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Nominee, Best Use of Medium - 1998 XYZZY Awards
You're an 8-year-old who's just noticed that aliens have landed in your backyard. The first game to use the features offered by HTML-TADS, Arrival does so in B-movie style, as suggested by the title: the pictures and sounds strive for silliness rather than realism. The pictures are drawings that appear to be those of an 8-year-old, and the sounds are effects that you might hear in an Ed Wood movie--and the whole thing is immensely funny. The game is arguably even better, however; some of the puzzles are difficult, but not unfairly so, and there are plenty of Easter eggs that play on your parents' refusal to notice the aliens or their ship. The aliens themselves are a scream, and you can access their web page while on the ship, which is just as funny. Worth playing with or without the HTML features (they're built into the game file in the latest release).
-- Duncan Stevens
>INVENTORY - Paul O'Brian writes about interactive fiction
The Arrival is the first HTML-TADS game I've ever played, certainly the first competition game ever to include pictures and sound. I was quite curious as to how these elements would be handled, and maybe even a little apprehensive. I wasn't sure that a lone hobbyist could create visual and musical elements that wouldn't detract from a game more than they added to it. But Arrival dispelled those fears, handling both pictures and sound brilliantly...
However, all the funny pictures and sounds in the world couldn't make Arrival a good game if it wasn't, at its core, a well-written text adventure. Luckily for us, it is. The game is full of cleverly written, funny moments, and has layers of detail I didn't even recognize until I read the postscript of amusing things to do... In addition, Arrival is one of the better games I've seen this year at unexpectedly understanding input and giving snarky responses to strange commands, which has been one of my favorite things about text adventures ever since I first played Zork. Even if you can't (or don't want to) run the HTML part of HTML TADS, it would still be well worth your time to seek out The Arrival.
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Granade has put together a wonderful pastiche that crosses elements of an Ed Wood film and a young boy's English class writing assignment. Two ridiculous aliens (made of modeling clay in the game's illustrations) land their spaceship (two pie plates taped together) in your backyard. They decide that you, an eight-year-old child, are Earth's ambassador. From there, you explore a crudely (but appealingly) crayon-illustrated world in your attempts to thwart their invasion while seeming to meet their demands.
As long as you're careful to explore everywhere, the puzzles are mostly fairly easy, befitting a game with a child protagonist. There is one puzzle that requires a bit of save-and-restore trial-and-error to time correctly, but in his afterword Granade cops to its unfairness, so props for that.
The game is well-coded in HTML TADS and uses the system's capabilities to good effect, with frequently-appearing graphics and occasional midi tunes composed by Granade himself. Many objects are given interactions with verbs one wouldn't expect, to delightful effect.
One thing that irked me -- and this may simply be a problem with the system, not the game -- is that the world stops entirely with the wait command. It is possible to listen in on several background conversations between the aliens, and not being able to just hit "z" to listen in broke my immersion a little bit.
All in all, though, Arrival is a terrific little romp that shouldn't be missed.
This story brings to mind the Calvin and Hobbes comics and the Adventures of Spaceman Spiff! Arrival is a short game jam-packed with jokes and references. The prose is light and funny, and the puzzles are just difficult enough to make you pause for thought. All of the attention to detail, from descriptions of objects to the invalid-command dialogue, kept me giggling in delight. 10/10 would play again! :D
This shortish HTML TADS game was the first to use that platform, incorporating images into the text. The images are crayon drawings and playdough photographs. These worked in HTML TADS on my Windows machine, but something was wrong with the text formatting and status line, and the game crashed. I finished on Gargoyle with no images.
The story and puzzles are simple; aliens land in your backyard and demand some items; you have to investigate them and deal with your parents, too.
Some of the puzzles were a bit obscure, but there aren't too many to go through. The writing was fun.
I was frustrated by the interpreter issues, and so I didn't enjoy it as much as I would have if it worked perfectly. This reinforces my thoughts that pure text without effects is the best for long-term use.
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