The Island of Doctor Wooby

by Ryan Veeder profile


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Short, cute game with smart writing, August 31, 2015

In "The Island of Doctor Wooby", you explore an island inhabited by a dozen felt dinosaurs that are randomly generated. The game is short, about half an hour and two or three puzzles (not really hard, you just have to search around), although it will take longer if you take your time and interact with the dinosaurs; the game even provides you an option to continue playing after you 'won' (solved the main puzzle).

This game is child-ey and very cute. Made for PetJam, it features felt dinosaurs that are randomly generated and carefully coded; they have quite a lot of messages and interact with each other, and you can even guess at some of their personalities. They get hungry, some eat only specific food, and sometimes they have been stuffed too much; you can spend quite a bit of time taking care of them.
I really like the fact that they were dinosaurs and their names were randomly generated; those two things seem to really fit well together. I mean, how do you create names of dinosaurs if not by combining some random words with a -saurus or -lodon suffix? That's how you end up with Edmontonsaurus, E. Saskatchewanensis, and Albertausaurus, right? And dinosaur names are the most complicated animal names (more common animals have simpler names), so when you're a kid, you see those great creatures with complicated names, and it just sounds awesome, and it's so cool you just want to learn all their big names and spout them off at the dinner table. Just like that kid in Ad Verbum, right? My point is, dinosaur names are as cool as the dinosaurs themselves, so having fun, procedurally-generated names is very fitting and a great idea. (And, if you don't like typing their names, which, yes, you have to type without typos and the game doesn't abide by the 8-char resolution of inform dict names, you can give them a different name, which is a cool feature.)
I also really liked the game's approach to the world, which felt very appropriate. The game describes a beach, but the sea is just waves drawn on cardboard, and a waterfall is just a pipe dripping water. The game will readily acknowledge this if you try to examine objects more closely, and it's really nice, because doing so clearly identifies the setting as a child's play: "it's a sea, well of course we know it's not really the sea, but let's *pretend* it's the sea". Same with the food, which is felt too: when you feed a dinosaur, the food doesn't disappear from your inventory, which means it's "pretend eating", just like a child would do when playing at cooking; furthermore, it solves very gracefully the problem of having to feed the dinosaurs but not wanting to have to go pick up more food when you're out or whatever.

The game is light on puzzle and story, but i don't think those are meant to be its focus; it's about the dinosaurs. The range of interactions you can have with them is not very deep, i think, so it's not meant to be a game that will take you long; exploring and solving the few puzzles will add a little bit to your playing time, if you're so inclined.
I have no idea how well the game would work with kids, and would be curious to know; it seems like it could be fun for them, but i could be wrong (not 'the real' dinosaurs, no pictures). In any case, it was fun for me!

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