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Requires a Z-Code interpreter. Visit IFWiki for download links.
MS-DOS Application
original competition entry
Requires a Z-Code interpreter. Visit IFWiki for download links.

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by Dennis Jerz profile


(based on 21 ratings)
5 reviews

About the Story

"Can Troy, the handsome daredevil autoist, live up to his "sterling" reputation? What secret threatens the career of the talented singer, Miss Melody Sweet? With the help of the mechanical genius Aloysius Pratt, can Troy and Melody thwart a madman's evil plan?" [--blurb from Competition Aught-One]

Game Details


Nominee, Best Setting; Nominee, Best Individual PC - 2001 XYZZY Awards

18th Place - 7th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2001)

Editorial Reviews

Baf's Guide

A light-hearted melodrama set ca. 1910 about a heroic manly autoist, his sidekick, and a beautiful young opera singer. It features fairly easy and accessible puzzles and a good deal of humor.

The version of the game as originally released in the competition was beset by some unfortunate bugs, but the author has put in a lot of work and rendered out something that is now, as far as I could tell, more or less bug-free -- at least, I didn't run into any in the course of playing. On the other hand, there are still a few ways in which its implementation seems to let it down, most notably in that the plot does not reach a full conclusion (and it is not entirely clear whether the promised 'continuation' will ever appear).

All the same, the setting is fresh and entertaining; several puzzles have multiple solutions, and many of the possible points are optional; and the NPCs are amusingly characterized and have quite a lot to say.

-- Emily Short

As a player, I normally don't enjoy games which are heavily scripted; I don't feel like I'm playing the game so much as being dragged along through the plot. Fortunately, Fine-Tuned is written in such a playful and imaginative way that the player tends to forget that their fate is pre-determined. Multiple solutions exist for some of the puzzles, and though each solution garners the same number of points, the play differs somewhat, giving the game replay value. Instead of arbitrarily forcing the plot, chapters serve to break up the puzzles, allowing the player to focus on the right objects in the right order, without that terrible "Led By The Hand" feeling.
-- Jacqueline A. Lott
See the full review

The game is very nicely programmed and written. It leads you gently from one part to the next and most reasonable inputs have been catered for. I've enjoyed it a lot as far as I've got.
-- Sue
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>INVENTORY - Paul O'Brian writes about interactive fiction

[Note: This review was in response to version 1 of the game.]

Dammit, people, stop this! I played Fine-Tuned for an hour, and loved it. Aside from a few spelling mistakes and stray bugs, it was a delightful game with terrific writing, fun characters, and a great plot. But the further we get into that plot, the more broken the game becomes, until it finally implodes with a fiery crash that can even bring down the whole interpreter. Naturally, this happens at a climactic point in the story.

This experience SUCKS. It makes me wish I could give negative ratings. It's much worse playing a game that would be great except for how horribly broken it is than it is playing a game that's weak but bug-free. It's IF interruptus.
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Member Reviews

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Number of Reviews: 5
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Most Helpful Member Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful:
Fun, But Not Fine-Tuned Enough, July 13, 2010
by Rose (New Zealand)

Right from the pun-filled title, Fine-Tuned promises a fun ride. You play Troy Sterling, a wannabe dashing hero who charges around the 1910 countryside in his trusty automobile - and Miss Melody Sweet, a struggling but talented opera singer. The point-of-view switches in each chapter as the plot continues.

The opening chapter as Troy is brilliant. The narrative voice is fun, it's fairly intuitive what actions to take, and I found myself becoming more and more sympathetic towards our dashing but not entirely bright hero. The second chapter, as Melody, is where the puzzles really begin, but also where it gets much less fun. You have no clear goal, so you're forced to blindly experiment, and Melody's point-of-view is much less interesting. Of course, I favour narrative over puzzles, so some may prefer the puzzly sections. The puzzles themselves were interesting, but not terribly complex. (Spoiler - click to show)Most involve utilising Melody's talent as an opera singer in some way; breaking the jars was the most amusing instance.

Fine-Tuned's biggest problem is the fact that it's unfinished. The game ends (Spoiler - click to show)right before the final showdown with a rather anticlimactic message, which is frustrating. If you don't like playing unfinished games, I'd recommend that you stay well clear until the final chapters are released.

The game could certainly use some polish on the later chapters (and an actual conclusion), but is otherwise very entertaining. I'm rating it only a four because it was incomplete, but it's still a piece of IF that will appeal to fans of both narrative and puzzles.

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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
A New If player's view, October 25, 2010
by JSR

Fine-Tuned is a fun games that takes you back to the 1920 era where you drive around in an old automobile. A passenger named Aloysius who helps you throughout your journey. You earn points by accomplishing many different tasks. This can range from just being able to start the car, dropping off a letter, or traveling to a new destination to help someone. The characters always have something to say, which adds to depth of the story. There is a lot of detail to the story and you have to do everything just like you were actually driving. For instance, every time you stop or go you have to release the parking brake. The game starts off pretty easy with points being earned for simple tasks like putting on a hat and then gets harder as you go. This eases you into the game and allows the player not to get frustrated when things become harder. I also never encountered any bugs in the game. On top of this the story flows very well and was logical. So if you like automobiles and travel along the country side, you will love Fine-Tuned.

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Awesome stylistic parody... with no ending, February 25, 2024
by Lance Cirone (Backwater, Vermont)

Fine-Tuned has an incredibly fun vibe to it. From the character names, to the descriptions, it feels like a classic action movie. You are adventurer Troy Sterling, driving with your inventor companion Aloysius in your awesome car. Soon after, you are harassed by anti-auto farmer MacDougal, whom you accidentally send flying into a ditch. Once you save him, he relinquishes his duty to pick up Melody Sweet from the train station.

In the second part of the game, you play as Melody, as ancient history professor Sneedlemeyer gives you an artifact, which your opera singing skills might be able to unlock the secret to. It's a bit hard to figure out what your goal is, but the puzzles do make sense and it's fun to see Melody's singing talent integrated into them.

In the third part, (Spoiler - click to show)you play as Troy again. You have to investigate Sneedlemeyer's house, plotting in advance how you're going to deal with your arch-enemy, the glass-eyed Salomonder, who has come to hold everyone hostage.

The fourth and final part has (Spoiler - click to show)you as Melody as you have to solve your way out of the hostage situation. Next, your goal is to chase the Salomonder down before he can board a train and beat you to the museum. I was totally on board for this, and then:

"Your little party is ready for the final showdown. The motors roar thrillingly... [press any key] (To Be Continued...)"

The game has no conclusion. I will admit it ended on a heartwarming final scene, (Spoiler - click to show)Melody and Aloysius together, singing along to the song that started Melody's opera career, but it does sting knowing there's no follow-up to it. Right before what would have undoubtedly been the most exciting part of the game, too!

Even if the game is cut short, I think it's a good linear story as it is. The puzzles aren't complex and the pace of everything is kept moving at a fast speed. I liked the characters a lot, and there's plenty of well-implemented sequences. The way everyone loves Troy, from the train conductor to children playing around your car and asking you to honk the horn (which you can), he's quite a defined protagonist. Melody has her own unique traits, too, such as an ear for music and a more classy approach to problem-solving. Plus, the Salomonder and his pun-based villainy were cheesy enough to be funny.

Overall, I found the game easy to play, but there were a few oversights. It said the watering trough was empty even after I filled it with water. Similarly, I was able to steal the handle to the hatch of Sneedlemeyer's roof, which I shouldn't be able to. Generally, though, the game is very polished, with the story cutscenes being hard to break the flow of, and plenty of in-character responses are present for nonessential things you might think to do. An unobtrusive scoring system also rewards exploration. There was clearly a lot of testing going into this, and the author had a clear direction of what tone and style they wanted. In conclusion, I would recommend Fine-Tuned, but don't be caught off-guard when the action ends earlier than you'd expect.

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Fine-Tuned on IFDB

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