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Diddlebucker!

by J. Michael

2018

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Number of Reviews: 3
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Solid puzzlefest, July 16, 2019
by Victor Gijsbers (The Netherlands)
Diddlebucker!'s cover art looks as if it came straight from Infocom, and there's some obvious Infocom-era nostalgia going on here. We are participating in a great puzzlefest, recreating some of the feel of, say, Hollywood Hijinx; and the year is 1987, the last great year for the company that gave interactive fiction its name. But Diddlebucker! is evidently a 21st century game, as can be seen from the nice in-built hint system, the relative fairness of the puzzles and the fact that it is almost merciful on the cruelty scale. (Almost: you can get yourself into an unwinnable situation near the very end of the game, so it's useful to save when things get intense.)

The game consists of several segments, and I found some of them more compelling than others. For me, the stand-out section is the part along the river. Here, all the puzzles made perfect sense to me; I did not need the hint system at all; and I was particularly pleased by the use of geography. (Spoiler - click to show)It is satisfying when you get to explore the roofs and the river that you already know are there but did not expect to be able to traverse. This part of the game was very enjoyable for me.

I found the theme park section more difficult to like. There are many red herrings (e.g., all the shops and games and attractions you don't need); some of the content is arbitrarily restricted or appears only at certain moments (e.g., the white house tour, the employee, the couple); and a few of the puzzles were beyond me. (If anyone solved the song clue without using hints, I'm impressed.) Perhaps the experience was made more difficult for me because I had to look up many of the arcane Americana, although it turned out that none of that was really necessary for solving the game. In this part, I frequently relied on the hints, which of course makes for a less satisfying experience.

I nevertheless persevered, and was happy that I did. There is a nice plot twist near the end, a sudden ramping up of the danger level, and all in all a satisfying ending to a mostly satisfying game. Although if a popcorn king called 'Diddy' invites me to come to his 'seaside mansion'... I'll find a polite way to decline.


In summary: a very competent puzzle-fest, executed with charm, though perhaps a little rough around some of the edges.