(In idle moments, I sometimes pull up an IFDB list for a specific year and start adding “parser”-tags on the appropriate game-pages. Aside from helping around with maintenance a bit, it’s a good way to stumble across games I would never have found otherwise. This one was nominated for “Best Puzzles” and “Best NPCs” in the 2002 XYZZY Awards: Tookie’s Song - Details (ifdb.org))
Cats & Dogs
Alien Cat Beings from Extra-Terrestrial Outer Space have dognapped your dearest Tookie! And they have a remarkable propensity for subjecting dog-rescuing humans (in this instance: You) to riddles, math problems, and other tests of wit.
Tookie’s Song starts off with a brilliant first puzzle. A simple yet elegant bit of misdirection. Most of the other puzzles are more standard adventure fare, several having alternate solutions, and some requiring a bit of thinking around the corner. An algebra calculation can be solved independently by the player, but in-game resources are available to make the calculation for you. There’s a riddle, but its solution is so obviously clued that those who don’t know it can easily deduce the answer so it doesn’t lead to an annoying out-of-game web-search.
A mostly symmetrical hub-and-spokes map offers four areas of puzzle solving. They’re not completely self-contained, so if an obstacle stumps you, just explore a bit more and the answer will be obvious when you find the requisite item. The descriptions of the rooms are short but evocative, appealing to different senses.
Implementation is on the shallow side, but everything important is well-described. Trying to manipulate irrelevant objects quickly sets the player straight with a funny slap on the wrist.
The seasonal theme of the spokes seems to be completely arbitrary, but it lends atmosphere and a bit more depth to the different puzzle-areas.
The default responses have been tweaked in a gently humorous way, which gives the game a welcoming feeling. In particular, certain magic words have their own funny responses.
The cat-aliens you meet have distinct personalities. Especially Gus the Bartending Cat is a pleasure to chat with for a while. And when you have to bend your personal ethics a bit to get past an NPC, it helps if he’s clearly described as a smug bastard (in this instance: Eddie).
The writing is snappy, funny, upbeat. I often got a smile out of some entertaining turn of phrase or an amusing remark by one of the cats.
A fun bit of entertainment, good for an hour or so of lighthearted puzzle-solving. I liked it.