In this Twine game, you play Street Fighter II (as either Ryu or Ken) while Chun Li and Cammy make inverted sexist comments about how boys aren't real gamers or whatever. It's funny, but I think something's a little wonky with the CYOA Street Fighter combat. I thought I was winning until I lost. Then I played again and thought I was losing until I won. Either the game is wonky or I am. Whatever. It was cute enough.
Cis Gaze is a short diary-like hyperlink story told from the perspective of a trans woman who experiences rude glares and misgendering while trying to carry out the otherwise mundane act of buying soda from a pharmacy. The story focuses on the way even seemingly small or unimportant acts of aggression and ignorance can linger in the mind of someone who is already made to feel marginal or freakish at every turn. It hints at some of the little problems (like a stubbly face or stocky physique) that can cause big insecurities in a person who is trying to be themselves and fit in but cannot. The protagonist turns to an uplifting Twitter hashtag for reassurance, but it is subsequently taken over and corrupted by bigoted trolls. The narrator laments the mental energy wasted paying attention to such offenses, likening it to picking at scabs (you know doing it will only hurt you, but sometimes you can't seem to stop yourself).
It's not fair to rate this as an adventure game (no puzzles) or interactive fiction (no choice) or even static fiction (the author doesn't seem concerned with literary aspirations here). Cis Gaze reads most like a non-fiction essay or public diary, aimed at promoting empathy for the oppressed and marginalized. While those hellbent on hate (or stuck firmly in old habits) likely won't have their minds changed by a Twine game, there's some chance that it could teach a little bit of sensitivity to someone who is simply ignorant or inexperienced. I've personally been on the wrong side of so many issues in my life that I've lost count; but I've learned a lot since my youth, so I know that learning is possible for those who are willing to do so. I hope Cis Gaze is played by people like that, and that society continues to shift more towards tolerance and acceptance, and that people who share the author's experiences find the peace and security they are looking for.
Suveh Nux is an escape room game with a very creative system of magical language and plenty of personality. I'm giving this game the benefit of the doubt because other people seem to not have bounced off of it as hard as I did. Maybe my brain isn't as sharp as it used to be, but I didn't find this as easy and intuitive as most other players seem to. Even when I was on the right track, I was at a loss for how to make the timing bits go off the way they were supposed to. After about an hour of (Spoiler - click to show)trying to put more than a light crack in the door, I threw my hands up and consulted a walkthrough. I had fun with this game when I was learning its rules and solving its puzzles. I stopped having fun when I couldn't figure out how to time the solution of the main puzzle because I didn't comprehend how the timing and intensity of spells related. Maybe the problem is me?
A short but amusing one-room joke game that is exactly what it says it is: you are Conan, you kill EVERYTHING. There's not much to analyze about it, but it's good for a quick laugh.
Ninja II is a slightly expanded version of the original Ninja text adventure by Paul Panks.
It now includes introductory text that explains the game's objective, which is much appreciated. It fixes the issue where examining the idol was not allowed, which is also appreciated. It also includes a new (and rather obtuse) "puzzle" where the player must beat a dragon by (Spoiler - click to show)typing the words "beat dragon", which I appreciated much less. Ninja II is more jokey than its predecessor. Otherwise, it's almost exactly the same game. Combat is still janky (either you never encounter a rival ninja, or else it kills you randomly).
Compared to Ninja, Ninja II is in some ways improved and in other ways made worse. I don't necessarily recommend either; but, having now played both, I'm starting to get a little better grasp on my questions about why Paul Panks was so notorious within the interactive fiction community.
Ninja is very brief text adventure by Paul Panks, who was apparently a rather notorious creator of interactive fiction. The game appears to have been programmed from scratch in BASIC, which probably explains why there are some issues.
The writing is very minimal. The objective of Ninja is not explained to the player in the game; but the game consists of only four simple rooms (that I could find), so it wasn't hard for me to figure out what was going on. It seems an idol must be taken from a rival clan's shrine and placed in your own shrine. The game features one simple puzzle (besides figuring out the main objective). It also seems that there is some janky random combat, as I was killed instantly by another ninja on my first attempt to take the idol (I never encountered an enemy again on subsequent playthroughs). There are a couple of glaring errors in the design (some text appears in a room description when it shouldn't, and an important item can't be examined), but the game basically works.
I wouldn't necessarily recommend playing Ninja unless, like me, you find yourself wondering "Who was Paul Panks, and why were his games so infamous?" I'm not sure Ninja answered my questions, but I have at least been given a small introduction to the works of Panks.
The Cabal is a piece of satirical adventure about infighting within the interactive fiction community (I think). It blends more "traditional" conspiracy theory tropes with references to the history of text adventures and the culture surrounding them. I didn't understand many of the references to the politics of the IF newsgroups (not my time and place), but the game was entertaining nonetheless.
The Cabal is pretty short, and the few puzzles are mostly painless. One puzzle is taken directly from the old Infocom game Infidel, so I had to consult a walkthrough of that game, which itself amused me.
Even though I found The Cabal amusing, I can't say I'd necessarily recommend it, as the in-jokes are pretty arcane.
Rameses is a semi-interactive short story about a shy, insecure teenage boarding school student with too much social anxiety to act on his impulses. Surrounded by jerks and pushovers (and certainly a bit of both himself), the protagonist struggles to navigate awkward situations like bullying and dates with girls.
The protagonist's social paralysis is represented through the "gameplay" decision to restrict the player's behavior at almost every turn. Almost nothing the player can do will affect the story in any meaningful way, and often the protagonist simply refuses to act at all. This is not a bug but a feature, however, as it perfectly expresses the way a surly teenager might shut down in complicated social situations where they feel powerless.
While Rameses may frustrate some players looking for either an adventure game (no puzzles here!) or a piece of interactive fiction with more emphasis on "interactivity," the story and mechanical conceit are strong enough to recommend anyway. It should strike a chord with anyone who has ever experienced being an insecure teenager surrounded by other insecure teenagers, which I'd guess is quite a lot of people.
Anchorhead is a gothic horror (weird fiction) text adventure inspired by the works of H.P. Lovecraft. The story focuses on a couple who inherit a house in a spooky little Massachusetts fishing community and slowly uncover the town's dark secrets. It's considered a classic of interactive fiction, and with good reason. The setting is atmospheric, the scenarios are memorable, the writing is effective, and the puzzles are mostly of high quality.
The story takes place over the course of 3 days, with each day escalating the difficulty. Day 1 is a breeze, mostly exploring and learning about the town and the house. Day 2 is complicated, with a lot of things to do and puzzles to solve, but with little to no threat of botching anything permanently. Day 3 is much more tense, mistakes have consequences, and it is very possible to get something wrong. More about that...
Anchorhead may be a masterpiece, but it isn't perfect. It possesses some of the flaws stereotypical of adventure games: verb-guessing, reading the author's mind, some poorly signposted objectives, timed puzzles where you can trap yourself in a fail-state, and even the possibility of losing or misplacing a key item that is needed to complete the game (so SAVE your game often, especially once Day 3 begins). Thankfully, tips and walkthroughs are readily accessible on the internet.
Most of the game isn't that taxing, however, and I'd argue that Anchorhead is worth the potential trouble in order to experience the incredible narrative (which is one of the best in any interactive fiction I've played). This is a must-play title for fans of Lovecraft, horror, and interactive fiction more broadly. Just be sure to play it with your "90s adventure game" goggles on.
Pick Up The Phone Booth And Die is based around one simple joke (see the title). There are two endings, each funny but neither hilarious. The game is famous within the interactive fiction community and gets referenced a lot, so play it if you want to understand the references (it's so short, you might as well).