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About the Story"Young Gretchen could have only imagined the fanciful events that were to occur before finding herself lost in a winter wonderland." [--blurb from Competition '99]
Nominee, Best Setting - 1999 XYZZY Awards
1st Place overall; 2nd Place, Miss Congeniality Awards - 5th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (1999)
-- Duncan Stevens
Although the writing varies in quality, and at times one wishes for deeper responses to EXAMINE the whole is ultimately greater than the sum of its parts. There is a distinct "you are there" feel to the wonderland: not only can the place be pictured without effort, but anyone playing the game is likely to feel a need for a warm wool sweater. Apart from a mischievous snow sprite, the NPC's are not individually memorable, not because they are badly drawn but because their function is to enrich and perhaps melt into the general ambiance, not to stand out as creatures.
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Perhaps the best way to describe Winter Wonderland is that it fits very snugly within its genre, namely earnest and occasionally heart-tugging fairy tale, and does very little to push that genre's boundaries. There's nothing inherently wrong with that, especially since that in particular is ground less trodden than some areas of IF (et tu, trapped-in-the-research- lab?), but it does require that the reader accept the conventions of the genre and put aside even the remotest vestige of cynicism. Any work of fiction that deals with the holiday-time struggles of a poor family whose youngest child is sick is already toeing the self-parody line; Winter Wonderland does about as well as any game could to avoid crossing the line.
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>VERBOSE -- Paul O'Brian's Interactive Fiction Page
What Winter Wonderland does so well is to combine the nifty puzzles from Trapped in a One-Room Dilly with the sense of magical landscape from Travels in the Land of Erden, and adds to the combination a thematic specificity that is all its own and that works beautifully. The links between the puzzles feel very plausible because the entire setting is very consistent, and solving the puzzles rewards the player not only by allowing advancement through the plot, but often as well by presenting another appealing image to add to the already dense atmosphere. Romping around the snowy landscape encountering sprites, fairies and dryads was a great deal of fun for me, and the intricate and ingenious ways in which they presented interlocking puzzles was a real source of pleasure as well.
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Number of Reviews: 6
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Most Helpful Member Reviews
It seemed like a good pleasant wholesome counterbalance in the midst of all the bad news during the COVID-19 crisis -- to get away from a troubled and tense world into a light-hearted playful one.
Although we had to resort to the hints at times we felt victorious when we finished the story. It's nice to work through a puzzle and then be rewarded with a lively and magical setting.
It's interesting that although Gretchen needs to take things and sneak a bit she also needs to give things to others without them asking in order to make progress. This goes along with the holiday theme.
Note: At the end of the game there is some text included about contacting the author; however, the email address is no longer valid, and although we sent a message via her blog and also on Flickr we didn't get any response. The last posts on the blog along with the photos on Flickr are from April of 2014, so it's possible that she decided to disengage from social media at that time. The game was written about twenty years ago, and so at this point in time perhaps she isn't receiving feedback on it any more. We were just trying to contact her to let her know how we liked her game.
This might be of interest to puzzle aficionados and children, but probably too difficult for the latter and bit ordinary for the former.
First, it is beautiful. Visually, the ASCII art and color scheme help the immersion (I loved the snowflakes in the status bar). And the descriptions and responses of the text are all well-crafted and contribute to the atmosphere significantly.
Second, the puzzles are ingenious, though some reasonable alternatives are not implemented. The majority of the game centers on magical creatures, and working with them. NPC interaction is present, though limited, as is usual in games of this time period.
The story starts out extraordinarily over sweetly, but I enjoyed it, and it soon became a magic-themed puzzle fest. This game drew me in, and I would love to see more games with a fun family atmosphere instead of gritty dystopias or gruesome underground labs.
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Recommended ListsWinter Wonderland appears in the following Recommended Lists:
Favorite semi-linear games by MathBrush
These are games like Anchorhead where you have a large amount of freedom, but you can't always return to the beginning. Generally these games are divided into chapters or days, with each one like its own mini game.
Winter Wastelands by verityvirtue
Games set in the Arctic, Antarctic, or any other cold wilderness. Preferably with the isolation and harsh environment featuring prominently. Suggestions welcome. (Sorting is random, but games I have played come higher up)
PollsThe following polls include votes for Winter Wonderland:
IF that centers around holidays by Molly
I'm looking for IF that centers around specific real-world holidays, e.g. Christmas, Hanukkah, Easter, Passover, the Fourth of July, Guy Fawkes Day, Halloween, etc.
ZCode games with non-standard status lines by Dannii
I'm interested in finding ZCode (primarily those written in Inform, though Infocom games could be ok too) which have a non-standard status line. Whether it's with colours, maps, arrows, or more! With such a list I can investigate what...
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