Too Much Free Time

Discussion and reviews of games for NES, Intellivision, DOS, and others.

IFComp 2012: Escape From Summerland

Posted by Tracy Poff on November 6, 2012

Escape From Summerland by Jenny Roomy and Jasmine Lavages is an entry in the 2012 ifcomp with multiple player characters, set in an amusement park.

(This post contains spoilers. Read at your own risk.)

This game had some real promise. The idea of allowing the player to switch between multiple player characters isn’t, of course, completely new, but it’s rare in IF, so I was excited to see where the game would go with it. Unfortunately, Escape From Summerland just proved to be frustrating.

The game begins with the PC waking up in front of his caravan, which has been bombed. He notices that someone seems to be trapped inside, and when you enter to try to rescue him, you see that he has already died. Upon closer examination, the unfortunate man is revealed to be the player character–you are a ghost! Scene transition…

The player character is inside her home. There’s a branch, some hay, and a water thing within reach, and a shiny thing out of reach. Here, I encountered my first problem. The PC here eats hay, so I assumed it must be some sort of grazing animal, or maybe a rabbit, or something else that I knew ate grass and hay. It turns out, though, that the PC here is a gelada, a type of monkey that, it turns out, eats grass. I suppose the monkey-like emoticons (like this: @(^m^)@) ought to have tipped me off, but I didn’t work it out immediately. This is important, because I assumed the PC wouldn’t have useful hands, and so I didn’t immediately try to use the branch to retrieve the shiny thing, and until I did, the scene wouldn’t end.

This was really my fault–the solution was obvious, but I didn’t actually try to get branch. Instead, I used play with branch, which didn’t indicate to me that the PC had hands, and so I ended up restarting to see if there was something I should have done while I was the ghost. Eventually, I realized what I was meant to do, and proceeded. Having taken and played with the shiny thing, the scene again changes.

The player character is again the ghost, Amadan, who intends to make sure the monkey, Jacquotte, is safe. Along the way, you may note that a “fightbot” has crashed in the park. Upon reaching Jacquotte and verifying her safety, the scene again changes.

The player character is now the robot, and the player may switch freely between the ghost, monkey, and robot. Each has certain advantages: the monkey can manipulate certain things and go certain places that the robot may not; the ghost cannot interact with anything, but does recognize and describe objects in a useful way for the player; the robot is very strong and has a light emitter, to light up dark rooms.

After this point, I began to experience trouble. I collected a part of the robot with Jacquotte and brought it back to the robot to be installed, but couldn’t drop it, and got an error with I tried to play with it. After quite a bit of frustration, I found a walkthrough and learned that the component should have dropped into another location when I took or played with it, but for some reason did not. Upon returning to the screen I found it and playing with it there, I was able to proceed.

A little further on, I had to use an elevator. I entered it with the robot and monkey, got it to start moving up, and got totally stuck. The robot, while on the elevator, told me I needed to enter the elevator, then complained when I tried to do so that I was already there. There were no exits from that room. When I changed to the monkey, it could see the buttons in the room description, but when I tried pressing them, it “couldn’t see any such thing”. I fumbled around for a while, trying to get something to happen, but ultimately just gave up.

On the positive side of things, I really enjoyed seeing the world from multiple points of view. Jacquotte’s descriptions, in particular, were pretty fun.

As I said above, I think Escape From Summerland had promise, but it needed more work. I wish I could rate it higher, but I’m giving this one 3/10, which seems pretty generous for a game that made me quit in frustration.

Play time: about 45 minutes.

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3 Responses to “IFComp 2012: Escape From Summerland”

  1. unwashedmass said

    Tracy, thanks for visiting my gormless and admittedly sparse these days personal blog some time ago. I’ve stirred up two other blogs into action more recently that might be more up your alley:

    turntopage4.blogspot.com , a chronicle of choose-your-own-adventure hypertext conversions, and

    videogamecomicads.blogspot.com , my commentary on video game ads scanned from my (now dismantled) comic book collection.

    Nice to see you reviewing IF Comp games, and really I must ask — which of the two of us is going to wind up being the first to submit a game to some future comp? I should warn you that I have a very substantial game design document on the back burner. That said, it’s been in progress for some 11 years, so it could well spin on indefinitely.

    • Tracy Poff said

      Nice to hear from you again. Those two do look interesting–I’ll have to subscribe.

      The game ad scans remind me of one of my ongoing projects. I’ve got a number of old computer and game magazines that I intend to read through and find all the treasures within. I’ve actually got a tracking page with some of the details from a few issues on this blog, but I think there’s not a link to it anywhere. One good turn deserves another, so have a link:

      https://tmft.wordpress.com/notes/magazines/

      I’ve submitted a few transcripts of those ads to mobygames, and one of the type-in games. Maybe once the ifcomp is over, I’ll get back to this project.

      Which of us shall first submit a game? Ah, I wonder if I’ll ever finish any of the ones I’ve started. I have an idea for a game, which I hoped to submit to last year’s ifcomp, but unfortunately it exists only in the form of pages of design documentation, so far. Also like you, that one’s been in progress for some years, so it may stay on paper for a while, yet. Stephen Granade advised, in an interview, to create a complete transcript of a game, before ever writing any code. I think I’ll follow this method, if ever I do write my ‘masterpiece’.

      Should you complete your game first, you’ll have at least one fan. I wish you luck! Although, perhaps I should wish you industry, instead…

      • unwashedmass said

        My game ad blog was started with an eye to providing more grist for Mobygames also, indeed. In your case, if the mags have numeric reviews, you can submit those also (as well as, of course, individual games as with the type-ins!)

        And especially wonderful ads might make good guest submissions to my blog. Just saying!

        I actually have two released terrible text adventures under my belt from a troubled adolescence, but if this one ever surfaces it will blow them out of the water. In the meantime, I found Twine a good tool for just prototyping idea, piling thought upon thought until what you have is a half-baked completed game rather than just a pile of notes. http://www.glorioustrainwrecks.com/files/frobniainstrumentidentify_0.html is my example. Where are all the rest of the Border Zone fangames at, yo?

        I will further extend the casting of the gauntlet. Once our magnum opuses are both out of the bag, we should collaborate on a work. There you have it.

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