[IFComp2013] Reels

This review was originally published on Livejournal.

Reels is a web-based game by Tyler Zahnke.

I don’t particularly recommend this game, but nevertheless I’ll warn you there are spoilers in here.

I’ll be brief: This game garnered the lowest score I’ve given so far.

The premise is that you are a record-keeper for a city that for some reason stores its data on old reels of tape. One day you discover that these tapes have been stolen by a gang of thieves. To solve this dastardly crime, you must heroically… solve a series of base-conversion math problems and recall the dates of events like the debut of The Flintstones. What.

At this point, the game ceases to have CYOA-style link options, instead presenting the “player” with a box in which to enter one answer at a time. With my eyebrows SERIOUSLY raised, I grabbed a piece of scratch paper and laboriously converted base-36 LOVE to base-10 1012010. I don’t know why I felt the impetus to do this by hand. I wish I’d just Googled “base conversion calculator” right off the bat, because it was only after I covered my scratch paper with columns of numbers that I discovered that the game is unresponsive in Chrome. No error message, no crash, just that clicking “Check the number” makes nothing at all happen. Same story in Safari, same in Firefox.

The walkthrough claims the game “works best in Internet Explorer.” I don’t mind Windows-only parser games in the comp – though I can’t play them, I appreciate that those platforms & coding languages may be the creator’s preference. A web-based game, though, should be playable on multiple major browsers. Or, at the very least, come with a prominent disclaimer that it’s not.

Even if it had been bug-free, though, this would have been a bust. I’ve been musing through this comp about what IF qualifies as a game… this piece doesn’t meet my qualifications for “interactive fiction.” Putting a short paragraph of uninspired exposition before what feels like an extra-credit quiz from a middle-school math teacher does not add up to either very interactive, or very fictional.

Actually, it’s even worse. In the walkthrough, the author suggests guessing at the answers and using the “Check the number” button to find out if you were too high or too low. Based on when I enjoyed the game of “Higher… Lower…” that makes this more of a second-grade extra-credit quiz.

I’m struggling to end this review in a way that isn’t outright rude to the author. So I’m just going to rip off The Graduate.

I want to say two words to you. Just two words.
Yes, sir.
Are you listening?
Yes, I am.
Beta testers.
Exactly how do you mean?
There’s a great future in beta testers. Think about it. Will you think about it?

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One thought on “[IFComp2013] Reels

  1. Pingback: [IFComp 2014] Fifteen Minutes | Elizabeth, if…

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