IFComp 2020: Quest for the Sword of Justice

There’s always one, isn’t there? The lazy self-criticizing joke game. This one is your basic “You get arrested and put on trial for acting on the game’s affordances” gag, which may have been fresh and new when Chrono Trigger did it 25 years ago, although even if not, Chrono Trigger at least made it a fairly small part of a much larger work, and here it’s pretty much the entire story.

The Chrono Trigger comparison is especially apt because this game was created in RPG Maker, and as a result, is unusually slick for a joke games. Just using RPG Maker gives it a professional-quality UI pretty much automatically, and voluminous libraries of highly detailed sprites and tiles. So there’s a lot of highly visible effort on display — just not the effort of the game’s author. I suppose that’s always true at root: when you write a joke game in Inform, you get to take advantage of other people’s effort crafting the Inform language, the parser and library, the VM it runs on, the font and the OS and so forth. Maybe it’s just context that makes RPG Maker stand out. Still, the context is part of my experience, and stand out it does, due to the contrast between the craft poured into the system and the story it’s put in service of, and that’s why I’m singling it out for attention.

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