Mean Mother Trucker

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Keep on trucking, April 9, 2021
by Mike Russo (Los Angeles)
Related reviews: Spring Thing 2021

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.

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Rovarsson, April 9, 2021 - Reply
Nice review!

I too think this would make for a very good graphic point-n-clicker. The characters -warts and all- would lend themselves easily to a caricature style. At least, that's how I pictured them.
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