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Sunday, October 6, 2013

Review: Sam and Leo go to the Bodega

Clearly this story is going to be about Leonardo Dicaprio and Sam Rockwell going to a small Spanish grocery store. I think we can all agree on that. (by the way, wouldn't that be amazing if that turned out to be true?) I think I can imagine the conversation going like this:

Leo - Sam, you know I have to say, as great as you were in Moon, I sincerely enjoyed your work in Confessions of a Dangerous Mind most of all.

Sam - Leo, fuck you. Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck you.

Leo - That seems to be what most people say to me...

Aww... poor Leo. Let's see if the actual game equals the hype. Find out after the jump!

Quick Take Review: Another well written but short slice-of-life CYOA. I'm sensing a pattern...

Review - Saving John

Oh boy. I think the real question we're dealing with is what exactly are we saving John from? From his debts to sketchy creditors? Are we saving him from death-demons from the mouth of hell? Are we saving him from his very self??? Yeeah. I'm going to go with that last guess. The title screams intimate personal drama. Perhaps John is suffering from a drug habit. Maybe it's low personal self esteem. Maybe it's the fact that he's made an internal pact to review all of these God damned Interactive Fiction games and he hasn't given himself an out. Who knows? Well... you know who will know? Me! As soon as I finish writing this paragraph and then complete the game and come back and write the review. Which you can then read after the jump. Hooray!

Quick Take Review: A generally well written stream of consciousness CYOA about a man with crippling depression. If that's your slice of pie then have at it!

Review - Solarium

This was one of their promo photos. Cool, no?
Solarium. Takes it's name from Sol, our sun. Reminds me of a play I was almost in this past spring. Tried to squeeze it between a production of Patrick Marber's Closer and Peter Schaffer's Black Comedy, but couldn't do it because tech week would have conflicted with the first week of rehearsals for Black Comedy. It was an original production titled "Solace" produced by the Science Fiction Theater Company of Boston, about a genius wife whose husband, an astronaut, had been lost out in space, and her Orphean (is that a word? From the tale Orpheus and Eurydice?) means to get him back. All in all, I'm glad I didn't do it. Would've stretched me too thin, and the production was a bit lacking, produced at the Factory Theater, here in Boston, a venue which is a bit fringe of the fringe. But it was an intriguing script, capably performed. And especially since I just saw Cuaron's new film Gravity (which is amazing and you should see) I'm in the mood for a good space story, which, let's face it, I'm assuming this is. But I haven't been right once about the titles thus far (though to be fair, I may have been fooling around with Tex Bonaventure). Let's see ladies and gentlemen. Let's see!

Quick Take Review: An exquisitely written post-apocalyptic fantasy that I'm not entirely convinced benefited from being presented as a hyper-text story.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Review - Tex Bonaventure and the Temple

Well, just going on the title alone, I'm going to guess this is pretty clearly about Mr. Bonaventure going to his local synagogue, which is nice because I'd like a game to explore some some religious culture. I grew up Lutheran and all we have is Garrison Keillor and Lutefisk, a sort of lose/lose situation however you look at it. I'm curious what happens at this temple? Do you have to wear a yarmulke? Is there a secret cabinet with the Torah scrolls? Are there going to be people rocking back and forth incanting Hebrew sacred texts? I'm pretty sure whatever it is it's gotta be better than hanging out in the Lutheran church basement drinking coffee with a bunch of bearded men in turtlenecks. Ah... religion. Glad I don't subscribe to that tripe anymore! 

Anyhow, let's get on with this game, shall we? Perhaps we'll get to drink some kosher wine!

Quick Take Review: Awesome game. Old school adventure with a large degree of whimsy. 

Review - The Challenge

The Challenge? Hmm... Do you think it's apt to be challenging? I'd make a crack about hypertext games not being challenging, but man that awesome PDF game sort of took the wind out of my sails when it comes to my unfounded stereotypes. I'm traditionally terrible at guessing things by their titles alone (let's just say I was VERY disappointed by Moby Dick) but let's play that game here. I'm guessing the challenge is going to be a morality tale. Where you're presented with different ethical dilemmas and you have to make tricky choices. Sort of like that other game I played a while back. That's my guess. That or maybe it's going to be a Hunger Games rip off. Or maybe none of the above. If you're curious click on the jump and let's discover it together!

Quick Take Review: Incomplete Escape-The-Room game. Can literally be played in under three minutes but you could use those minutes in more creative and fulfilling ways like composing dirty limericks or farting.

Review - Threediopolis

Hey gang! Are you ready for some Z-code?? I sure am! Wow. It seems like just a few short years ago nearly ALL of the Comp games were written in Inform. And now here we are. This is the fifth game I've reviewed and not only is it the first Z-code game, it's the first game that will actually involve me typing anything (unless you count me typing my name at the very beginning of Mrs. Tipsy and the Cantaloupe Bungalow). Strange times we live in. Strange times. Oh well, I'm glad that this is going to be the first traditional IF to review as it allowed me to yammer about that in this paragraph as opposed to trying to come up with something to say about the title, because...I mean...yeesh. Look at it. Threediopolis. What does that even mean? Hopefully I'll have cleared some of that up when I come back and review the game. Join me after the jump!

Quick Take Review: Amusing game puzzle game with one big twist. Short, light, and fun.

Review : Trapped in Time

Okay. I'm a sucker for time travel stories. They are possibly my favorite kind of stories. However we also have the only entry entered in the "PDF" category. What the hell does that mean? PDF? Last I checked it was't a computer programming language. It was a easy and routine way to display and print static text. How on earth can this possibly be interactive. I think it is very possible I'm missing something here.

Quick Take Review: Old school Choose Your Own Adventure Story with a really really cool twist.  Highly recommended. Best if left unspoiled.

Full spoilery review after the Jump!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Review - Vulse

Vulse... Hmm... I don't really know what that means. It's possible that my vocabulary is about to be expanded or maybe it's just a made-up name or word. Either way, to say I'm nervous is an understatement. I really don't know if I like these web based hyper text games. Right after I published my last review I noticed that Emily Short had just reviewed the same game. And guess what? She thought it was pretty decent and a good example of the genre. Which then made me feel like a tool. Because, listen guys, who the hell am I to disagree with her, right? So now I'm just looking at this endless expanse of web-based games before me, the collection of which dwarfs the entries written on platforms I'm more used to and am more comfortable with, and I feel like an old man sitting on his porch looking at all of these young whippersnappers with their fancy i-whatsits and google-mabobers and I just want things to back the way they used to be when I understand the way the world worked : "And God created the Parser and Saw That It Was Good. And God Divided the World into the Screen and the Keyboard and There was Darkness and a High Probability of Being Eaten By a Grue."

So maybe I was too harsh on old "Who Among Us". Perhaps it was not the piece itself I was upset by, it was the fact that this "new" (ha!) hypertext format is not something I'm used to and I'm resistant to change. But... hey, it's not like I'm going to STOP being an unpleasant curmudgeon, amirite? So let's check out Vulse and see if I can open my rigid little mind a moment enough to hopefully let something beautiful enter it. Or barring "beautiful" I'd be pretty pleased with "competent" at this point.

Quick Take Review: Expertly written interactive poem. 

Review - Who Among Us

What a title, amirite? Who Among Us hasn't stared forlornly at the blank computer screen waiting for the muses to will a perfect title into our heads and onto the page? Who Among Us hasn't had trepidation over doing another Web based game and hoped against hope that it won't be another hypertext choose your own adventure story? Who Among Us didn't love those books when we were kids, spending hours in the library flipping from one page to the other, trying not to die countless horrible deaths over and over again, and Who Among Us didn't outgrow that phase and start playing Interactive Fiction because of the word "Interactive"? Who Among Us doesn't love a rhetorical a question? Anyway, let's hope my fears will be allayed and this will be awesome. Fingers crossed!!

Quick Take Review: Basically an interactive version of And Then There Were None... or wait, I mean a NON-interactive version.

Review - Mrs. Wobbles and the Tangerine House

Okay, first of all: I think we can all agree this is a pretty amazing title. This is like one of those creative writing exercise prompts. Who is Mrs. Wobbles? Why does she live in a giant tangerine? Why is she constantly sipping gin out of a vitamin water bottle? Is that why she's so wobbly? So many questions!! Also, this is my first web game. Well, to be fair this is my first game in the entire competition. I've got a bunch of unbridled enthusiasm that I'm sure will wear away like a pencil eraser until my spirits has been rubbed to the point of being a black smudged nub of its former self. BUT... until that happens (I'm guessing by game four) let the frivolities begin! Let's DO THIS.

Quick take: Very cute hypertext game that is unabashedly written for readers who still own their first set of teeth.

Full review after the jump!

Once More Into the Breach

Attention IF Authors: This is the scary mime that's about to review your work.
Oh man, guys. Oh. man. It's been a long time. Too long. How have you been? Husband and kids fine? Hmm? Oh good. Okay, stop talking.

I think it's been roughly two to three YEARS since I last played IF. I have missed it. But, you know, not enough to actually get myself caught up. Long story short, two years ago I left the barren wastelands of Wyoming for the barren wastelands of Boston. I kid. I love it here. Been doing an awful lot of theater. This is a picture of my getting into makeup for the last show I did, a ribald production of The Libertine by Steven Jeffreys. I present it here to show you that though time has passed, I still have no sense of dignity.

Anyway, I've been bouncing from show to show to show (as is my wont) and now I've got a TEENY break between now and my next show and I noticed it's October. You can tell it's an old fashioned New England autumn because the temperature's dipped into the 70s. (thanks Climate Change!) And do you know what October means??? That's right! The annual IF Comp! So here's the plan: I'm going to start playing and reviewing the games (in the good old reverse alphabetical order) and posting those reviews on this blog until I play through them all, or more likely get distracted by the middle of the month and abandon this blog for another half decade. Either way: EVERYONE WINS!

So, stay tuned for reviews! The only thing I'll have to say is that you step away from the comp for a couple of years and you come back to find out that everyone's been writing "Web" based games. How has this happened? What do Web based game even mean? This is a brave new world we're living in. At least there are a bunch of Glulx entries. And there's even someone who's still writing TADs games! Aww...