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The Big Mama

by Brendan Barnwell

Slice of life

(based on 4 ratings)
1 review

About the Story

"Three or four sailboats cruise lazily in the glow of the setting sun, which casts a poetic shimmer across the swells. In the distance, about 15 km offshore, you can discern the dim, hunched shapes of the oil platforms. The breeze is straight out of some beach-blanket B-movie: salty, soft, and refreshing." [--blurb from Competition Aught-Zero]

Game Details


20th Place - 6th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2000)

Editorial Reviews

Baf's Guide

You're wandering around a beach, engaging in menu-based conversations and ruminating on the meaning of it all. Lots of branching available--there are dozens of endings--and the characters you meet are reasonably interesting. Since most of the action lies in the menus, the interactivity aspect is somewhat limited; once you've covered the major menu choices, the playing experience is limited to going back and searching for branches you might have missed (as opposed to, say, thinking creatively about new ways to experience the game). The beach itself is fairly well rendered, but it doesn't play much of a role. Competent, but limited by its format.

-- Duncan Stevens

>INVENTORY - Paul O'Brian writes about interactive fiction

The Big Mama is an ambitious work with an intriguing structure and a strong sense of place. Somehow, though, it just didn't work for me, and I think there are a few reasons why. For one thing, the protagonist has the same first name as me, which produced a strange experience that I don't think any other piece of IF has given me. It's an odd feeling to have the PC introduce himself as "Paul" and be addressed as such in a game that hasn't asked for my name explicitly. I suppose that I wouldn't find this offputting in and of itself if the PC was a character I could relate to. Unfortunately, he isn't -- I found him pretentious and grandiose. One of the most prominent examples of this pretentiousness is the PC's insistence on constantly referring to the ocean as "the big mama" -- one or two references of this sort would be fine, but when the game hammers at it over and over again, flying into rhapsodic soliloquies about how "It's like some caring, artistic superior being has crafted this little coastline as an experiment in environmental beauty," I start to get the feeling it's trying to impress me with how deep and soulful the PC is, and I wasn't that impressed. Those kinds of details tend to make me roll my eyes a bit, and they're everywhere in the game.
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Reviews from Adam Cadre and Tina Sikorski.

Cadre: "I don't think the author was trying hard enough. If you're going to put the phrase 'the big mama' into pretty much every response, why stop there? Why, it could've appeared in every paragraph or, indeed, every sentence. (The big mama.) I mean, if it's good ten thousand times, why not a hundred thousand? Why not write in the style of Henrietta Pussycat, only swapping in 'the big mama' for 'meow'? What a missed opportunity. Also, the big mama."

Sikorski: "I found 4 or 5 different endings before I stopped playing, so there may be more depths here I have not plumbed. Those of you with more patience than I (and a CYOA roto-rooter) may discover more. It was an amusing diversion."
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There are lots of little games, some of which can be won in more than three or four moves, but I didn't feel that this worked.
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Number of Reviews: 1
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A multilinear game about the ocean, July 16, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes

This game has you wandering around a beach, just exploring and experimenting with life.

This game has around 40 endings, some after a very short time, and some after a very long time. It has some fairly complex NPCs.

As a beach game, there are several references to babes and illicit activities under boardwalks, and some fairly non-explicit scenes involving such. There's also a touching scene with a toddler.

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This is version 6 of this page, edited by Paul O'Brian on 6 May 2022 at 11:56pm. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item - Delete This Page