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[...] the prose being grammatically correct doesn't make it good, or even interesting. Even though the genre is the cheapest kind of space opera (complete with icky monsters and blaster-wielding aliens) which usually gives lots of opportunities for atmosphere and excitement, both these elements are conspicuous only by their absence. The attempts at humour don't improve things; at their best, the jokes aren't very funny (and, no, Virginia, telling four variations on the same bad joke in the first thirty rooms isn't four times as funny as telling it once).
-- Magnus Olsson
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First of all, the planet is hardly lifeless, as one of the first things you'll see is an alien that kills you. But I digress.
The writing here is pretty funny, such as the description when you fall down the seemingly bottomless hole, thinking about how far it can possibly go before you hit the bo-!
The game has a two word parser, and being an old game that's understandable. The problem is that so many things in the game are poorly described or illogical.
For example, opening a small door (and having a creature come out of it) suggests a way you can go. However, trying to enter the door is met with failure, until you finally discover that the door is really a panel, not an entry way, which houses 2 buttons. Since there is a two word parser, "look in small-door" "reach in small-door" etc does not work. On top of that, many puzzles are illogical. (Apparantly, for some reason, an alien won't attack you if you're carrying a specific item, which makes no sense).
There are some combat scenes, and the style of combat changes as you enter different zones. Sometimes you actually have what appears to be a D&D style combat with damage based on HP damage, but in another zone, guns do a one hit kill with no combat mechanic at all.
The biggest complaint is that apparantly the game never came with an instruction book, as an avertisement in the beginning declares it as shareware, and suggests you mail $10 to the author for an instruction book, making it seem not only cheap, but rediculous, since the whole game is available. It becomes easy to SAVE your game, but figuring out how to restore your saved game has been impossible, leaving you to start over every time you die (which will be often).
The game does have a few nice bits, however- obvious exits are listed, as are obvious items to interact with, which is good, since many objects have two word names seperated by a hyphen to make them one word (such as small-stone) and the game would not recognise stone instead of small-stone. These do not auto-refresh, so you'll have to LOOK again if you want an update on the room. There are also some small graphics (ASCII of course) which add a bit to the gameplay.
The success comes from the conversational and joking writing style (such as the frog princess, who kisses you to return to being a princess, then looks at you, screams, and turns back into a frog). Lots of jokes, but outside of that, it's little surprise that the game doesn't have a huge following. The puzzles (such as they are) are not too inventive- there's literally a hangman game puzzle (timed of course), and a lot of (get the item to pass the barrier).
I like this game- though it's more nastolgic for me- I first played it back in middle school when it first came out. For someone used to the works of Emily Short, or even big Infocom fans- this game will probably get on your nerves pretty quickly.
Another Lifeless Planet and Me With No Beer on IFDB
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This is version 3 of this page, edited by Lance Campbell on 25 May 2020 at 6:49pm. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item