Kissing The Buddha’s Feet by Leon Lin as Anonymous [Comp96]

IFDB page: Kissing The Buddha’s Feet
Final placement: 5th place (of 26) in the 1996 Interactive Fiction Competition

When I first started this game I had that familiar “Oh no, not another one of these” feeling. But the more I played Buddha, the better I liked it. Nine times out of ten, college humor comes off as sophomoric in-jokes liberally mixed with gross-outs — this time was the tenth. Several moments in the game almost made me laugh out loud, and I related very well (perhaps a bit too well) to the game’s main character. This game also makes hilarious use of TADS‘ capability for dynamic object creation, as the cellophane, snack food wrappers, and crumpled up notepapers continue to pile around the hero’s ears. The characters were stereotypes, but they were written so well that they evoked the reality behind the generalization rather than the typical flatness of a stock type. Finally, a good word for the puzzles — not only were they clever, interlaced, and often the type to give one the “aha!” feeling as the pieces suddenly fall perfectly into place, they were also very well integrated into the story, and cleverly supported by the premise. The genre of Kissing The Buddha’s Feet may be clich├ęd, but it’s the kind of game that reminds one why people attempt the college genre in the first place.

Prose: Only once in a while did the use of ridiculous levels of exaggeration slip into the annoying; much more often it was pitched just at that level where one can enjoy the joke without endangering the suspension of disbelief. The writing is lively and its level of detail greatly increases the game’s immersiveness.

Difficulty: The game’s difficulty was just right for me. I never felt so stuck that the pleasure of working on the puzzles ceased to become fun — but it was always a little work to figure those puzzles out. I also enjoyed the feeling of never quite knowing when a puzzle would be solved, and the fact that as soon as you took care of one problem another one, gopherlike, would pop up somewhere else.

Technical (coding): Some really masterful strokes, such as all the wrappers and papers that pile up around the house. Most commands well anticipated, and in fact I look forward to returning to the game after the competition has ended and trying all of the “amusing” pieces. Only once in a great while was a logical action not anticipated in the coding (examples are putting the towel back on its rack and trying to unplug the TV while wearing the catcher’s mitt.)

Technical (writing): Grammar and spelling were both well in hand. The anonymous author is obviously a skilled writer, and I look forward eagerly to his or her next game.

Plot: Well, there wasn’t really much of a story to go through, but I never felt the lack of it. In short, the premise was clever and substantial enough to make me feel as though I really was living through a hilarious night of hell, even though I was really just solving puzzles one after another.

Puzzles: Though it’s hard to pick a favorite, I think this was the best aspect of Buddha. As I mentioned earlier, the puzzles were clever, pitched at just the right level of difficulty, and very well integrated into the overall plot. Some favorites are how to put Bob out of commission and then neutralize his snoring, as well as the problem of Alice and her radio.

OVERALL — a 9.4