IF Comp ’09 Review: GATOR-ON

It’s GATOR-ON, Friend to Wetlands! Is he like the Florida version of Gamera, Friend to All Children? Let’s find out!

GATOR-ON, Friend to Wetlands! was written by Dave Horlick, and this is my disclaimer regarding these reviews.

Non-spoilery summary: The concept is awesome. The writing is quite good, but there isn’t enough of it; needs more descriptive text and scenery objects. The initial area is far larger than it needs to be. The final puzzle is poorly-implemented and hinges on a guess-the-verb that isn’t even a real damn word. There’s good stuff here, but not in the crucial parts.

Also, death is possible, so save often when playing.

Spoilers follow this picture of Gamera’s delicious candy center.

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> xyzzy
A hollow voice ignores you.

Hooray!

> x me
You are anxious, but in good health.

Okay. Thin, but at least it’s not the default. Actually I suspect that it may actually be a new default provided by some sort of health-watching code library, but in absence of any evidence for that I won’t deduct a point.

Note that in the process of trying these initial commands and looking at the HELP file, the tram I’m in has done quite a bit of travelling. I sure hope I wasn’t expected to make notes of where it went. Because I didn’t.

The tour guide is kind of funny. This is pretty well-written, so far.

Hrm. I don’t know whether to eat my corn chips, or let the crow take them, or save them for something else later. Is this a game where I have to do a lot of saving and restoring? I sure hope not.

Man. This road is long. This is a long road.

Observation Tower
This cool winding structure affords a great view of the surrounding area.

> x tower
You can’t see any such thing.

> up
You indulge yourself with a quick look around and then come back down.

I walked all the way here for that?

A hatch on the ground is barely visible through the periphyton.

> x periphyton
You can’t see any such thing.

I have no idea what a periphyton even is. If you’re going to use obscure nouns, please give them a proper description.

Stupid crow. Looks like this is, in fact, the sort of game where you have to save and restore a lot. Or, well… okay, I can think of a way I maybe won’t have to. One sec.

Okay, that works. But fuck, that was a lot of walking and “x beacon”ing. And then an assload more walking to get back to my initial location. Seriously, damn man.

You can see a large button and a giant fuchsia-colored robotic alligator here.

All is forgiven.

> x me
You look mighty.

This is also awesome, but really the canopy (and its openness) should be mentioned here, or in inventory, or somewhere. I got stuck here for a bit, and as puzzles go that one was kind of rude.

You can see Gator-on (which is closed) (in whom are Pyth-nor, giant fuchsia-colored robotic alligator, a giant lemon-colored robotic alligator, a giant caramel-colored robotic alligator, a giant orange-colored robotic alligator and a giant lime-colored robotic alligator) here.

In Gator-on you can see Pyth-nor, a giant lemon-colored robotic alligator, a giant caramel-colored robotic alligator, a giant orange-colored robotic alligator and a giant lime-colored robotic alligator.

The canopy of the giant robotic alligator is closed.

> open canopy
Which do you mean, giant fuchsia-colored robotic alligator, the giant lemon-colored robotic alligator, the giant caramel-colored robotic alligator, the giant orange-colored robotic alligator or the giant lime-colored robotic alligator?

Man. This implementation is awkward in the extreme. I can wake up into my gator-self, or my human self, but the way this situation is coded I can’t tell if it has anything to do with solving the puzzle or not. For example, if I wake up into gator form, I can’t let go of the orange gator’s port, and yet I can’t re-become Gator-on. If I wake up into human form, I can leave my gator but I’m still inside Gator-on. So does waking up have anything to do with anything? All it seems to result in is bugs and dead-ends. And I’m not even really addressing the bizarre nested-containers nature of this situation. Is Gator-on wearing Pyth-nor?

Surely there must be a more elegant way to handle this mess. And why isn’t “transform” a valid verb? I mean come on.

Ooh, I broke it. Check it out:

> enter orange
(getting out of giant fuchsia-colored robotic alligator)
You get into the giant orange-colored robotic alligator.
He appears to be asleep. His hands are stained from the use of laboratory dyes.

[** Programming error: (Dipole) (object number 387)  has no property <number 195> (and nor has any other object) to send message **]

[** Programming error: (Dipole) (object number 387) has a property name, but it is longer than 2 bytes so you cannot use “.” to read **]

[** Programming error: tried to print (string) on something not a string **]
is carrying

[** Programming error: tried to find the “parent” of nothing **]

[** Programming error: tried to find the “child” of nothing **]

[** Programming error: tried to find the “parent” of nothing **]

[** Programming error: tried to find the “child” of nothing **]

[** Programming error: tried to find the “parent” of nothing **]

[** Programming error: tried to find the “child” of nothing **]

[** Programming error: tried to find the “parent” of nothing **]

[** Programming error: tried to find the “child” of nothing **]

>

Seriously, man. This is looking to me like you made it way more complicated than it had to be, and it doesn’t work properly.

Let’s check the walkthrough and see how this is meant to go down…

…”Unbite”? Are you fucking kidding me? The magic verb is “unbite”?

Dude. No. Just… no.

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