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About the Story
Filbert, the world's laziest boy, always looks for ways to get out of doing what he is supposed to do, like cleaning his room, taking out the trash, or in this case, eating his broccoli!
When Filbert comes to the dinner table and sees his least favorite vegetable sitting on his plate, he is desperate to get rid of it any way he can.
Help Filbert find a way to take care of this vegetable dilemma,
THEN, read the book, Filbert and the Broccoli Escape at www.fetworks.net/kids-stuff!
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Filbert and the Broccoli Escape is an illustrated children's story adapted to a game; the lazy protagonist uses magic to try and get out of eating his vegetables, and finds himself on a (brief) miniature-kingdom adventure.
I dislike it as a game for straightforward structural reasons, and as a piece of kid-lit for more aesthetic, personal reasons. Let's start with the former.
Broccoli Escape uses Quest's hybrid parser/menus/hyperlink interface. I'm sceptical about this interface in general; but Broccoli Escape doesn't make confident use of it. Early on it flirts with a Quest-ish approach with option menus based on objects, but it quickly switches to something much more like a straight-up choice-based system. It doesn't use either smoothly; where it wants to offer straight-up CYOA choices, it awkwardly forces them through verb-noun commands that make no sense and confuse the transcript. Nouns and choices are capitalised in an ungrammatical manner.
Even imagining the work as a vanilla CYOA, it's pretty clear that Broccoli Escape was made by a static-fiction author with little or no game-writing experience. This is a pretty common species in CYOA generally, and the game falls into a familiar pattern: a single linear story wherein all the apparent choices are blocked off, except the one that leads to the One True Path. Worse, a lot of these blocked responses fall into that bad old IF pattern: offer an interesting option, then deny it as stupid or obviously unfeasible. (This specific thing is less justifiable in CYOA than it is in parser IF; it's ruder to refuse an explicitly offered option than an inferred one.)
It bears repeating: there is no point in adapting a work to a new medium unless the work grows in the process. Perhaps the idea was that in an online, gamified format it might reach more people; but gamification for its own sake is worse than useless, and an ebook might have been a more suitable (not to mention more widely-used) format.
Now, on to considering it as a book. (Important caveat: I'm speaking here as an adult who enjoys well-crafted children's books, not as a child or a parent.)
I have a number of nitpicky annoyances. I'm not a fan of the art style: it's all scratchy shading and blobby newspaper-funnies eyes, without the overflowing exuberance and fun-to-explore detail that I like best in children's illustration. And I always rather liked broccoli as a child, and deplore the unsubstantiated libel of its good name. (Aubergine is another matter.)
But running through these complaints, there's a general feeling of blandness. Broccoli Escape wants to be quirky and imaginative, I think, but more than that it wants to be safe. Filbert is a white kid from a middle-class two-parent family; the offending meal is gravy, mashed potatoes and America's Supreme Court-approved Designated Vegetable Which Is Unpleasant Yet Healthy. Filbert's problems are minor, his conflicts mild by the standards of kid-lit: he dislikes doing chores that every child dislikes, but never seriously clashes with his parents over this. There are touches of the comfortably-old-fashioned. (The author's parents probably read a printed newspaper. Parents of Filbert's generation overwhelmingly don't.) The central fantasy, of becoming very small, is a very standard one and isn't elaborated in any unexpected directions; and the whole fantasy plot is just one chase scene. Magic works (or doesn't work) as rhyming couplets. There's no problem with any of these as individual elements: together, they add up to something rather dull.
This is version 2 of this page, edited by Zape on 4 May 2021 at 11:49pm. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item