Brass Lantern
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Shih Tzu's abbreviated minireviews

by Shih Tzu

Posted 16 November 2004 to

They're not proper reviews, but here's a post I made on my livejournal about my picks of the games I played (roughly two-thirds of the entries):

Sting of the Wasp by Jason Devlin—You play a repulsive woman of the upper crust gliding about her country club as she attempts to cover up her (in her mind) well-deserved infidelity. Hilariously sardonic writing and fine implementation. Rating: 10

All Things Devours by half sick of shadows—You are a scientist. You have six minutes to infiltrate your former lab and destroy your own creation. But nothing is as easy as it seems... A wickedly ingenious timed puzzle. Rating: 9

Luminous Horizon by Paul O'Brian—A superhero game, last in a trilogy, with an innovative dual-PC setup and subtley detailed implementation. Rating: 9

And also rather good are:

Mingsheng by Deane Saunders—A Daoist fantasy on the creation of Tai-Chi. Evocatively written, and it even appropriately decorates the text with hanzi in Unicode. Rating: 8

Trading Punches by Sidney Merk—A heavily story-based futuristic fantasy epic. The writing is overdone some of the time (okay, most of the time), the scenes are largely on rails, and none of the NPCs will talk about anything, and yet I still enjoyed the lovely details, the pacing of the scenes, and the feeling of being swept up in this melodramatic universe. Rating: 8

Gamlet by Tomasz Pudlo who is assuredly a pseudonym—It's, um, Hamlet as channeled through a disturbed Jewish adolescent. Unfailingly odd. Reviews are telling me now that it's all someone's big in-joke, but that doesn't excuse the detailed implementation and intriguing tone, somewhere between earnest madness and postmodern parody. Rating: 8

And here are the 7s, which are flawed but still may have some engaging ideas:

Bellclap by Tommy Herbert—You are a deity of some sort, relaying commands to the PC through some disembodied third party. The gimmick worked so well and the writing was so entertaining that it was a terrible disappointment to have to cut the rating due to completely unintuitive puzzles and the game's unwarranted brevity. Rating: 7

Splashdown by Paul J. Furio—You're a space colonist who wakes from cryogenic sleep to find that not all was perfect on the ride over. The author obviously adores Planetfall and has crafted a quite competent homage. It's true that in the end, though, it's another game where you Fix A Spaceship. Rating: 7

I Must Play by Geoff Fortytwo—A game set entirely in a video arcade after hours. Offball writing that (sometimes) works, and cute puzzles. Other reviews say that IF Arcade explored this concept better, but I haven't played that, so nyah. Rating: 7

Magocracy by Joseph Rheaume—A heavily combat-based little adventure—all right, it's a MUD-inspired hackfest, and your various opponents don't help matters by all talking the same. But it was fun to run around, kill people, acquire their spells, and summon elementals everywhere to do your bidding. Rating: 7

Also, Zero One wins the Iron Stomach Award for being the only game where you can eat your own vomit, and Gamlet wins the Sick Monkey Award for being the only game to at least respond to attempts at autofellatio.

That's all I can say for now. I'm sure there are other good ones out there, though, that I just never got to play. Blue Chairs and Square Circle, for example, are both garnering plaudits elsewhere. I'll have to check them out.

This article copyright © 2004, Shih Tzu

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