IFComp 2008: Search for the Ultimate Weapon

One last game and I’m done for the year. This one is loosely inspired by the legend of Wu Mei, 17th century kung fu master. Spoilers follow the break.

ultimateweaponThis game was created in SUDS, a relatively new system. Well, sort of — the official website tells me that the original SUDS is nearly a decade old, but the SUDS that this game was written in is a revived one dating back to early 2007. Apparently one of the differences between old SUDS and new SUDS is that old was entirely point-and-click, while the new supports a text parser. It still has the point-and-click, though, and does a pretty good job of it, if you like point-and-click. Multiple avenues to entering commands are provided, including a row of verb icons and context menus on both the noun lists and the output text. Using text input is a little more painful, due to overeager automatic command-line completion. This can be turned off, but I only figured out how after I had completed the game.

As to the game’s content, yay historical setting, boo scanty implementation thereof. This is a small game consisting of mainly of some simple tests set to you by a Shaolin master. Mind you, “simple” is not the same as “easy”; there’s a large amount of guess-the-verb involved in pretty much every puzzle. (To give just one example: there’s a rope that must be “attached” to a tree, because “tie” is not recognized.) The author sets up some alternate paths, such as giving you an opportunity to obtain a supposed Ultimate Weapon early on by going against the master’s orders, but I doubt many players will be seriously tempted there — given that the game is supposed to be about a master of unarmed combat, it’s pretty obvious that the real Ultimate Weapon isn’t going to be a literal one.

A couple of things in the game rely on a day/night cycle, which is absurdly short. One of the other games in this Comp had a day/night cycle that I didn’t even mention in my writeup, because it was completely irrelevant. Here, the time of day actually affects what you can do. For example, you can sneak into your enemy’s palace only in the afternoon. Once inside, you find him asleep. You can easily spend more than a day of gametime in that room fiddling with objects, and he never wakes up. It’s hard to ignore this, because the color scheme of the text window changes with the time of day. It would have been a good idea to suspend the clock during this scene, but I don’t know enough about SUDS to know how feasible this would be.

Rating: 4

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