'The Samurai and the Kappa' released


Ever since the Battle of Sekigahara and the rise of the Tokugawa shogunate, the samurai have gradually lost their military function to become courtiers, bureaucrats and administrators. This life was not for you, so you find yourself wandering from town to town looking for work where your sword skills are valued. There’s always plenty of work escorting dignitaries, or seeking out weapon smugglers and bandits.

Late one evening you wander into a small town. As it’s not a post-town, it doesn’t have a honjin for high-ranking travellers, so you enter the lobby of a hatagoya that faces the street. You are greeted by the innkeeper, who bows deeply and invites you inside. You don’t need much coaxing, as you’re looking forward to a bath, a meal and a good night’s sleep.

The innkeeper enters the inn to make arrangements, leaving you to remove your waraji.

So begins ‘The Samurai and the Kappa’, which has now been released for your playing pleasure.

This was originally written for Text Adventure Literacy Jam 2024, so it has a tutorial. I decided not to enter it in that comp, as I thought it may have been too hard for beginners. I have now added a HINT command, lots of little enhancements, special instructions and feelies for two of the puzzles, and entered it in ParserComp 2024.

The game is based on Japanese mythology and is very authentic in its portrayal of the myth and the customs of feudal Japan during the early Edo period. As a consequence, there are some adult themes, but nothing that’s likely to be offensive.

The game is written in Inform 6 using the PunyInform library. You can play it online at The Samurai and the Kappa or download the z5 file to play in your favourite z-code interpreter.

If you do play it, please rate it for ParserComp 2024 and play and rate all the other games while you’re there. There’s quite an interesting selection of new games to keep you occupied for the next few weeks. Voting closes on 31 July 2024.


First command, draw sword. That’s not a verb I recognise. Doh!

You don't have any pencil or paper.
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I’ve noticed one oddity.

I spent one coin for an overnight stay and another for a donation, but when I looked in my pouch, I found I had 7 coins left. I can’t figure out what one coin was used for. I have a hunch that this may have happened when trying to donate additional coin despite the “You’ve already made a donation” message. I decided to test the hypothesis and tried to donate again, but I wasn’t charged.

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Thanks. I’ll check this. Are you sure you don’t have a coin in your hand or you’ve dropped it somewhere?

EDIT: This is a bit spoilery. The number of coins in your pouch is decremeted when you take a coin out of the pouch and incremented when you put it back in again. You can only hold one coin at a time and you can’t drop it anywhere, so I can only think that you’ve spent two coins and taken another one out of the pouch, leaving 7. Did you keep a transcript by any chance?

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You’re absolutely right. I just didn’t see it. Sorry, false alarm.

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That’s really nice game! This is the fourth or fifth Garry’s game I’ve played through. I enjoyed the carefully crafted setting of medieval Japan, the puzzles that weren’t too difficult and the story itself. I learned a lot. Thank you!

Just a few notes:

When a character has no more tiles left, I think it might be better to output “There’s no tiles left in the pile.” or don’t mention the pile at all.
Now it’s “There’s 0 tiles left in the pile”

The method of traversing the maze reminded me of the one I used in my game. Only in my story you had to go to the sound of the bell. It’s funny how the same ideas come to different people’s minds.

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Thanks. I’m glad you liked it.

I was aware of the problem in your first point. I was hoping no one would notice. It’s a hard one to solve, as the courtyard is actually only one room and there aren’t really any individual tiles. However, your solution is better than mine, so I might add that in a post-comp release or rethink the way I did this.

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Garry, I appreciated your response to my review, and also your suggestion to move conversation over here - I mostly said my piece in the review, but I thought it might be helpful to add a couple of things.

First, I think it’s more productive to think about what role you want this sequence to play in the game - “conveying a historically-accurate view of Tokugawa Japan” is all well and good, but of course the game omits a whole host of stuff that could or should have been in the village (milling or fermentation facilities, storage buildings, discussion of irrigation, political institutions other than a single elder…) while including straight fantasy and game-y elements like the logic puzzles. It’s pretty clear that those choices were made in order to support specific narrative and gameplay focuses, but it feels to me like the inclusion of prostitution here doesn’t have a similar clear motivation or function in the overall structure, which is why I found it came off gratuitous.

And then separately from the choice to include it is the choice of how it’s portrayed. And again, the game is already making a lot of very specific curatorial decisions: to make Makuko 16 rather than say 23, to have her dialogue and descriptions emphasize her youth, not to clearly indicate that the maid having sex next door is a different person, to require the player to ask about “services,” but also not to allow the player to say yes to her offer. There’s substantial scope to alter any or all of those elements while still remaining within the ambit of a historically-authentic presentation of sex work, but different choices will lead to portrayals that feel and function significantly differently. So think being clear about why this sequence is here, revisiting some of these specific choices so that it advances that purpose, and then thinking about how the sequence is communicated to the player to ensure that it lands the way it’s intended to, would be worth doing, because as I said in my review “child prostitution” is a sufficiently weighty theme to include in a game that it’s probably going to swamp whatever else is notionally happening .