1-8 of 8 Teaching a dog new tricks, June 10, 2022
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Number of Ratings: 8
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Most of the Spring Thing games Iíve played so far have been relatively intense, so it was kind of nice to get another low-key entry after finished Orbital Decay. The Bright Blue Ball is a short, cute parser game pitched at IF beginners, and while its slightness, and slight wonkiness, means that itís probably less suited for that purpose than other, more robust efforts to create a parser-IF gateway drug, nonetheless itís a pleasant way to spend 15 minutes, with a few darker notes around the edges reinforcing how nice it can be to spend time in a safe place like this one.
Those darker notes are primarily about the situation that kicks off the action: this is the second Spring Thing game Iíve come across where you play a dog (the other of course being Custard and Mustardís Big Adventure), and as the story opens youíre with your human ďparentsĒ as you flee your home due to a bombing alert Ė the resonance with the war in Ukraine seems entirely intentional. Thankfully, you quickly reach safety, but along the way you wind up losing your favorite toy, the eponymous ball, and the game consists of solving three or four small puzzles to retrieve it.
Itís always fun to play as an animal, and BBB does a good job of providing smell-centric descriptions and a robust SMELL command to allow for olfactory exploration. The protagonistís canine nature also makes some traditional parser limitations more reasonable, like a one-item inventory limit thatís fair enough given that you have to carry things in your mouth. At the same time, I felt like the game sometimes didnít go far enough to commit to its conceit: the first puzzle, for example, requires you to find a key and unlock a door, which is a good introduction to a common IF situation but makes for a bizarre mental image.
Speaking of the puzzles, theyíre pretty much all of the medium-dry-goods variety, with one guess-the-action challenge thrown in on top. Theyíre all very heavily signposted, which is appropriate for the target audience, and feel satisfying to resolve. I did struggle for a bit with the first one, possibly due to some small bugs: I could smell something metallic in a table drawer, but after opening it the smell seemed to go away. I guessed that there was a key somewhere, which proved correct after I tried to TAKE KEY, but it hadnít to that point showed up in the description of either the room, the table, or the drawer. Similarly, I was briefly stymied once I started wandering the cityís streets because one location had an unmentioned exit (for anyone else who hits a similar barrier: try going north). I also worried Iíd made the game unwinnable when I solved the puzzles related to the little girl outside of the intended order, but despite the text seeming a little off-kilter it all eventually came right. As a final small niggle, X TABLE in the newsstand didnít result in any output, indicating a missing description.
None of these bugs did much to impact my enjoyment Ė I usually wouldnít list them all in a review, but since I donít have a transcript Iím doing so in case itís useful for the author. BBB is a fun, small game with a positive vibe that acknowledges that even when big scary things are happening in the world, small bits of kindness are important Ė maybe more important than ever (would that this message didnít feel especially timely, given the state of the world). I enjoyed my time with the game, and would happily play (and test, if thatíd be useful!) another game by the author.
- Xavid, May 18, 2022
3 people found the following review helpful:
Charming game about a dog, May 12, 2022
I tend to find IF with animal player characters very charming, especially if the author really sells the idea that the characterís perception of the world is different from that of a human. The Bright Blue Ball does a good job here Ė I like that the PC experiences the world mostly through smells, as many dog breeds do. The descriptions of scents were simple, but well chosen, and since smell is a sense that IF usually does not do much with, it gave the game a fresh feeling. Parlaying this into a game mechanic of tracking objects by scent was also a fun and unusual idea, if a little under-used here. I also appreciated the hint system Ė something a lot of first-time authors donít think to include.
A cute but dramatic story about a dog and his ball , April 27, 2022
(On a side note, I was delighted that ďbarkĒ was a recognized command, but my childhood dog would have been disappointed that ďchew [noun]Ē was not.)
Unfortunately the game does have a lot of the problems common to first-time parser authors, such as under-implementation, missing descriptions, and accidentally unlisted exits, the latter of which led to a few instances where I had to figure out how to progress by repeatedly bumping into walls (which, to be fair, is not out of character for many Golden Retrievers I have known). But these things are fixable, and I think the fun concept and endearing writing speak to the authorís potential.
This is a story intended for beginners, and I believe may be the author's first published game.
It's a brief parser game with a dog protagonist. You have been hurried away from your regular home and, in the tussle lost the ball.
There is a larger overarching plot, where (very early spoilers) (Spoiler - click to show)the reason you are shuttered away is because bombs are dropping in Ukraine. This makes for a dramatic storyline, and what started as a personal search for a ball becomes something more selfless, urgent and important.
The game uses a fun mechanic where 'smell' is as important as 'look'.
There are some errors, mostly things that are difficult to deal with in Inform (like extra punctuation and capitalization). Other than that, this is a surprisingly smooth game with a story that ended up feeling nice.
- Rovarsson (Belgium), April 21, 2022
- mediocre.marsupial (Australia), April 21, 2022
- Jade68, April 18, 2022
- Edo, April 7, 2022
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