Posted by: Ben | October 18, 2008

if: Search for the Ultimate Weapon

(videogame. PC. Sharilynn. Interactive Fiction Competition 2008.)

By my count this is number 11 on my list. It feels like number 70.

Search for the Ultimate Weapon, also known as the Search for the Ultimate One, has been assembled in SUDS, a Windows-based system designed to take the misery out of writing IF by letting you do the whole thing in a graphical interface, allowing authors to spend more time on getting the game right, plus it outputs the whole thing as a Windows executable so that players don’t have to worry about interpreters (at least not if they’re running Windows). Some people might say that because these systems don’t have the user base or levels of online support of Inform or TADS, it’s harder to produce an impressive game on them. Some might also say that because this system in particular doesn’t, say, recognise X for examine out of the box, it’s automatically inferior. This is nonsense, because it recognises a right-click for examine, which is if anything quicker and easier than typing X, and those people just fear change, because the bottom line is if you can write, you can write.

So, programming-language snobbery out of the way. SFTUW shares certain superficial features in common with another long-titled game in this competition. It’s doing tasks to impress a snooty Shaolin monk, basically, only this time motivated by revenge rather than romance. I’m down with that. And once again they’re proper and reasonably well-thought out puzzles, only this time there’s only two of them. But there’s a genuine moral dilemma to round out the story, which TNASOFW could certainly have done with.

The writing is not the most polished, and the setting is a little hackneyed. It turns out that the monastery is slightly too handy for the wicked prince’s bedroom, which is presumably an error of implementation. I’d like to see the ludicrously fast day-night cycle fixed, or preferably eliminated altogether, and – BIG SPOILER – the need for precise phrasing causes a problem in the final scene where it asks me to choose – in bold type – to drive that weapon in, or turn back and leave now – but it doesn’t understand DRIVE WEAPON, or DRIVE WEAPON IN, or TURN BACK, or LEAVE. More testing, please.

As one of thirty-five games, this isn’t outstanding. But it’s OK. After all it could have been a lot worse.

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Responses

  1. […] hardcore can somtimes seem to get a little snotty about them, but it’s true that you never know what you’re going to get with an IF game that comes as a Windows executable. Will the parser be almost, but not quite, fit […]

  2. […] hardcore can somtimes seem to get a little snotty about them, but it’s true that you never know what you’re going to get with an IF game that comes as a Windows executable. Will the parser be almost, but not quite, fit […]


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