Terrible Lizards by Alan and Ian Mead [Comp02]

IFDB page: Terrible Lizards
Final placement: 36th place (of 38) in the 2002 Interactive Fiction Competition

As an author, you take a big risk when you name your file “terrible.gam”. Already, the poor game has a pretty big stigma to live down, and if it doesn’t, you’ve given your reviewers a really easy shot at it. Not that I would take such a shot, of course, heh heh. It’s really tempting, though, when the game’s help text claims that it was “written for a seven year old”, and my first encounter with it goes like this:

>x bot
Which bot do you mean, your Bot, or the Black Bot?

>x my bot
I don't know the word "my".

>x bot
Which bot do you mean, your Bot, or the Black Bot?

I don't know the word "mine".

>x your bot
I don't know the word "your".

>x bot
Which bot do you mean, your Bot, or the Black Bot?

You don't see any white bot here.

>[so what would the 7-year-old do here?]
I don't understand the punctuation "[".

So okay, there are some implementation problems. Let’s give it more of a chance. At least there’s a pretty clear scavenger-hunt plot about running around prehistory gathering dinosaur eggs, so how about we start exploring the map? Wow, what a huge map. Wow, these descriptions are really short and monotonous — seems like each description gets used for at least three rooms. Oh, and what about this?

You're on a high plataeu near a sparkling bay. Near to where you
are, there is a trail heading down a steep hillside to the
southwest and the plataeu extends to the north and west. In the
distance to the west, you see a herd of pachycephalosaurs.
Your Bot is here.

You can't go that way.

Bot says, "Are you sure you've done this before?"

I might ask you the same question, terrible.gam. Here’s a tip: if the room description indicates an exit in a particular direction, it’s a good idea to allow travel in that direction. Also: plateau.

Okay, I’m getting fed up, but let’s try some more. Man, there are a lot of prose errors in here. Ooh, it’s/its error — my eternal nemesis. Hey, check out this room description: “[description]”. Oh come on now. How could anybody think this game is finished? Here’s another tip: don’t submit your unfinished game to the competition. It’s considered extremely rude. Okay, screw this — I’m turning to the walkthrough. Hey, wait. This walkthrough… I’m going through it… I’ve finished it… and it has NOTHING AT ALL TO DO WITH GATHERING DINOSAUR EGGS!

Okay, the hell with it, I’m taking the shot: terrible.gam, you are the most aptly named file in the competition. Maybe the most aptly named IF file ever. Well, at least since annoy.z5.

Rating: 2.3