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About the Story
You are Sylenius Mysterium, video game player par excellence. At a mall, you discover a long-lost arcade game, and excitedly start to play. But nothing could have prepared you for what happens...
18th Place - 3rd Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (1997)
An ambitious effort that didn't get pulled together in time for the competition (and has never gotten cleaned up). For the first half, you're a teenage video game junkie wandering around a mostly deserted mall, and things work fine, though it's a bit unexciting; mid-game, you become the protagonist in a real-time video game. There are no graphics--everything's described in text--but the real-time aspect is badly broken, and as far as I can tell the game's unfinishable. The mall segment, if you want to try that, is very thoroughly done--lots to ask NPCs about, lots to explore, etc.--but that's about all there is here.
-- Duncan Stevens
>VERBOSE -- Paul O'Brian's Interactive Fiction Page
It seems to me that text is good at certain things and so is graphics, and to make a text version of Pitfall makes about as much sense as a joystick-and-fire-button version of A Mind Forever Voyaging. It's great to know that the z-machine has realtime capabilities to produce a text arcade game, but surely those capabilities can be put to better use.
SM does have a prologue which operates in a traditional text adventure mode, and this section of the game is quite well-done, with the exception of a number of problematic bugs. The game does a very nice job of defining an engaging and convincing setting and characters, as well as creating a sense of nostalgia for the old gaming consoles. The Atari system was my first introduction to videogames that could be played at home, and I have many fond memories of days spent at friends' houses playing Missile Command or Donkey Kong or Pitfall. In fact, the game evoked nostalgia so well that my disappointment was all the sharper when I realized that its "arcade" section was nothing more than realtime text.
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This game by a good author (see 'Delusions') reminds me a bit of Gris et Jaune by Jason Devlin, another talented author. Both games have very strong openings that hint at a great game full of polish.
However, both were not completely finished/polished in time for the competitions they were entered in. This game, in particular, falls flat in the most exciting part: the actual game simulation. You play as Mario, and you have to jump with timed Glulx effects, but it just doesn't work out, and later levels are, I believe, unfinished.
Sylenius Mysterium on IFDB
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This is version 3 of this page, edited by Paul O'Brian on 15 May 2008 at 11:22am. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item