Comp00ter Game by Brendan Barnwell as Austin Thorvald [Comp00]

IFDB page: Comp00ter Game
Final placement: 49th place (of 53) in the 2000 Interactive Fiction Competition

I’m pretty sure that Comp00ter Game wants to be a parody of bad games, or bad authors, or something. At least, let me put it this way: I really really really hope that’s what it wants. It is (again, I hope) far too bad not to be intentionally bad. You know, misspelled words, broken code, leaving debug mode on, that kind of thing.

Here’s the thing about satire, though: you can’t satirize stupidity just by acting stupid yourself. You’ve got to have something, somewhere, that indicates that you and your target are separate things. Otherwise, it’s kind of like the prose equivalent of imitating somebody’s words in a high, nasally voice. That’s not satire. It’s not even funny. It’s just sort of irritating. Even if you make a few offhand references to Joyce or something.

That’s the deal with Comp00ter Game. It made me laugh a couple of times, but as far as I can tell, it is as awful a game as has ever been produced. Now, this being interactive fiction, it’s entirely possible that I missed some proper action or magic word or something that puts the whole terrible part into some clever perspective. The file is 150K, after all, and I spent a fair bit of time trying to figure out what could possibly be taking up all that space. I finally concluded that it must be the Infix stuff, which the author left in — I haven’t started a new Inform project since Infix was introduced, so I’m not sure how much it bloats a file, but it seems logical that it would add a fair amount.

I did type “tree”, and managed to crash the whole game with a fatal error, so that left me pretty convinced that the game isn’t clever, just very very broken. It certainly didn’t come with any walkthrough, and I don’t have access to the net at the moment (to check Deja for rgif postings), nor to txd, so that’s the conclusion I’m resting with. The upside is that I didn’t spend much time playing it, nor writing this review, which brings me that much closer to my goal of actually finishing all the games by the deadline. That’s worth something, at least.

Rating: 1.1

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