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About the Story
A one-to-many-room puzzler.
Winner, Best Puzzles; Nominee, Best Implementation - 2018 XYZZY Awards
7th Place overall; 2nd Place, Miss Congeniality - 24th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2018)
McT's Interactive Fiction Reviews
It is one of those games that if you like this sort of thing, then this is a thing you will really like. The puzzle mechanism is exceptionally well implemented, the narrative might be thin, but it does succeed in adding character to the game. To me, the puzzles felt hard but fair.
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The Good Old Days
Anyone who has done some serious maths will tell you that it can be quite magical. Even with the most basic of operations you can do some impressive tricks with astonishing results. It is that feeling of wonder you get, when you finish a long set of calculations that end up with surprising – simple but true – answers which makes people love mathematics. Just think of the flow of solving a problem, that single moment when everything fits together and you see all the connections, and you might know what I mean. And this magic moments is exactly what Junior Arithmancer is all about.
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These Heterogenous Tasks
This is a game for people who like to do maths puzzles for fun, with a thin veneer of Zorkian narrative. The presentation is clean and clear – the narrative veneer does a good job of explaining how the puzzle format works in-game and the mechanical progression eases you into it... But it’s very clearly a game where the principal reward for solving a maths puzzle is another, harder maths puzzle, and I only really enjoy puzzles when they have substantially more narrative integration than this.
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The game is really about abstract number puzzles, or even computer science and programming puzzles, rather than mathematics per se. Despite its similarities to ABCA, it reminds me of programming games like “Robot Odyssey.” It’s also one that rewards creativity in thinking about and exploiting its mechanics, which is a great feature in a puzzle game.
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Junior Arithmancer gracefully combines storytelling and puzzle-solving in a way that few other games manage to. At the same time, you’ll feel both like a novice student and a master mathematician. All this is achieved through innovative puzzle-solving that requires you to look at the solution from a different angle. Sometimes the solution may be right in front of your face, and other times you may have to come back later once you have the correct spell, but any way you go about it, the solution will always be immensely satisfying.
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Number of Reviews: 4
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This was my favorite 2018 Ifcomp game. I can imagine that this game is not for everyone, since it is basically a logic/math game. However, it does not require a lot of mathematical knowledge. I would say that you can complete the game using basic math, though to get a perfect score, you should have heard about complex numbers.
In this game you are given the role of a candidate in something called Arithmancy, which is some sort of magic concerning numbers. You need to pass the exam in Arithmancy. To do this, you have to cast spells in the right order, to produce the digits of pi, e, etc. I don't know if this sound like a lot of fun, but it is, if you like logic and math puzzles. In addition, you can get extra points. Some points require that you produce the digits with very few spells, while other points can be gained by finding the numbers with a given color. Yes, in this game all the numbers have a color, though some numbers have the same color. Figuring out the color system, at least to some extent, is needed to obtain a perfect score. I didn't understand the color system completely, but still I managed to get a perfect score, though not within the two hour limit of IFcomp. Thus there are several hours of entertainment in this game.
The game starts out easy but slowly gets harder. Whenever you achieve something in the game, you overhear conversations from the examining committee, which are quite fun. The real fun for me was however figuring out the puzzles.
So if you are into logic puzzles involving math, I can highly recommend this game.
In Junior Arithmancer, we play a prospective student of magic doing an entrance examination in arithmancy, which is more or less the magic of the integers. More or less: the range of numbers is restricted to a finite interval, with overflows wrapping around; and the laws of magic turn out to have a curious in-built preference for the decimal system. Anyway, during the examination we are supposed to learn and then cast spells that add, subtract, multiply, and so on, in order to create specific sequences of numbers. Meanwhile, three examiners comment on our progress.
It is really only that last element that turns the game into a fiction: the comments of the examiners form a satirical story about university politics and cast severe doubt on the wisdom of trying to enter this particular academy. (Unless we like indoor swimming pools.) It’s fun, but there’s not much here, and if someone were to complain that Junior Arithmancer is hardly interactive fiction at all… well, I wouldn’t have a principled counterargument, although I certainly could point at similar puzzle games that are part of the IF canon.
Because it’s all about the puzzles. And if you like puzzles about numbers, then these ones are glorious. They’re brilliant. At first, the aim is to use your limited repertoire of spells to get as far as possible in recreating the given number sequences. Then, as your repertoire grows, it’s all about completing the sequences. And once you have all the spells at your disposal, you have to try to optimise your solutions and solve an entirely independent set of puzzles that are all about getting to a specific end point. (And about factorisation.) It’s great fun, and I think the difficulty scales up nicely: most(?) players will be able to get to a winning ending, and diehards can try to achieve a perfect score.
I’m a diehard, and I did get a perfect score.
Junior Arithmancer is certainly not a game for everyone. You have to like number puzzles. (I won’t say ‘mathematics’, because the puzzles are not really mathematics. If I had been required to prove that a certain sequence is the only one you can solve in three moves, that would have been mathematics. Equally glorious, but a lot harder to turn into a game.) But if you do, well, Mike Spivey has prepared a real treat for you. Highly recommended.
This game is essentially unique among interactive fiction. In a Zork-like setting, you are a math wizard (or arithmancer) taking an exam.
Your job is to use spells to create sequences of decimals coming from famous mathematical constants. The further you can get in any one sequence, the more spells you get.
You begin with basics like addition or subtraction, but soon you gain spells that modify other spells and it all becomes complex and tangled up.
In the midst of this mathematical quest, the committee viewing you gossips about academic drama, discussing department conflicts and upcoming changes. As an academic myself, it is spot on.
I work with the author and beta-tested this game, but I wouldn't feel bad giving it a lower score if it deserved one. This is a fun game, and I recommend it.
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