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About the Story"They say you can never get to know the true New York as a tourist -- but this is going to turn out to be no ordinary vacation. What you thought would be a quick jaunt to the usual tourist traps instead uncovers an odd find that sends you hurtling through time, coming face-to-face with history. A history that you realize you are going to have to change if you ever want to find your way home..."
[author's blurb, from The (Other) TADS Games List version 1.2]
Nominee, Best Game; Nominee, Best Writing; Nominee, Best Story; Nominee, Best Setting; Nominee, Best Puzzles; Nominee, Best NPCs - 1996 XYZZY Awards
-- Carl Muckenhoupt
Puzzles vs. History
Similarly, it's clear that in LOST NEW YORK, deMause's heart is in the geographical and historical material. Virtually all the prose is extremely deft, but never is the writing more alive, more joyous, than when you die and the author gets to tell you another wacky story about a long-dead mayor; never are the quips funnier than when they're playing off the geography of the city (try going east from the City Hall area in 1880, or north into Hell's Kitchen later on.) The fact that the game begins with a slideshow and ends with a bibliography is another indication of where the author's interests lie. Hint: it's not in fiddling around with hairpins and stopwatches.
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Lost New York is an engaging work of interactive fiction and even a standard on which all historical pieces should be judged. Bear in mind that its whole is definitely greater than its parts. Each element taken by itself is merely good. The overall effect is very pleasing. Experience it for yourself!
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Part of the problem with Lost NY may be that it has too much focus on ambiance. When I first traveled back in time, I assumed that I was trying to find my way back to meet my friends. Then I thought I was supposed to alter time for the better (kind of an anti-Jigsaw). Either way, it's not very clear what your purpose is in the New York time zones other than to solve puzzles and move forward. Even when you're solving puzzles, it's hard to tell what you're accomplishing in the big picture. Eventually, it becomes obvious how to get back to the present, then you just have to spend time getting it done.
The puzzles are logical and fairly straightforward. They are consistently challenging with few stumpers. I had a few problems with the parser but no more or less than with other games. There are a few places (especially near the beginning of the game) where you can get the game into an unwinnable situation by missing something or fiddling with something too soon. As usual, save often. There are few NPCs in the game and those that exist are relatively limited in their interaction with the player.
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Unlike Voyaging,this is a very hard puzzle game. I've been playing many early XYZZY awards, and this is a classic late 90's game. Excellent writing, clever puzzles, but no way on earth you'll get them. Multi-object puzzles involving creative uses of items from every area of the game, bizarre required actions, etc. This is not bad, it's just the period's ideal. I used a walkthrough the whole time.
I loved the writing, and the obvious love of the author for New York and its history. The various ranks you get correspond to real historical New York mayors.
If you enjoyed Lost New York...
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