IFComp 2008: The Absolute Worst IF Game in History

Yes, that’s actually the next game’s title. My initial reaction, before even opening it, is skepticism — I’ve seen games that extol their own badness before, and they’re never as bad as the ones that are convinced that they’re brilliant. Well, let’s find out if it lives up to its claim, shall we? Spoilers follow the break.

So, at first glance, what we have here is a simple gag game, consisting of nothing but a traditional maze of twisty little passages, but without any inventory items to help you map it. Your ostensible goal is the “scarabæus of floccinaucinihilipilification” on the other side of the maze, but every once in a while the game just tells you “You have won” or “You have died” completely at random.

I, for one, do not accept these random victories as genuine, any more than the shortcuts in Secret of Monkey Island or A Change in the Weather. Mapping a maze without objects to drop is not an insurmountable obstacle for an experienced adventurer; the T/SAL games from the dawn age of the genre routinely did much worse things with their mazes, and this one only has about a dozen rooms. Picking up the scarabæus once I found it was a little tricky, what with the ligature, but there are several ways around it (including cut-and-paste and pronouns).

So, on the down side, this game has no plot, only one fairly uninspired puzzle, and a randomized factor that makes me need “undo” frequently. On the up side, it has no bugs, doesn’t demand a large time commitment, and evokes memories of bygone eras of gaming. I can’t honestly say it succeeds in its goals, given the title. But at least it manages, by not attempting anything difficult, to avoid doing anything seriously wrong.

Rating: 3

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