IFComp 2012: Irvine Quik & the Search for the Fish of Traglea, by Duncan Bowsman

Twenty-two games. Five days. Not gonna judge them all, but I’ll get through as much of theEighteenth Annual Interactive Fiction Competition as I can. As always, if you’re a judge, don’t read on unless you have already played and reviewed the game yourself, and if your averse to spoilers, you won’t want to read this even if you aren’t judging.

Blurb: Science fiction adventure! Extinction looms for the fish, people, and entire planet of Traglea. Can one bumbling space cadet rescue enough alien fish before too late? Can he learn the secret of Traglean karate? Find out & help save the planet!

The title and blurb says “self-indulgent wackiness”. The fact that the game’s in ADRIFT steeled me for struggling with the parser. There was a little of both, for sure. A lot of verbs had been weirdly clobbered away from their initial meaning: for instance, “get” when HiRBy was deployed got objects with it, unless it was already carrying them, and “push” and ‘press” were separated for needless confusion.

The game tries very hard to shepherd the player through with gentle nudges, but seems to fall down in places. I ran into some peculiar state-management bugs with regard to the Cat-and-Mouse challenge in which the champion pursued me but never did anything. This bug seemed to grind the game to a halt, and asking for help didn’t particularly avail. I couldn’t really summon the energy to go on because it wasn’t clear to me what my goal was, to wit, a reason to type something other than “WAIT”. The ostensible mission of the game was being handled by other members of the crew, and ordinarily this sort of “underdog saves the day” story needs a good reason why the underdog is in a position to save the day, or at the very least an explanation for why someone else is not saving the day.

So there wasn’t much that appealed to me here and gave me reason to go on, I’m afraid. What I did see had a pretty decent implementation depth, although the bugginess of the state tracking and the help system kinda worried me on a technical level.

Rating: 4

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About Jake
I'm a mathematics professor at the University of Louisville, and a geek.

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