Ratings and Reviews by Bernie

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View this member's reviews by tag: L. Frank Baum Series Puzzle
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Pytho's Mask, by Emily Short
Bernie's Rating:

Vestiges, by Josephine Wynter

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful:
A poorly implemented game with some interesting features, September 8, 2012
by Bernie (Fredericksburg, VA)

This game certainly feels like the first work of the author, and a first work with little beta-testing. Implementation errors about, from guess-the-verb moments to doors showing up closed even after you've opened them. Most of the game is also guess-the-direction, since the exits aren't mentioned in the room descriptions.

I played this game because it was in someone's recommended list, and I was intensely curious, -- since it had such a low rating -- what made it recommended. While I can't say I'd recommend the game (the implementation errors are just too many) the author does show promise. The appearance of the game's only real NPC, the cat, sparked my imagination. I am, admittedly, a huge cat-lover, so I may have been biased in this regard. However, the cat's actions and dialogue hit just the right note: exactly what I'd expect my own dear cat to sound like, could he speak. The end-puzzle also showed some imagination, and I hope the author will continue her work in the genre.

Dutch Dapper IV: The Final Voyage, by Harry Hol

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
A cute, puzzle-filled romp nostalgic of a Douglas Adams game, September 7, 2012
by Bernie (Fredericksburg, VA)

In this jaunty romp, you play a space hero/detective investigating a mysterious letter. You must solve a series of puzzles in order to meet your contact, who will presumably take you to the person who has hired you for the investigation. The author mentions in 'about' that he was heavily influenced by Douglas Adams, and portions of the game are a clear reference to the old infocom Hitchhiker's game. However, the game is far from derivative and the jokes throughout are fresh and entertaining.

Likewise, the puzzles are goofy, but sensible in the context of the game. They are also easily solvable with a bit of patience and exploring, but challenging enough to be interesting. The game does feature an inventory limit. However, the author also includes the command 'objects' which will list where all the moveable objects you have interacted with are currently located, which lessens the frustration of dropping inventory objects as you juggle them.

The only real drawback of the game was a few of the parser responses when I was trying to solve one of the puzzles, which made me wonder whether I was trying the correct solution and just hadn't found the correct verb. (As it turned out, I was attempting the wrong action.) I also got a bit frustrated when the game seemed to disallow a certain logical solution to a puzzle for no reason. (Spoiler - click to show)I really thought I should have been able to stand on the stove, but the game just tells me 'There's no need to refer to that in the course of the game.' Likewise, it tells me that the work-top is not something I can stand on. However, being a vertically challenged soul, I have proved otherwise in my own home on numerous occasions.

Overall, the game is highly recommended. I'm thrilled that I happened to stumble upon it on someone else's recommended list and I hope the author writes the sequel as promised.

Marika the Offering, by revgiblet
Bernie's Rating:

21 Points, by Anonymous
Bernie's Rating:

Indigo, by Emily Short
Bernie's Rating:

Fish-Bot!, by R. N. Dominick

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
A speedy game with an absurd sense of humor, September 1, 2012
by Bernie (Fredericksburg, VA)

This piece of speed-IF centers around a fish wearing a robotic human suit. To handle the restricted nature of a speed-IF game, the author restricts the commands to a set of buttons in your suit. This does help ease the frustration present in so many speed-IF games when the game fails to respond to most commands. In this game, the parser explains that you are hyper-focused and directs you to use the controls in your fish-suit.

I added a second star to the game for the game's absurd humor, which I found amusing during the five minutes that it took to play through the game's various endings.

The King of Shreds and Patches, by Jimmy Maher
Bernie's Rating:

The Magic Isle, by Palmer P. Eldritch

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
A game from the era of frustrating parsers, July 27, 2012
by Bernie (Fredericksburg, VA)

This game is a sequel to Legacy of Alaric (by the same author), in which your mission is to save a boy named 'Alaric' who has been captured by dwarves and imprisoned in a castle. Unlike Legacy of Alaric, it is not possible to finish this game without solving all the puzzles. Like many of these older games, there are many places where you can die suddenly and without warning and it is possible to put the game into an unwinnable state without warning.

Most of the puzzles aren't too bad, but a few are downright weird and poorly clued, and one absolutely requires reading the author's mind. (Spoiler - click to show)You have to 'say law' on the bank of the moat in order to open a trap door. Apparently this is somehow clued by the sign. Unfortunately, even the simpler puzzles often seem more complex because of parser troubles. For example, "Tie Rope to X" yields a different result than "Tie X to Rope", and both forms of the command must be used to successfully manipulate the rope. Likewise, if you attempt to use an object that is in your sack, you will always get a failure message such as "you cannot do that", which can lead you to believe that a solution doesn't work when, in fact, you simply have to take the object from your sack and attempt the action again.

My original intent was to play the puzzle through without a walkthrough. However, once I reached a puzzle that I was sure I was solving correctly, I finally gave up and consulted the walkthrough. Sure enough, I was correct but the solution had to be attempted three times in order to work. I valiantly re-stashed the walkthrough and attempted to continue, only to be stymied by a locked door that would not let me "unlock door with key". I consulted the walkthough again, which seemed to confirm that I needed to do exactly what I had attempted to do. Just as I was about to wrote the game off as a case of flawed programming, serendipity struck and the command I had been attempting finally worked. After a bit of experimentation, I discovered that one must attempt to "open door" before being able to successfully "unlock door with key". Grrrr. I perused the rest of the walkthrough, determined that the game was not going to be playable without it, and gave up saving poor Alaric.

A Legacy for Alaric, by Palmer P. Eldritch

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful:
Nostalgic, primitive, and playable, July 16, 2012
by Bernie (Fredericksburg, VA)

This game is an old Commodore 64 text adventure. For anyone who is unfamiliar with these old types of text adventures, they're a different breed from today's modern interactive fiction adventures. These old text adventures feature sparse descriptions and clunky parsers. These old games revolve heavily around puzzle-solving, and the stories that underlie the games are usually cliche' excuses to go on a quest.

However, these gems hold a soft spot in my heart, and I imagine that I am not alone in this regard. In an era before graphic computer games, this was the only way to experience epic adventures outside of a good Dungeons & Dragons group. Furthermore, the puzzles in these adventures could be deeply satisfying. Thus, I have gone on a quest to unearth a few of these ancient gems.

Once you get past a few parser problems, this game is cute and playable. It's charm mostly lies in its nostalgia, so I recommend it only if you, like me, crave one of those cute early games. In the game, you play an adventurer who is looking to free a captured heir. The goal of this game is to get to the island where the boy is being held prisoner. (Apparently the game was part of a series, and later games involve rescuing the heir.)

I was delighted to find that I could finish the game without solving all the puzzles and gaining the highest score. I had to resort to a walkthrough a few times, mostly for parser troubles. Most notably, the game requires you to "Take [item] from sack" (I spent 10 minutes attempting to get things out of my bag by "taking" them, taking them "out of", and "emptying" the sack.) Also, the game does allow you to talk to NPCs, but does so through the command 'Say to [NPC] "[Hello]"' Although a few of the puzzles seemed unfair, upon replaying the game I realized that all the necessary puzzles were clued in some strange way. Interestingly, many items go completely unused in the game and several puzzles that contribute to your score seem pointless. I will also warn that there is one occasion of sudden, unclued death; there is also a small maze at the end, but I found it to be easily navigated even without mapping.

I have been playing through many of these old games, and can say with authority that most of them are too frustrating to play for even ten minutes. It was wonderful to find one that I can finally recommend as playable from start to finish. In fact, I plan to play the next installment without the aid of the walkthrough.

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