Bug Hunt On Menelaus

by Larry Horsfield profile

Episode 5 of The Intrepid Space Adventures of Mike Erlin
Science Fiction

Web Site

Go to the game's main page

Member Reviews

Number of Reviews: 3
Write a review

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A nice intro to the Horsfieldverse. Wish there were more!, September 11, 2023
by Andrew Schultz (Chicago)
Related reviews: ParserComp 2023

I confess I've never really gotten into Larry Horsfield's work. Based on this, perhaps I should, or at least try to chip away at one of his works for a few minutes each day. It's odd. I'd have been bummed about a work as short as this as a kid, even if I could solve it, but now, given all the games there are out there to play, I want more like this. (I can't complain, of course, having my own series of decidedly old-school parser games that do their own thing.) It feels like a good introduction, even if it is the fifth in the Mike Erlin series, so it may've been a wake-up call to say, yes, scaling back the difficulty would be worth it. I'm glad it snuck into ParserComp under the deadline.

You, as Captain Mike Erlin, have a group of five subordinates whom you have delegated to help track down Meneltra, which -- well, they need to be shot, because they're big long ugly bugs that shoot acid and terrorize the town. You are to shoot them down with minimal property damage, then BECOME the next person in Erlin's troop. You can play with timed turns or not. The timed turns are a very close shave indeed, at eighty moves total.

Your team splits up at the nexus of a road, going every which way. One Meneltra is easily findable, and another is disguising itself among zampfs, aquatic creatures which need air, while Meneltra don't. You as the captain have one of the toughest ones. There's also one Meneltra you can't shoot, and you need to use other weapons. Blow up six Meneltra, and, mission accomplished!

This is standard parser stuff, but it gives a good look-in to the universe. It's worth playing without the timer, then with it, to feel like you really understand what's going in.

The timed test is a bit confusing from a plot perspective: if you've split up, shouldn't the maximum time taken be what matters, not the total moves? Mike Erlin seems like a man of action and not one to stand around, but when you switch perspectives, the turn count goes up, and that's that. Still, it's a pretty tidy timing puzzle all told.

Still, I wound up coming back to this after ParserComp to play it again, because I appreciated it, and I hoped it would bring me closer to really appreciating the author's other works. So often I've spun out on them earlier, wondering if I should have tried harder to fight with the ADRIFT runner, and such. I've had such fun with short ADRIFT games in the past, and I feel sad I can't tackle bigger ones. Bug Hunt on Menelaus is a good place to start, though, it seems. It leaves me wanting to understand more about how the characters interact (they're all sent separate ways from the center.) It leaves me feeling I can tackle such a game, and all the non-obvious verbs can be quickly found. I'd like more of that!

Was this review helpful to you?   Yes   No   Remove vote  
More Options

 | Add a comment