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When Help Collides

by J. D. Berry

Western/Fantasy/Eastern/Satire
2002

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Number of Reviews: 3
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful:
Four-Part Clusterfuck, March 27, 2011
by Sam Kabo Ashwell (Seattle)
A work of spectacularly ill-advised genius, packed with horrible, horrible design decisions but still pulling off some excellent ideas.

It's really four games, rather tenuously linked. This is not a terrible idea per se: if it had been called When Help Collides And Other Stories, no problem. The trick is that the first, When Help Collides, dispenses the codes required to unlock the other three when you win it. When Help Collides is a clever idea, but the implementation is disastrous: a smorgasbord of unintuitive new verbs combined with very low levels of feedback and a lot of death. But the codes are available from an accompanying file, which meant that it seemed pointless anyway -- except that getting the codes the hard way is necessary to make the games cohere. So. Yes. Horrible decisions piled on top of each other.

Of the remaining three games, Level 50 is a game about heroic-fantasy RPGs, and more or less forgettable; Parched Mesa is a too-brief horror Western; and A Bleach of Etiquette, the notable one. It's an organise-your-training-calendar game about a (somewhat alternate-world) geisha; in a week you have to brush up your skills enough to pass your Geisha Exams, or use patronage to cheat. The writing's strong if terse, and the game's strategic core makes for an engaging, deep puzzle; worth putting on the shelf beside Textfire Golf. It's still heavily flawed: the interface is awkward, it doesn't have enough hand-crafted content, and it's somewhat offensive.

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AmberShards, March 28, 2011 - Reply
You put a profanity in the title of your review so that everyone who hasn't plonked you has to read it. Not cool. However, I've solved this problem by plonking you. Not that it's anything personal. It's not, but like your public profanity exists for all to read, now my public repudiation of your behavior exists for all to see.
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