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About the Story
A headstrong twelve-year-old detective gets in over her head when she's hired to solve a murder mystery at an internet technology conference.
10th Place overall; 3rd Place, Miss Congeniality Award - 19th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2013)
Nominee, Best NPCs; Nominee, Best Individual NPC - 2013 XYZZY Awards
Let's Play Interactive Fiction Ep 7: Bell Park, Youth Detective
I play Brendan Patrick Hennessey's "Bell Park, Youth Detective," in which I am a 12-year-old girl investigating an actual murder. It goes about as well as you might expect.
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Number of Reviews: 7
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Bell Park, Youth Detective isn't really so much a game as it is a funny short story. It isn't meant to be taken any more seriously than a skit on Saturday Night Live—and what's even better is, I can see this actually being a funny skit on a show like that. Suspension of disbelief shouldn't be a problem at all.
To say it has multiple branches like a CYOA is true, but it's more like a series of jokes with multiple punchlines. At first, I chuckled a few times here and there throughout the story, but upon reading one passage toward the end, I burst out laughing. At that point, Bell Park certainly served its duty and became a worthwhile read.
It's very well written, fun, and simple. Two thumbs up.
The writing is good: I'm not typically one to sit through a game with large amounts of text, but the presentation and writing on this game were both very well done.
The story centers on a 12 year old detective investigating a murder, and makes clear nods to how ridiculous the premise is.
The writing is funny and engaging.
This CYOA is low on choice--like many classic CYOAs, it seems to have one outcome. The lack of choice didn't hamper this entry, however--it was still engaging and enjoyable.
I appreciated the formatting of the page--in general, I think the better CYOAs lay out the page in a way that makes it easier to read than the default layouts.
Bell Park was cathartic for me. Nothing terribly serious, really. It just made it easier to laugh at the tales of Haledjiann and Encyclopedia Brown that baffled me so much as a nine year old. So I gave this game a 2013 IFComp Miss Congeniality vote over a few other strong efforts that were tough to leave out.
I was apparently supposed to be impressed and motivated, but I was just intimidaed. I almost never got any of them, and even when I reread one of the books years later, that whole frustration returned to me. Even the well-written CYOA Who Killed Harlowe Thrombey (available on OpenLibrary) left me awed--though I was younger when I read it.
Bell Park kicks the concept when it's down, though. Bell never really stands a chance with the adult world, taking every possible wild guess and going with it. Or to be more accurate, the game lets you go through all the guesses. there is a lot to laugh at, from the condescending and clueless adults to Bell's constant change of assuredness as to the murderer. Her formulated accusations are perfect for her age, and if the actual murderer is completely unbelievable (if very amusing and creative,) I can easily remember having my opinion on several adults--famous and non-famous--when I was young. This game captures that sharply and without malice.
Some people claimed about the lack of interactivity and different endings, that is about the only fault I can find with the game. Something small like different endings depending on how many choices you/Bell lawnmowered through would be a neat boost, but I can't complain.
Also, the game's Twine layout just looks like a book. The font, spacing and page size. Once I saw it, I wondered why nobody had done it before. I suspect there's a lot more of this stuff you can do with twine. I hope to see it. As well as the straight-ahead just plain writing that Twine lets you do and that this author is good at.
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This poll is a place to suggest non-player characters from games released in 2013, who you think might be worth considering for Best Individual NPC in the XYZZY Awards. Leave the name (or namelessness) of the NPC (or NPCs) in the comment...
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