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About the Story
You moved to the northern outskirts of Questlvania for one reason, and one reason alone. You heard the legends that in this town are no fewer than Ten Legendary Text Adventure Games, scattered about the land, waiting to be found. And you're just the person to achieve the unimaginable. Will you Ensnare the Ferocious Wompus? Shall you Tame the Wily Bibble Fish? Dare you Solve the Shopkeep's Terrible Riddle?! Journey On, Brave Adventurer, for only Time and Text Parser will tell!
6th Place - Adventuron Treasure Hunt Jam
Text Adventure Collector (TAC) is about, well, collecting old text adventures. It's written in the Scott Adams style, replete with short sentences in the room descriptions and action response. And while I suppose Jason and the Argonauts is the gold standard for this kind of thing, there's always room for a new angle. Perhaps there's a ceiling to this-all, because the self-referential humor and winking nostalgia at the good old days, where the author acknowledges the bad bits, only goes so far. But that ceiling is well above my-lousy-apartment games if the author is capable. And Rex Mundane is.
All you have to do is find ten text adventures (they appear in your inventory in helpful rainbow font! I love that Adventuron has this as a feature) and put them back in your bookshelf. They're all parodies of ones known and loved by the author, and though I drew a blank on a few, I noticed Garry Francis drew a blank on a few others and said so in the game's Itch.io thread. The author provided what translated to what. Zurk is one of the more obvious ones, and The Galactic Stowaway's Manual ... well, think about it a bit, and you'll get it.
And my favorite joke -- as part of a puzzle, you have to pry an iron key away from a magnetic scroll. There's more than enough subversion in the game to keep the puzzles fresh. They're pretty crazy but nothing mind reading, though you have to do a good bit of exploring to see how anything fits together. You'll be stuck with a colorless orb, but a wizard wants a dark orb, and so you have to find what item goes with it. The Wompus (no, not the Wumpus!) is described in another room, and so you learn how to defeat it. And there's a teleport spell to learn, which is not XYZZY, but there's some funny meta-humor about people not wanting you to use it. The clipped prose works well, too, with the toner being laconically described as "Overpriced." So while the game clocks in at 26 rooms, which is a bit contrary to the minimalist spirit of the competition, the prose makes up for it. I think one problem with retro/meta-humor games is that they get too involved in a joke, and maybe the contest's general guidelines helped the author keep the game text tidy, so the jokes flowed.
As for the games you find -- well, it's possible you may guess a few of them with what you need. The big problem may be it's frustrating to have to do and search for a lot before getting that first item. A screwdriver ... well, you probably know what that refers to. But you don't need any knowledge.
The author shows a lot of talent in TAC, and it's a fun time. But it's a bit limited by what's already there. And this is a tricky one--between TAC and the author's other game, there's a lot of fun meta-humor. And it isn't just about retro games and a love for them, which the author clearly shares, but it reminded me of After-Words from IFComp 2021. (Okay, this game was published in 2020. But, not being aware of Adventuron's existence until May 2021, I played After-Words first.)
I could read this sort of thing for a while, and if the author has more such ideas, they should take them. Because while this hits the mark for those of us who grew up with text adventures, those younger among us may only look at the jokes and suspect they seem pretty good. They are. And I think my relative lack of "oh that joke/trope again" reactions speaks to that the author didn't just try to check all the boxes with TAC.
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