Sunday, October 18, 2009

[IF Competition] GATOR-ON, Friend to Wetlands!

I have never been to the Everglades. In fact, the greater part of the time I spent within the borders of the United States of America was on the O'Hare International Airport near Chicago, waiting for a flight to Vancouver, so I haven't really been anywhere in the USA.

I will probably never go to the Everglades. Of course I could, if I wanted to, but why fly across the Atlantic for a vacation when there is so much to see nearer to home? I've never been to Berlin yet, it has been more than ten years since I visited Paris (not counting hours spent cursing the traffic on the Périphérique as we tried to get to other parts of France), I haven't seen Italy and Spain, I have never visited Scandinavia--and I certainly wouldn't mind revisiting London or the Alps or Bruges or many of the other places that I did visit. So the Everglades will probably forever escape my direct experience.

Which is--this should have been enough spoiler space--why playing an interactive fiction set in the Everglades sounded like a lot of fun to me.

Unfortunately, this incredible opportunity to let me experience a wonderful environment has been squandered entirely. Literally nothing is implemented, and we have to wander through dozens of identical "rooms" in order to solve puzzles that are far less interesting than learning something about the American crocodile! Just think of the opportunities for integrating photographic material here: there must be thousands of Everglades-photos on Flickr under licenses that allow their use in a free work of IF. This could have been so much fun.

Instead of that, we get Transformers. Right. Environmental issues reduced to the inaneness of a saturday-morning cartoon.

Okay, I just don't like watching big robots fighting, and have never watched those cartoons--perhaps there are excellent works within this genre. So forget the "inaneness"; it still remains a fact that in this game, environmental issues are reduced to simple combat. Not a very enlightening treatment of the subject, to say the least.

This game has disappointed me. The setting had so much potential, and the theme of environmentalism had a lot going for it as well--but instead we get a barely implemented episode of Transformers. There is technical competence here, and people who like this stuff my get some laughs out of the final sequences, but I cannot like GATOR-ON.

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