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About the Story
The first Taleframe game based on the 90s children's horror soap opera.
Nominee - Registering the game, Best Individual Puzzle; Winner, Best Use of Multimedia - 2020 XYZZY Awards
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Number of Reviews: 3
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This game is an ancient relic discovered and remade by Ryan Veeder, who has found all the documentation relating to it. By pure luck, the style of the gameplay has the whimsical charm and quality implementation characteristic of Ryan's own writing style (probably why he was attracted to it in the first place).
This game has a fairly hefty map, with a city of about 12 locations, many with an interior, and another chunk from extra side rooms and a couple of (not at all bad) maze-like locations. (maybe maze-lite locations).
The game has a built-in hint system where you ask your friends for help (which I accessed many times), and Dan Fabulich has made comprehensive invisiclues.
The story is basically what you would get if you had the Hobbit, but instead of the background of the Silmarillion you had a custom story that was a mashup of Captain Planet, Gargoyles and TMNT, and instead of Bilbo wandering around the very edges of the backstory you had a girl wandering around doing random stuff.
And the main theme of the game is (Spoiler - click to show)trading. If you every played the original game boy Zelda game, there was a long, involved trading quest involving everyone. That's basically what's going on here. You wander around town, slowly realizing what everyone wants or needs. Then all at once you find the starting point and it falls like dominoes. Until you get stuck.
The 17 digit key wasn't as hard as I expected it to be, but was computationally satisfying, especially the dichotomy chart, which reminded me of the tree dichotomy chart in the kids' encylopedia I had growing up, where if you identify the tree wrong, you get devoured by monsters on the next page.
I enjoyed the game, and also when I saw the Help text, I felt overcome and rested my head on the table in gratitude. I had fun with this game.
This is a pretty easy light game, but the puzzles still feel pretty satisfying. The game has a lot of the same elements as Crocodracula: What Happened to Calvin, but when I played Calvin it felt like the game had some elements that were missing. But if Calvin was missing something, this game has it. The whole thing feels more thought out and the puzzles fit together neatly. It also has quite a few elements that weren't in Calvin.
The most enjoyable part of the game was just wandering around Becca's Sunnydale-esque little town and finding all the weird supernatural quirks hidden in it. I think my favorites were the house on Ash St. and the Radio station. J.M. was also really cool, and I would love to see more of him.
An entertaining runaround with a silly story and no pretensions beyond being a bit of harmless fun, this retro game is decidedly my kind of thing. I haven’t played any of Ryan Veeder’s self-authored games, but from what I can gather the style here is, coincidentally, not dissimilar: it’s light-hearted and frequently quite funny, the writing is witty and concise, the puzzles are relatively merciful, there is a large map to wander around and explore and plenty of characters to chat to. I haven’t finished it yet – games of this length I tend to play on and off, so it will take me a while – but from what I’ve seen so far, I would highly recommend it.
If that was all there was to it, then this review might end here – but there is a real-world backstory attached that is as interesting as the game itself. The game is a long-forgotten relic, based on and contemporary with the spooky Crocodracula US kids TV series from the early 1990s, a copy of which was discovered by prolific IF author Ryan Veeder and ported to Inform for the convenience of present-day IF aficionados. UK TV historians (there are a couple of us) and players of a certain age (there are many more of us) may recall that, in 1993, this quirky series did air briefly in the UK on Tyne Tees’ Saturday morning children’s show Gimme 5, before it was pulled after a complaint from Thames Television citing the 1990 Broadcasting Act (an obscure stipulation of which was that all children’s TV shows broadcast on the ITV network before 12pm on Saturdays should have a minimum 15% UK production stake). The show was replaced by the homegrown Danger Mouse after just three episodes. It could therefore reasonably be claimed that Margaret Thatcher killed Crocodracula, at least in the UK – after chewing up the nationalised industries and eating the NUM alive, she had this show for afters, and no more was heard of it ever again.
We should be grateful to Mr Veeder for unearthing this obscure but entertaining cultural artefact and resurrecting it for the pleasure of nostalgic oldies – and, perhaps, for introducing a whole new generation of fans to this most obscure of TV franchises.
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