Ratings and Reviews by Wade Clarke

View this member's profile

Show reviews only | ratings only
View this member's reviews by tag: ADRIFT ADRIFT 3.8 ADRIFT 3.9 ADRIFT 4 adventuron ALAN Apple II BASIC browser-based c64 choice-based Choicescript comedy commercial Commodore 64 CRPG Eamon educational fantasy Halloween horror Hugo IFComp 2010 IFComp 2011 IFComp 2012 IFComp 2013 IFComp 2014 IFComp 2015 IFComp 2016 incomplete Inform Introcomp 2020 Lovecraft mystery Python Quest RPG science fiction Scott Adams spring thing 2016 spring thing 2020 StoryNexus TADS thriller Twine Undum Unity versificator
1-10 of 308 | Next | Show All


Dawn of the Mummy, by Patrick Wullaert

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
The adventure game of the first mummy gore film., January 12, 2022
by Wade Clarke (Sydney, Australia)
Related reviews: horror, c64

Dawn of the Mummy is a treasure hunt adventure written in BASIC for the Commodore 64, and broadly based on the 1981 horror film of the same name. The film had the distinction of being the first mummy gore film; it still is the only mummy gore film as I type these words in 2022. The film sought to cash in on international love for George Romero's Dawn of the Dead, accurately conveying to the punter through its ripped-off title what to expect of it: graphic gutmunching, just perpetrated by mummies this time instead of zombies.

I first watched Dawn of the Mummy on a bootleg VHS during the 1990s. Admittedly it was pretty hard to see what was going on, but the plot has a bunch of New York fashion models swarming into a recently opened Egyptian tomb for a photo shoot. Rick, the overacting soldier-of-fortune character who blew the tomb open, gnashes his teeth as he waits for everyone to get lost so he can nab the treasures, but ultimately the lot of them fall foul of the curse of Safiraman, the mummies' leader, whom a crazy old lady prophesised would attack in the following manner: "Safiraman will rise and kill! His followers will rise and kill!" And so they do, running amok in a climactic wedding massacre.

In the game, you play Rick, and your goal is to pull as many treasures from the tomb as you can and get them to your home space, where you can type STORE TREASURES to receive a score. Dawn of the Mummy is programmed in BASIC, and while there's a thoughtful touch here and there, it's mostly a classic (for this type and level of amateur adventure) mix of guess-the-verb, instant deaths and game-wrecking incidents you can't anticipate. I was happy to keep a walkthrough handy. It's non-trivial to get all the treasures without a ton of experimentation, or cleaving to the walkthrough, so the variable score element adds some interest.

Unfortunately, the highly amusing fashion shoot component of the film doesn't make it into the game, but a few particular moments of gore do. A head-hatcheted guy is found hanging on a hook, mummies strangle people, and another menace "pulls out your stomach".

The probably-then-teenaged author dismisses his own work in an opening demo scroll, declaring: "A lot of shit programs are being released lately so why not add this junk to that already huge stockpile". I think the game's better than that, but probably only a star better. Plus FARAO is spelled wrong in the introductory text. Still, it's cool that this eighties horror movie that managed to carve out a weird little niche for itself does in fact have a computer game to go with it.


Pre-Marie, by Dee Cooke

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
An Introcomp taster of a non-Pre-Marie., December 1, 2021
by Wade Clarke (Sydney, Australia)
Related reviews: introcomp 2020, adventuron

(This is an edited version of a review I originally wrote for my blog during Introcomp 2020.)

Pre-Marie was the first Adventuron game I ever tried. The 'pre' refers to the fact that it was entered in IntroComp as a taster for a longer game.

Marie is set in contemporary London. The PC is a woman about to sneak out to investigate some unspecified mystery that she doesn't want her currently sleeping husband to know she's going to investigate. It's a compelling set-up delivered in a generally old school manner. This means: the parser is simple and doesn't understand a lot or too well. The graphics are pixellated pastels that vaguely remind me of some of the early graphic adventure games from the 1980s, and especially the propensity of those games to present different streets in a town in ways that made them seem disorientingly (or deliberately) samey. The font channels both ZX Spectrum adventuring and Sierra's various Quest games.

There's a bit of needless misdirection in the game that seems down to the parser. For instance, reaching for a wet newspaper spied on the ground prompts a 'Leave it alone, it's wet'-type rejection message. But really, the game wants you to READ the newspaper. The prose is also a little misjudged in giving overall direction. Early on it presents the heroine's internal dithering as to whether she should hasten to get on a train or keep exploring her neighbourhood, but the game is really about doing the latter. Her dithering is too dithery re: what's important to the game. And new location descriptions can scroll partly out of view, meaning you have to mouse back up the first time you enter a new area.

It took several plays for me to apprehend all of this, and the first play felt especially open ("What's going on? How does this game work? What does it want? What can it do? What should I do?"). I certainly enjoyed the intrigue of trying to make out the game's aesthetic over those plays, its suburban London setting and the mystery of its plot. I barely dented that plot. I do ultimately find the game curious. There's something non-transparent to me about how this particular story's being delivered with this old font, with these graphics, with its mystery plot versus its simple parser. It might have become clearer to me were the game to have continued. I also confess I wasn't crazy about the graphics overall, though they have their moments. The pastel colour scheme leads to a kind of non-differentiation that I find hard to interpret at times. I also find the PC's notebook contents, presented via the graphics, visually illegible.

On the excerpt of Marie given, I didn't get it, but my curiosity did prompt me to give the IntroCompish verdict of, yes, I would like to see more of this game.


Superhero Stress, by Michael Yadvish

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Short and simple superhero CYOA using choice pairs., November 26, 2021
by Wade Clarke (Sydney, Australia)
Related reviews: spring thing 2016, twine, choice-based

(This is an edited version of a review I originally wrote for my blog during Spring Thing 2016.)

Superhero Stress is a light, traditional CYOA of mutually exclusive options that are dramatic, like (paraphrasing): "Will you save person A at the possible expense of person B, or person B at the possible expense of person A?" You can play through most of its situations in about five minutes. It's got goofy, typo-y writing and the traditional sexism of old comic books: Ladies are for rescuing, or for picking up while you're rescuing 'em. It's also got a touch of offhand gore that I found very mildly disturbing amidst the silliness, but only very mildly.

Superhero Stress does have a message that it delivers a few times; that a superhero can't be everywhere at once. The film Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, had roughly the same thing to say about the Man of Steel, but Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice took more than 150 painful minutes to say it, whereas Superhero Stress did it in about five minutes.


All I Do is Dream, by Megan Stevens

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A slice of stale life., November 26, 2021
by Wade Clarke (Sydney, Australia)
Related reviews: Twine, choice-based, IFComp 2016

(This review originally appeared as a blog post of mine during IFComp 2016.)

Short, existential Twine game in which you specify the manners in which you will veg out in the house during your girlfriend's next night shift at the pickle factory. This is an experience hailing from the drab end of the slice of life cake. You can think about the bedclothes, fiddle a bit with the bedclothes, clean objects in several boring stages. Your character is clearly depressed, as the prose is insistent about the pointlessness of any activity. A few prose studs of specificity about the characters' shared life don't make up for the more macroscopic lack of specificity that prevents any insight into their plight over the short duration.

Perhaps this is the Twine equivalent of the parser world's 'My Crappy Apartment Game'. The apartment is still there, but the focus shifts to the immediate crappy existential rather than the immediate crappy physical. 'All I Do's...' observations of fiddly-stuck depression make for better writing than that of most My Crappy Apartment games, but its small catalogue of anxious domestic activity didn't interest me because I knew almost nothing about the characters, before or after.


The Xylophoniad, by Robin Johnson

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Fun parser mashup of Greek myths., November 25, 2021
by Wade Clarke (Sydney, Australia)
Related reviews: spring thing 2016, versificator, comedy

(This is an edited version of a review I originally wrote for my blog during Spring Thing 2016.)

The Xylophoniad is a joking, mashup take on numerous characters and situations from Greek mythology. It is powered by Versificator, the author's own parser engine. You play the part of veteran adventuress Xylophone, assigned by a bored king to knock over a few light tasks like ending the Trojan War, rescuing prisoners from Hades and killing the Bicyclops. I imagined the Bicyclops was going to turn out to have two eyes side-by-side, which would have had the effect of making it look like anyone else, which would in turn have resulted in comedic, illogical screaming from onlookers along the lines of: 'Argh! Two eyes! It's hideous!' But it turns out that the second eye of a Bicyclops is above the first one. And that is pretty gross.

The Xylophoniad (or THE X as I will now refer to it) reminds of the classic Scott Adams games in some of its nature and puzzles, though rarely in restrained degree. The aesthetic of those 16 kilobyte games was determined by the hard technical limit of the 16 kilobytes. There are no real limits for The X. There are design choices, and any mimicry of older games is carried out to an irreverent extent rather than a slavish one. The game delivers its humour in some particularly goofy and cartoon-like ways, elicits jokes from cute and simple NPCs who appear as caricatures of their legendary selves, or 'non-canonical versions' as the game likes to say, and keeps the player busy with a large ancient world split into separate regions. The region separation feels like both a staple of gaming in general (like levels, a way to divide up content and aesthetics) and a way to make THE X feel more manageable. Because no matter how cute the game may appear to be at the outset, when a king tells you to perform three impossible-sounding tasks before breakfast (it was the 'end the Trojan war' one that especially raised my anxiety levels) you're likely to feel at least a tad flustered about the day ahead.

Fortunately, and as I should probably have anticipated, the explicit solutions to the major challenges are pretty wack. Don't dwell on how to end the Trojan War all by yourself (... ARGH!!!). Just get out there and be the best traditionally klepto adventuress you can be, exploring, finding ways to pass recalcitrant portals, solving puzzles that crop up using a mixture of logic and illogic, and helping NPCs with their usually not-too-obscure problems. Achilles is histrionic, the medusa is apologetic, Daedalus is MacGyver and Helen of Troy emits unusual noises.

I don't think much knowledge of Greek mythology is required to deal with THE X's puzzles. In cases where a particular piece of knowledge might help with a particular puzzle, the game either tells you about it explicitly or collapses it into a joke that has the side-effect of indicating how the situation would have been in a canonical version of the story. I found myself at an impasse a few times and got past each one using the graduated hint system that comes with the game. If I'd had more time to play, I probably would have continued to experiment with the gameworld and overcome one or two of the impasses on my own.


The House on Highfield Lane, by Andy Joel
Wade Clarke's Rating:

Closure, by Sarah Willson
Wade Clarke's Rating:

What Heart Heard Of, Ghost Guessed, by Amanda Walker
Wade Clarke's Rating:

The Spirit Within Us, by Alessandro Ielo
Wade Clarke's Rating:

Dr Horror's House of Terror, by Ade McT
Wade Clarke's Rating:


1-10 of 308 | Next | Show All