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by John Blythe


Web Site

(based on 4 ratings)
2 reviews

About the Story

A Present hunt and more?

Game Details


4th place - Adventuron Christmas Jam


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Number of Reviews: 2
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A complex Adventuron puzzle in Northpole, December 26, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 1 hour

This is perhaps the most complex Adventuron game I've seen.

You play as a falsely-accused elf who has to find 7 missing presents. There are two main areas (an outside one and an inside one) as well as an endgame area. There are numerous NPCs, as well.

This game has its own share of Sierra-type-logic (such as there being 4 different sharp-bladed instruments, each of which can only be used on one thing) and adventuron implementation issues (the biggest being error messages not disambiguating between default statements for correct commands on non-interesting present items and correct commands with non-present items).

Fortunately, there are helpful hints in every room. Even with that, though, I had to comb through the itch pages (I found three different ones: the regular page, the submission page, and some comments in the community page for the jam) to finish off the game. Art's very good, and fortunately no puzzles require the art, for people who are visually impaired.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Two-stage game of an elf's redemption, January 12, 2023
by Andrew Schultz (Chicago)
Related reviews: Adventuron 2020 Christmas Comp

Northpole's graphics helped carry me through the rough bits for a really enjoyable experience. It's not the only game in the Adventuron Christmas Jam to do that, but it's particularly smooth and homey with a lot of variety in backdrops and elves to see. all very smooth and homey, and as you play through more, the variety of locations and people (well, mostly elves) drawn is impressive. Both realistic and magical landmarks are drawn with love and care and attention. The plot is strong, too, as you're a disgraced elf accused of causing delays in the delivery process. You need evidence it wasn't you. It's interesting how Northpole claims its own middle ground between Save Bigfoot's Christmas and Santa's Trainee Elf. The high production values helped me blow off a few potentially frustrating verb-guessing roadblocks. I wound up playing in two sittings: first, I got five presents so I could enter the Elves' village I'd been banned from. Then, I got the final two. Each half of the adventure is a distinct experience.

The snowy wasteland you've been exiled to is not too huge--fifteen rooms or so. The room names are generic and even duplicate, but given the images, you'll have enough of a map in my head to be able to wander around. (Besides, I'd rather have the images, if I had to choose.) There are two places that indicate an area behind, both via text and graphics, each with the appropriate mystery. The Elven Pole in particular is neat. There's a snowman tucked away in off to the side as well. You can ASK it for hints, but since it's out of the way, you need to organize things first, which is a neater bumper than "ARE YOU SURE YOU WANT HINTS?" And while HINT gives some help, too, you get tripped up if there's nothing to do in a room. Northpole shows the verb-help menu, which scrolls. And it doesn't necessarily help with the verbs you need to guess. And all this has another thing drawing you on: the outside wasteland locations are well-drawn, but the village Bori the Border Elf guards you from, well, you can see how colorful it is at the entry to the village. The wasteland part is beautiful, but the village promises even more, so there's motivation to get there beyond "I want to solve this."

It delivers visually, and the plot picks up, too. Villagers you find new clues about who has disrupted things. The puzzling part is less smooth, but it has more story, with other elves to ask questions of and a neat reversion of the "kid standing on other kid under a coat to get into the movie" trope.

There are two more presents you must find in the elf village area, and I found some fiddling with verbs was necessary to break through. Eventually I found a command I thought I'd tried. There are a lot of cutting implements. AndI was able to see roughly the order I needed to do things in, and what I needed to do, but I had to scour through the village again.

That said, the mystery of a weird fireplace that teleports you if you use the right powders is a neat one--you won't even have to use the parser to mix the right ones when the time comes! And the final puzzle to snatch the final present away is suitably clever and closes a loop on a few plot points.

I thought highly enough of Northpole, despite some minor technical flaws, that I considered writing a map and guide of it for CASA quickly after winning it. I didn't want anyone who played it in the future to get stuck. But one was already there! I wasn't disappointed in the time I spent stuck, and I was glad someone else had played it two years after its release. It's a case where there are about ten verbs to guess, and you should do so 80% of the time. So the math dictates there'll be a hitch, but now you'll be able to enjoy nice story with many magical places to go and even a bit of helper-elf culture to explore without getting stuck. (I almost found myself craving sprouts.) I'd guess a lot of people would be glad to call it a day after getting into the village and seeing their way around, but I was very glad to see that last bit of magic when I came back to Northpole and figured a way to brute-force things.

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