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How Suzy Got Her Powers

by David Whyld profile


(based on 12 ratings)
2 reviews

About the Story

You're Suzy Loman: mild-mannered waitress by day, superheroine by night. Well... at the present time that's only 50% true. The superheroine part you're still working on...

Game Details


29th Place - 17th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2011)

Nominee, Best Individual Puzzle - 2011 XYZZY Awards


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Number of Reviews: 2
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
As a superhero origin story, unfulfilling, November 20, 2011
by DB (Columbus, OH)

A superhero origin story needs to go beyond the plain fact of how one gets their powers. To take an example, Peter Parker doesn't just get bitten by a spider, "The End." He gets bitten by a spider and chooses to use that power become a crime fighter. An origin story should tell us what a hero fights and why. Suzy, aka Scarlet, is fighting... what exactly? We don't ever really see it. She's not fighting from intrinsic motivation either, which makes her harder to work into the mold of a heroic figure. A lot more is left vague than I would've liked in that regard.

Superheroes need to be strong characters, defined by what they do. What does Suzy do? The interpretation I got was that she's a sexually harrassed waitress who hates kids and lugs around useless items that she loathes. Especially given her items, I felt like I was getting mixed signals, expecting Suzy to be a farcical superheroine, but that didn't pan out.

The story claims that her usual response when a crying child says their mother is trapped a building she can see is currently burning is "to shrug [her] shoulders and say, 'Yes? And?'", which didn't do a lot to make her likable to me. Is she supposed to be an anti-hero? I get strong reluctant hero vibes from her, but that doesn't really work with the rest of the setup unless (Spoiler - click to show)the Magic Eye compel at the end completely changes her, focuses her will for action in some visible way. If it does, though, we don't get to see any of that, so we're missing out on major character development.

I feel like I should've gotten some development from (Spoiler - click to show)Suzy's debatably brave rush into danger, but it sort of happens and is done, and that's it. Quite a bit of the game, instead, is spent developing interactions between Suzy and the annoying child (Spoiler - click to show)(giving it the mints and wiping its face with a tissue, oh-so-motherly-like), even when those representations seem to run counter to the rest of her character. Is she motherly at heart or does she hate kids? I'd be curious how the scoring breakdown of the game characterizes Suzy.

Come to think of it, overall I'm just confused about who Suzy *is*. Messages are too mixed. What one action in the game defines her as a heroine?

It's pretty hard to get an audience into a conflict the protagonist doesn't even care about. Like Suzy herself, the writing feels like it's just reluctantly going through the motions in an aimless, "Well, I guess I'm here, I might as well" sort of way. I much prefer this author's writing when it lets loose from conventions and blasts off full force into its subject matter, like in "For Love of Digby" or "Back to Life... Unfortunately."

I appreciated that some work went into getting players to execute non-standard commands and into the presentation of the inventory. The items, though... didn't really do much for me in terms of character development or usefulness.

We didn't really get to use (Spoiler - click to show)our New Alien Toy for very much. It would've been nice to use it in whatever way Suzy will regularly use it against crime at least once in this setup so we'd be ready for it when it comes up again.

I'd've liked to see how Suzy reacts to (Spoiler - click to show)being Magic Eye compelled at the end. The story just kind of stops there. Again, it sort of felt like if we just said, (Spoiler - click to show)"Peter gets bitten by a radioactive spider-- the end."

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A brief superhero origin with much optional material, February 4, 2016

This Adrift game is a brief prelude to a much larger proposed work by David Whyld called Scarlet. It shows how a woman named Suzy obtains her superpowers.

It is a small game. There are 5 locations, and I found 2 NPCs and 2 items.

This game was nominated for an XYZZY for Best Individual Puzzle for 'putting out the fire'.

The game has pretty typical writing for Adrift. Similar to the PK Girl (by a different author), the female lead is described in a kind of anime/pedestal way; for instance, it says:

". You’re small for your age (“short” as your father would so
eloquently put it) but pretty in an elfin sort of way (so you like to think) and you have perfect,
sparkling blue eyes (again, in your opinion). You keep your hair (light blonde) at shoulder
length, having neither the willpower to let it grow any longer (and look like a bimbo) or the
nerve to cut it short (and look like you’re one of those horribly professional business women)."

Overall, it was a fun, short exercise. I beat it with only 9/22 points, so there may be more I didn't see.

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This is version 3 of this page, edited by David Whyld on 16 March 2023 at 4:54pm. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item - Delete This Page