Too Much Free Time

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

Posts Tagged ‘female protagonist’

IFComp 2014: One Night Stand

Posted by Tracy Poff on October 19, 2014

The third game I’ve played from the 2014 ifcomp is One Night Stand by Giannis G. Georgiou. You play Sandy, a woman who is trying to discover the name of the man she just spent the night with.

One pre-spoiler note: the download from the comp website just has an HTML file with a link to a web-based version of the game, but the story file can be downloaded, if you follow that link. You’ll need a Quest interpreter to play it.

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

First, a note about online play: the online interpreter was rather slow to react, occasionally taking many seconds to complete a command, and usually missing the first few characters of each command I typed, since it was still scrolling the response text. This was irritating, but it otherwise worked fine, and it was at least visually attractive. Not ideal, but better than nothing, given that I don’t actually have a Quest interpreter.

ONS is a short comedy game with one puzzle sequence. I spent about 35 minutes prodding everything in the game before I finished, but I imagine 10 minutes would more than suffice, if you just proceed toward the goal–and particularly if you aren’t using the rather slow web-based interpreter.

I appreciate the customized responses to trying to take various objects, and the randomly chosen sections of text (e.g. when knocking on Mara’s door) are a nice touch. The ending, though not entirely unexpected, is a good enough payoff for the few minutes the game takes to complete.

On the other hand, you don’t have any real options–either you proceed linearly through the story, or you don’t proceed at all. I wanted to try tricking the dude into saying his name. To break down in tears to avoid the situation. To call him Rumpelstiltskin, if his name is so important. Anything to have some choice–but I had none. More mundanely, there are few objects implemented, and no real, interactive NPCs. The parser is a little obtuse, too: you’ve got to knock door or use bottle on floor, which aren’t exactly the first commands that came to mind.

Overall, an average-quality game, which would probably be more at home in the first ifcomp than the twentieth.

Post-review pre-posting note: Okay, I think this review needs an addendum. Other reviewers seem to be unanimous in despising this game. It was my assumption throughout the game that it was a work of parody–the several-inches deep layer of grease on the kitchen floor not a greater exaggeration than the PC’s absurd internal monologue. Surely the game is so stupid exactly because it’s undermining its nominal position. Of course, while writing the review, I was under the impression that the author was a woman (Wrong! Giannis is a Greek name which is the masculine form Gianna. The more you know.), and that therefore the PC must be a parody of the ridiculous caricatures of women we see in games and other media (maybe not?).

It’s against my policy to change my judgment after reading other reviews, so I’ll let this review stand as-is. I’d rather be too generous in my assumptions about other people than too harsh. In retrospect, though, if you take seriously the bits that I assumed to be failed comedy, then the game really does become rather unpalatable… so take this review with a grain of salt.

Posted in 2014, Freeware, Full Review, Interactive Fiction, Platform Independent | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »


Posted by Tracy Poff on March 30, 2013

Kangaroo is a platformer by Sun Electronics, released in June 1982.

The player controls a kangaroo whose child has been kidnapped by mischievous monkeys. Gameplay is pretty standard for arcade platformers: walk on platforms, climb ladders, avoid pitfalls and enemies while collecting bonus items; pretty much the same as Donkey Kong.

The kangaroo, of course, can jump, and is also equipped with a boxing glove, so that she can punch the monkeys that harass her on her way to rescue her child. The monkeys throw apples at her, which can be punched to return to sender.

Rescuing the child ends the level and begins the next. There are four variations before the levels replay at higher difficulty.

Kangaroo has simple graphics, music, and sound effects, on about the level one expects from a game from 1982. Its quality is comparable to Donkey Kong: decent for an old game, but nothing special these days.

Posted in 1982, Arcade, Decent, First Impressions, Platformer | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

IFComp 2012: J’dal

Posted by Tracy Poff on November 10, 2012

J’dal by Ryan Kinsman is an entry in the 2012 ifcomp, in which the player is on a quest to retrieve an artifact from a mine.

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

J’dal, unlike most modern IF, recalls the appellation ‘text adventure’. The PC, J’dal, is, if I understand correctly, a drow in some fantasy world. She and her adoptive father, Wendal, together with two others, Stolas and Roderick, have been tasked with collecting a magical artifact from a nearby mine. After a meal and a good night’s sleep, the party sets off, led by J’dal, whose ability to see in the dark is very useful in the unlit mine.

The game is pretty much on rails. A couple of situations admit multiple solutions, but the possiblities are very limited, and I can only find two endings–either the PC dies, or she is successful, and either way the game ends quickly. The puzzles are pretty straightforward, although it did take me a few tries to work out exactly how to word my solutions.

The game could really benefit from a little more depth of implementation. There are missing objects, and some of the descriptions are rather lacking. The characters don’t have much to say, either, so we can’t really get a very good picture of their motivations, except in broad strokes. There are also some bugs–the dead beart’s body is inaccessible, for some reason, and the behavior when the PC is wearing her blindfold isn’t good, for two examples that caught my attention.

J’dal is pretty short and pretty sparse, but it’s not bad. If it were cleaned up, and fleshed out a bit, it could be a nice, if short, little fantasy adventure. I can imagine recommending something like this to new players of IF.

I struggled with what score to assign this one. It’s unpolished, short, and easy, but I did enjoy it, which is more important. I’m giving it 5/10, which is actually on the higher end of my ratings this year. I may be rating this year’s games a little harshly. Perhaps a revision of my scores will be in order, before the competition ends, but I’ll wait until I’ve played a few more to make that judgment.

Play time: 38 minutes.

Posted in 2012, Decent, Full Review, Interactive Fiction, Platform Independent | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

IFComp 2012: Body Bargain

Posted by Tracy Poff on November 7, 2012

Body Bargain by Amanda Lange is an entry in the 2012 ifcomp about transhumanism.

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

You wake up cold and naked, with an IV stuck in your arms.

But this is all as it should be. The PC has gone to a black market doctor for a replacement body, and the surgery appears to have been a success. There’s just one difficulty: she couldn’t afford the surgery, so she’ll be working off her debt, assisting the doctor, Doctor Overclock. Body Bargain is a work of horror, and in the process of assisting the doctor, you will probably do and see some horrible things. But the ends justify the means, right?

Body Bargain is fairly straightforward. One thing that struck me was that the game was clearly designed to be played more than once. Since you’re just starting out as an assistant to Doctor Overclock when the game opens, he doesn’t expect you to know what you’re doing, so you’re given explicit instructions about what to do. If you follow his instructions, you’ll complete the game, though you might not much like the ending. During the course of the game, though you learn some things that you can investigate on further playthroughs. I think this worked quite well. I am sometimes bothered a little by using knowledge that the player character shouldn’t have yet in order to change the course of games, but I also kind of like it; it makes me think “what could have happened, if only the PC had known?”

This is the first game I’ve played from this year’s competition that I really enjoyed. The setting is interesting, the puzzles are fairly logical, and the horror theme works. Unfortunately, the game does suffer from a few problems.

First, the game is a little underimplemented. For example, the PC can pick up her old clothes in the beginning, and it’s mentioned that they include jeans, a shirt, socks, a bra, and panties. However, none of these individual items exist, even as synonyms for the whole pile of clothes. For another, there’s a stool in the initial room, which has a nice description, but:

>sit on stool
That’s not something you can sit down on.

The lack of depth of implementation isn’t really a problem–it doesn’t hamper solving the puzzles, except in one case, which I’ll describe shortly. I kind of feel like I’m unfairly in a beta-testing mindset when I complain about this, but I do enjoy games that are very thoroughly implemented. I wanted to sit on the swiveling stool and spin around, enjoying my new body. I wanted to be able to flip every switch and smell every table, or whatever. Well, it wasn’t to be.

There was, as I mentioned, one time when the lack of synonyms caused me difficulty. Near the end of the game, the PC’s sister is strapped to an operating table, and it may transpire that you wish to free her. I tried all sorts of things to accomplish this. I tried to release straps and just get straps. I tried to cut straps with various things. No luck. It turns out I needed to untie savannah. You mean she’s tied down with the straps? Not what I expected, and I didn’t figure it out without using a walkthrough.

As unfortunate as the underimplementation was, I was more annoyed by some bugs I encountered. Particularly, upon incapacitating the doctor, the game helpfully informs me (every turn, and sometimes twice a turn) that “–> The scene change machinery is stuck.”. Spectacular. There were a few other, more minor bugs, too, including one that wouldn’t let me get the scrubs at the beginning, so I couldn’t even leave the starting room on one attempt.

Despite the game’s problems, I did enjoy it, and I think that it has the potential to be really great if it gets a post-comp release cleaning it up a bit. Body Bargain gets a 6/10 from me, the highest score so far. I’d like to rate it higher, but the bugs are severe enough that I can’t justify it. I’d be happy to play it again, if it’s updated, though!

Play time: 78 minutes for six playthroughs.

Posted in 2012, Decent, Full Review, Interactive Fiction, Platform Independent | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »