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21st Place - 9th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2003)
>VERBOSE -- Paul O'Brian's Interactive Fiction Page
It's been a long time since I've played a Mikko Vuorinen game. The last one was his 1999 comp entry King Arthur's Night Out, which bizarrely recast King Arthur as a henpecked husband in a domestic farce. Some people, like Adam Cadre, apparently found this hilarious, but it mostly left me cold. Still, I was pleased to see Vuorinen's name on a comp entry this year, and playing TAOTPOTUS felt like a reunion with a seldom-seen relative -- even though its behavior was often exasperating, I couldn't help feeling a certain fondness for it, both because of its reliably predictable traits and because of my sense of shared history with it.
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[...] The game's basic idea has potential and the room-country design is refreshing, but the game falls to its technical problems. If the author would've given some more time to actual programming and to the room descriptions, this would've been a quite entertaining game. (T. Henrik Anttonen)
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Unfortunately, it's not big enough ("South America's not interesting,") and it neve builds on the gags. The few puzzles that veer from recognizing gently amusing stereotypes are poorly cued. While there's no guess-the-verb, there's plenty of trivial commands semi-logically changing the environment, or the effect of other trivial commands.
There's such a contrast between what you do to leave the White House (nothing unclean, but imagining ANY recent President doing this makes me giggle) and explaining that the White House is pretty boring, and you're bored, except for some generic details, that the game feels grossly unpolished.
This is too bad, because I don't think an American could make a game like this, with such a neat title, and stay apolitical. And yet, the author couldn't be expected to know that a West Wing would make the opening puzzle a lot better.
So, more countries and better descriptions--the potential's there, as I enjoyed many quips and default command responses--would've made this game memorable for more than the title and opportunities missed. Not that I regret playing it. I enjoyed filling in the details I wished the game had, but others may just get exasperated.
I didn't manage to finish it though, even with the walkthrough, because an object I was supposed to get wasn't at the expected place (Spoiler - click to show)(the opener in Russia), so I suppose it was just a bug (maybe replaying it with a different configuration may solve this).
It was enjoyable and diverting anyway.
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This is version 6 of this page, edited by Emily Boegheim on 13 June 2009 at 1:20am. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item