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About the StoryProfessor Pettibone, eminent Victorian balloonist, has a problem. He can't get it up. His balloon that is. If he can't reach an altitude of 20,000 feet, and soon, both he and his mysterious travelling companion Hubert Booby will be burned to a cinder by an erupting volcano! But what is Mr. Booby concealing under his overcoat? Do all Ecuadorian peasants have BSc's? And what, in the name of all that's holy, is THE CURSE OF THE BLUE IBIS? All these questions, and several others, will be answered when you play "To Hell in a Hamper", a one-room game by J. J. Guest. *Winner of the Adrift Spring Competition 2003*
Nominee, Best Game; Nominee, Best Writing; Nominee, Best Story; Nominee, Best Setting; Nominee, Best Use of Medium - 2003 XYZZY Awards
Overall, this game fits into a growing category of works that combine light puzzles with strong pacing and good comic writing. I'd also put this year's Best Puzzles winner "Gourmet" (Aaron Reed, 2003) into that group, along with the first chapters of "Fine Tuned" (Dennis Jerz, 2001) and several of J. Robinson Wheeler's games. As it happens, I really enjoy such pieces. They don't always get the recognition that other games do, perhaps because they're not perceived as groundbreaking experimental work or as hard-core puzzle-fests. But humor and pacing are a real challenge to get right in IF, and a good IF comedy has a special charm of its own.
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Acorn Electron World
(This review is of the Acorn Electron version, ported to the Electron by David Edwards.)
To Hell In A Hamper is a perfect example of a modern day text adventure, brought wholesale onto a disc-based Acorn Electron by its author, J. J. Guest. You are one Professor Pettibone, a rather pompous and somewhat exasperated 'eminent Victorian balloonist'. The cause of the exasperation is your companion, one Mr. Hubert Booby, with whom you are sharing a once-in-a-lifetime skytrip. A rather exciting introductory diary explains how you came to be sharing your balloon with this apparent aeronaut, and also makes it very clear that Booby is the cause of all your current problems.
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Number of Reviews: 12
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Most Helpful Member Reviews
The rest of the game is a satisfying sequence of puzzles where you have to discover all the stuff that Booby is carrying, and then somehow get rid of it. In some cases this is as simple as throwing it overboard (a Rembrandt painting, for instance), in others it is quite a bit more involved (the boomerang gives an obvious problem, and so does the cursed mummy).
One reviewer complained that you can get rid of some items too early, thus leaving the puzzles unsolvable. This has not been my experience; as far as I could tell, there was always an alternate solution. I cannot absolutely guarantee this, though.
My single complaint is that the game doesn't actually contain that many jokes. It has a good comic setup, and some of the stuff you discover inside Booby's coat is hilarious; but there are few events or descriptions in the rest of the game that make one laugh or smile. This game would have benefited from having Admiral Jota as a co-author; his gift for stuffing a game full of funny remarks would have been very effective here.
This is a very entertaining one-room puzzle game with a Weird Victoriana theme. It avoids some of the claustrophobia of other one-room games because the balloon is constantly in motion and the view outside changes as you go; the chief NPC is grumpy and untalkative, but in a convincing way; the puzzles are well paced.
The original version had some annoying parsing errors, but these may have been rectified in later releases.
The start of the game is, aside from its unusually long length, a textbook example of how to provide immersion, orientation, and urgency all in one go: The initial diary entries set the humorous tone and sketch the broad outlines of the main characters' personalities, the problem to be overcome by the player is both clear and logical, and the first steps on the path to winning are almost immediately apparent.
Most importantly, this game was fun! The mounting tension had me both typing and reading faster as the game progressed, with just enough comic relief thrown in to keep me grinning.
Though I did find some bugs, they were not enough to seriously impact the playing experience. Definitely worth checking out if you've missed it so far.
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