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About the Story
Big Ester is a mean mother trucker about to take her big rig down The Devilís Taint, the most treacherous stretch of mountain road on the whole trucking circuit... but first sheís got to win the heart of the truck stop waitress who makes it all worthwhile
Nominee, Best NPCs; Nominee - Dead Armadillo, Best Individual Puzzle; Nominee - Big Ester, Best Individual PC - 2021 XYZZY Awards
Audience Choice--Funniest, Best LGBT Characters, Best Classic Puzzlefest, Main Festival - Spring Thing 2021
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Number of Reviews: 3
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The setting and protagonist of Mean Mother Trucker are pretty novel for parser IF Ė youíre a transwoman big-rig driver in a last-chance truck stop at the desertís edge Ė though the goal (taking the pretty waitress away from all this) and approach to puzzling (a traditional collect-a-thon) are more conventional. Still, it knows not to wear out its welcome, allowing the player to get in and out before the noveltyís worn off.
I canít place the exact antecedents of MMTís style, since this isnít really a sub-genre Iím that familiar with beyond having played Full Throttle back when dinosaurs ruled the earth. But nonetheless I can tell the authorís doing a good job of capturing the tropes of truckcore or whatever we should be calling this. Hereís what you get when you examine the jeans youíre wearing:
"Empire-waisted relax fit jeans that still show off the ropy thigh muscles you built up from slamming on the gas pedal and the wide ass you built up from sitting in the cab 23 hours a day."
Thereís the inevitable biker gang (though theyíre born-again), truck-stop sexpot, and salty short-order cook, with the descriptions and dialogue all hitting a gritty, sleazy vibe that fits the material without going too far over the top. There are some flies in the ointment in the form of some small typos (quotation marks sub for apostrophes a couple of times) and spacing errors, but nothing too bad.
The puzzles are less interesting, though theyíre fine enough as far as they go. To convince the lovely Flo that youíre lucky enough to make the Devilís Taint run (like, to successfully drive through the bit of desert called the Devilís Taint), you need to collect a pair of good-luck charms. This is accomplished through a pretty straightforward sequence of puzzles that typically boil down to USE OBJECT ON PERSON/THING. None of them are too brain-teaser-y, and while there are some unneeded objects, there arenít so many red herrings that it gets confusing, and if itís not always clear how any particular sub-puzzle contributes to achieving your goal, each of them is cued sufficiently well that the player can take on trust that theyíre making progress.
I did find the technical implementation a little iffy. There are a couple of bugs Ė I was able to take my truckís rear-view mirror, which Iím pretty sure should stay attached, and thereís one puzzle that, per some conversation on the IntFiction forum, is broken in a way that made me unsure how I solved it (itís the one about getting the roadkill thatís stuck to the road, (Spoiler - click to show)which I later realized is supposed to require using the spatula, but the bug mean that if you just try to take it twice, youíll get it on the second go). And overall there were fewer synonyms or alternate syntaxes than Iíd like Ė for example, as I was trying to dislodge the roadkill with a stick Iíd found, I couldnít find any versions of PRY ARMADILLO WITH STICK that the parser would accept ((Spoiler - click to show)even if thatís not the intended solution, it does seem the sort of thing that should lead to a useful failure message).
None of these niggles really did much to undermine the fun I had with the game, though Ė solving a bunch of easy puzzles creates a lot of momentum, and the short length meant that the enjoyment I got from the setting and characters didnít wear off through the drudgery of repetition. MMT is a lightweight, but itís endearing while it lasts Ė I can picture a graphic-adventure version of it fitting in seamlessly among the more offbeat LucasArts classics.
I am still a fairly prudish person, and happy with that choice, but growing up I rarely left the house and just read books most of the time, and went to school and church. I had some vices and saw friends and family doing extreme things, but it all felt distant.
So for me, when I stopped at a truck stop across the Wyoming border on a trip for the first time, it seemed like a frightening place filled with evil and temptations. Pornography magazines, tons of kinds of alcohol, t-shirts with wild slogans or charts comparing breast sizes, everyone smoking or buying chewing tobacco, tough-looking truckers. It blew my mind.
This game brings back a lot of those memories. You're a truck driver (who, as you discover, has recently [early spoiler about character] (Spoiler - click to show)undergone some major changes regarding gender), and you're about to drive over Devil's Taint, one of the most dangerous roads out there (which also reminds me of driving to and from Utah). You have to get help from biker gangs, a 'lot lizard', a smoky waitress, and more to fulfill your dreams and get ready to brave the mountain range.
The author used to write in Quest but has switched over to Inform, and I definitely prefer it. There were a few errors here and there (mostly in trivial things), but it was generally pretty smooth.
I still haven't recovered from my childhood shock, and, frankly, fear of the scary mountain truck stop. But this was a medium-ish, fairly entertaining piece of entertainment.
You're a big trucker with a soft spot for the waitress in a rundown truckstop. You'll have to prove to her you can safely take her accross the mountains to take her away.
Looking for ways to accomplish this, you meet a bunch of colourful characters, each with their weaknesses you can exploit to get a step further to your goal. (I was intrigued by Ranbir the shop owner.)
This could have been a fun comedy game, were it not that it's badly executed.
There are a bunch of typos and missing spaces, not enough synonyms, and often there is a blank line missing above the parser prompt, gluing the response to the previous command onto the next command line.
The game suffers from shoddy implementation. OPEN DOOR gets a response that refers to an obstacle that you just got rid of for example.
And I cringed when I saw this:
(In Convenience Store)
"Nothing is on sale."
Not only is it an unforgivable oversight not to implement BUY in a store, the author also managed to use the wrong expression.
[Edit: the expression "on sale" has different meanings in American and British English. Only in American English does it mean "being sold at a lower than usual price". I was wrong, the author was right to use "Nothing is on sale." in this way. Since this was the most grating flaw I experienced, I upped my rating by one]
Two or three more sendbacks to the testers and a lot of attention to detail could make this game a fun little comedy. As it is now however, the lack of careful finish got in the way of my enjoyment.
I look forward to a post-comp release of Mean Mother Trucker, where I might dive right into the comedy.
|Danny Dipstick, by Garry Francis|
Average member rating: (8 ratings)
You need to find a girlfriend, but all the girls think you're a dork. Try to overcome your dorkiness to pick up a girl.
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Average member rating: (7 ratings)
Written for Day 13 of #EnigMarch 2023.
|For the Cats, by Lei|
Average member rating: (7 ratings)
Your plan for a peaceful day out comes to a halt when you see a person selling cats on the pavement. The cats look sick and require immediate veterinarian help! Itís all legal, but itís also wrong. You must find a way to save the cats....
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