All posts by secondtruth

IF Comp 2009: Eruption

No spoilers in this review!  This is a game about a volcano, which is evident enough from the cover and the game.  It’s an easy and kinda boring game. Is that a spoiler?  I guess it would be an okay game for someone who had never played a text adventure before, since it’s not buggy or anything and is not hard to figure out.

Though if this was the first text adventure I’d ever played I’d probably wonder if they were all this dull. I have no idea. Maybe I’d view it with an amazing child-like sense of wonder about the potential of the medium as not realized, at all, by this competition entry.

Also, if you’re wondering why all these are being posted in such rapid succession; I played the games earlier and I’m just getting around to actually publishing the posts now that I’ve fixed my blogger issues!  The other game I have played so far is Rover’s Day Out, and later I imagine the blog posts will slow down to a more normal rate as I write them one at a time rather than batch out.

IF Comp 2009: Byzantine Perspective

My psuedo-random game choice process perhaps amounts to ‘skipping every other one, for now.’  I don’t know if I will play them all but I will try.  I have a preference to start with some of the games playable on-line since that’s just so simple to do.  Anyway…

Major puzzle spoilers in this post here.

Byzantine Perspective. Good lord, I did not get this at all.

I feel dumb confessing it, but… Not at all.

The game is a heist game, surrounded by a movement/maze puzzle.  There’s a “feelie” map provided for it, that helps with the movement, maze puzzle, and a set of in-game hints at well.

And god, I still didn’t get it.

So I read some spoilers, which basically said “it’s fun to figure out the puzzle by yourself and try not to use the walkthrough.”  But I got frustrated pretty fast, and the walkthrough was so deliciously tempting, sitting right there next to the “feelie” for the game, that I went ahead and clicked on it.  Then I followed the walkthrough for the game and had no idea why it worked.

So I browsed around several reviews, and it took me maybe six different ones before someone outright spoiled the puzzle so I could understand the solution.  I will spoil it for you now too so if you stumble on this review and are in my same boat you understand: the glasses you’re wearing, which are magic I guess, show you a room other than the one that you’re standing in, so what you ‘see’ is not where you ARE. You interact with things in a room adjacent to the room you are apparently in.  I was thinking way “inside the box” on this game, and spent precious minutes trying to find the “hologram projector” in the first room. D’oh.

I guess this is a game you either get or you don’t. I’m not dumb at IF and have solved plenty of them without help, but I never ever had the “click” moment for how this works.  Hard to figure out how to score it, since my understanding is, it’s really easy if you “get” it, but obviously not at all if you don’t.

IF Comp 2009: Beta Tester

Beta test of posting in the new format? Well, also a game I played!  By the way if you too want to experience the IF Comp games the place to download them is this page right here, or, you can play on-line. That’s what I did for this one, having been on my lunch break a couple days ago at the time.  Some of these reviews are just ‘catchup’ because I wasn’t actually posting my impressions on these until now.

Spoiler space is as great a time as any to mention that I don’t have any particular rules about whether I’m playing games that are pretested or not. Apparently I’m actually the Beta Tester for this game?

This game has fairly clever text and I was pleased by it at first for that reason.  It drops me in a puzzle room and gives me a puzzle to solve about ringing a bell. Not too hard to figure out and seemed to be implemented okay.

Cute response for ‘xyzzy’, which a lot of people tend to try.

After solving the hamster puzzle, I move in to what I guess is the free-roaming portion of the game.  It sets me free to solve various puzzles in the environment if I feel like it, and want to, I guess. There’s not really a specific goal here but I can figure out that I probably want to get drinks and food.

This is the part where the game doesn’t seem as well-constructed all the sudden and I wonder if I’m experiencing bugs, or if the bugs are designed to be “charming” parts of the half-broken logic of the game world itself.  The ‘Fun N Games Room’ has a lot of stuff that seems broken.  Is it really broken or “charmingly” broken?

This is a relatively small room but it is very well-decorated with nicely carved wooden cabinets and tables.

>x cabinets
You can’t see any such thing.

Talking to Hellaine, or trying to, also nets really confusing responses.  The game calls me “illegal object number.”  Wait, is that a fake bug or a real bug?

I figured out how to get in to the theater and spawn the comedian.  I didn’t figure out how to get to the walkthrough without consulting another review, since it’s not obvious.

I think I might like this game if it weren’t broken! But it is broken, I think. Or maybe not. I can’t tell so I’m giving up.

On Moving One’s Blog

Wow! That was amazing! See that thing I just posted below, about gleaming or gleaning something or other, and how I wanted to use a spoiler tag on it, even though there are really no spoilers?  It forced me to republish, reformat, and redo my entire blog!  Something about Blogger moving on without me to a totally different publishing format, one that allows spoiler tags where my old one didn’t.  I’m not even sure I like this new template. I really prefer purple, but, maybe a less dark-colored template is better for some viewers’ eyes.

At least the new template allows me to easily edit the links sidebar I tried to add yesterday and was forced to add manually via CSS, so some changes are good changes.

IF Comp 2009: Gleaming the Verb

This is my first post reviewing Interactive Fiction competition submissions. If you have no interest in IF Comp stuff, you can skip over, since I’m going to also use jump-cuts to serve as spoiler space. Reviews of IF Comp games will generally have spoilers, so be advised before clicking on the jump.

First Review is of Gleaming the Verb and is practically spoiler free. I’m picking the games to play sort of randomly, to be honest, by whatever strikes my fancy and this one looked short.

Cutting mostly to practice cutting correctly. This is a test of cutting!

There’s actually not much I can say about this one that hasn’t been said by other reviewers. I thought it looked short but it is really short. It had no particular story to speak of. Stuff outside of the scope of the main puzzle wasn’t implemented at all. Once you ‘get’ it, it’s pretty boring. Maybe future reviews will be more interesting than this!

Shouldn’t it be ‘gleaning?’ I thought. No, it’s a reference to some movie, about a cube, that I never saw, and the title of that movie doesn’t make sense either. Huh.

Interactive Fiction Comp

This post is a general state of intent – since I’ve been following the Interactive Fiction Competition for a few years now, I’ve decided to go ahead and write reviews for this year’s entries. I enjoy IF and someday I’d like to learn to write it myself… that is, as soon as I have a solid idea for one I’d want to do. Good thing I also like playing it as well.

I also intend to make a post soon about my experiences with Batman: Arkham Asylum, though it also means I’m admitting to playing another new-release game! It has been a good one, though.

One smallish update to blog layout: I included a list of my frequently-visited blogs and related sites to my sidebar. I will add several more later I’m sure as they jump in to my head.


I recently returned from the Penny Arcade Expo!

This is not an extended report, but I can link you instead to some photographs – here – PAX on my Flickr.

I’m particularly fond of the Bioshock booth photo, and I have several more I need to upload.

One anecdote relates to the photo that you might see of my Gameboy DS, which might be difficult to understand. The game I’m playing is “The World Ends With You,” a great one-off JRPG with some interesting mechanics. The game allows you to level up your special powers (called pins) three different ways. 1) through use, which is a standard mechanic 2) through turning off the Gameboy and resting it for a period of time, and 3) by “mingle,” which allows you to get points on your pins for every other person who happens to be using a Gameboy DS in the same area that you are. The idea behind Mingle is that you leave Mingle on and go to someplace where another Gameboy is potentially likely. I would get a few hits, for example, just walking around campus at MSU.

So I attempted to fire up Mingle when there were approximately 3,000 people in the same room as me with a DS, attempting to set the world record for Most DSes played in the same place.

I am pleased and amused to report that, while it was working at first, the Mingle Mode eventually just started crashing me back to the play screen without registering hits. It was definitely overwhelmed. Not before I racked up a few thousand points though.

During the actual record attempt I was playing Final Fantasy 4.

Now Playing: Far Cry 2

Eyes focused, gun in hand, I carefully, strategically approach… the bus stop.

No one there. I’m in luck! Had any other humans been present at the location of the bus, I would have been forced to slaughter them.

The bus itself is driven by no one. The only purpose of a car in Africa is to run people over. If a person in a car happens to see you, they will immediately abandon all other avenues of action in order to turn the car and run you over. That is the law of Africa.

On Being a Late Adopter

I’ve decided to edit the title of this blog to give it slightly better focus. I think it suits the name of my parent web site fairly well. I notice that I tend to discuss games that have been “out” for a while rather than the latest, greatest thing. This is for a couple reasons – I tend to take more time with a game than an early adopter, and I tend to get new games later than most people do, after they’ve been out for a year or so and the price has dropped. Basically, the most logical reasons for it to take a long time for me to review a game, that I figure a lot of people will actually run in to in the real world.

One game I plan to jump on early, however, is Scribblenauts – I can’t think of another time when I’ve counted the days to a release like I’ve been watching this one.

What’s it like being a late adopter? Well, you get spoiled for everything. You know what to expect. I do keep up with a lot of other gaming blogs, so I’m used to getting some important thing revealed to me and having less things be a surprise because I didn’t play them the week they came out. So if I do spoiler games that I’ve been playing, rest assured I’ll tend to spoiler games that have been out for about a year or more.

Fat in Fable

Everything I’d heard so far about Fable II talked about the townspeople, the shallow interactions, the unfair bad guy, and the dog. There’s one thing in the game that nobody talked about, which surprised me a little, and that is the fat woman.

I don’t use “fat” chick in a derogatory manner, but as a descriptor. The first hero that you recruit to your band, Hannah/Hammer, is a rather large woman. She’s tall and strong but also has a large belly and pudgy legs. She’s definitely fat – also useful, likeable, confident, friendly, and the game itself respects her.


I cannot recall ever having actually seen this before. There are fat characters in video games, sure. There’s Rufus from Street Fighter – his story makes him look like a joke but he’s a reasonably good fighter – and Honda who is fat due to sumo. There are also “big boned” women who are curvy and a little on the overweight side, but they don’t usually have bellies to speak of. And there are women who are fat, like the evil Queen in Final Fantasy 9, but they aren’t respected: being fat is just another way of showing how evil, or how ridiculous and goofy, those women are. And even those women are few and far between. Far more likely is the sexy, skinny Ultimecia-type evil queen.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with attractive characters, which I’ve said before. But there’s some room in the world for fat chicks too. And that’s why I’m a little surprised that nobody talks about Hammer: a woman who happens to be fat, but her story arc is not about the fact that she’s fat. Instead, she goes on a quest to help her village, and then finds herself having to avenge the death of her father, which is a properly heoric story. In other words, it’s a story about a fat woman, but it’s not a story about how she feels ugly and wants to become skinny so a guy can take her to prom. (It’s also not a story about how she uses the power of her fat sass to show someone the ways of sass, which off the top of my head is the other acceptable MOVIE you can have starring a fat woman.) OK, one guy called her a troll, but he was obviously a bad guy and I wasn’t supposed to respect him.

That isn’t to say the entire game is respectful about how it handles fatness, but it’s more weird than anything where it comes to your avatar, so I’m neutral on it. Eating any food more substantial than a carrot or tofu (such as delicious meat pie) adds to your “fatness” score, wherein I lose, by my guess, one point of “attractiveness” stat for every five points of “fatness.” This applies unless the villagers looking at me are “fat-loving” in which case I believe it is the opposite relationship; a few people have this attribute. What’s weird is the fact that no amount of exercise, walking to every village or getting in tons of combats, can take away this fatness from eating one item, but if I eat celery it removes fatness. I’m pretty sure the first Fable worked like this too, though I haven’t played it. Overall I prefer how The World Ends with You handled food and eating but Fable is obviously an abstraction.

But people have talked about how weird that is. Nobody talked about Hammer and I think it’s one place where I can say: thumbs up, more like this. She wasn’t even annoying when I had to ESCORT her, and that’s saying something since escorts are usually pretty obnoxious.