Posted by: Ben | October 11, 2009

if: GATOR-ON, Friend To Wetlands!

A Z-code game in IF Comp 2009 by Dave Horlick

This is a review of GATOR-ON, Friend To Wetlands! It contains spoilers and begins here.

You awake as if from a deep sleep, and are once again a giant robotic alligator.

The most obvious thing to say about Gator-On is the scale. The opening section takes place in a vast chunk of the Everglades. I’d estimate well over 200 locations. Initially the inclusion of so many very similar locations does not appear to be a good design decision. Then, quite unexpectedly, the focus changes as I stepped into (and became) a gigantic robot alligator, and immediately realise the point of the whole first section which was about emphasising how small you as a human being were in relation to the immensity of the swamp. Then I joined forces with five other gigantic robot alligators to form an even bigger (human-shaped) robot. That’s one spectacular pay-off.

It’s also something new. There aren’t enough games set in the Florida Everglades as it is, and did I mention that the giant robot alligators are carbon-neutral? Hands down the most original idea of the Competition so far on that front, anyway.

On the down-side, that opening tends towards the tedious. You get one desultory paragraph, something about a schism and a secret headquarters, then you’re dumped in what is effectively a big maze. Once you finally find the hatch with the aid of your trusty homing device, you must then find it again without same, which will be easy if you have remembered to make a map or write down the directions you have gone since leaving the hatch and troublesome if, like me, you have done neither. And none of the scenery is implemented. After all that I didn’t feel like much of a friend to the wetlands.

Also on the downside, the sections played as both a giant alligator and a gargantuan stompy robot are pretty short, which is a pity because being a giant robot is intrinsically fun, just like being a nondescript person chasing a crow around a swamp isn’t. So the good bit seems to start suddenly and be over with quickly.

Rating: Good
Next: The Grand Quest

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