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A Bear's Night Out

by David Dyte

Children's/Fantasy
1997

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5 star:
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3 star:
(21)
2 star:
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Average Rating:
Number of Reviews: 4
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1-4 of 4


An old-school game. A teddy bear explores the house of his IF-loving owner, February 3, 2016
A Bear's Night Out was nominated for an XYZZY award for Best Game in its second year. You play as a teddy bear exploring the house of your owner.

This is a classic 90's game. Tight puzzles, jokey references to other games, a real sense of atmosphere, many unexaminable objects. If you enjoyed Plotkin's or Nelson's early games, you will enjoy this game.

By the game's own count, it has 32 references to previous games, including letting you (Spoiler - click to show)play Curses!, Dungeon, and Adventureland.

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful:
Well worth a look, January 16, 2010
by Amy Kerns (Tucson, AZ)
In A Bear's Night Out, you play the part of a teddy bear who comes to life when his owner goes to sleep. The object of the game is to set up items for a teddy bear picnic. Your owner is quite forgetful (as an aside, he is the writer of this game). This piece of Interactive Fiction is over 10 years old, being first released in 1997, but it's well worth a look.

It's quite a comedic and charming little game. The author never forgets that the main character here is a teddy bear, thus neither does the one playing said teddy bear. You are small and short, thus have a hard time reaching things that are up on a table, as well as other objects. You will often find yourself searching around for something to help you get up to a higher area. Being able to reach the power button on a TV is something you would normally take for granted.

There are poems and quotes that appear from time to time, in a box of text near the top of the screen. They are often humorous, and always appropriate to what's going on in the game at the time.

There are not many PC's in this game, well at least not that you can interact with. Your owner is asleep, and the stuffed moose are not "alive" such as you are. This leaves only a housecat to interact with. That said, the cat is very well done. The relationship between the cat and the bear is almost touching.

I did find myself stuck in a few sections, though that's not unusual for me. There was one instance where items were being added to my inventory, without my knowledge. Now a puzzle is a puzzle, but I only realized that I had these items by cheating and consulting some hints within the game. (The hints were well done, by the way, revealing clues little by little.) I think the game could've been improved with some mention that you've received the items. That's the most I can say on this particular scenario without spoilers.

There are a few problems with commands such as this:

>look at papers
A dreadfully messy pile of old exam papers, study notes, letters, junk mail, bills, walkthroughs for adventure games, recipes, newspaper articles, medical records, and who knows what else.

Towards the middle of the pile of papers you find a featureless white cube, but this fails to hold your interest, and you place it back.

>x white cube
I only understood you as far as wanting to examine the white button.

Not only can you not look at the white cube at all (it was a random text message only, which disappointed me), but the message I got in response is all wrong. Here's another such problem (I've replaced an item here to prevent spoilers):

>push ball into basket
You can't see any such thing.

>push ball
Into the picnic basket? Good idea!

There are quite a few surprises in this game that I dare not reveal due to spoilerage. Some of them are in-jokes to the IF community. The fact that this game seems to have been geared towards children (and has been used as an education aid in the classroom), leads one to wonder at the references to IF history. That said, the adult IF enthusiast will find quite a bit of humour in these references.

There's quite a bit of entertaining things to do in A Bear's Night Out that are just for fun. For example, there are a few fun things to do with the cat, you can call 911 on the phone, and then there are a few funny default responses such as this:

>plugh
A hollow voice says `Obviously, you are in the wrong game.'

[Watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat!
That trick never works.
-- Bullwinkle J. Moose and Rocky Squirrel]

I found the game to be a very enjoyable romp through an IF programmer's house... as a sentient teddy bear.

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Utterly charming, April 21, 2008
by Kiz
Bear is a tenderly written romp through the eyes of a beloved teddy bear, appropriate for players of all ages -- it's a great intro to IF for kids, but still captivating for adults who remember their childhood stuffed friends fondly. Puzzles are tricky but solvable, and the prose is top-quality: Bear does a great job with tone and capturing the POV of a teddy bear. It's one of my very favourite IF games. And I don't just say that because I now have the wonderful fortune to cohabit with Matt and Terry Moose :)

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful:
More fun than I expected, March 4, 2008
This IF Comp entry may be a little gimmicky, but the gimmick definitely worked for me. What's not to like about a story that features a teddy bear as a protagonist?

A Bear's Night Out (ABNO) is Mr. Dyte's first released work, and it has the feel of a first work -- a little rough around a few edges, a sense that maybe more effort was spent on code than prose. Nonetheless, the main character seems to touch a soft spot in the hearts of most people, and this -- coupled with the consistent but novel logic of the teddy bear universe -- is what makes the piece stand out.

ABNO's fifth place finish in the 1997 IF Comp is a testament to the quality of Mr. Dyte's originality and style, as is the game's receipt of the "Best Setting" XYZZY Award for that year. Lest you think this piece is all gimmick and no meat, note that it was a finalist for "Best Game", as well, and that fans of the story have taken the time to translate it into both German and Spanish.

I do think this game would be suitable for a children's story, assuming the child has some capacity for sustained problem-solving and perhaps the over-the-shoulder advice of a few family members. Only one puzzle seemed likely to stump a group of players for any length of time; be prepared to use the gentle in-game hint system to avoid the bad kind of frustration, if needed.

Though I give it only three stars overall ("good, not great"), it is one of the more memorable stories I've played. I do recommend that you try this game, particularly when you are feeling young-at-heart.


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