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35th Place - 19th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2013)
Number of Reviews: 3
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I'm not sure what the basic premise is a nod to--cultural elites guarding the treasures of our society perhaps--but it didn't engage me enough to actually attempt converting different numerical systems.
(This is an edited version of a review I originally wrote for my 2013 IFComp blog.)
Reels is a hypertext game posing 8 mathematical and trivia-based questions. Get them right and perhaps a gang of thieves will return the precious archival reel-to-reel tapes (!) they stole. At least they didn't also steal the ovens we'll need in the future to bake the decaying tapes before making crappy second generation copies of them in order to vaguely preserve the sweet knowledge contained therein.
I bailed out on this quest, without too much regret, after verifying that it didn't function properly in either Chrome or Firefox on my OS X Mac. Those are the two browsers the game's "how to play Reels" file recommends for those without access to Microsoft Internet Explorer.
Before I ran into the technical wall, my instinctive response to the game's proposition was: "Game, you're asking me to do stuff too closely resembling work." The tasks ahead, the first one involving base 36, looked unappealing and potentially trollish, but my bloody-mindedness kicked in and so I broke out a piece of paper and a calculator, and got solving. This in spite of the base 36 question being worded pretty badly, and the explanation of it in the how-to-play (when I checked in there later) being awful.
So, when I typed in my first answer to Reels's first question and found it apparently rejected – and when I say rejected, I mean that I clicked a button labelled "Check the number" and that nothing happened – I had a read of the how-to-play file. I decided I had indeed been doing what the game wanted me to do but had simply made a couple of mistakes in my working. After another pass, I entered what I believed to be the correct answer more confidently, only to find it rejected/ignored again.
This was the moment when I became suspicious as to whether the game was really checking my answer. So using TextEdit, I just opened up the html file (follow.html) which delivers the first challenge and looked at the code. The correct answer was sitting right there, unhidden from the eye, and it was what I had typed, and therefore I concluded that the game was not running correctly in Chrome. I tried playing in Firefox with the same result.
This placed below every other game in 2013's IFComp. Much of that was due to the fact that it was a web game that only worked on Internet explorer.
However, by inspecting the page source, it's easy to figure out how the game would go otherwise. After a brief introduction, this game leads to a sequence of 8 math and history questions. You type the answer in a box, and in Internet Explorer, you can check your answer and move on. In all other browsers, you can't.
Overall, the questions are interesting, and the commentary is descriptive, but overall I didn't feel that this was a compelling game.