IF Comp 2007

The competition has finally finished, and the winner is Admiral Jota’s “Lost Pig” (see the full result here). Though I registered as a voter last month, I regretfully was not able to play and vote on at least 10 of the games because of busy schedules. I was able to set some of the games as something I would not vote on (with the NR rating), but nonetheless, I was not able to play at all.

Hopefully, since my schedule has loosened up a bit, I should be able to post a review for each of the games entered in the annual competition, including the ones disqualified. Here’s my comments on a couple of games to start with.

Title: Jealousy Duel X
Author: Alex Camelio
Release Date: September 2007
License: Freeware; click here to download
Author’s Site: Alexpowered.com

Jealousy Duel X is a game where the player assumes the identity of one who was recently jilted by his girlfriend, and his mission for the game is to collect phone numbers to try and get back at his ex. I played it a couple of times and gave up when I saw there was no way to save the damn game.

There, I said it. Putting no way to save a game is possibly the worst thing an author could impose on his players. Never mind “guess-the-verb” issues or misspelled words – I can live with them. But if I can’t save the game to play another day, this won’t garner a high vote from me.

The graphics were cute. At least the author did not try to pass them off too much as Japanese manga or anime characters. The interface was fine, being a graphical CYOA game, but since it’s a CYOA game, there isn’t a lot that can be done, and interactions with characters are limited to just a few choices sometimes. One can pretty much see how the puzzles would go sometimes based on the choices alone.

Jealousy Duel X‘s premise doesn’t really sit that well with me. The whole thing comes off as a PG-13 bishoujo game more than the “interactive fiction” I’ve come to know. It’s a fun little game, I’ll grant that, and it does have more substance than some of the one-off competition entries I’ve seen, but this is not the “IF” I’m used to playing. I don’t feel as involved in it as I should like to be when playing IF.

All in all, one should try Jealousy Duel X for a spin, but don’t expect a lot of fireworks. And be sure you have enough time because you can’t save the game.

Title: The Lost Dimension
Author: C. Yong
Release Date: September 2007
License: Freeware; click here to download
Author’s Site: Intelligent Digital

[SPOILER ALERT: This article contains some spoilers.]

The first time I saw this game on the Comp2007 zipfile, I was appalled to see one of the requirements was Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0. This was on my work PC, which did not get the .NET Framework update since it was not needed in our particular department. I was thinking WTF? already so I pushed it aside for a while, even as the discussion went on in the newsgroups and the forum.

Today I unwrapped the MS installer package and played the game.

Guh. The Lost Dimenson almost looks like as if Paul Panks abandoned assembly and BASIC and started learning .NET programming. The game’s text in describing the places you go to are also similar to Panks’s style: a short description of what you would generally see, a list of the obvious exits, and a list of the “monsters” and “items” present in that location. The only thing that’s different is that the game can actually be played with a mouse alone, just as the author promised in the readme file. There are separate windows for the action text, and examining items requires only a mouse click on the item’s name itself as it is already listed in another separate window.

Of course, the player still has the option of typing in his commands – there’s still a “Command:” line there. But everything that’s needed for the game already has a button assigned to it, and the author cleverly made use of the USE verb for the game. All the information you need is on the screen.

The Lost Dimenson also isn’t the true-blue IF I’ve referred to in the previous commentary. Given the stats and the combat scenarios, the game comes off as a IF/RPG hybrid, just like Zyll and Westfront PC. Now I’m not saying this is bad by itself, as some folks actually prefer these kinds of games. I’m just not like some folks, though.

Let’s move on to the game then.

The player starts off as the remaining passenger on a plane that happened to pass over the Bermuda Triangle. According to an “old book” you uncover from one of the passenger cabins, you need to find a set of five magnetic stones to help you and the others (if they’re still alive) get out of this dimension.

Okay. Now this is actually where the weird part comes. There are a couple of bats in the passenger cabins, and after I go to kill one of them, I uncover a “rusty dagger.” WTF? A rusty dagger in an airplane? Then after I get off the plane and move somewhere in the forest, I obtain a leather armor, a couple of healing potions, a strawberry potion, and after a irritatingly long fight, a proper sword.

Speaking of long fights, the game does not explain how the combat sequences work. I’m no AD&D fan, but I do like to know how these things run so I can at least see how much my chances are at winning against, say, an abyssal wolf compared to a nasty bat. What generally happens during a combat sequence is: the player clicks on the Attack! button, then the game does the rest for the next 6 or 7 rounds. It won’t close down the combat window unless you click on Exit, and it has no option for the player to re-attack the opponent.

I gave the game a few tries and headed straight for the walkthrough.

The Lost Dimenson is a game that one would either love or hate depending on the player’s tastes. The game menus and windows, though it doesn’t look as pretty and as modern as it should, are quite helpful for a newbie IF player, but not for veterans who’ve slogged with older IF pieces. If you’re the type who likes his text adventures with a dash of RPG elements, this is probably something you’d like to try.