Amazing Quest

by Nick Montfort


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Member Reviews

Number of Reviews: 14
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Well, you see an amazing sky, May 5, 2021
by Greg Frost (Seattle, Washington)

"My uncle who lived in New York got me on the Howdy Doody Show when it was at the height of its popularity... and I was in the peanut gallery, and I remember seeing it all and thinking, It's all fake, it's a lie. But I wasn't disillusioned. I thought, This is what I'm gonna do. I wanted to be inside the magic trick."
--John Waters

Most other reviewers consider Amazing Quest to be a prank and have rated it accordingly. I’m not going to say that they’re wrong; I just want to try and explain my experience with the game and what I got out of it.

I played Amazing Quest during IFComp and enjoyed it. I’ll admit that nostalgia does some of the work, including the tiny Commodore 64 emulator screen with its blinking cursor and the pause while the program thinks after hitting return. The sparse descriptions (“luminous outpost,” “tiny stronghold”) suggest a bigger and more complex world with thematic elements of classical epics and science fiction. Overall I found it to be a short, satisfying experience that made me think about my choices in the context of the story.

I found out later that it’s all a trick, of course: the program is just a random text generator which throws away most of the input, tracks nothing, and will eventually end in victory no matter what the player does. I wasn’t upset about being fooled, though. I appreciated how the author was able to create the intended experience with nothing but 12 lines of C64 Basic, procedurally generated ADJECTIVE NOUNS, and a page or two of text outside the game.

Mike Russo makes a good point about the game being played more in your head than on the screen. That’s the magic trick I want to learn.