Jacqueline, Jungle Queen!

Jacqueline, Jungle Queen!

Steph Cherrywell


[spoiler]This is more a mention than a review. I wasn’t able to complete the game because I seemed to have to play it online and the online experience was (for me) buggy. Three or four times it just stopped working, and it demanded that I “sign in” (to something) if I wanted to save. Then after I’d stopped playing for a bit to have some supper it told me that my session had expired and I’d have to start again. Which I didn’t.

I’m not really inclined to blame the author for that and, in fact, apart from when it wasn’t working, I was reasonably happy with how Quest handled this, and found things like the map positively helpful. I think it’s a pretty good showcase for that system.

And what of the game itself? I’m in two minds. I thought the writing was pretty good; but it wasn’t quite as funny as it seemed to think it was. The setting, too, was . . . alright. I know there was a certain amount of concern looking at blurbs that this might have objectionable elements of the Black Mischief variety, but it didn’t really. Instead it felt rather cardboardy and empty. The impression I got, with both writing and setting, was of something being held back, as if the author maybe wanted to do something more daring, more bitingly satirical or more inclined to flirt with the offensive, but had held back. She deserves credit for that in some ways, but part of it felt like a rather polite date with someone highly suitable in theory who you don’t hate but know you’re probably not going to want to see again.

The same I thought went for the puzzles. They were by-the-book appropriate and hinted, but perhaps even a shade too easy (I didn’t make it quite to the endgame, for reasons given above, but I made it some way through). For me, a bit flat.

The only real blemish here was the implementation, which was not bad for what I think is a first game, but did show flaws. So, for instance, kudos for providing a response to PLAY DRUM, but why does HIT DRUM (a more “common” verb) produce the response “You can’t hit it” — when, as PLAY DRUM shows, I can. USE x ON is, I think, a construction best avoided always, but in one case here it was crucial. And I got into some disambiguation problems trying to unlock a picture frame, which should have been simple. Synonyms were sometimes lacking: I think a golanut is probably a kind of nut, so X NUT should work, for instance.

None of these things are bad errors, but there were enough of them that I took note. Compared to most first (and second, and third . . .) efforts this is well implemented, but it’s not “state of the art” and the programming side definitely seems less highly polished than, say, the text, which is really solid, professional and error free.

So overall? Well, on the one hand I want to praise it: this is a really remarkably well done piece if it comes from a first time author, and there’s real writing and design skill here. It feels professional. On the other hand, there wasn’t anything in it which made me really excited: it felt more like a game I ought to enjoy than one that I really did. I suspect that this had elements of the exercise about it, or perhaps I should say an experiment. If so, I’d really like to play more from this author, but perhaps something that was minding its manners a bit less assiduously.[/spoiler]