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About the Story
"A short but harrowing tale of a hurt child." [--blurb from Competition Aught-Zero]
50th Place - 6th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2000)
A laughably bad attempt at pathos and moral anguish: "I just can't believe that dear little Billy, the kid I used to sit on my knee, became a murderer." If the writing weren't bad enough, the only input the player has is at the very beginning and the very end. The rest of the time, you just page through endless "Click here to continue" prompts. It's all CYOA-style, and yet the author couldn't even be bothered to give us the occasional illusion of choice. Instead, we have what may as well be a noninteractive short story, except you have to read it through an inconvenient hypertext thingy.
If you feel you must play it, the easiest way is to select the file Child.dxr using a Shockwave-enabled browser. (You spare yourself two megabytes of download time that way, too.) If you must play it offline, you'll need all of the files (including Child.dxr), with the files ending in .x32 in a subdirectory called "Xtras". If you're going to be downloading the other Competition 2000 games, I suggest grabbing the complete set instead, which will have it already set up correctly when unpacked. But no matter how you download this work, it isn't worth the trouble.
Also, be warned that some of the filenames have spaces in them, and thus might require special handling. In fact, I had to rewrite sections of this Guide's back-end just to accomodate this lousy game, which leaves me not at all inclined to be charitable in this review.
-- Carl Muckenhoupt
>INVENTORY - Paul O'Brian writes about interactive fiction
What if you took Life on Beal Street and gave it a really snazzy interface, one that eliminated all that tedious typing "1" to continue and instead replaced it with an attractive "click here to continue"? What would you have? I never wondered about it, but now I have the answer: You'd still have Life On Beal Street. Little Billy follows this inglorious model -- it's not interactive fiction at all. There's a "click here to continue" prompt (or, at times, a differently worded but functionally identical prompt) that basically just lets you turn the pages in a linear story. Even the two opportunities you get to make a decision don't influence the narrative in the slightest -- one is a dead-end road that shunts back into the main story, and the other makes cosmetic, inconsequential changes that dissolve after a couple of paragraphs.
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The story moves along by you simply clicking in the bottom box, for instance there will be a knock at the door and you simply click on "continue" to open door and the story moves on. Very occasionally you get a chance to even choose from several options! Forget it!
-- Dorothy Millard
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Number of Reviews: 2
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This game is a short, linear story in a windows executable file where you mostly just click 'next' over and over again, with one or two choices you can make.
It's about a young boy who is being sent to juvenile detention after killing someone. It is very short.
It is in an RPG engine with hit points and so on. The author has the hit points represent ages.
The game attempts to tell a serious, touching story about bullying. Unfortunately, it falls flat due to the overall ineptness of the writing. The prose feels downright childlike sometimes (even in sections written from adults' perspectives), and I found myself laughing out loud several times, rather than empathizing with Billy's exaggerated plight. The out-of-the-blue ending doesn't help either.