IFComp 2010: Ninja’s Fate

First up, a memorial piece by Hannes Schueller. Spoilers follow the break.

Paul Allen Panks is dead. He’s credited for 44 IF titles at ifdb.tads.org, nine of which were entered in the Comp over a period of four years. Many of them were extremely similar to each other, some of them were unfinished or unplayably buggy, none of them very good. But death has a way of garnering people the respect they never got in life. In Ninja’s Fate, Schueller celebrates Panks’ quixotic enthusiasm, his almost surreal perspective, and his persistence (if not good grace) in the face of unanimous scorn. If Panks was the Ed Wood of IF, this game is an attempt at being the Ed Wood of IF.

The game is set in a little museum dedicated to Panks memorabilia, with a bust of him in the entrance hall and exhibits listing all of his games. There’s a randomized section with monsters that you can fight, although, in true Panks tradition, fighting them is completely optional and provides no benefit whatsoever. The puzzles are more sensible than anything Panks wrote, the interactivity more complete, the parser more sophisticated (which is to say, it’s the standard Inform parser, rather than the pre-Infocom verb-noun thing that Panks never seemed to get past). Still, this is a small game without a lot of detail, a trifle that you can easily play multiple times looking for alternate endings in the Comp judging period.

Regardless of what I think of Panks and his works, I do like the idea of memorial IF. I can only dream that someone will do something like this for me when I die.

Rating: 4

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