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About the Story"Can Troy, the handsome daredevil autoist, live up to his "sterling" reputation? What secret threatens the career of the talented singer, Miss Melody Sweet? With the help of the mechanical genius Aloysius Pratt, can Troy and Melody thwart a madman's evil plan?" [--blurb from Competition Aught-One]
Nominee, Best Setting; Nominee, Best Individual PC - 2001 XYZZY Awards
18th Place - 7th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2001)
The version of the game as originally released in the competition was beset by some unfortunate bugs, but the author has put in a lot of work and rendered out something that is now, as far as I could tell, more or less bug-free -- at least, I didn't run into any in the course of playing. On the other hand, there are still a few ways in which its implementation seems to let it down, most notably in that the plot does not reach a full conclusion (and it is not entirely clear whether the promised 'continuation' will ever appear).
All the same, the setting is fresh and entertaining; several puzzles have multiple solutions, and many of the possible points are optional; and the NPCs are amusingly characterized and have quite a lot to say.
-- Emily Short
As a player, I normally don't enjoy games which are heavily scripted; I don't feel like I'm playing the game so much as being dragged along through the plot. Fortunately, Fine-Tuned is written in such a playful and imaginative way that the player tends to forget that their fate is pre-determined. Multiple solutions exist for some of the puzzles, and though each solution garners the same number of points, the play differs somewhat, giving the game replay value. Instead of arbitrarily forcing the plot, chapters serve to break up the puzzles, allowing the player to focus on the right objects in the right order, without that terrible "Led By The Hand" feeling.
-- Jacqueline A. Lott
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The game is very nicely programmed and written. It leads you gently from one part to the next and most reasonable inputs have been catered for. I've enjoyed it a lot as far as I've got.
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>VERBOSE -- Paul O'Brian's Interactive Fiction Page
[Note: This review was in response to version 1 of the game.]
Dammit, people, stop this! I played Fine-Tuned for an hour, and loved it. Aside from a few spelling mistakes and stray bugs, it was a delightful game with terrific writing, fun characters, and a great plot. But the further we get into that plot, the more broken the game becomes, until it finally implodes with a fiery crash that can even bring down the whole interpreter. Naturally, this happens at a climactic point in the story.
This experience SUCKS. It makes me wish I could give negative ratings. It's much worse playing a game that would be great except for how horribly broken it is than it is playing a game that's weak but bug-free. It's IF interruptus.
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Number of Reviews: 4
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Most Helpful Member Reviews
The opening chapter as Troy is brilliant. The narrative voice is fun, it's fairly intuitive what actions to take, and I found myself becoming more and more sympathetic towards our dashing but not entirely bright hero. The second chapter, as Melody, is where the puzzles really begin, but also where it gets much less fun. You have no clear goal, so you're forced to blindly experiment, and Melody's point-of-view is much less interesting. Of course, I favour narrative over puzzles, so some may prefer the puzzly sections. The puzzles themselves were interesting, but not terribly complex. (Spoiler - click to show)Most involve utilising Melody's talent as an opera singer in some way; breaking the jars was the most amusing instance.
Fine-Tuned's biggest problem is the fact that it's unfinished. The game ends (Spoiler - click to show)right before the final showdown with a rather anticlimactic message, which is frustrating. If you don't like playing unfinished games, I'd recommend that you stay well clear until the final chapters are released.
The game could certainly use some polish on the later chapters (and an actual conclusion), but is otherwise very entertaining. I'm rating it only a four because it was incomplete, but it's still a piece of IF that will appeal to fans of both narrative and puzzles.
The first scene of this charming 4-chapter game sets the mood. You, the gentleman-daredevil Troy Sterling, daring, bold, are about to enter your Dynamo automobile, and with it you are going to keep the darkness from vanquishing the light!
But first, to put on your nice goggles, your peaked cap, your stylish scarf, your signature gloves. Even when saving the world, one must look dashing.
Your quest against darkness, the precise details of which firmly set the mood for the rest of the game, is but the smallest part of this game, the first scene. There will be plenty more scenes in this chapter, all of them serving no purpose but to establish character and situation - the 1920's world you're living in, your trusty sidekick, the villanous MacDougall and his anti-automobile association, and even the simple fact that a gallant daredevil can't pass through a fallen hatchling without climbing up the tree to restore him to his nest (which rewards the player with points, so everyone's happy).
In fact, this is what the first chapter is - a succession of situations, intended to draw in, to make you smile, to fully comprehend the characters and the situations while making you, say, race a speeding train. Wonderful pacing, brilliant writing, using simplicity to its greatest effect - seldom do I feel a gameworld so vividly in a game with such sparse text.
As the story progesses, you'll switch characters, and enjoy a more traditionally-IF second chapter, playing an opera singer with perfect pitch. The story will take twists, as darker elements are introduced, only to be counterbalanced by an odd villain who is a bit too clichèd for the player to take seriously, with a penchant for puning.
THe only reason this game doesn't get 5 stars from me is because the story is unfinished. Come on, man, finish it already! We want more!
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