Design and documentation journal for my interactive fiction (text games); also reviews and other miscellaneous stuff.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

IF Comp 2010: Ninja's Fate

Spoilers probably follow the break, but this is just buffer space.

I'm always vaguely impressed by writers who get their entries small enough to go into zcode.  It's not really a big deal, but there's a couple extensions I really can't do without that require glulx.  Or I program something memory-eating.  Or I just miss a feature, like larger numbers.

I'm hoping that the "Ninja's Fate" is to die old and surrounded by doting grandchildren, perhaps in a picturesque inn overlooking the winter sea in Hokkaido.  It seems unlikely, but I can hope, right?  Okay, that should buffer enough.

Oh, one final note: these "reviews" really aren't meant for authors - they're just first impressions, and as such not censored.  Sensitive authors may want to hold off reading them; I don't usually get abusive or anything, but I do usually focus on the negative more than the positive, and it may not reflect how I feel about the game in a couple days, when I've had time to digest.

---Ninja's Fate---

"This idol had been the centrepiece of religious worship . . ."
Yeah, when you're writing about *real* people and their cultures, it's really helpful if you get details like, you know, religion right.  This does not sound right to me at all.  I'll handwave it this once, but just once.

Okay, so this is a tribute game.  I started reading raif just before Panks died, so I'm not familiar with him or his work.   

Wait, this is supposed to be modern?  With this kind of characterization of ninjas?  *sigh*  Look, I don't mean to be humorless, but . . . really?  Argh.

The bust is a ghost?

Yeah, I don't think I have enough fluency in the background material to appreciate this game.  For someone who doesn't know the Pank, this seems like a pretty straightforward adventure.  With a maze.  (Why, authors?  Why do you do this?  WHY?)  And weird implementation.  ("kill [x]" results in attacks with your bare hands, which always fail, so you have to type out "kill [x] with sword", which . . . gets old.)

Score: Not sure how to do it, honestly.  I'd give it a 3, but probably won't submit a vote.


  1. The point of the game is imitating Panks' weird style - mazes, pointless locations, perplexing writing and all. I think it makes a good job of paying homage to unplayable games and still be playable itself.

    (By the way, the maze is not really a maze - it doesn't frustrate the player).

  2. What do you think is the point of submitting it to the comp, then? Is it to make sure it gets played?

    I have some sympathy with that goal, but I'm not sure how to handle it as a player or judge. It's not a fun game, but maybe it's not meant to be; there's no plot and only a vaguely insulting character description, but there's not supposed to be. So from a gameplay and storytelling standpoint, it's not very successful.

    I found the maze frustrating. Maybe the maze wasn't intended to frustrate, but it was the Last Straw. I'm sure there was an easy way to get to the next part of the game, but . . . yeah.

  3. It seems that you've forgotten the tags (IF Comp 2010, review) in this post.

  4. Submitting it to the comp is part of the tribute to Panks, too -- he submitted lots of games to the comp, although they were not well received. (Or So I Am Told.) When the author called for beta-testers (of which I was one; I think I'm still allowed to comment) he said that it seemed like he ought to submit it to the comp, even though it wouldn't do well. --Obviously this doesn't do much for you, for the reasons you've already stated.

    About the maze, just keep going east and you'll get back out. Also, you don't have to enter it at all.

  5. Matt: Fair enough. At some point it's sort of dizzyingly meta: perhaps my reaction is in some way similar to the way Panks' games were received, which makes it somewhat appropriate. I admire the effort, I just don't think it functions very well as a play experience.

    I've been assured there is a plot, but I have to assume that all the important bits are either very well hidden or on the other side of the maze (or in the maze itself). At this point, that's just not a commitment I'm willing to make, based on the rest of the game.