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(based on 11 ratings)
About the Story
James Merl III is a thrice-cursed pain in your magically imprisoned butt. What are you going to do about it?
A short comic fantasy adventure game featuring mild but mischievous reality bending magic powers in the form of parser-based interactive fiction created for and submitted to the PunyJam#1 competition.
Language: English (en)
First Publication Date: May 2, 2021
Current Version: 2
Development System: Inform 6
Forgiveness Rating: Merciful
2nd Place - PunyJam #1
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Number of Reviews: 4
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You're a genie in a bottle, but thankfully nobody needs to "rub you the right way". You have the power to SWAP any object in the game world with any other (providing it has similar properties). A door is locked? SWAP it with a different, open door you've seen somewhere else and just walk through. A really clever mechanic used in multiple crafty and surprising ways. Three new custom verbs, a karma system, puzzles with multiple solutions, and multiple endings, NPCs you can converse with, all crammed into a mere seven rooms. The game is an entry in "PunyJam", a competition for games using the alternate, cut-down Inform library suitable for 8-bit computers. I honestly didn't notice anything missing from the regular Inform libraries while playing, so that's a big success for both the library and the game's shrewd use of it.
Djinn on the Rocks (DotR) would be worth playing for the mechanic alone, and since it gets that and more right, it's well worth a play. I'm not surprised it was rated almost the same as Captain Cutter's Treasure (CCT) in the comp, as there's a lot to enjoy from both games. I find it that much more special that the two top games (by a good margin) were so different in tone and goals.
DotR simply lets you swap the locations of similar things. But they must be very similar. So you can, for instance, swap your location with the location of your annoying owner James, who won't leave you alone until you've made them rich. Things are divided by size, material (vegetable/animal/mineral) and composition, which is trickier to explain. But they must be an exact match. There's no penalty for SWAPping the wrong things, and in fact the game explains why, so trial and error goes smoothly.
These mechanics are good, but perhaps what really offers creativity is how the game notes your karma can go from -100 to +100. So you quickly see you have the choice to be mean or nice. And you have the choice to change your owner James for the better or worse. This means that during some play-throughs, some NPCs and objects may be useless. But they are still entertaining to deal with. The puppy in particular--animal cruelty is no laughing matter, but you can be heartless indeed to it, in an overdramatic "nobody could be that mean" sort of way.
So DotR has a lot of good, original laughs and a solid basic idea. It's quite worth a play. It balances CCT, the game that just edged it out, nicely: DotR has cool ideas and lets you be creative, and CCT has more of a story to unravel. It's very neat that two games that had to follow the jam's rules (start in a broom closet with a specific description) could branch so drastically and both work so well. It's the sort of thing that encourages me to be more creative.
This game is complex and rich for a small game written for a jam. You are a djinn and have the power to APPRAISE objects to see what they're made of, then to SWAP similar objects.
John Evans used to write games with similar powers a couple decades ago, and those games didn't have many restrictions on what you could swap or summon or create, so it often ended up buggy and a mess.
This game gets around that problem by putting very tight restrictions on what you can and can't swap. In fact, there was only a single pair of objects I found in the entire game that I could swap, although I'm sure there are more out there. Overall, I found the game well-implemented and fun.
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