass a cutscene.

There are 2 npcs to converse with: the goblin queen and the elf maid. If you try to talk to them in any way (ask goblin for [something], tell goblin about [something], etc) the game prompts you: For conversation ask [character] about [something]. This however does not work. You are supposed to ask the elf maid to do something to you (you can probably guess what), though it doesn't respond to the standard IF commands.

Let's say for the sake of euphamsim, that the proposed action is HUG ME.
The following do not work:
(or any substutions of elf or her name for maid)
instead you need:

After solving that horrible guess the verb puzzle (which is after about 30 turns of waiting, trying futily to escape, which must be done to trigger the next cutscene, and wetting yourself) you get to move on to an even more annoying puzzle:

The elf maid, gone, but having freed you, leaves you alone in the room with a sole exit- an exit which does not exist, and your pile of treasure, which mostly does not exist. The only items that respond (GUESS THE NOUN!) are a book and a figurine. The figurine is used as a prop in certain actions, and the book contains the list of commands that you can use on the goblin queen- who then shows up. Very nice addition, even though it breaks all memisis, considering the game is drastically underimplemented.

AIF aside, you should be able to look at things, and if you can't move or perform actions, NPCs should respond to things you're asking them to do, even if it doesn't work. What's more, I got more than one error message to the same command.
The goblin isn't about to talk to you.
I don't recognise that verb.

Further, talking to the elf maid elicits this response:
Elf: We aren't allowed to talk to the prisoners
(even though she is talking to you before hand and if you wait she will talk further).

So how do you rate AIF? On the quality of the interactivity, or the writing itself. I give the implementation 0 stars, and the writing 2, for a total of 2. I don't have much to compare it to. Perhaps it would have been better as an erotic short story or something, consdierting all the WAITING you have to do to move the cutscenes.

Burn the Koran and Die, by Poster

3 of 10 people found the following review helpful:
Good point, awkward medium, November 30, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

So yeah... you're in front of the holy books of the major religions. And you can burn them.

You're pretty sure if you burn the koran you will die (damn titles which are also walk throughs). And yes, if you burn the others you will not die.

The muslim issue in media was better depicted by south park, where comedy central would refuse to picture mohammed, even acting innocently, but would show jesus and bush crapping on the amercian flag, buddah snorting coke, and jesus looking up internet porn. The idea is that you can do or say whatever you want regarding any religion and recive minor guff for it, but picture mohammed, bad mouth muslims, or burn the koran, and radical muslims will come out of the woodwork to murder you.

I'd like to say that the author is just being racist- but after the aformentioned south park episodes, even with the anti-christian imagry, it was muslims making the death threats, and the network only censored mohammad based words and images, so maybe the author has a point here.

As far as the medium, it's interactive fiction. There isn't much to do here except find out that buring the koran is deadly, and it's not so bad burning the rest. The game makes it point, but doesn't bring it home as far as the religious hypocracy- it's there, but perhaps just too subtly.

Truth be told I was considering something like this myself (more along the lines of picturing mohammad), so I'm glad the author chose to do this- I just wonder if IF was the right medium for it, or if he could have taken it farther.

To Hell in a Hamper, by J. J. Guest

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Fantastic Bit of IF Fun, November 30, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

One of IF's adventure tropes is kleptomania. The adventurer grabs everything he can from treasures to matches because you never know when it will be useless. 2HiH subverts this by forcing you to part an adventurer with all his gear. And, like most IF games, the guy is holding far more than he should everbe able to.

Luckily, you're stronger than him.

The writing is done very well, and I only saw a few errors, though there are some things that broke disbelief a bit, such as certain objects (if thrown away too early) which come back to you after having been thrown from the balloon.

Still, definately a fun and humerous game worth your time. My only regreat is that it's TADS- not playable online and I had to download in interpreter just to play this game.

Taunting Donut, by Kalev Tait

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Good for a quick play or learning IF, November 29, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

First of all, I found few implementation errors, and only a few spelling errors. This makes the game easier- there were no guess the verbs, and many nouns were implemented. There were a items that didn't work like I thought they should (the bed is full of nails you can't hammer with your hammer).

As far as the puzzle, they're fairly straightforward and obvious, though some actions that might have worked weren't implemented. (Spoiler - click to show) You can't reach the donut from your bed, but can't turn your bed on it's side and climb it either. You also have to contend with a string tied around the donut. If you can't break the string, you'd think you can just eat around it or break the donut or something.

There were some side references that were cute (the fountain didn't have what I crave!), and the writing style was very informal, which made the game a little more fun.

The game took about 30 moves for me to solve, so it wasn't difficult, but for a beginning player, that would be great to introduce people to IF. For the more experienced, some easter eggs would have been nice. (Such as allowing you to think about "them" or something.) All in all, it's a good game and complete.

The Dog/House, by Byron Alexander Campbell

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful:
The Dreadful truth is, this is not a dream, November 24, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

The title of this review is the default response to >WAKE UP. It's also the response this game gives. Okay, okay, the description of the game was dream-like, so that doesn't mean it's a dream.

Real adventurers don't use such language.

Am I an adventurer, or was this response never updated?

The reason I question this, is because you start in a dog house (with a dog in it). This gave me the impression that I was a dog. (Especially since I seem to want to get at that bone behind the sleeping mastiff).

Am I a dog? The game does not say so. (>X ME... As good-looking as ever!) The default responses imply no. I found one response that mentions fingers, so maybe I'm not a dog. However, leaving the doghouse is futile- I can see a swirl of leaves and eventually I am forced back into the doghouse.

One one hand, the writing is provocative, the leaves in particular. (They swirl around, getting me lost when I try going somewhere which is not north. However, perhaps UP and DOWN should have gotten different responses, as I suppose trying to enter the solid floor would not have failed only because of a swirl of leaves around me).

The game includes no hint/help/about file, which makes it difficult to see what to do. The only objects to be interacted with are the sleeping dog and the bone behind it. The bone you can't get, and the game warns about waking the dog (and ">LET SLEEPING DOG LIE" does nothing either!). Certainly "Violence isn't the answer to this one.". The tagline of exploration seems misleading, as there isn't much area to explore here. If I'm a human, why do I want a bone or to be in a doghouse? I'm pretty sure I'm not a dog too.

The game tells you that there is unfinished buisness in the dog house, though most interactions with the dog yield the same (or a default) response, there is no inventory, and many verbs you might think exist do not. (Don't expect to whistle or call to the dog).

With very little implementation here, I got frustrated after a while, and gave up. The writing here implies that the author put some effort into this, and it might be a simple guess-the-verb issue: including hints or a walkthrough could clear that up. Maybe it is supposed to be a dream. Maybe there's nothing to do here after all.

A Walk in the Park, by Anonymous

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Very Very Short, November 24, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

This is a short game with one puzzle: You want to walk your dog, but a tree is in your way.

The game can be solved in one move, and that move is probably the very move you would make in real life, so it's hard to call this a puzzle, any more so than encountering a closed, unlocked door is a puzzle, but this is what you have.

The objects are implemented, and there are a few things you can try that don't work, which is nice. This is definately a minimalist game, but it at least what it does, it does well.

The greatest blessing to this game is Parchment- the ability to play it online, since the effort of downloading it and downloading an interpreter would take longer than playing the game. With online capability, this is one of many short and sweet games that you can have fun playing in a few minutes.

Escape In The Dark, by Owen Parish

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Wonderful Short Escape Game, November 24, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

The title says it: You are in a dark cell, having been captured by guards, and must escape it.

As far as difficulty, it's not too hard. My first try I got out in about 100 moves. There were some minor nitpicks with the parser, and one of the puzzles, but not much.

(Spoiler - click to show) You pick the lock, but can't open the door, something else is holding the door shut. Part of the puzzle is learning what that is. There is another cell with a prisoner opposite you. It seems like you could just look at HIS door to see what the problem is, but the game doesn't recognise his door. Further, you can't seem to ask the other prisoner about the bolt, you need to see it yourself. You also must use "GIVE [x] to [person]" instead of "THROW [x] to [person]"

The writing is appropriate, I noticed no glaring errors.

Now the puzzle itself is beautiful. Unfortunately, because of the nature of the puzzles, I can't say too much about them without giving something away, but suffice to say it isn't quite as easy as using your lockpicks to get out. (Though lighting up the room is very easy and straightforward). The game does provide a false hint. (Spoiler - click to show) It suggests making a projectile to share items with the other prisoner, though no projectile is needed, you merely tie items up for safety and throw them, which had me wasting time trying to make a slingshot or something . I'll be fair and say I'm generally not a fan of IF escape games: I've played plenty of flash based ones that were garbage, and plenty of text ones seem to involve trite tropes or nonsensical scenarios, but this one makes even the done-to-death escape a jail cell fun.

Once you escape the cell the game ends, though the endstory makes reference to the need to get past the guards and steal horses. It would have been nice to see this part of the story (either as part of this game or as a sequel).

In conclusion, the scenario is trite, but that was the contest: a one room escape game. And the author did this one beautifully.

The Minimalist Game 2, by NOM3RCY

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful:
Not AS Minimal, November 24, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

The minimalist game 1 was a simple yes/no question asking you if you want to win.

This has 2 rooms, each room with one implemented (barely) item, and 6 turns before you die.

I get it: it's minimalist, but even still, there are a few things that need fixing in it.

You mount that car.

Not sure if this was on purpose, but you should probably get in a car rather than mounting it in order to drive.

You can't.

You are supposed to drive (ride) the car north, maybe a different default message.

Then the two items are That Car and That Door. (Probably should have not been capitalized).

The intro tells you that you can go to that door and win or wait until 9:05 and die. In this case, it might be nice if the status line gave us the time of day instead of the turn count. (It turns out you die after turn 6 FYI).

There's still that issue as to whether practice games should even be released or put on this site. I don't want to discourage you from writing more... but delay your desire to release things until you have a working game you can be proud of.

I rate this low, not to discourage, but because you just can't put this up to other games, even very short "minimalist" games, such as Aisle, Pick Up the phone booth and die, and similar games. If the author insists on short games like this, I suggest he play those those games for inspiration.

Attack of the Terror Tabby!!!, by Eric Mayer

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Not Quite Useless, November 22, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

I first read some of the other reviews on this site. Apparantly the game is supposed to be unwinnable. It's not- I won it on the second playthrough.

Your cat is ticking. It must have swallowed a bomb. I thought this was funny- such a simple premise: survive the explosion of your cat. The parser keeps the tension up by reminding you of that damn ticking throughout the game.

There were some implementation issues: listen to ticking doesn't exist, bed is not a synonym for mattress, and so forth, but nothing horrible. (Some more testing would have handled this).

Of course, there's a twist to the puzzle, which is why it may seem unwinnable at first. When you figure it out, you smack yourself. There are some nice touches- such as when you try to get rid of the cat out the door or window, great reasons for why this is not possible. And the sparse apartment is well described.

To those reviewers, I suggest they try a re-play of this game. I gave 3 stars, some cleanup of the implementation would earn 4.

Eric the Power-Mad Dungeon Master, by Mark Arenz
tggdan3's Rating:

A Zeroeth Dimension, by Dewey Mowris

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful:
Ug..., November 22, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

You are in the 0th dimension. Sounds promising.

The description of the 0th dimension is: Welcome to a Zeroeth Dimension

Then there's a list of what you see. Many of these containers are empty (an empty fridge and drawer, a cupboard full of mugs).

As far as the writing, it is intended to be in the 1st person, but it continually switches to the 2nd person (when default messages come up).

Why would I attack a group of mugs? I see no reason.
That's not something you can switch.

I get off the couch.
You get off the couch.

These little things kind of grate on me. The game is intended for first timers, it seems, as it constantly prompts you.

if you want me to get off the couch, say EXIT

Watching the TV instructs you to keep watching the TV if you want the advertisement playing on it to continue.

As is, this seems to fall into the "my apartment" trope, despite the fact that it takes place in some 0th dimension. There's no indication of what you should realy be doing, or why.

The hint tells me to watch TV, but the same message plays each time (at one point it just stops continuing the progression of events and starts over- a glitch?). Some of the hints have writing errors.

Since there's else to do, then I believe the only thing to do is watch TV.

Since there's nothing else to do?

And that's it- there's nothing else to do. The game has no in game hints- waiting is supposed to provide a hint, and that hint does nothing, so I guess I'm giving up on this one.

Heavenly, by Jim Aikin

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Beautiful- but linear, November 22, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

I love the premise here- an angel who is bored with heaven taking niceness lessons from gabriel.

The game starts off slow, but that's the point: heaven is boring. Once you've explored it a bit, gabriel shows up and has you attempt to tempt some mortals to evil, while he overrides you by forcing them to be nice.

There were some frustrating lack of implementation:


No error message, just a new blank line, meaning it understands that I'm asking the politician to do something, just not one of the things it understands.

The premise and writing are very good, and a lot of other actions seem to be implemented, just the most important area of the game- the commanding of mortals, seems to be missing some key implementation which is frustrating in the puzzle solving. There are some standard error messages (Gabriel has better things to do.) but there are also plenty of error messages customized to an angel in heaven- very nice.

Still I'm giving it 4 stars, with that bit of fixing, I'd probably go up to 5. It's a simple and fun game with an interesting premise. The ending is very good also, no surprises, but it's nice how this game twists expectations.

This is the game that "The devil made me do it" should have been!

Nudists Gone Wild, by Hulk Handsome

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful:
A need for Beta, November 22, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

You are a man. You are nude. You wish to find a place where naked people can live. Off you go on your adventure.

The premise seems simple enough. The game is very short, the puzzles are fairly easy. I solved the game in 33 moves on the first try. The puzzles are very hinted, but I don't want to give too much away.

The game could have been better tested. You find a sausage:
That's plainly inedible.

Also there's an ocean.
That's not something you can enter.
You head into the water...

These are just small polishing items that would have been easily caught in the testing phase.

As far as the writing, some of it is kind of funny.
"You're on a beach. It's very sandy where you're standing. To the north it becomes more watery, mainly thanks to the ocean."

I didn't see any dinosaurs, but I did find cerberus.

As far as this being inspired by a true story... I find that a little hard to believe, unless he wandered a city naked.

It's a short game, like I said, 33 moves. Don't expect anything crazy, and it doesn't seem to quite be AIF or anything (you aren't exactly fully implemented either). Seems like a starter game for a I7 programmer, and I'd be interested in seeing what else he comes up with once he learns the system a little more.

One Girl, by dr khel
tggdan3's Rating:

The Farmer's Daughter, by R. W. Fisher and D. W. J. Sarhan
tggdan3's Rating:

Suicide, by Dan Doyle III
tggdan3's Rating:

Alabaster, by John Cater, Rob Dubbin, Eric Eve, Elizabeth Heller, Jayzee, Kazuki Mishima, Sarah Morayati, Mark Musante, Emily Short, Adam Thornton, Ziv Wities

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful:
Loved the Story, November 8, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

This was a very enjoyable game with lots of replay value that focuses on converstaion. You are the hunter from Snow White in charge of bringing her heart back to the queen. But you plan on bringing the heart of an animal back instead and leading her to the dwarves.

The story takes several unexpected turns from the Disney version we're all familiar with, as you question Snow White and try to determine whether you should side with her or the queen, or do something else. The writing is superb- you get a feeling of really being there, and the side graphic of Snow White's face adds something to the story as well.

As far as the parser itself, it seems a bit too smart, so smart that it makes some obvious mistakes. It seems to trace possible questions from your previous questions. So if you ask her about magic and she mentions a witch, asking her about witches takes you down the next logical step in the conversation. The parser helps by making suggestions on what to ask about next also.

Some problems arise here. First, the parser seems is still limited to ASK [character] ABOUT [subject], though the prodding from the parser made me think I could do more.

(You could ask about witches)

Doesn't work, you still need to ask HER about witches. Which isn't so bad, except that some topics are complex:

(You could ask why she feels this way, how long she's felt this way, or why she thinks the queen wants her dead)

both don't work.

That's forgivable though, I've played enough IF to know better, I just worry about newbies falling into this and making mistakes. The second problem I had to do was with the non-conversation actions.

(Spoiler - click to show) Upon learning that Snow White drank blood, I tried to offer my own blood to her.

(the blood reserves to the hart animal)

Which caused an animal to come to life, stop time, and start some kind of exorcism ritual, which I was completely blindsided by

Which was more of a problem with the parser's choice of supplying missing nouns, but seemed like a surprising supposition.

Those aside, it was very well written, and I really liked how it tracked your endings so you can see what you've already accomplished for multiple playthroughs. Interactive Fiction of the past (Infocom) perhaps should have been called IAF for interactive adventure fiction, because this works seems like more of a story that is interactive than many of the previous games I've played.

Pick Up the Phone Booth and Dye, by Eric Schmidt

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
Evolution of a Joke, November 3, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

The game is cute, and it's a little bit more complex of a puzzle than the original (BOOTH). You'll probably want to play BOOTH first, because without playing it, you probably won't get this joke, which is kind of a shame. If only all the BOOTH parodies could be combined together into one big game, with all the variants, so they could be reviewed together.

As a joke, this works. It's easy and there isn't too much to do. The only thing that doesn't work is the assumption that you have played the first. Seeing them both in IFDB, one might not know which came first, and which is the joke and which is the parody of the joke.

If you're a fan of the BOOTH game, or the other parodies of it, you'll like this. If not, move on.

Pick Up The Phone Booth And Die 2, by Rob Noyes

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Hmm, November 3, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

How do you make that trombone sound they play in sitcoms for disappointment? That (wow wow wow woooooow) sound? I heard that playing in my head for this game.

This game would have been fine in and of itself. The problem is that it's a sequel to a one shot joke game. As such, I had certain expectations. Yeah, you pick it up, or push it, or pull it. But soon I found that I had an inventory, and there were other rooms to explore, and suddenly the whole game got very big. Much bigger than a joke game ever needs to be.

What would Zork: A troll's eye view, be if you could leave the troll room?
What 9:05 be if you could (Spoiler - click to show) not kill that guy ?

The only thing I could conclude is that this is NOT a joke game, but a light humor puzzle game, and that's fine, but it's very misleading as a sequel to Pick up the Phone Booth and Die.

I'm sure the game ends up being okay, but I just couldn't concentrate. It's like taking a one line joke, and making it into a long drawn out story to get to the same punch-line. Some jokes need to be one-liners.

The Minimalist Game, by NOM3RCY

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful:
Do we make a listing for everything?, November 3, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

I'm beginning to see why some reviewers get irritated by the "games" that are posted on this site. This is not a game- this is a yes/no question. That question is "do you want to win". (Spoiler - click to show) The correct answer is yes.

There is nothing else to this. No story, nothing. At least mystic travels had a lot of meta-reference jokes. This was a waste of time.

One Game in Search of a Story, by NOM3RCY

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful:
Joke or Learning Experience?, November 3, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

The game is a short joke game. You forgot to give your game a story. However, I have a sneaking suspicion that the author was learning how to use inform7 and this is what he came up with. The one trick pony doesn't do it's trick well- very little is implemented, and the two items you have walk you through the whole thing. (never mind the walkthrough on the game's main page).

Not particularly funny, not particularly memorable, no value in replay. But maybe that's the point- he forgot to give his game a story too.

Pascal's Wager, by Doug Egan

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful:
Kind of Disappointing, November 3, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

The concept is the disproval of Pascal's Wager. In a nutshell: If you believe in God and are wrong, what have you lost? So it's safer to believe in God. The rebuttal is that this assumes 1 god, if there are more than 1 god, then you can still lose.

So in this game, a random God is chosen, and you have to lead a life that would please that god.

However, this game is more about wandering around than worshipping your God. The hints are adaptive at least, but it's hard knowing what you're supposed to do (that's the point). Your family worships one god, but that might not be the right god.

There are 3 scenes you play in. I've found ways to progress in them, but never got into heaven. Mostly because I'm not familiar with each God's Dogma. (Never really studied Cuthulu, or Mammon for that matter). That being the case, I'm not sure what my goals are. When God is catholic, should you get a part time job, or join the baseball team, or finish your homework?

As far as implementation, some things could be more polished. Attempting to take chemicals form the janitor closet even goes so far as to say "That's just scenery". There's also some books you can read as a child, and others you can't. I accidentially entered my own locker, and you can't move in a compass direction without first typing >GET OUT. A simple (first leaving the locker) would have been better.

Some of the hallways are too long, and could have been combined. I did find a very horrendous scene (Spoiler - click to show) in which a child puts his baby brother in the fridge which makes me wonder which God gives this as the "supposed to" ending.

With all the randomness, each playthrough offers something new, but it makes it very hard to know if you are doing anything right, and replays are re-randomized, so it's tough even to brute force your way through it. And in order to find out what God is in charge, you have to roll a magic die, and then figure out what the symbol on it means. Yes, in life you don't know which god is in charge, and that's the point, but the game could have focused less on solving puzzles (like getting a bat for the baseball game or getting into the library) and more on simple choices. (like whether you get a job or try out for baseball, without making it into a complex puzzle). The puzzle of pleasing a given god is enough without making the way you please them a puzzle as well.

I would definately be interested in further stories along this line, or other works from the author. I just think he was trying to do too much at once here, and it got away from him.

Aisle, by Sam Barlow

4 of 9 people found the following review helpful:
Wonderful Interactive. , November 2, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

So now I understand what the big deal was with phone booth and aisle.

This is a one-turn game. You are inserted in one moment in a man in the supermarket. You decide his next move.

The writing has a more serious tone, and it explores how small choices can have a big consequence. Each action leads to a new ending. What's cute here also is that each choice then takes you back to the beginning to try another choice, instead of that RESTORE, RESTART, UNDO option.

Most actions are accepted. I wouldn't call it a joke game, it seriously lets you choose your ONE action and gives you legitimate responses. This really inspires me to try to create a similar game, as I'm sure it has for others.

The beginning really draws you in- you are playing only part of this man's story, and with each action, you are invited to try ANOTHER story (the same story, with a new option). Definately worth a try. It's very short, but if only all IF could be this interactive, but on a bigger scale, what a wonderful genre it could be.

Pick Up the Phone Booth and Aisle, by David Dyte, Steve Bernard, Dan Shiovitz, Iain Merrick, Liza Daly, John Cater, Ola Sverre Bauge, J. Robinson Wheeler, Jon Blask, Dan Schmidt, Stephen Granade, Rob Noyes, and Emily Short

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
Oh so silly!, November 2, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

First I played pick up the phone booth and die. As I began to play this, I had no idea how there could possibly be so many authors. What did the original take, like 10 minutes to program?

But then I tried it. Of course, the responses to the old game's commands were here, and silly. (This game assumes you played the other). Then there are endings for just about whatever you do (or at least whatever I tried to do).

The writing is very clever (and some reminiscent of Monty Python!). What's nice is it's a game about PLAYING, and not WINNING. Just go out and see what they thought of, and what the responses are, instead of trying to get ye flask or finding the torch room, or SUVEH TIA ANI MATO... instead it's just a nice little game to play with, I'd give it my vote for IF game that most resembles a Flash Game you would find on addictinggames.com.

My only regret is that it didn't seem to understand "Dial".

Pick Up The Phone Booth And Die, by Rob Noyes

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful:
Don't be hating, November 2, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

Okay, it's clearly a joke game. And yes, it's a one room game with only one item in it- the phone booth.

And as the title says, if you pick up the phone booth, you will die.

The writing is very cute. I enjoy how it your score is related, whether you die or win. (Yes, there is a winning ending). Despite other reviews, it's really not all that hard to find- I found it on my second try (after picking it up, of course!)

Don't expect too much, it's a joke game. But I've played others that aren't funny. This one was. Play it for a laugh. Then move on. But don't hate on it, because it does well what it promises to do.

Every Day the Same Dream, by Luis Gonzalez

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
BETA TEST!, November 2, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

So, what's going on here?

If you're easily frustrated by games with missing synonyms and verbs that should have been, this will frustrate you.

Even in the first room we have a nightstand (which cannot be opened and cannot be referred to as "stand"). In the next room we have a television which cannot be referred to as "TV". We have a stove that can't be opened. "Its an electric stove. You have no clue how to use it. It is being used at the moment." How do I know it's being used if I have no clue how to use it? If it can't be opened, what's cooking ON it?

My wife is there. I can't kiss her. She's making breakfast "The young woman engrossed in making breakfast". But she doesn't respond to breakfast, I can't ask her about it.

The next room contains an elevator, I think. There's a button. Pushing it causes machine sounds, like an elevator. I waited. and waited. Then I said, enough of this.

This seems to be a remake of another game. I took it upon myself to play the other game. Now I get it. In the original, it's a graphic game that responds to clicks only (and limited ones at that), and has your character running left across the screen.

The game it's a port of has limited interaction, and this is a "faithful recreation". As such, there's very little to do here. I got further in the graphical game.

I question the value of the port, given that the old one was flash and easily playable online. More of the problem was that IF generally implies more interactivity than simple clicking, and this port doesn't seem to have added anything. Play the flash game instead.

Zegrothenus, by Poster

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful:
Much Potential in need of Polish, October 29, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

First of all, to be fair, I played the competition entry at Jay is games .com, and it appears there is a version 4, which MAY have fixed some of the issues with this game.

First of all, I had some issues taking objects (which I assume was bugs, but magic is involved, so who knows). For example, If i try putting something (Which i'm carrying) into something (like the chest), it tells me I need to be holding the object before it put it into something else. (But I am!) I was also able to drop carried objects, but not pick them back up (because they were too large?).

Another frustration was spells. I went some time before I realized I even HAD any (the about section references this- yes, you're a wizard, but it implies throughout the game that wizard's are more like potion-making alchemists than spellcasters).

Next there's the directions. It's a kind of one-room game, with a central area, and a north, west, and east side of the room. It would have been nice if going N from any room took you to the north end. But if you're in the west area, North gives an error about the magical barrier around you, which NE does not.

Frustrated about the chest, I tried putting all in the chest. The ALL list apparently includes everythign i can interact with, including myself, light, shadows, etc. These items don't show up under GET ALL.

Then there's how some verbs are programmed. [spoiler] I tried griniding the cork with the pestle, where it tells me that the cork is too strong to grind. Likewise when you try to smash a wine bottle with a hammer. The walkthrough tells me I'm supposed to both hit and grind rocks with the hammer and the pestle, which was bothersome. Why would I hit rocks if a glass wine bottle was too hard for me to break with a hammer?[/spoiler]

Despite all this, the writing was a saving grace for this. I am a fan of the fantasy genre, and I like the premise, very zorkian style humor: the other wizards will yank your spellcasting license if you don't make some new wizardry advances, and they're timing you to make sure you do it. I think the timer could have gone without (we won't be able to beat the game without making the potion).

I'm giving this 3 stars. The writing is 5 star material, as far as I'm concerned. The implementation was probably 1 star, but I'm granting the author the benefit of the doubt that s/he went back and fixed many of these issues for version 4.

Metamorphoses, by Emily Short
tggdan3's Rating:

Sand-dancer, by Aaron Reed and Alexei Othenin-Girard
tggdan3's Rating:

The Tiny House, by Dan Doyle III

From the Author

I welcome feedback on the puzzles as well, and can provide any hint information via email dan.doyleiii@gmail.com

The Empty Room, by Matthew Alger

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful:
Escape? One-room?, August 13, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

This game drops you in an empty room. Not only do you not know how you got there- you don't know who you are, which begs the question about why you're even trying to escape.

The game consists of examining various objects until something changes. The changes are arbitrary- sometimes if you touch a box it will turn into an arcade machine, or if you examine a panel, a switch will appear. The game basically has you examining various things until the next flag triggers and you have something new to mess with.

There is no real story to speak of, so anyone looking for any of that will be disappoined. The escape puzzle is random and arbitrary, being neither intuitive or hinted. Nor is this truly a one-room game. (Spoiler - click to show) At one point you go to an alternate "black room" . It's impossible to get stuck in this game, and the game isn't difficult at all, since there are not many things to interact with at any given time. Some things are cheap. (Spoiler - click to show) Examining a board says there's an indentation. Examining the indentation says "it's just big enough to fit the screwdriver in it." Though the game never tells you the screwdriver is there on it's own. . In fact, many of the changes in the room aren't reported by the parser until you examine the item that changed.

It's an experiment in evolving atmosphere, but perhaps if the atmosphere had some reason to evolve, or some point it was trying to make, it would be better. I use Shade as an example, becasue the atmosphere changes as well, except that at the end it starts to all make sense. This game never gets to the making sense point.

The help file is funny, as the menu options have humerous responses, but it isn't overly helpful.

The game seems more suited to a programmer than to a player. Surely it was an interesting endeavor to code, and if you think about the coding exercises, it might be interesting. But with no plot, a linear and arbitray solitary puzzle, and no personality to the protagonist, you have to wonder "what's the point?". I would reccommend putting some kind of explination as to who/what you are, and why you're in this room, what the room is, and why you need to escape, or at least a reason why everything is changing out of the blue.

The Quest for the Lost Sheep, by Sneeze

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
Great for beginners, August 6, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

I keep seeing on message boards posts about making IF more attractive for beginners. This does that.

First of all, it takes a fairly familiar topic: fairy tales. You're helping little bo peep find her sheep by wandering around fairy tale land and meeting various other characters: little red riding hood, goldilocks, hansel and gretel, etc.

The parser is flash based, making it easy to put on webpages, and the names of people are printed in red, the names of objects in orange, and the exits are listed at the end of the room descriptions in cyan. It makes it very easy for the player to navigate. In gold, special commands (like help) are mentioned in the intro, to draw attention to the help command for newbies.

The quest itself is fairly easy. You walk around and TALK TO people, and ASK people ABOUT SHEEP. Some people will give you items, which are generally needed to appease other people and get sheep, at which point you lead the sheep back to bo peep.

Some veterans might be minorly annoyed by the lack of "examine" or "X" rather than "look at", but that might just be me being lazy. I would reccommend that this be the game you choose to sit down with a friend who has never played IF before, and play togther as you introduce new people into the IF genre.

Voices, by Aris Katsaris

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful:
Interesting, July 2, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

Sometimes I wish we could catogorize IF by games vs story. This is not a game- this is a somewhat interactive story, where you play the part of the voices that the main character hears, and you direct her. The writing here is nice, it comes across in the first person, as if you are speaking with the player rather than entering in the player's commands on a parser.

There are 2 different "parts" of the game- one where you direct the player around, and one where you have conversations with different celestial beings. Once in the game, you seem to just instruct the character to talk to pierre over and over. The interactivity there is low, though the choices you make (generally yes/no) in the celesital sphere affect the game.

This is one of those experiments where the question comes (at least to me): should this have been merely written instead of in the IF format? I have seen a few so far where they would have been better off doing the former, though this one is crafted well in the IF format, that despite the constant "text dumps", the changing scenes do better to IF than the traditional format.

It's a romance, it's not a game, it's a story. If this is the kind of thing you're into, come on in, its well done. If you prefer the puzzle based games or more interactivity to your conversation games, this may not be for you.

Dead of Winter, by Gunther Schmidl

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Interesting Piece, June 29, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

This is a straightforward quick game. Your man was stolen by the ice queen and you have to go get him.

There are no puzzles exactly, you just walk to the next room and talk to the NPC who will give you an option and you choose whether or not to take them up on it.

The end of the game (Spoiler - click to show) is a lot like shade, where you realize it was all a dream leaves you wondering what was the point, I suppose.

The best games to compare this to would be shade, or 9:05. It's straightforward like 9:05, where you basically walk to the end and see a big reveal. Shade had more going on, more of a gradual reveal, where as this one kind of throws it all at you at the end out of nowhere.

Still, the writing is nice, definately worth a play. It should take you no more than 5-10 minutes to get through.

Fugue, by Emily Short

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful:
CYOA pretending to be IF, June 22, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

I found this piece a bit awkward. Most of the backstory is explained in the tagline of the game here on this site. The characters are not named (they are literally A B and D), and the parser is extremely limited.

Your commands are basically "TALK TO [person]" "ASK [person] WHAT I SHOULD DO" or "SAY [what parser tells me to say]"

For example...

"You could mention how you hate phones."


"You can't think of anything to say on the matter.

You could mention how you hate phones."


[plot continues]

This is obviously an experiment along the "down with parsers" line, where beginning IF players may find it convenient to have their actions prompted. And sure, it isn't a game, like a few other of Short's works, it's a story that you help unfold. Still, I found the parser very annoying. The tagline of the game tells me I'm pregnant, yet I can't tell anyone about it.

The main problem with this is that it doesn't seem to know what it is supposed to be. Is it an interactive fiction piece? Not really, since the parser is so limited in scope and not particularly interactive. (It's somewhat interactive, moreso than Magic Travels, but less so even than Glass). It it a Choose Your Own Adventure? Kind of, except that your choices don't seem to affect much and you seem to be nudged in certain directions of conversation. Is it a short story? Kind of, except for the existance of the parser, which seems to imply a level of interactivity I didn't find.

Short does some great experiments in IF. Galtea was a good example of how to make a conversational tree for an NPC, and have them react in different ways to the same topics, based on how they were brought up. This one doesn't seem to have quite hit the mark, at least for me.

I guess it's interesting from the academic sense, and the story itself isn't too bad, it just seems like the kind of thing that would have been better suited to regular fiction rather than IF.

Mystery House Kracked, by the Flippy Disk
tggdan3's Rating:

Zork: The Cavern of Doom, by Steve Meretzky and Manfred Pfeiffer

3 of 9 people found the following review helpful:
Choose your own adventure Port. , June 12, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

Yes, port. This was one of the Zork Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Books.

Maybe it ruined it for me, because I had the actual book over a decade ago, and playing this reminded me of the book. What was nice is that it was actually made into an IF, where you can put in commands on your own. However, it doesn't add a great deal to the interactivity of the game, since it's really only direction commands until your next choose your own adventure choice.

Zork: A Troll's-Eye View, by Dylan O'Donnell

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
The Thief would have been better, June 12, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

(Warning: This review might contain spoilers. Click to show the full review.)This is a remake of Zork I- kind of.

Well, instead of playing the adventurer in Zork I, you are playing the troll, from the troll room. Brandishing your bloody axe, you wait for adventurers to show up so you can kill them.

The game is very repetitive and boring- you can't leave the room, so you just wait for another guy to show up.

The writing is clever, for fans of Zork I and users of inform. It's cute when you examine yourself, or when the thief shows up, but other than that it's just a joke game.

I would be interested in seeing Zork: A Thief's-Eye View, or Zork II: A Wizard's-Eye View much more. When that comes out, let me know. Even playing as the bat would have been more interesting. As a joke "game", however, it is cute.

Zero Sum Game, by Cody Sandifer

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful:
Interesting, not unique, June 10, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

This game's premise is similar to Janitor- you're at the end of the game, but have to put everything back to the way it was (because your mom told you so). After that, it's a zork style romp as you try to undo all the things that you did.

Now there are some instances in the game where you have to be "evil" to succeed. That can turn some people off. Other than that, the game is clever, and the puzzles are decent. Often, because you're working backwards, your goals are pretty clear, and it's the way you accomplish the goal that is difficult. I like that about this game.

In some ways this is Zorkian. The biggest turn off involves a puzzle solution that requires you to do evil in order to complete the game. This might not be a big deal if your character is made out to be evil or something, but the purpose is to put everything back the way it was to appease your mother, something that is implied to be a "good" thing.

If you like puzzle style games, try this out. If you don't, this won't be for you.

While the game was fun, the premise was very similar to Janitor, which I played first, so perhaps the experience was not as novel to me as it would have been if this was the first of the two I played.

Wishbringer, by Brian Moriarty

3 of 7 people found the following review helpful:
Easy?, June 10, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

Perhaps this was total brain-fart on my part, but annoying is the word I would use, rather than easy.

This is one of those timed games (I supposed most infocom games were timed- either by lantern light or hunger or whatever), which is annoying enough. Then there's the first puzzle.

I'm a big fan of puzzle games, and I'd like to think I am somewhat good at them. Maybe I saw the introductory nature and took too much for granted, but even the in-game hints failed to get me past that damn dog. It wasn't until I saw the map that came with the game (which you don't get when you play online) that I saw how much there was to explore after the dog, and was able to decipher how to get past it. It doesn't help that the game kind of implies that you shouldn't be going into the area you need to go into in order to solve the first puzzle.

In true infocom passion, feelies were used and required. I love feelies, but I hate when they're required to solve puzzles, such as requiring you to look up the letter you're delivering to someone on paper to see what it says, because it's relevant. Back in the day that was what they used as copy protection. I guess I prever the sierra copy protection, where they ask you a question from the manual right up front, then let you continue with the damn game.

That aside, perhaps the game is better once you get into it. Unfortunately, that was something I couldn't do, which suprised me with how much I loved the Zork and Enchanter series, which this appeared initialy like it would be similar to.

Lost Pig, by Admiral Jota

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
Greatness, June 10, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

The writing of this game is enough to draw you in by itself. Your character is stupid- an orc, and the descriptions of everything keeps that in mind, continually reminding you that you are seeing things simply and not thinking too much.

The game is puzzle based, where you need to find a lost pig (not too hard), and catch it (a bit harder). Everything seems fairly well implemented, and the character you can interact with seems to respond to the appropriate topics.

There isn't much to say about this game without giving away puzzles or solutions, but I would definately reccommed this game to anyone in favor of the wandering around solving puzzles genre of IF, like Zork or similar. If you want Galtea conversation or Cadre's IF experiments, this isn't for you.

Blow Job Drifter, by Big Al

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful:
Pretty Much what you'd expect, June 10, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

Yep. The game is about a guy who desires blowjobs. Not sex- blowjobs. And he has to go around getting them until he's had enough.

It's likely to be outright dismissed by most, mainly because of the subject matter. The room descriptions are quick and sussinct (though the blowjobs are more thoroughly described). There is actually puzzle solving to do, as some ladies won't just give it up because you ask (though most are surprisingly open to the idea).

It seems this was an attempt to make Leisure Suit Larry into an IF game (which it kind of was to begin with...). In any case, if you can get past the subject matter, the game is playable. However, some implementation issues do come up, where synonyms aren't used where they probably could be, which can get anoying.

What else can I say? It's listed as pornographic and you know what you're getting into when you play it. If you're into this kind of thing, I supposed it delivers on its promises.

Lock & Key, by Adam Cadre

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful:
Excellent +1, June 10, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

The game comes in 3 parts.

1) You must escape an existing dungeon. This part is pretty quick.
2) You must perfect the dungeon so it isn't easy to escape. This is the bulk of the interactivity, as you buy numerous traps to kill escapees.
3) You watch the adventurer get through your traps.

The writing here is great, but because of the numerous tricks the adventurer has, you'll be playing this game over and over to find the combination of traps that will kill him. It doesn't help that he has access to items you don't know about.

First, they annoying parts: You will play this game over and over, and it can be tedius watching the same scenes over and over (such as the capture of the adventurer). Some parts of the game should be more interactive. (Spoiler - click to show) It would be nice if you could suggest to the king or guards that they search the adventurer before throwing him in the dungeon . Some of the tedium is averted by giving you the "qbuy all" command, allowing you to confirm all your dungeon traps at once.

That being said, the game is brilliant. The characters are fleshed out a bit, and the combination of traps needed is quite ingenious, though it definately relies on out of world knowledge to complete. (Seeing how the adventurer handles a trap helps you learn how to prevent him from doing so later). There is a bit of interactivity while he's escaping, but not too much, mostly you just watch him get through each area. (Spoiler - click to show) Unless you need to manipulate some levers in the main room- depending on what traps you bought .

I enjoyed this game tremendously, and it has great replay potential, as you try to get to the end. It also kept my attention and excitement more than many IF I've seen in the past. A+!

Glass, by Emily Short

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful:
Short but interesting. , June 10, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

This game is particularly short. You are a parrot watching a conversation between the prince (from cinderella), and the stepmother/stepsisters. The fairy tale is assumed well known to the reader.

Like some of Short's other games, there are no puzzles per se, and the game is mostly about saying things and getting reactions from NPCs. This is done in a cute way here, considering you're a parrot and can't do much else.

However, the game includes at least two endings that I've found, which shows that even a parrot can find ways to affect the world around him.

The writing is cute, and the game is short. I'd say definately worth a play. As far as re-plays, you'll want to replay at least once to get the ending you didn't get last time.

Total Paddling Mania, by Dr. Aloysius, Ph.D Beltway

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
Useless, June 10, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

Game? Is there a game here? There's a map which is much too big, considering there is nothing to do in most rooms. You go, find a paddle, and then go beat a child with it.

Presumably, the child has done something. Beating him is not enough, you need to take him into a special room and strap him to a restraint system first.

But beating him twice is abuse.

There is an old man you can talk to, one "full of wisdom", but all he responds to is "ask man about paddle", to which he quotes the game's tagline.

I get it, the author is in favor of paddling. I don't know if IF is the right way to get this opinion across. Rendition was a more thorough experiment into beating someone, and at least seemed to provide a motive, other than that children need to be beaten.

Don't bother with this. Unless you feel like you want to beat a child, I guess.

Galatea, by Emily Short

15 of 19 people found the following review helpful:
Interesting Experiment, June 9, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

There are two ways to take Galtea- like there are two ways to take most IF nowadays: as a game, and as an experiment.

As a game, this offers very little. You try to come up with things to ask Galatea, and she will respond, and you can ask her more, or tell her things.

As an experinment in NPCs, this goes very deeply, and offers a lot for a writer of IF to learn when programming his own NPCs.

There is very little to do except to speak to the statue, and the statue (as far as I've seen), doesn't speak to you on her own, except for before you speak to her, kind of as a hint that this is what you're supposed to do. The author provides a good RECAP command to help you learn what topic you've covered and if there is more to cover on the subject.

The NPC is tragic, and you can't help but feel for her- which is the point, I suppose. It gives a lot to live up to in form of an individual NPC, and it's something anyone thinking of writing IF should play, if only for inspiration, and anyone interested in IF as an art form should definately look at. People who prefer games over story might be disappointed.

Ad Verbum, by Nick Montfort

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
Witty Wordplay With Wry Whips, June 9, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

The game has no plot to speak of, which is fine. The puzzles are similar to Nord and Bert, where you use wordplay to obtain items, and to exit rooms.

Some of the rooms are obvious, such as the room where everything begins with S only allows commands and nouns that start with S. Which makes it difficult when you're trying to find ways to go north.

The parser is pretty smart, however, the nature of the parser forces you to think so far outside the box it might become frustrating. (Spoiler - click to show) Especially when you try "walk where west was" to go east and get no response. . Some puzzles are straightforward, like knowing more dinosaur types (Spoiler - click to show) Though I think "anything"saur will work, since it accepted "boobasaur" . I found what I believe to be a glitch that made the game unwinnable concerning the sofa (Spoiler - click to show) I was apparantly not supposed to be able to remove it from the upstairs room without the verbosifier, but I did, and the verbosifier wouldn't work in the other room .

All in all the game is great and different enough from standard IF games that it will keep you occupied beyond the "take all" nonsense. The included hints don't give the answer completely away, but do tell you what you need to know. Interesting is the fact that in some rooms "save/restore/undo/quit" don't work, but that's in the nature of the way the author redesigned the parser for each room.

Gives a lot for an aspiring player or writer to live up to!

rendition, by nespresso

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
How many ways can you torture someone?, June 9, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

Your job is to torture abdul, a terrorist from "the east". This is basically an attempt to come up with all the humiliating things you can do to a man, and do it 3 times to 3 different body parts. (IE- piss on his nose or hit his left eye).

I get it- it's supposed to bother you by showing how much you can hurt this guy.

The "game" seems empty. You have to do each humilitating action 3 times. (Hit him 3 times in 3 different places. Then slap him 3 times in 3 places) so it gets rather redundant. As you do so, the terroist becomes more removed from reality. Once you've done enough, you may leave.

The style is horrific, but there isn't much meat or plot involved either. It's just snuff- you torture a guy in a variety of different ways. Maybe if you could garner more information from him, or there was more of a point to the torture- or you could offer "kind" interrogation techniques or more conversation this would be "worth it", but as it sits, it should be listed under "abuse pornograpy" more than social experiment.

Curses, by Graham Nelson

4 of 12 people found the following review helpful:
Grr, May 27, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

Okay, I tried to like this game. The writing was good, and the concept seemed simple enough- but I just couldn't quite get into it.

I got annoyed right off the bat by some poor implementation. When you enter a room, a key falls down in a crack in some floorboards. Your heart sinks as you wonder how you're going to get it back.

But you can't refer to the key, crack, floorboards, or floor in any meaningful way. Can't examine them, look at them, etc. Is that key not important, or is this under-implemented.

Then I find a map I'm looking for in a glass demijohn.

The demijohn is made of something like industrial-grade chemistry glass. You kick it and hurt your foot.

I found this odd considering that HIT [something] and HIT [something] WITH [something] must be specifically programmed seperately.

The writing was good and I wanted to get into it, but I found myself frustrated by these. (Granted, I didn't expect breaking the demijohn to work, but kicking it and hitting it with an object should definately be seperate). The other reviews on here make me think it gets better, but these two things happened right away, and I played this twice and tried to like it, but couldn't.

Shrapnel, by Adam Cadre

7 of 10 people found the following review helpful:
Not My Favorite, May 26, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

Okay, it's hard to say much without giving away the story but...

First of all, you are in a small area similar to Zork's white house. And you get killed. Then you restart and get killed a different way. And so forth.

One of my big complaints in this one is the lack of interactivity. There are 4 or 5 rooms you just wander around in until some plot happens. The big gimmick here is the way the game interprets things (Spoiler - click to show) Such as forcing you to RESTART when given the quit or restart options on death

I am a big fan of Cadre's other games, to the point where I am now seeking out his other works to play them. This one didn't strike me, however. There was a lot of info dump at the end, and little interactivity.

What was interesting was the choice of medium. For the style of story he was writing, he had 2 choices: IF, or Short Film (in a memento style). The use of IF was daring here, and he is definately one to experiment with his IF styles, and for that I give him credit. This one, I just didn't feel. Even photopia, with its limited choices, gave the illusion of freedom, and I-0 seemed way open, with multiple branches to the ending. With this one, most of the game was pressing the space bar to advance the text, and that wasn't what I was looking for with the IF.

Still, if you're a fan of the story- the story itself is fairly interesting.

9:05, by Adam Cadre

5 of 10 people found the following review helpful:
True Cadre Style, May 26, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

This is my 3rd Cadre game after Photopia and I-0. Loved them. I liked this, but the game is fairly short, so there isn't a lot to love. What there is, however, is gold.

Once again, he uses his ingenious writing to distract you from some of the simple things that PCs take for granted. (Spoiler - click to show) He tricked me again! I fell for it with the angel in photopia, and now again with this PC .

The game itself seems fairly straightforward, shower, get dressed, eat, go to work. It only takes a couple of minutes. Then the joke happens. Definately worth the 2nd playthrough to look for "evidence" of the reveal.

I would rate it higher if there was more to do, but as it is, it is fun and interesting.

Spring Cleaning, by Roger Carbol

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Silly D&D Spinoff, May 21, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

This game was really fun- kind of in the vein of Janitor in spirit, but not in method of play.

You are a commoner in a Dungeons and Dragons parodied universe. You have to clean up Mordenkains Magnificant Mansion (or at least a parody of it), with your Bag of Devouring (I mean- sack of gobbling).

It's cute- all the D&D references, and a couple of simpson refrences (such as embiggen and debigulating).

It's a speed IF, and as such has some parser issues, which is to be expected. I was most upset by what appears to be a time limit- you can bump into the wizard, who then judges your progress, scores you, and ends the game. Dodging the wizard can get you a few more turns. Personally, I would rather you tell the wizard when you're done cleaning, but that might be part of the game.

It was a good parody game, fairly clever, especially given the short coding time. Worth a playthrough if you're a D&D geek like me. If not, you might not get that much out of this game.

Coke Is It!, by Lucian P. Smith, Adam Thornton, J. Robinson Wheeler, Michael Fessler, Dan Shiovitz, David Dyte

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Ha ha ha, Adware, May 21, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

Okay, I kind of blasted another game for being adware, but this one was way funnier.

First of all, it makes no secret of the fact that it's adware, and no attempt to be a real game. Instead, it just places coca-cola references all over other people's games, such as Adventure, or A Bear's Night out.

The games are basically demo versions of other games, using the coke machine to go between them. More of a joke or parody than adware.

The game is a litte under-implemented, not understanding cola as coca-cola, and fill bottle with coke doesn't work, you need to fill bottle while you are near coke.

The game is kind of long for what it is- but cute nonetheless. You don't want it to be too long, condsidering it's one big joke, and i'm not sure it it's techinically parody as far as the authors of other games are concerned. Something to pass the time, but nothing to get hung up about.

Cheater, by Wesley Osam

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful:
Cute, May 21, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

This was kind of a cute game. You are a cheater as a character, so as a player you cheat too, you use (Spoiler - click to show) use the debugging commands to get through the game .

Not really worth a lot of playing, and if you don't really program with Inform you won't get very far.

Still, it was a cute idea, and one of the better joke entries I've seen.

I-0, by Anonymous

5 of 12 people found the following review helpful:
More interactive than most IF, May 20, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

So there you are, the hot girl with the car out of gas. And you need to find your way home.

There are apparently several different ways to get home, and deal with certain NPCs, which range from the tame to the raunchy. To be fair, the game doesn't start getting R rated until you make it that way.

The game is well written, and though you might get frustrated with how easy it is to die, that just goes to show why it's dangerous to be alone in the desert all day.

I was really surprised with the level of detail everything got, while still maintaning the very simple task of getting home. Definately NOT like photopia, by the same author, which I had played first.

Worth a playthruogh, and another, and another, as you try to find the multiple ways to get home, and there are plenty of little "easter eggs" to find. Things are well implemented- I don't run into too many situations where the parser had trouble, though carrying capacity is kind of low, it's realistic (you aren't AFGNCAAP, after all!).

PS. I wouldn't reccomend the game to children.

Photopia, by Adam Cadre

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Wow, May 20, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

I admit, I read the reviews first. I walked into this knowing that there would be little in the way of interactivity.

I've seen few IF games that are more IF, and less GAME. This is one, and it was done very well. Even switching amongst several POVs, the game ties it up nicely. Unfortunately, I figured out what was going on early, and tried to "defy fate", and found it was impossible.

The subject matter itself was varied. I found myself really interested in the space-travelling character, and found myself laughting at the things I took for granted about the character, only to discover that (Spoiler - click to show) she was an angel, not a human . The "other side" concerning Abbey, I found myself upset about, as the author clearly intended. It is a story that is told time and time again (Spoiler - click to show), the warning against drunk driving , but this one told it so well.

There are no puzzles in this game. The conversation is menu based and pretty straightforward. You can't NOT get through it, since it's more reading and less doing. Still, this is a wonderful attempt to use the medium of IF for storytelling, evolving it past the kleptomaniac adventurer puzzle solving that I see it in so much.

Definately worth a play, I mean read, I mean, definately worth looking at.

Shade, by Andrew Plotkin

6 of 9 people found the following review helpful:
Wonderful but sometimes tedius. , May 18, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

Shade is one of those games that is hard to discuss without spoilers. It's a one room game. The game includes your bathroom, kitchen, and apartment proper.

Now at first I thought it was going to be pretty boring, with the sparsely decorated apartment being done a million times before, but the writing is so great it really put me back in my days after college. The little details make the game come alive- the old 386 computer, the pile of papers that represent your life's work of writing that you don't even thing are worth looking through, the shower that isn't working...

Then we come to the game itself, which really rewards you for sticking with it. Your key to the game comes in the form of your to-do list, which changes as you accomplish things on it. (It might not change- just your focus seems to change). As you start mucking about your apartment, little subtle clues are given, though it might not seem relavent at the time- the game deserves a second playthrough.

Finally, the issue becomes distorted, as you realize (Spoiler - click to show) you are in a dream , as things start going awry in your apartment (Spoiler - click to show) as everything starts turning into sand . The writing gets excellent at this point, as you try to figure out what's going on, and finally the realization hits you.

It's definately a mind game, much like the movie Identity or Fight Club.

But the gameplay- it's not really puzzle based, it's go no NPCs to speak of. It's exploratory if anything. You're basically moving through the plot, which makes the game linear, and sometimes difficult, since you aren't always sure what you need to do next. There is no onboard hint system, except checking your to-do list, and that can be very vague at times. Still, you can't get permanently stuck, just frustrated as your key actions seem to be looking at and messing with the mundane issues in your apartment, such as the sink or shower.

This is the game's big shortfall, as the actions are arbitarty. Sometimes sitting on the futon triggers something, sometimes it doesn't. That can get pretty frustrating, but the positives of the game outweigh the negatives, if you're in to the mindscrew type games.

There is one part of the game (Spoiler - click to show) where the helicopter flies by that I wish was more interactive. Once you find out what's going on, it implies that (Spoiler - click to show) the helicoptor may represent your rescuers and it would be nice if you could signal the helicoptor for a different ending. That might wreck the appeal of the game, especially if you accidentially do it on the first playthrough, but it would be nice.

Terminal, by C. Everett

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful:
Love it and hate it at once., May 14, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

I love this concept- you are an AI, your power failing, who has to make a body to inhabit. There are 2 paths- an organic body and a robot body.

Then there's the problems.

First, guess the verb (and noun) is huge here. There is a drone, and it's clear you need to use the drone to move around, however, "access drone" (or "access [anything]") gives no feedback, just another prompt. (Apparantly you need to "activate" it).

Then so many things are not named as they should be. The room describes "vats" that can only be referred to by their proper names (which you learn by accessing people's computers". The names of objects change as you examine them.

Building the android is tricky, too. "PUT x ON CHASSIS" does not work. You must "FIX x TO CHASSIS". Also, "android" isn't recognized. Some parts of the androids are "hidden", not described at all- the walkthrough implies you can find them, but even with it I was unable to find some objects.

The story is nice, and you can learn a lot about the characters by reading their journal entries, and it really had me feeling for the AI- but when the AI is named "Abe" and the game doesn't understand "ABE" or "AI", you have problems.

I feel I would really like this game, except for the poor implementation. In fact, the game isn't really hard at all, except for trying to figure out how to get the game to understand your commands.

Couch of Doom, by Megan Moser and Margaret Moser

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful:
Good 1st try, May 14, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

The game is relatively straightforward- you are so lazy that you need to find ways to motivate yourself to get off the couch.

The puzzles are kind of fun, involving getting at things out of reach without getting up (though I wonder if it would have been easier to get up and get them then the puzzle solutions).

The problem with this game is implementation. Your cat, Shay wanders around and is relevant to the game, but the game does not understand "cat". Nor does it understand "mouse" (uses "mousie" instead), nor does it understand "cushion" for the couch. In a dream sequence you can see flying cars and robots but the game tells you that you "see no such thing" if you refer to cars or robots.

If you try to repeat some actions, you are given no response. For example, there is a puzzle involving getting a box that requires a certain action. The first time you do it, great. But if you try to do the action again, you get no reply, just an empty command line. These things need to be corrected.

Other than that, it's a unique and clever idea, finding ways to boost your mood to get you off the couch. For a first time game it's good, but if you were just starting to play IF you could easily be confused when the game tells you you can't see any "cat" when "Shay" is right in the room with you.

Monday, 16:30, by Alexander "Mordred" Andonov

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
Ah so many IF tropes in one bundle, May 13, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

Here you are, stuck in your cubicle, alone. You have abandonitus, as you cannot get in contact with anyone in your office. And you can't leave your office. And you have 1/2 hour to go and you're bored. And you need to look around for things to manipulate so that you can accomplish little goals.

Luckily the coffee machine acts as a hint box.

The game is very fun and challenging. It doesn't get too hard, though, since there are hints. The hints themselves almost require some puzzle solving, as they come in the form of a hallucination you have.

The game has some interesting functions, such as folding paper into various origamis, or mimeing to people to far away to hear you.

The puzzles come at you one at a time, and the game rewards you (in the form of easter eggs) for doing standard "ESCAPE THE ROOM" tropes (such as looking underneath things).

The game is very challenging, since the room isn't very well described. Well, it is well described, but not all the available manipulatable objects are easily identified as such. For example, there are 3 cubicles, but you don't know how to refer to them until you say go to cubicle, at which point the game asks you which one you refer to.

The game has some conversation bits that are more like cut-scenes, as your choice of words has no bearing on what happens, and the game overrrides your ability to say your chosen phrase by having you interrupted or saying nothing instead.

Still, I am a fan of these puzzle based games, and I found this very fun, if challenging.

EGC Paper Chase, by The Educational Gaming Commons

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
Adware, April 16, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

Very rarely do I find a game where the description of the first room blatently displays the company's website in its room description. This is what I have to work with here.

Your goal is to help Cole figure out his forgotten password. He lost it because he was so excited about his company's new products! (As you should be!)

So you wander the office looking for scraps of paper. (He wrote down the password and shredded it and apparently through the pieces around randomly).

You can talk to many employees (the game takes place at the site of the company who made the game). The employees are excited to tell you about what they're working on, but even the administrator can't get into Cole's file.

Things are under-implemented. One person tells you that the password is likely related to Apple or Steve Jobs. Cole does not respond to either topic, especially irritating since it should be relevant. The map is also fairly huge for such a simple task, as you go from office to office and meet each employee and see what they're working on.

The game seems like credits for another game, and perhaps would have made a fun easter egg in some grander product, but as a stand alone, it couldn't keep my interest long enough. The parchment system it used was very slow, and items were dropped around with no reason (a trombone in an office just sitting there). The game is one puzzle stretched out, though I couldn't bring myself to finish it- which is saying something.

The NPCs are one dimensional. Even Cole, who is at his computer and has forgotten his password wants YOU to enter in the password so you can see the exciting products his company has to offer.

This reminds me of the old NES game MC Kids which was one big McDonalds commercial, but at least that was more fun to play.

Llama Adventure, by John Cooney

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
Nothing Special for IF Veterens, April 13, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

The game is very simple. It's a flash game that speaks to you in a conversational manner. "Hey, Llama! Welcome to my room. Why don't you look around?" Key words are highlighted in colors to make the text interface easier. The parser is terrible- unlock lock with key, open lock with key, unlock door, unlock lock, open lock, open door etc do not work when you are put up against a door and you have a key.

The game seems more like an introduction to typing and reading for young children then a serious game. If you are used to IF and above the age of 10, you probably won't get much out of this game.

Child's Play, by Stephen Granade

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful:
Sometimes it's what you CANT do that shows what you CAN do., April 13, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

That's how I feel about this game. In it you are a baby. You can't talk. You can't walk. You can't even go to the bathroom on command. (Hence the diaper). Yet you're mind is active- you know the diaper is just the MAN'S way of keeping you down.

The writing is very cute, and the plot puts you in the mind of the child. People don't take you seriously, there are in-game reasons why PUNCH NPC doesn't get you a result. You can only carry a couple of items at a time, the smallest inventory limit I've seen, yet still makes the game fun and make sense.

And you have to be smart to figure out how to get at that toy and make sure the little red head doesn't get at it. Very clever!

The writing is great. The parents have silly conversations with each other, and the descriptions of people are great. Definately a fun game with more thought behind it than you might originally think. Long live Alphadog!

Bronze, by Emily Short

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful:
Not just A Fairy Tale, April 13, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

I'll be honest- when I first saw this game, I wasn't too excited about it. It seemed like it would be some kind of Beauty and the Beast knockoff about love and conversation with NPCs more than the cave crawl I've come to love.

I was wrong. Very wrong.

Emily Short has taken many IF tropes and made them wonderful again. The dark maze is here, with a twist (Spoiler - click to show) you can listen to find your way around , you have the abandonitus of being in this huge castle alone, and there are puzzles to solve, keys to find, areas to unlock. It may not have been in the Zork universe, but I had all the excitement I had when I first played Zork I some 20 years ago.

What's more, she makes things so EASY for you, at least as far as annoying actions. Doors are automatically unlocked if you have the key, and opened. None of those annoying "that door is closed" messages. You can "go to" a specific room, or "find" a specific item, going back to where it was. When lost in the maze, you can be reminded what direction you came FROM, and when using the GO TO command, it tells you what directions and rooms you passed getting to your location. These little things really make the game more fun, as it avoids the tedium of moving back from room to room. If only Zork I had that...

Anyway, if, like me, you were wary of the game because of the title and premise- don't be. It's a fun puzzle game with plenty of flashbacks to provide a deep and well written story.

Party Foul, by Brooks Reeves

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
I became the PC, April 13, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

Rarely do I play an IF game and really get the feeling of BEING the PC. Party Foul did this for me. Even being a man, I was put into the POV of the female character as she tries to find a way to leave the party, collect her husband, coat, and casserole dish, without setting the house on fire. (And I really tried to microwave the butter knife, or put it in the toaster to stop the party early!).

The author really thought this through and implemented so much of the game. The NPCs seemed genuine, even when they didn't quite interact with ME the way I WANTED them to, they would speak to each other and make comments based on my actions that made the game feel real. I even got to feel my wife's frustration when the husband wouldn't stop watching football and help me leave the party!

The game is kind of tricky, too. It's not just a conversation game. You really have to use all your IF tricks to wake up the fat drunk guy laying on your coat, or to get the TV off so you can make your husband leave, or to get the pregnant lady to stop eating your treats so you can take the casserole dish. Definately a fun and worthwile play, whether you're interested in IF for the writing, or for the puzzles.

Magic Travels, by Mister Nose

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
Not IF, April 13, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

This game is not in any real way IF. Mainly because it's not interactive. The whole game is this: You die. Your one choice: Is this okay? Either way, the game is over. It's a bit more than that, the death is described in a matter of turns in an IF game, with the actions supplied by the computer. Would have made a better joke in a blog then as an actual "game".

Bureaucracy, by Douglas Adams, The Staff of Infocom
tggdan3's Rating:

Adventure, by William Crowther and Donald Woods

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful:
Well, it was first., April 7, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

Yes, yes, I get it. Adventure was the game that started it all.

And there are SO MANY different versions of it, that it hardly seems possible to review or score it, considering you probably played the sub-optimal version.

I've played the two-word paser version, and the inform update.

The inform update is full of bugs. You can carry any number of things in the wicker cage, allowing you to bypass puzzles that might not let you carry certain items up certain areas by putting them in the cage. The scoring is off too, because if you carry a treasure in the cage to the "base" you get penalized when you TAKE the item out of the cage, then get the points BACK when you drop the item, stopping you from geting proper points.

Anyway, version aside, the game has its plusses and minuses.

The game is a cave crawl puzzle fest, except that everything is totally random and the answers to the puzzles are totally arbitrary. Everything is under-implemented. I had trouble catching a particular bird, and then, i just caught it. I imagine it was turned away by something that was in my inventory then and not now, or vice versa, but regardless, I was able to catch it at one point and not at another point. And your use for the bird is rediculous and there's no reason to believe the bird can be used for its indended purpose.

It keeps going. You have your mazes of passages, rooms with exists not clearly defined, multiple paths going to the same place, and the reverse direction doesn't always take you back where you started. Random enemies show up and attack you, for what appears to be no reason, and never seem to hit you, making their presence appear useless and annoying.

Much like Zork, you are dropped in the middle of nowehere with no clue as to what's going on. Had I never played Zork, i never would have assumed you need to put the treasures in the house. But since I played zork, I tried it. Yep, it works. And it's relevant.

I can only imagine the nightmare of beating this game with a limited parser, considering how frustrated I've become with even newer versions (which allowed you to bypass inventory limits with a wicker cage!).

Okay, okay. Adventure gave us PLUGH and XYZZY. But Infocom gave us BLORB and FROTZ. Adventure gave us Sierra Online (as the creators made games because they coldn't find more games like adventure), but I guess this is one of those games where "you just had to be there". As it is, I am finding myself having little patience with limited inventory, drop items in the maze and map it, and perform any random action you can think of to see if THAT works. Yes it was the first IF game EVER, and for that, it deserves to be played and deserves to be respected. The site wouldn't be here without adventure.

But you need to be a die-hard IF fan AND IF history buff if you're going to get a lot out of this game today. The same can probably be said for the Zork series.

I gave this game 3 stars. Compared to current standards, it really is terrible. But back when it was written, it was the best there was (the only there was). It gave us so many IF conventions we take for granted today (such as the dark room, and using compass directions to move!, inventory and LOOK commands), and people really need to play it if they want to see IF roots- just be ready to take a while, and have hints on hand!

69,105 Keys, by David Welbourn

6 of 10 people found the following review helpful:
Escape the room- again?, April 7, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

There are a lot of one-room escape the room games out there, where your only goal is to get past one (or a few) puzzles to get into the next room. Suveh Nux or Enlightenment are good examples, with a series of flash ones available all over the internet.

69,105 keys is very straightforward- one of the keys is unique to all the others, and is thus the key that opens the door.

Realistically, it seems like, were you actually THERE in the room, you could quickly scan the keys for the unique one, but maybe not. Instead you have to count them based on several distinct qualities, like their color, whether they have a scrach on them, the brand name, etc.

The game has numerous sesame street references, such as the "one of these things is not like the others" songs, and references to the count, and ever a dirty mode, in reference to the youtube "censored" count song, which was kind of cute. There are even references to how much the PC hates tedium, which is funny, because the game is specifically an exercise in tedium.

I rated this higher then other tedius games, becuase the humor kept the game going, and the puzzle was very easy and straightforward. If you were just learning how to program Inform, or some other system, this is the type of game you should make, one straightforward puzzle that gives you the opportunity to program several different commands well. No doubt further games by this author could be much more involved.

The story isn't very deep, but neither was some of the other great one-room games. Let's face it, how much story can you put in a one-room game without some kind of loaded backstory or cut-scene? And the game doesn't pretend to be anything bigger than it is, and I give the author props for that.

So if you're looking for a quick diversion- this is the game for you. If you want a long puzzle or conversation filled game like Enchanter or something, look elsewhere.

Janitor, by Peter Seebach and Kevin Lynn

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful:
Reverse-Zork, April 6, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

This game is really cute. You're a janitor behind the scenes in a Zork-like adventure game, and you need to put everything back so the next guy can play.

First of all, this game was written very well, better than I expected. You get a hold-all right away, so you can carry all the treasures back, and you get a talking mop who can help you with some tasks (though he's not particularly helpful).

The game can be very funny (particularly when you find out what happened to your predecesor). It's also well-planned, because as you walk around you do get the feeling like someone has been there before you- muddy footprints on the carpet from outside, fingerprints on the mirror, just the little things that give you the feeling of a "used" world.

It is cute how your score goes down rather than up, indicating putting things back to the original position, and discovering where the adventurer picked things up (you missed training so you have to discover the initial placement of things yourself). Luckily, the score indicates when something is where it should be.

Zork-style comedy is there (such as a comfy chair that "traps" you), and discovering how cheap some of the "treasures" actually are. If you were a big fan of Zork (like I am) you will love this game. It's all puzzles.

If you're a bigger fan of the plot or conversation oriented games... well, you probably won't like this game. But to the rest of us, it's great fun.

The Djinni Chronicles, by J. D. Berry

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
Very Immersive, Not too hard. , April 6, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

I am a big fan of Non-Human PCs (going so far as to include the baby in child's play in this) because it forces you to think in a different way. This game takes it one step further- not only do you think differently, your non-human form gives you further advantages: you can walk through walls, you channel things rather than picking them up, everything- even the error messages- are written in a separate text than you're used to. None of this "as good-looking as ever" or "you see nothing special ahout the [noun]".

The game is difficult to figure out at first. For one thing, you aren't bound in your movement in any realistic way- you can go down thruogh the earth or up through the sky- but the further you move from your summoner, the more purpose you consume per turn, and if you run out of purpose, you lose your existance- so the purpose is your only "timer". Kind of an interesting twist on the hunger puzzle. Purpose can be increased by doing certain actions in line with your nature, being near your summoner, or returning to your djinni container.

Some minor complaints: Sometimes what you need to do is confusing, and sometimes your choices don't matter. You are given a choice early in the game amongst 3 options and it has no real relevance what one you choose. (Minor conversation changes later). You play as different djinnis throughout the game, each with different powers, which is hard to find out, also. Presumably the game had some kind of feelie associated with it that I never got when I played, which may have made the game easier.

If you're looking for your standard cave crawl, forget it. If you're looking for deep conversations, forget that too. This is a unique game with some really well thought out conventions. Definately worth trying out for something different.

Zork, by Tim Anderson, Marc Blank, Bruce Daniels, and Dave Lebling

6 of 9 people found the following review helpful:
Zork +1, April 5, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

What can I say? One of my first IFs was Zork I. It wasn't until much later that I found this Dungeon game, and realized that it was a super expanded version of Zork I, like they took all the best parts of Zork I-III and squished them together.

The first thing Zork fans will notice is that the mazes are all mixed up. In fact, were this not floating by on the popularity of Zork, I would give it a much lower review. Directions do not lead in directions that make sense: going south does not lead you to the room you just went north from all the time. In fact, you can go to the North of the house, and keep going north until you (apparantly) go around the world and bump into the south of the house again. Now, presumably the paths are twisting or something, but you really need some kind of reasonable mapping structure.

All the best puzzles are here, and if you played Zork I-III you will know all the answers, because there is nothing new here (except maybe a few puzzles from sorcerer that never made it into Zork I, alas!).

I played the inform translation, and there are some simple irritating errors- the boat doesn't move downstream on its own (you must move DOWN to go downstream...), some of the alternate puzzle solutions aren't presnet (the loud room is an example), and since all the rooms are in different places than you're used to, it can get frustrating.

However, those complaints only matter if you're fluent in Zork I-III. If not, this game is all fresh and new, and none of these complaints matter. What you WILL be concerned with is the light puzzle with a light source that only lasts so long, a npc who randomly comes into rooms and steals or moves things, a carrying capacity limit, a glacier puzzle which I contend does not have a realistic solution, and a trivia questionare at the end that forces you to have found all the little secret things (even ones that you would need out-of-world or hints to even know about) to finish the game.

That being said, this was the first big game since Collossal Cave Adventure, and it was the blueprint for every other game since. It is very small by today's standards, but it was broken up into 3 games originally because it was too big to be contianed on the 5.25" floppies they used to have back in the day.

Don't expect any real story- you're dropped in the world with no explanation to go stealing everything you can. Don't expect to even know what your goal is (though it's putting valuables in a trophy case). And don't expect NPCs to be friendly or even non-hostile (even though sometimes you have to rely on them). Certainly dated in every sense by today's standard- just like Lord of the Rings is dated by Fantasy Literary standards, but it started the genre, and should be played if just to experience the rich history that created Infocom and IF in the first place.

Planetfall, by Steve Meretzky
tggdan3's Rating:

The Lurking Horror, by Dave Lebling
tggdan3's Rating:

So Far, by Andrew Plotkin
tggdan3's Rating:

The Devil Made Me Do It, by David Cornelson

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful:
Guess What I'm Thinking!, April 4, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

Guess What I'm Thinking- this is what the author was saying to me when I played the Devil Made Me Do It.

First of all, it's such a brilliant concept: you are the devil, trying to tempt two good kids into entering the neighbor's yard, despite mom telling them not to.

There are 2 rooms- the top of the fence, from which you can drop things in the neighbor's yard, and the kid's yard, from which you can drop things in their yard.

After an hour of trying to manipulate things, I learned the following: many objects can't be referred to by their name (such as the pez dispensor not being able to be called a dispensor, or the gnome statue not being able to be called a statue). You can't take things out of the neighbor's yard once put there, and nothing can be meaningfully manipulated.

Finally, I go to the walkthrough. It was after reading the solution that I still said: &quotWhat the hell?" Even playing through, there was no reason why I could have possibly come to this conclusion. (Spoiler - click to show) The children move in a cycle, and dropping certain items- which decrease your score if done at the wrong time, will INCREASE your score if done at a certain point in the cycle. .

Out of world knowledge is KEY to this, because you'll find out that only if things were set up in the right order will anything work, like a Rube Goldberg IF, except that the only do-over is typing RESTART. The game doesn't warn you if it's become unwinnable.

The game boils down to the one puzzle. The &quotclue" as to what to do is redicluously subtle, even after knowing what it is, it doesn't seem fair. And keep in mind, I thought the Bank of Zork puzzle from Zork II was ingenious.

The concept was great, but the decriptions of things are short, the world can barely be interacted with, and the most common command you'll use if you follow the walkthrough exactly is &quotWAIT". I would really like to see a similar game with more to do and more clues, rather than what ended up being a big cut scene once you did the 4 things you have to do.

Don't Shit Your Pants, by Kenny Lee and Teddy Lee

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful:
Exactly what you think it is, April 2, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

The game has a timer. 30 seconds. You have to go to the bathroom.

30 seconds- yes seconds. You need to type fast.

There are some meager graphics- think original kings quest series.

The game is very easy. Solved it on the first try. Apparantly it awards trophies for doing things in alternate ways or something. Honestly, I didn't want to play it again.

You probably won't either.

Zork: The Undiscovered Underground, by Marc Blank, Michael Berlyn, and G. Kevin Wilson

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
If you liked Zork: Grand Inquisitor..., April 2, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

So Infocom (oops, Activision!) has returned to its roots with Zork: The Undiscovered Underground. But the game is more parody of Zork games than a Zork game itself, but therein lies some of its appeal.

For one, you start out with a plastic sword of no antiquity, and a battery powered plastic lantern which totally sucks. Finding a way to get it to stay alight long enough to complete the game is a puzzle in itself.

Basically, you're exploring a new cave on assignment from the Grand Inquisitor himself, because all the other (better) adventurers are busy for one reason or another.

Despite some obvious continuity errors (Spoiler - click to show) Such as a grue with glowing fur! The game is a fun mini-zork, complete with 2 different endings. Expect appearances from the implementors and the grues (which appear much smarter in this one than in any previous installment).

The puzzles aren't extremely difficult, and many of them are at least logical, which is a nice change of pace from the ECHO room of Zork I. (Yes, there was a more practical solution- added well AFTER the fact as the "real" solution did not appear in Dungeon).

Overall, it seemed like the game was made as a commercial for Zork: Grand Inquisitor, but it is nice to see another offical Zork after all these years, even if the years have not been friendly to the GUE.

Mini-Zork, by Dave Lebling, Marc Blank

3 of 7 people found the following review helpful:
It's Zork. What else is there?, April 2, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

Remember the days when you might worry if your computer was big enough to play Zork I?

Enter Mini-Zork, the smaller version of Zork I, which itself was the smaller version of Zork (Dungeon).

If you have never played Zork before, maybe you should play this game first. The mazes are simpler, the game is smaller, some of the puzzles have been removed.

If you have played Zork I before, forget it. The maze is smaller- but it's also been completely re-written, prepare to map it all over again. And some of the things you might expect are gone, though descriptions might imply otherwise (Spoiler - click to show)The egg still has a description that implies that it can be opened. If you try to open it by hand, the game tells you that this is removed and is only in full Zork, however, people who played before might go to all the trouble of giving it to the thief before realizing that this is useless.

I get it, Infocom was trying to get Zork to a bigger market by making it more accessable, but this realistically should be listed as a seperate version of the Zork I game, rather than it's own unique entry, and people thinking of playing it should treat it as such.

Another Lifeless Planet and Me With No Beer, by Dennis Drew

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Funny, but playable?, April 2, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

Another Lifeless Planet and Me with No Beer.

First of all, the planet is hardly lifeless, as one of the first things you'll see is an alien that kills you. But I digress.

The writing here is pretty funny, such as the description when you fall down the seemingly bottomless hole, thinking about how far it can possibly go before you hit the bo-!

The game has a two word parser, and being an old game that's understandable. The problem is that so many things in the game are poorly described or illogical.

For example, opening a small door (and having a creature come out of it) suggests a way you can go. However, trying to enter the door is met with failure, until you finally discover that the door is really a panel, not an entry way, which houses 2 buttons. Since there is a two word parser, "look in small-door" "reach in small-door" etc does not work. On top of that, many puzzles are illogical. (Apparantly, for some reason, an alien won't attack you if you're carrying a specific item, which makes no sense).

There are some combat scenes, and the style of combat changes as you enter different zones. Sometimes you actually have what appears to be a D&D style combat with damage based on HP damage, but in another zone, guns do a one hit kill with no combat mechanic at all.

The biggest complaint is that apparantly the game never came with an instruction book, as an avertisement in the beginning declares it as shareware, and suggests you mail $10 to the author for an instruction book, making it seem not only cheap, but rediculous, since the whole game is available. It becomes easy to SAVE your game, but figuring out how to restore your saved game has been impossible, leaving you to start over every time you die (which will be often).

The game does have a few nice bits, however- obvious exits are listed, as are obvious items to interact with, which is good, since many objects have two word names seperated by a hyphen to make them one word (such as small-stone) and the game would not recognise stone instead of small-stone. These do not auto-refresh, so you'll have to LOOK again if you want an update on the room. There are also some small graphics (ASCII of course) which add a bit to the gameplay.

The success comes from the conversational and joking writing style (such as the frog princess, who kisses you to return to being a princess, then looks at you, screams, and turns back into a frog). Lots of jokes, but outside of that, it's little surprise that the game doesn't have a huge following. The puzzles (such as they are) are not too inventive- there's literally a hangman game puzzle (timed of course), and a lot of (get the item to pass the barrier).

I like this game- though it's more nastolgic for me- I first played it back in middle school when it first came out. For someone used to the works of Emily Short, or even big Infocom fans- this game will probably get on your nerves pretty quickly.

Eric the Unready, by Bob Bates

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Great, Great Game, April 1, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

First and foremost, if you don't have a copy of the instructions, you won't get far. The copy protection will see to that. That aside, this was a very funny game. Whether you're trying to rescue a pig from the bottom of an outhouse, or watching the evil knight laugh himself to death, or trying to use a magic ring- the semi-precious, which makes you semi-invisible, or trying to save the sex starved virgins from being sacrificed to the god of impacted wisdom teeth, or hearing Bones say "Dammit I'm a doctor, not a... well.. nevermind" when you tell him your arm hurts.

The game is full of puns on the scale of a Piers Anthony adventure, but it's all good hearted fun. Very forgiving and fun.

The game allows you to click on a list of nouns in the area, and has a compass with directions to travel, and each area has some graphics, actual graphics, not an ASCII representation.

Shades of Gray, by Mark Baker, Steve Bauman, Belisana, Mike Laskey, Judith Pintar, Cindy Yans, and Hercules
tggdan3's Rating:

Zork Zero, by Steve Meretzky

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful:
Enough is Enough!, March 30, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

I love the Zork games. I really do. And this game had some delightful parts, but enough is enough.

For one, the world is HUGE! Epically huge. There are hundreds of useless items, and a tower with 400 floors. Getting to floor 400 berates you for wasting your time (and it is a waste of time considering you might be randomly teleported to the bottom). You need the feelies to even understand what you're supposed to be doing, much less solve the puzzles, as the feelies include maps of areas you can't see in-game (such as a chessboard puzzle where you need to insert passages in the walls- and need a feelie map to see where).

Some of the puzzles are rehashes of old games, like the tower of Hanai, the fox, chicken, grain, tricking someone with a mental paradox, or a card game with no real point except to perform a special series of moves described in (here it comes) the feelies.

The game did have some nice touches. There are plenty of AMUSING things to do, such as manipulating a stone pigeon that teleports you to the location of it's perch, leaving you to throw that perch EVERYWHERE, such as off the bottom of the world, into the sea, etc, so you can teleport to it. (A similar mechanism existed in Spellbreaker, though they didn't implement much experimentation with it.)

The game also explains where Grues come from and the origin of the White House from Zork I, and such, but the ending leaves you wondering "What the Hell?", especially after such a LONG game. That and a random Jester who shows up and messes with you (Much like the annoying wizard from Zork II), it just leaves me saying enough is enough.

If the game were more clever, with better thought out puzzles, it might be different, but after 3 Zork games, we're still left with a varaint of "Go collect all the treasures and put them in the trophy case" that we were using decades ago. For die-hard zorkers (like me), you'll play to the end, but I promise you, you'll use plenty of hints, since many puzzles have nonsensical solutions. If you're into that, have fun, but I found the game fairly aggrivating, and not in that really good way.

Leather Goddesses of Phobos, by Steve Meretzky
tggdan3's Rating:

Sorcerer, by Steve Meretzky

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Very Nice!, March 17, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

Sorcerer takes place a few years after Enchanter, and with the same PC. Now you live in the guild, a full enchanter, but your mentor has gone missing, which you find out after you sleep in one day.

As old IF classics go, you will definately feel some Abandonitus as you explore the ruins of an old fort and part of the GUE. However, you now get all kinds of nifty spells to mess around with, and potions too!

This game has a few of the best puzzles I've ever seen, and some very ANNOYING ones that require feelies to solve (such as a chest in the basement with a random code, the code requires the feelies to solve).

The hunger puzzle is there at first, and there is a unique variant on the inventory management puzzle (which reminds me of a part in Zork I). There are some scenes where you might randomly die just by entering the room (which is a pain, though you can avoid this- if you know about it- by casting the right spells ahead of time). The outer-world-knowledge "issue" is bypassed by providing you with a resurrection spell- if you cast it before hand, you can be brought back from death (so that out of world knowledge might still be player knowledge!). This also provides a useful solution to one of the harder puzzles. There is also a beautiful variant on the hunger puzzle- the breathing puzzle, very well implemented (and very big pain! The first time I played this game it was online, and I couldn't save! Imagine playing the whole game over!).

I would put this as the best of the Enchanter Trilogy, and better than the Zork trilogy also. (The game even has 2 possible "success" endings, though one is obviously better than the other.) A great play!

Enchanter, by Marc Blank, Dave Lebling

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful:
Enchanting, March 17, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

To start out, as much as infocom may have said this is not Zork IV, it is basically Zork IV. (You can visit this place in Zork III, and the game includes the Zork Adventurer as an NPC).

The game has a story, albeit a basic one- you are a weakling novice mage, one so minor the big bad mage Krill won't even notice you mucking about his castle. So go kill him.

The game includes a magic system which works nicely, and a very annoying hunger/thirst puzzle.

Some of the puzzles in this game seem to have multiple solutions. However, you will find that solving them the "wrong" way, will leave you without the tools to solve later puzzles, as I found out when I played it. You do run into some issues with the randomness aspect (that Zork Adventurer keeps running around before I can cast my spells on him!), and there are some times you need to use out of world knowledge to solve puzzles. (The last battle requires 3 specific spells, and you don't know you need to memorize them until you get there, and then it's too late).

The writing is wonderful, and you do get a sense of dread as time goes on, pushing you to complete the game faster. There are plenty of ways to screw with the spellcasting system, such as breaking everything, then repaing it with the repair spell, or summoning all kinds of people like the game designers or Krill himself. There is also a very clever (and nasty) puzzle involving a magic map and an imprisoned beast.

I played this game and loved it, and I am a big fan of the fantasy/Zorkian genre. If you are as well, you will love this game. If not, then this game will not be for you.

Zork III, by Dave Lebling, Marc Blank

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful:
A difficult end to the trilogy, March 17, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

This game picks up where Zork 2 left off (minus your inventory- I really could have used that magic wand!). You're stumbling down an endless stair to a cavern where you find your old friend, the brass lantern.

This game departs a bit from the first 2 games, in that the object is not to find all the treasures and drop them in a case. You're still looking for all the treasures, but they aren't apparant as such, and the game is looking for certain behaviors from you.

One complaint on this game is that one of the puzzles (the most important one, you might argue) is timed, so in order to gain the permanent light source, and one of the treasures, you need to do the puzzle RIGHT AWAY, otherwise you render the game unwinnable. And in Zork 3, it is easy to make the game unwinnable and not realize it.

It was possible in Zork 1 and 2 also, though it was much more apprarant- if you died at the volcano and you left some treasures in the balloon- they were unreachable. In Zork 3, you need to decide at one point whether to go for a staff or treasure, how to respond to a mysterious viking ship, choose between to solutions to a shifting wall puzzle, decide what items to try to steal during a time travel puzzle, decide whether to kill someone attacking you or not (and the choice is not obvious),decide WHEN to do a puzzle involving teleportation- and the wrong selection on any of them makes the game unwinnable, and you never realize it as such unless you go back and do things the RIGHT way.

Now, I don't know that this is UNFAIR, because I like difficulty, I would only wish I knew what I was supposed to do before I screwed myself up. If you do what many people might and explore the entire world right away, you've already lost too much time.

That being said, some of the puzzles are freaking BRILLIANT! A puzzle where you need to slide a mirror is difficult to visualize, but very smart. The shifting room puzzle gave me that real "AHA" moment as well. The time travel puzzle makes sense when you think about it, it's just not exactly clear how time travel relates to the time machine itself. If you're a fan of Zork I and II then you shouldn't be really surprised by the solution of the mysterious ship puzzle, and you should relish the chance of being able to walk past some grues in the dark. (A feat you will repeat in Spellbreaker, and possibly in Sorcerer).

The game does tie up the trilogy nicely, provides a good ending point, and gives you the challenge you deserve, without bogging you down in inventory management (very much) or much of a light puzzle (if you run out of light you either missed the first puzzle or did something stupid, like entering a lake with a torch).

If you like Zork I and II you will like this as well, just be ready for a bit more serious a tone and more difficult puzzles.

Zork I, by Marc Blank and Dave Lebling

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful:
Without Which, this page would not be here, March 17, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

I played Zork I back in the 80's when it was the new thing. I missed out on the original dungeon and cave adventure until much later when the internet made every game available, but I still go back to Zork time and again for a refreshing review.

The game has no real story to speak of. You are an AFGNCAAP wandering around the cave complex in the basement of someone's house collecting valuable items and putting them in his treasure box.

The game had some well thought out puzzles, and plenty of amusing things to do when you were bored. It also had cute little extras, like mirrors you could teleport with or walls you could teleport through, or various solutions to puzzles (proving you used the hints- because why would you think about that otherwise?).

The game created the inventory management and light puzzle (Damn you!), though you do find a permanent light source eventually. It included ramdomized battles as well, which I don't see much in IF anymore (and it was well implemented). It also includes the dreaded maze puzzle, difficult to map because some guy is stealing and moving your stuff. And then there's that infamous egg puzzle, which had me endlessly confused!

It's a great testament to the game that even some 20 years later I'm still marvelling at the ideas and puzzles they used. The Dam puzzle, the coal basket puzzle, performing the ritual to enter hades, they still amaze me at how well thought out they were. It's easy to think of them and see them in games now, but these guys came up with it from scratch, no one had done this before, and that's why this game may be the most influential game in IF ever.

Please, play it through. Give it a chance. Ignore it's annoyances (they're due to it's age) and learn where it all started.

Beyond Zork, by Brian Moriarty

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful:
The Next Level in IF, March 17, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

The "Next Level" is something you'll either love or hate in IF. I loved it.

Beyond Zork happens at the same time as Spellbreaker, in the same universe, but with a differenct character. While the PC in Spellbreaker is trying to destroy all magic, you're trying to preserve it by collecting the Coconut of Quendor, in which magic knowledge is held, and hiding it to reinstate magic one day. (Which will be done in Zork: Grand Inquisitor).

What makes this game different is the mini-map, the ability to name objects, a money system to purchase things, some items have random descriptions and locations to change the gameplay, multiple enemies with randomize combat, D&D style stats and make-your-own character. The puzzles are what you would expect from Zork, ranging from obvious to "why does this bridge never seem to end?", where you would need some kind of extra world knowledge to get the joke.

This may be one of the first Zork/Enchanter games to involve a variety of NPCs (even though 3 of them are the same person) who you can speak to and have a REASON to speak to (unlike that Thief from Zork I), and even some NPCs that follow you around.

The downside to this is that, like many games of its era, you would need the instruction book to pass some puzzles. Luckily, it's not as blatant as in Spellbreaker or Sorcerer, where you actually need to look up info, but some hints on how to defeat some creatures (like the christmas tree monsters) are nonsensical, and only by reading the feelies would you know what to do.

All the classic Zork/Enchanter puzzles are here, and most of the trash was left out: no hunger puzzles, very little light issues, a magic system, a time travel puzzle, a place to say "Hello, Sailor", all the goodies.

However, if the Zork games weren't your think, or you prefer non-randomness in your games, this one probably isn't for you.

Nord and Bert Couldn't Make Head or Tail of It, by Jeff O'Neill

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Guess the Noun!, March 12, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

What a weird game!

Of all the guess-the-verb puzzles I've hated over the years, this one is actually fun, though the entire game seems to be a series of guess the verb (or guess the noun) puzzles.

You choose between a few different locales based on different language-isms. One is based on spoonerisms, where you must turn a Gritty Pearl into a Pretty Girl. Another is based on homonyms, where you must turn the steak into a stake so you can kill a vampire. Another is on puns, where you must eat a group of lions (swallow your pride!) and eat humble pie, turn the tables (literally) etc. Yet another has you doing cliches, such as making a mountain out of a molehill or killing two birds with one stone.

The gameplay consists mainly of you looking at stuff, then trying to guess what cliche was intended. When you see that you have one stone, you must figure out that you need to kill two birds with it, or when the mice are sliding around in the grain, you need to let a cat on them, because while the cats away the mice will play. If you are not familiar with these trite phrases, you won't get far, since there's nothing other to figure out. When you see a bunch of locks, you just type >LOX to turn them into fish.

While the gameplay can be interesting, it grates on you eventually, as you try to complete areas but you've run out of sayings so you don't know what else the game is looking for. But, if you like frustration, this is the game for you!

Zork II, by Dave Lebling, Marc Blank

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
More Zorkian Fun, January 16, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

I was a fan of Zork I since I played it at 10 years old on my grandmother's PC. I was excited to get into Zork II.

Now, after playing the Mainframe Dungeon, I see that Zork II is just a bunch of puzzles that wouldn't fit into Zork I anywhere, which is all fun.

You still have to manage your inventory, and it's difficult to get a permanent light source until most of the game's done anyway. (Spoiler - click to show)Once you get the wizard's wand, you can point it at an item and say "Fluoresce" and the item will permanently glow. Or, if you take too long, the wizard may cast this spell on you, making it impossible to win the game.

This game does have some impossible puzzles, such as the infamous baseball puzzle, which set the standard for what not to do in a puzzle, and the bank puzzle, which is really ingenious but horribly under-clued. Then there's the spinning room, which can be more of a nuisance than anything. Most frustrating, however is the Wizard. If you remember how pissed you were in Zork I when the thief showed up and stole your torch, you'll really get mad at the wizard, who randomly shows up and casts spells on you, sometimes causing you instant death (such as making you go into a frenzy while on a cliff, or freezing you in place near a lit bomb), or sometimes wasting precious light (freezing you wastes time while the lamp counts down), or even stealing treasures from you.

As in previous Zorks, you can be brought back to life, but many times your death still makes the game unwinable.

However, this is what added to the appeal of Zork I. I fondly remember as a child becoming nervous when my lamp got a bit dimmer. Even more so now, with no torch to fall back on. And the randomization makes the game have just a little bit more replay value. I'd even go out on a limb and say this is the best of the three Zork games, in term of fun (and certainly challenge- anyone who bests the baseball puzzle without hints is a master of all IFs.)

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams and Steve Meretzky
tggdan3's Rating:

Forbidden Castle, by Mercer Mayer

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
One of the great IFs of the past, December 8, 2009
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

This is one of the older IF games, dating back to about 1983 or so.

You are a normal guy in London on vacation. You enter an antique shop, and the next thing you know you're in a fantastic forest watching a huge ogre walk by.

This game has some fantastic writing. Each scene seems alive. It also has more NPCs than many of its competetors of the time. (Combat is not necessary, NPCs should be bartered with or talked to). The puzzles are fairly simple, and most of the game involves discovering what the story is and how to help the person in need.

The game is very old, offers no hints, and has a terrible parser. It can be unfair at times (one character may randomly take an item from you if you say something the game doesn't understand to him) and it predates the z-machine. (So some commands like "i" for inventory don't work, use "inv" instead). NPCs will assume you're speaking to them when you type something (so typing I instead of INV may get an NPC response) and the save the game system relies on one of the 9 pre-generated save files.

Still, it's a classic bit of gaming. It's fun speaking with the well-developed (for the time) characters, and solving the puzzles. Just remember to examine everything "CAREFULLY" or you'll miss vital clues.

By today standards, it can be very annoying, since it doesn't hold to any of the standard commands, but the writing and scenario makes up for it. It's abandonware, and when you find it, it's in a dos executable file. (Try underdogs site).

Definately worth a play.

Spellbreaker, by Dave Lebling

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Good but..., December 8, 2009
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

I love enchanter. I really love sorcerer. I was really looking forward to playing spellbreaker.

It's the third in the trilogy. Magic is failing, and you, now the guildmaster, must do something about it. What's more, a myserious figure turned all the other head mages into reptiles (with some kind of yonked cleesh spell, I presume).

Where this breaks from the last two games, is the fact that you're basically teleporting from random location to random location. The game is fun, but at times the difficulty seems almost unfair. (Such as the final puzzle).

The plot during the game leaves much to be desired. Without any clear reason why, you are just going around collecting magic white cubes so you can teleport to the next area. The areas seem fairly random, almost as if they took all the puzzles they had left over from the other games and loosely strung them together.

The system is good, and some of the puzzles are fun, but sometimes you're left wondering why you're even doing what you're doing, and the inventory becomes cumbersome, what with 12 cubes you have to name seperately to keep track of them.

If you like enchanter and sorcerer, you'll like this one, just make sure you have the invisiclues handy, because the game is pretty much unbeatable without it.

Suveh Nux, by David Fisher

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful:
Excellent Puzzle, December 8, 2009
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

You are locked in a vault while putting something in it for your wizard master, and you must find a way to escape.

Now I'm not the biggest fan of "escape the room" games, with so many on flash, I'd hate to see IF dedicated to it also, but this game more than makes up for it.

First of all, the game includes easter eggs to find, adding to replay value.

Second, the entire game is about figuring out magic words, and the syntax in which to use them, which is a great puzzle in itself. The puzzles are fair, they make sense, and they're great fun to play with.

That leads to number three. Once you figure out what's going on, there is plenty of fun screwing with everything, and anything you can see can be messed with. On top of that, the game understands so many nonsense commands with funny responses. This game will keep you entertained long after you actually completed it. (And FYI, completing the game does not give you the best score. Playing beforehand does!)

Enlightenment, by Taro Ogawa

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful:
Well Thought Out, Poorly Implimented, December 8, 2009
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

First of all, I love the premise of this game. You are already finished with an adventure in the underground, bundled up with light to avoid (grues) and there's a troll guarding the exit. To defeat him, you must turn out all the lights so the grues will eat him.

Sounds great, right? Problem is that the puzzles have seemingly random solutions. I like games like this, but when I was forced to look at the hints and say "Um... what?" I knew the game had problems.

For example, you have to target pieces of items that are not adequetely described. The size of items is not described and is relevant. One puzzle didn't make sense even after I solved it. (It makes sense, but I still don't see how I was supposed to guess it.) And guessing is the key to solving the puzzles.

I like the concept, and the writing is solid, but keep in mind, you'll be finding yourself typing "put all in [x]" just to see what fits where. And don't be surprised if things that should work just don't.

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