The Meteor, the Stone and a Long Glass of Sherbet

by Graham Nelson (as Angela M. Horns)

Cave crawl/Zorkian

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Old School Throwback with "find the verb" fun!, April 23, 2012
by Rymbeld (Greensboro, NC)

The Meteor, the Stone and a Long Glass of Sherbet, Graham Nelson's 1996 IF Comp winning game, was in my opinion a pretty bad example of having to play "find-the-verb." There were many instances in which I reasoned out the solution to a puzzle, but couldn't easily solve it because I couldn't figure out what I was supposed to type. Here's an example:

(Spoiler - click to show)
>put rope on hook
The hook's too high for you to touch, even on tiptoe.

>throw rope on hook
The hook's too high for you to touch, even on tiptoe.

>throw rope at hook
You throw the rope up. Its two ends are now hanging from the hook.

[Your score has just gone up by one point.]

I mean, come on! Of course, playing the game the first time I didn't type things out this quickly, and if you take a look at the Club Floyd transcript, you see that they, too try to "put rope on hook," and when that fails, they experiment with other alternatives for fourteen moves. Granted, this isn't THAT bad, but it isn't the worst example of "guess the verb" in the game. It's just the first one that really felt annoying. And I'm not the only one who has played the game and had issues with this aspect of the game, apparently.

But enough criticism for now. Overall I did enjoy the game, even though it isn't exactly to my tastes: it's another puzzle-heavy game, a tribute to Zork (which, to be honest, I did not particularly enjoy either). The setting, small as it was, really captured my imagination: the upside-down tree inside a cave was really neat. The puzzles are generally not THAT hard to figure out, but it really helps to have played or at least dabbled in older Infocom games (not just Zork but also Enchanter); in fact, I'd say that the game assumes prior knowledge.

Some other reviewers have complained about the way the game opens. You're riding atop an elephant with an annoying woman who loves to gossip, sipping a long glass of sherbet ("chilled in a wooden cask of effervescent fruit syrup, much prized in these lands"), and you can't do much at first, other than WAIT. I didn't mind this at all, because it set a tone of reading. However, after you disrupt the procession of elephants, the game turns into a simple dungeon crawl. While there's more of a framing context for your dungeon crawling than in Zork, the frame narrative is weirdly joined to the rest of the game. There may as well have not been any procession of elephants at all. There could have just been in info-dump text prologue telling the player why they've decided to search the dungeon in the first place.

I feel like I'm being a bit harsh on this game, and I suppose I am. The primary issue is that it isn't to my taste, but it was a fine game. Since it was small, there wasn't much opportunity for exploration really. This game is suited for players interested in solving a series of puzzles for their own sake, but not uncovering a plot. Because the plot is pretty thin, it was hard for me to care about forging on.

(taken from my blog, gentle hart desire

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HexWizard, April 29, 2012 - Reply
Very useful review. Having just finished this game the hunt-the-wording frustrations are well captured. However I still think this is an enjoyable and rewarding game. I loved the subtle clues in the writing to solve the puzzles and I thought the puzzles logical and well integrated into the game. The writing paints a wonderful picture of most locations. The hint system is excellent.
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