Thanks for setting this board up. While I enjoyed reading reviews of the games during the comp last year when I was a competitor, the two places I didn’t much care for seeing them was at rec.arts and rec.games int-fiction. They were just too hard to avoid, there. This board, though, I felt was better, with reviews segregated from the rest of the boards and out of the way.
So, I thought I’d post some thoughts here as I play. Comments are welcome of course.
GAMES MENTIONED SO FAR IN THIS THREAD
Dracula’s Underground Crypt
The Absolute Worst IF Game in History
Escape from the Underworld
April in Paris
Riverside (page 2)
A Martian Odyssey
Buried in Shoes
Lighthouse (page 3)
First thoughts: Only one TADS 2 game? Oh, its breaking my heart. Not just because I love TADS 2, but because it suggests I may never see the day when someone writes a proper HTML-TADS interpreter for Mac OS X.
So, Mark Hatfield, here’s to you. Thanks for representing.
And as it happens, I found Mark’s TADS 2 work Berrost’s Challenge an enjoyable diversion. I liked the strong and consistent authorial voice, and from a technical perspective the game deals with a wide variety of difficult substances like grease, sludge, grains, and water, without trouble – certainly they behaved in the expected manner, and did what I wanted them to, without much stress on the parser. Implementing body parts usually always ends in tears, too, but in my casual play session never stumbled onto any errors or weird responses about my thumb, which plays such an integral part in the game.
The story is light, breezy fantasy. In many respects the game reminded me of YAGWAD, from a previous comp, which I also enjoyed for many of the same reasons.
I played right up to the two hour mark, but if anything I think the game is too short. Your job is to collect scrolls, and “graduate” from your wizard studies. When the mission is accomplished at the end, Berrost finally intimates that there is something larger going on that needs your wizardly attention. This struck me as just right, but then we don’t get to play that part, instead, “that is another story.”
One of the concepts I really like in Berrost’s Challenge is that there are always two ways to solve a puzzle: one with magic, and one without. The downside of this though is that the way this difference is framed makes it not very fun: if you solve the puzzle using magic, you don’t earn as many points. So what we are left with is a magic-based game that doesn’t want you to use any magic. I would have enjoyed it more if I was encouraged to use magic the first time around then perhaps given an “expert mode”, in which you could try to play again without the use of magic. In the event, I collected scrolls, but never used them, which is a crime when there could have been some spellcasting going on (and the Enchanter series was always my favorite).
Best Puzzle: teamsters workbench/mining cart.
So, only one TADS 2 game, but it is well implemented, nicely written, and entertaining, and hints at larger ambitions.