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About the StoryI, Dr. Sourpuss, talking housecat and test administrator, regret to inform you that your multiple choice test has been misplaced. While I attempt to locate the missing SCANDRON marking machine, please occupy yourself with the fully immersive "101Ī98 Experiments with Citrus" science fair activities.
Entrant, Back Garden - Spring Thing 2016
Playing it is kind of like listening in on a very strange and oddly earnest conversation that you canít entirely follow, with the constant understanding that there will be a test. Itís sort of like a nightmare in that respect. The visual design is very striking, making rather complicated conversations amongst three eccentric characters easy to follow by color-coding. The artwork is great too. I particularly like the image of Dr. Sourpuss himself, who looks like Garfield as drawn by Gary Larson. Oh, and the game itself? Hmm. It is about choices, and the reductive nature of answering questions via multiple choiceÖ maybe? Itís kind of odd, but I definitely recommend checking it out, though probably you need to be in the mood for some downright peculiarity.
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Emily Short's Interactive Storytelling
Tonally, this is a political cartoon at large scale ó as implied by the cover art ó one in which every character is a stand-in for some comically objectionable stance. For me, a little of that kind of rhetoric goes a long way, but other peopleís mileage may vary.
I do, however, have to respect a lot of things about this piece. It demonstrates a strong sense of visual design; it deploys its mechanics in interesting ways throughout; the art is good; and I can hardly disagree with the idea that standardized testing is a terrible way to manage education or the development of people as people.
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This is one of those games where I am not sure what was going on, but Iím sure I enjoyed it. Dr Sourpuss is a talking, mortar-board wearing cat created by a genetic-engineering accident involving a lemon tree. He and a couple of other characters take the player on a winding story involving a sinister corporation that manufactures multiple-choice test marking machines, making good use of absurdity to smuggle a clever commentary on the effect of standardised, one-size-fits-all education on students. The puzzles are simple but clever: some objects, when they are mentioned in the story, appear in your inventory, and at any time you can go to a lab and choose two of them to combine into some new object that is the key to getting past each stage.
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You have to help find two missing things: the grading machine, and a student named Mark Passingrad.
Gameplay rolls out in three main ways: you are given a series of multiple choice quizzes. Before answering each question, you can click on boxed links to get more detail. Finally, there are three different 'tests' where you have to go to a lab to create new items.
The game is purposefully confusing, and it succeeded in creating this emotion. In the end, much of it is a long discussion about people who hate multiple choice and why. I chose to interpret this as part of the debate about weblink games such as Twine or Raconteur. The game talks about marginalized individuals and those who refuse to validate them or allow them to be part of their world. The game admits many interpretations, however.
I took off one star because the game is very tedious at times, trying to sort out a path through repetitive text. Overall, an interesting and thoughtful game.
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