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About the Story
In this short excourse you play a dog. It doesn't matter what race, though it's probably a male dog (hence the name 'Ralph'). What matters is that you know you have buried a bone last year, which you now have to reacquire. The problem is, being a rather old dog, about eight to nine years old, your memory isn't what it used to be. The same goes for your nose, so you can't smell the bone through the earth. It seems you're on your very own.
Nominee - Christopher Robin, Best Individual NPC - 1996 XYZZY Awards
12th Place - 2nd Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (1996)
Here's a novel one: the player character is a dog. Not even a heroic Rin Tin Tin sort of dog, but a suburban house mutt seeking a lost bone. Very small and not spectacular in terms of gameplay, but it's funny and consistently doggy in its descriptions and mechanics.
-- Carl Muckenhoupt
I found this one to be very cute, and it just oozes with charm (I smiled at Christopher Robin and Blamant the Teddy, felt a certain sadness at seeing Ralph's unkind owners, and laughed out loud at the fate of poor Benny the Fluff Duck). (Christopher E. Forman)
The puzzles are somewhat over the top--they involve a more subtle grasp of human and animal psychology than most dogs have, and they strain the limits of a dog's physique--but they're not bad puzzles, on the whole. (Duncan Stevens)
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This has to be one of the smallest adventures I've ever played, with only a handful of locations (7 to be precise) and a few simple puzzles that won't keep you occupied for much more than an hour or so. A walkthrough is included if you feel the need to cheat but you shouldn't need it.
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>INVENTORY - Paul O'Brian writes about interactive fiction
The concept of Ralph is great fun — the idea of nosing around as a dog gives the author the ability to take advantage of some of the most fun aspects of the text-based interface, putting the player into the canine mindset with dog’s-eye-view room and object descriptions and action responses. Consequently, Ralph gives a hilarious rendition of the canine experience, and the little moments this provides (for example, the reactions to “examine me”, “bite blamant”, and “dig hole”) are the best parts of the game.
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Number of Reviews: 5
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In Ralph, you get to play a dog looking for a bone he buried a long time ago. In the garden. You can bet the family will be happy with your attempts to find it.
The main problem with Ralph is that the final solution to the puzzle doesn't make sense. There is absolutely no reason to believe that the actions you do will result in you finding your bone. So why do them? In the end, this game is only solvable because it is very short and you can simply try out everything until you have done what will turn out to be the right actions. But this is hardly satisfying.
Ralph was nominated for best individual PC in the 1996 XYZZY Awards. Partly this will be because a dog as protagonist is not often seen, and is certainly more interesting than a nameless adventurer; but there is also the fact that Ralph's personality emerges from the storyline. Nothing really special, but I can imagine that it made a favourable impression in 1996.
All in all, this game is not bad, but it certainly not a classic either.
Although this short game had one great puzzle at the start (for which I am giving the game an extra star), the second and third puzzles were not very intuitive. Playing as a dog I assumed my actions were somewhat limited and that I would need to get creative on the second puzzle. However, upon looking at the walkthrough, it turns out I simply needed to use a common action typically reserved for beings with arms. Hmm... but I'm a dog. How would that work, exactly? Anyway, the worst is yet to come. I inadvertently ruined the game for myself with the third puzzle. How was I to know that I would determine my fate based on (Spoiler - click to show)where I left the pipe? Leaving it in the garden (which is where I left it upon my first play through, just by chance) causes me to be beaten by my master and left shaking in my doghouse. A turn of events which made me really sad and a little angry. I wouldn't really recommend this game unless you can overlook the verb issue I mentioned, and you don't do what I mentioned in the spoiler tag.
This game was nominated for an XYZZY for best individual NPC.
You are a dog named Ralph wandering around the yard with a cat and a boy name Christopher Robin, after the Pooh stories. You have to find your bone.
This game is cute and short, with only three puzzles. I did use hints.
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