Home | Profile - Edit | Your Page | Your Inbox Browse | Search Games   |   Log In

Reviews by Robb Sherwin

View this member's profile

Show ratings only | both reviews and ratings
View this member's reviews by tag: spring thing 2011
1-2 of 2


Hallow Eve, by Michael Wayne Phipps Jr.

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
I'm Shining a Flashlight Up At My Face While Writing This Review, March 6, 2012
by Robb Sherwin (Colorado)
I had fun playing Hallow Eve, although I grabbed the post-comp, bug-fixed version. I had read a few other reviews regarding implementation issues. So my expectations were properly set. That being said, the post-comp version seems pretty cleaned up, going by what other reviewers have said.

The main thing I liked about Hallow Eve is how completely we are brought into the world the author envisioned, warts, bombastic energy and all. While playing, I got a bit of nostalgia for the time in my life when I was totally engaged with that same sort of new-author passion for IF. I suspect that Michael Phipps has some trouble imagining what a lot of players might do because I definitely have the same problem when I put together my stuff. (And of course, the good news is that it's correctable.)

The premise (slasher flick) is great for IF, and Phipps puts his own take on things to where I felt this is a good example of IF as a genre piece. It's not going to turn you into a horror movie fan if you hate them, but this hit a lot of the genre conventions while still keeping me interested. I wanted to save those poor gals! Some of those poor guys could eat a bag of pants! I soon realized it was gonna be tough to save anyone. But honestly, with crazed, armed lunatics shambling about, it sort of is.

There's a lot of really ambitious stuff going on with this game -- you've got a bunch of NPCs in the woods (where they can scatter easily) drinking liquids, talking to each other and having their own agendas. It doesn't all come together smoothly, but I love that Hallow Eve isn't intimidated by things said to be tough in IF.

I guess my main suggestion regarding Phipps's next game is mainly to really listen to how people talk, and write accordingly. For instance, there was a bit where one of the girls says "hehe." If your game is going for text-speak-as-dialogue that's fine, but if the author doesn't make it completely known that he or she is aware what's going on, it can be a bit distracting.

But yeah, this is a good first attempt at interactive fiction. I both applaud the attempt, and ask that nobody notice during my applause that one of my hands is actually a giant fish hook!! **screeches violin**

Mentula Macanus: Apocolocyntosis, by One of the Bruces and Drunken Bastard

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful:
Mentula Madness, August 17, 2011
by Robb Sherwin (Colorado)
Related reviews: spring thing 2011
I have never played Curses. Any reference that Mentula Macanus: Apocolocyntosis has to Curses is going to be lost on me. However, I did play Apocolocyntosis in a moving vehicle to and from an arcade, with several other people along for the ride and Bruce as the narrator. I believe MM:A gives you quite a lot to think about regarding the magic of a singular vision in design.

Bruce has made the kind of game I suspect he would like to play on some level, but never gets a chance to. Sometimes text games try to answer a question that is always lurking -- in Savoir Faire, we wonder "What if I could link these two objects?" In Deadline, we wonder, "What if I could accuse people of a horrible crime?" In Apocolocyntosis we get the answer to, "What if everyone was more-or-less receptive to my engorged video game cock?" Text games are really among the leaders in answering these questions, because doing so with a mainstream title means taking a chance. It's not remotely pornography, though it's an incredibly pornographic experience.

There are things I like about this game that have nothing to do with sex mechanic. It's packed with fun features. I like PONCY MODE being a thing you can enable, and I like that it came out as a result of discussions with people who made the newsgroups unreadable. I like it when people put footnotes in their games. What I liked most was the "hub" design of the game world. There's areas to explore in Apocolocyntosis, but Bruce doesn't ask you to play them all over again, like Halo, or play them a second time in reverse order, like Hexen. It's a difference in preference between generations of gamers, like how quarter-second cuts are totally okay in music videos if you are younger than I am, but a moronic unstyle if you are exactly my age or older. The area worlds are set up like chapters in a book, and filled with characters that I can dislike "properly": I dislike them because they treated our protagonist badly or were condescending to him, not because the author is broken and projecting his issues onto his characters.

I recall that as a group, we had a bit of trouble with the whale scene, but we were otherwise able to make pretty good progress with only marginal nudging. I was exhausted on the trip back, so more of a passive absorber in that regard, due to my attempts to have sex with the Sinistar machine at the arcade; don't judge me you fiends. The design, taken as a whole, it is that of a game meant to be played in a session or two, and it's all very approachable. It, like The Undiscovered Country is unquestionably an adventure game -- if you've been at all frustrated with puzzleless IF, this is the game for you. Even if you take the fact that it's a text game out of it, what interests Bruce from a gameplay standpoint is frozen in time, and I am delighted to return to a sort of post-Infocom Meretzky ride with his offerings.

There's a good deal of subtle humor in the game as well -- a great application of scare quotes managed to crack me up every time I did a playthrough, and you're never going too long without the game giving you a wry observation. More, while I had no idea what a lot of stuff was in the game, especially regarding archiecture, Bruce described it well enough for me to make sense of it. >LOOK is a strong verb in the arsenal once again, at least in my playthroughs.

Completing Apocolocyntosis, I wonder what kind of game Bruce would or could make next. I would most like to see him answer, "What if he gave us Stiffy's thoughts on all this?" I don't know if that sort of thing resonates with him much, but it wouldn't be the first time a mute protagonist spoke in a sequel.

The people who gave it a "1" in the comp are probably babies (no offense). If you have matured to the point where a video game can't offend you by simply existing there's a lot of adventure to be found here. A version of it existed for the Twitter-based game comp but give that a miss: Bruce convered the code into patterns of spaces, but the Spring Thing version is later than that.


1-2 of 2