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Reviews by Jerry Martin

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View this member's reviews by tag: 2014 Reviews Bad Parser Good for Beginners Linear Micro Games No Parser No Puzzles Short IF
1-5 of 5


Human(it)y., by Deirdre Sprenger

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A call to arms by the author, April 28, 2017
by Jerry Martin (Colossal Caves)
If you are offended by the topic of abortion or the author's pro-life stance, you may want to avoid this piece as it is primarily a means to advocate Ms. Sprenger's pro-life stance (even going so far as to include a link to a gofundme in game to further promote her views) and advocate awareness of abortion (primarily the laws of Canada).

Human(it)y is a piece written in Twine by Ms. Sprenger which primarily shows very similar scenes with interactive words that change when clicked upon, changing the overall scene and their meaning. For example, upon starting Human(it)y up, you're shown a scene that seems out of a science fiction movie or a medical drama with numbered organisms and specimens. However, it quickly becomes political and clicking upon special keywords changes them into different words. For example, the numbered organism changes to "mother" and "specimen" changes into "fetus". The piece is extremely linear and the only interactivity is primarily to push the notion of pro-life and gain new followers that share her beliefs. It's because of this that it's hard to recommend Human(it)y. I don't mind Ms. Sprenger pushing her beliefs (in fact, I applaud anyone willing to stand up and fight for their beliefs). However, as a piece of interactive fiction, it lacks many of the standard features we've come to expect from IF (and which make it interesting and fun) and because of that, I can't recommend it as an IF piece.

However, this piece was not intended to provide a fun interactive world to explore or numerous puzzles to solve. It won't be one to share with fellow IF fans or take with you on the commute. Instead, it was created to share a message with the world (which I must admit is pretty powerful) and become a call to arms for people who share the author's beliefs and on that notion it succeeds. Just don't expect a ton of gameplay or very much interactivity.

1-2-3..., by Chris Mudd

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Short, Graphic and Linear, April 27, 2017
by Jerry Martin (Colossal Caves)
1-2-3 is not for the faint of heart. Not because of the game's complexity or over the top puzzles but rather because of it's content. While playing 1-2-3, you take the role of a serial killer who graphically kills and violates his victims. The game does not shy away from detail and because of this, if you are squeamish or otherwise unnerved by graphic depictions of violence and gore, you'll want to avoid this one.

1-2-3, however, does do a good job at providing atmosphere and the writing was done quite well in that regard. However, I felt as though the killings themselves were the main focus of the piece and everything else felt like filler to get to that point. Working commands are sparse and often ignored by the player and the puzzles and interactive objects are minimal inbetween with most of the gameplay focusing on awkward NPC dialogue that forces you to ask the specific questions the game is looking for (otherwise the NPCs blatantly tell you 'don't you want to talk about ____?'). While the minimalistic approach to interactivity helps the believability of how manic the anti-hero is, it feels lacking and incomplete, especially due to it's short length and predictable ending. (Spoiler - click to show)The fact that the piece ends with the murder of the police woman you play as between killings with no consequence feels abrupt and could easily have been predicted since the introduction of the psychiatrist who 'knows too much about the murderer'..

The piece may be well worded, but the lack of interactivity, the awkward forced dialogue with NPCs and the overall graphic and focused nature of the killings is offputting and makes this piece feel lacking and incomplete. There are plenty of better horror and murder mystery pieces on the site to experience.

the uncle who works for nintendo, by michael lutz

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful:
Interesting mix of nostalgia and creepypasta, October 18, 2014
Growing up in school, we all had classmates who would lie to sound cool. Each person's dad was not only the strongest guy in the universe but would also beat up 7 year olds for fun and famous celebrities just happened to live next door "before they moved". But for us gamers, one of the most common lies was the relative who worked at a game company and was feeding all sorts of confidential information and cool secrets to them. They'd tell you all about upcoming, unreleased games or unbelievable secrets hidden in games that no one knew about and, if you're like me and grew up in the pre-internet days, no one really had the means to disprove them unless the latest game magazine debunked it though we all knew deep down that it was too good to be true.

The Uncle Who Works for Nintendo stars you as you go over to a friend's hosue, who consequently is one of the gamers who has a relative working for a game company (in this case Nintendo). The game itself is played in a web browser which offers additional graphics and background sounds, which add to the atmosphere. It's pretty cool hearing Mario jump around as your friend played Nintendo 64 or hear the pitter patter of rain as you look at a picture of your surroundings. The fact that you can choose your friend's name is also a big plus, though it would have been much nicer to be able to input their name rather than choose from a list.

The game itself is pretty linear and practically devoid of puzzles, opting instead to focus on the narrative which I felt was pretty good, though takes a major surprise twist near the end of the story. While this usually spells doom for an IF, in this particular case the story is enough to carry the weight and the numerous endings make you want to keep coming back to experience the full story, especially with the sudden way it ends. In fact, to even grasp the tiniest details of what's happening, you practically have to sit down and replay through the alternate endings (though luckily, there are hints as to how to obtain them after beating them). Once you get five endings, you can unlock the final ending which explains everything.

(Spoiler - click to show)I didn't care much for the surprise twist, which involved his uncle being a supernatural entity living in a Game Boy who eats children so your friend can get new systems and games. The sleepover story was really drawing me in and was something many people could connect with. The details were a little off here and there but it was a story most gamers would immerse themselves into. I felt that the mystical entity twist really killed the immersion I had with the game and ultimately left me confused, even after experiencing all six endings. The 'anti-gamer' approach was also unnecessary and, though preaching moderation is good, to advice people to quit cold turkey and have nothing to do with them is unnecessary and unwarranted.

The game itself is pretty short as well, primarily due to the lack of choices. While there are major choices, there are relatively few options and many of them are meaningless (saying goodbye to your mom is an example, as none of the choices have consequence and you can pick any that you like with practically no change in dialogue). The lack of a parser also contributes to this, as all of your options appear as hyperlinks, removing much of the interactivity that are characteristic of IF games.

Still, the piece is well written and the story is mostly good so it certainly warrants a playthrough. Since the game takes about 5 minutes to complete and there's no puzzles to solve, there's not much to lose and a lot to gain. Check it out on the hyperlink below.

Cow V: The Great Egg Quest, by J. Suchman

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Should not even be classified as "Interactive" fiction..., March 16, 2014
by Jerry Martin (Colossal Caves)
Related reviews: Micro Games, Bad Parser, Linear
This game should not be classified as "Interactive Fiction" as there is no interactivity with the game whatsoever! The game, which features a ridiculous quest bordering on parody, requires you to head over to the hen house, fetch some eggs and give them to your Uncle Willy. The game does not go into more depth than that nor does anything else happen whatsoever. Heck, just interacting with your environment will be a hassle, due to the lack of objects and bad parser.

Take for example the introduction room: Uncle Willy's kitchen. The text clearly states there's a door here. However, any attempt to interact with said door will provide the text "I don't understand what you want to do". You cannot open it. You cannot examine it. Even simple commands that are standard to IF such as "go north" or "n" will not work. Only the command "North" will work. Had there been any objects to interact with, this would be a major problem. But considering there's only one real object that you can interact with (the chicken feed) and you can only take it, you won't notice it as much as a full fledged IF. However, the fact that the parser cannot understand simple commands is frustrating and confusing.

The game also consists of about four rooms total and the game can be beaten in a few turns at most. Seriously, here's a walkthrough for you: (Spoiler - click to show)North, take feed, east, west, south. At best this is an excersize in monotony. At worst, this is a pitifully bad piece of IF that offers no interactivity, no depth, no story and no fun. Seriously, I can't even recommend this to new players as the parser will still throw them off and it will leave a horrible taste for the genre in their mouths after completing this IF.

I seriously can't recommend this IF to anyone except those who get a pleasure from beating talentless games in 30 seconds. There's no thinking required to beat this game, there's no depth and pretty much everything that makes IF wonderful is absent from this game. Avoid it like your ex at the mall.

9:05, by Adam Cadre

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Short but worth a few playthroughs, March 13, 2014
by Jerry Martin (Colossal Caves)
Related reviews: Short IF, Good for Beginners, 2014 Reviews
9:05 is a perfect example of why IF doesn't need to be five hours long to be good. In fact, the short length does it wonders, as it encourages replays and makes it great for newbies to enjoy without overwhelming them. It starts off with a scenario we've all likely had the displeasure of experiencing in real life: you wake up with a start to find the phone ringing. It's your co-worker, who informs you that you're five minutes late to a big meeting you've been planning for a while.

The basic goal is simple: get yourself cleaned up in a hurry, grab a bite and get to work before you lose your job. The real life connection you'll likely have in the game will primarily motivate you to finish the IF. However, it's the twists the story takes that really make 9:05 memorable and replayable for both IF vets and newbies alike. Like many reviews state, you'll understand once you play it and it will be fun to replay a few times.

However, 9:05 will only take about 5-10 minutes to complete on your first playthrough, which will offput a lot of players looking for a deep adventure to lose themselves into. However, I find it makes it accessible to newbies because of this and encourages the replay value the IF pushes for, though I do wish there were more areas and objects to interact with.

If you're still on the fence, give it a try. At worst, you'll waste about 5 minutes, which is nothing. At best, you'll find a great IF with twists and turns that will shock you and a lot of replay value.


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