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About the Story
"Pinched" is an interactive episode of Firefly -- the one where Simon screws up (of course) and Jayne has to fill in for him at a society wedding in order to carry off a daring heist.
Number of Reviews: 4
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In Pinched, the PC is the hilariously crude Jayne Cobb, the accidental hero played by Adam Baldwin in Firefly. Jayne usually provides the muscle of the Serenity crew, but in this adventure, he does everything but that. It's an amusing setup, although it doesn't quite reach its potential.
The key thing in fanfic like this is to get the voices and behaviors of the characters right. Here, I think the author mostly does a fine job. Mal's voice in particular is well-realized, and almost all of the default responses have been replaced by funny things that I can imagine coming out of Jayne's mouth. Some of these are downright terrific (like the response[s] to SING). And naturally, there's lots of Whedony language and callbacks to the show. While not quite bug-free -- there are some minor run-time errors when eating unexpected things -- the game seems solid, and was allegedly tested, although the testers are also anonymous.
I wish it had a more open design, though. The game is broken into a series of one- or two-room scenes, where you either bide time during expository dialogue, perhaps interjecting something with JOKE or ASK QUESTION, or you solve (or brute-force) a simple puzzle. It's easy to code, I'm sure, but it's a real missed opportunity. The joy of playing a Firefly game (and writing one, I would think), would be in poking around Serenity and interacting with the crew: playing with the dinosaurs on Wash's console, or lifting weights with Book in the cargo bay. We don't get to do these things, or admire Jayne's prodigious gun collection, even though we're in his bunk. Firefly has a large cast, so I understand the challenges of implementing all of them as fully-realized NPCs with detailed conversation trees, but I was hoping for more.
The puzzles, while funny in the abstract, don't really deliver the daring heist promised in the blurb. A little bit of "Jayne is uncomfortable in polite society" goes a long way. Some more tension or derring-do would have been welcome.
As a Firefly fan, I enjoyed the writing and the references, and I don't usually enjoy fanfic at all. The puzzles were easy for the group (Club Floyd) but may be a bit trickier for solo play. But they were fair, forgiving, and made sense (although mostly of the "decide which object you have is the one you need to use" variety). The game was very linear with lots of sitting back and watching the story play out, but I didn't mind because the writing was good and the story was entertaining-- felt like a typical light-hearted episode of the show. There were a few minor bugs (we played Release 2) but they didn't get in the way of the game, just some rough edges showing. I'm very curious to know who wrote this and whether they're planning another Firefly game!
Best thing about Firefly was it's awesomely idiosyncratic Whedonese - something the author has captured nicely in this game. If you're a fan, there's enough here to remind you why you liked the characters and the show.
Pinched is really short, though. And while a linear storyline isn't necessarily the wrong thing for something like this, Pinched is really, really linear.
Still, Pinched is fun and worth a look. It seems kinda like an experiment to see if the author could get the feel of the characters and show to work as IF. If so, I think it pretty much worked. Perhaps it'll lead to something with a little more exploration, character interaction and slightly more thrilling heroics.
In the meantime, my days of not taking Firefly fanfic seriously are definitely coming to a middle.
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