Sunday, October 11, 2009

[IF Competition] Yon Astounding Castle! of some sort

Þis time, þe spoiler space is a short Inform 7 program.
"Thorns" by Victor Gijsbers

Include Unicode Character Names by Graham Nelson.

London Bridge is a room. "You have eyes for only one [unicode 254]ing: '[unicode 222]e Olde English Pubbe', right across [unicode 254]e street."

But Adrift may not have unicode support, so on to þe review of Yon Astounding Castle! of some sort.

I expected to hate þis game. Þe blurb seemed pretty bad, and þe opening screen was even worse. See, I þink you can only poke fun at someþing effectively if you understand þe þing you're poking fun at; so to make a humerous parody of old (or faux-old) English, you need to be able to write it very well. So I shuddered when I saw þis:

‘Twas writ using ye olde
for which all rights of copy & such
doth hereforeto belongeth to
Campbell Wild

Ye First Version
released upon ye
Twenty-Ninth of September in ye
Ninth Year of ye
Second Millenium
Anno Domini. 
Þere are so many mistakes! I þink "hereforeto" should be "heretofore", "doth belongeth" is evidently wrong, "Second Millenium Anno Domini" is utter nonsense, and anyway, we live in þe ninþ year of þe þird millenium. Þis game, I þought I knew, is going to be incredibly tedious.

But þen someþing unexpected happened: Yon Astounding Castle started to charm me. It told me "Typeth not of ye word help, for yon message knoweth not what it talketh about.", which was a pretty funny way of dismissing þe standard ADRIFT help text. Þe game also turned out to have a nifty "win" command.

And þen I typed "climb tree", which was obviously what I had to do, and þe game refused to understand me. So wiþ some trepidation I typed "climbeth tree", and... yes, it worked! Þat had me laughing. Okay, it's a bad joke, but at least I get to participate in þe bad joke.

It turns out þat Yon Astounding Castle! of some sort is a well-constructed and quite long dungeon romp, full of jokes þat are mostly pretty bad, but add up to someþing þat is often really funny. Þe game just keeps sending jokes at you, and at a certain point your resistance wears down and you start enjoying þem. Þe gnome who says "Gno matter, on with ye gnext gnaming riddle." becomes funny, as does "Ye be pretty sure ye building is yon hovel of some kind, for ‘tis filled with all manner of hovelry." Þen þere are þe footnotes, þe weird chain of -akeries, þe intricate machine wiþ its intricacies, and so on... noþing here is going to win a best joke contest, but again, þe overall effect is not just zany or wacky, but genuinely funny.

Þe puzzles are good (þough a few seemed too difficult, such as þe one wiþ þe magic cupboards), þe implementation is good and polished, especially for an ADRIFT game, and all in all, playing þis was a very enjoyable experience.

It is, of course, not doing anyþing interesting wiþ plot, narrative, interactivity; it is simply a treasure hunt wiþ an evil wizard added for extra special effects. It won't move you, it's not art. But if you are looking for entertainment, Yon Astounding castle! of some sort gives you a lot more þan you might expect from þe title.


  1. My pet peeve is people who try to write old English without understanding the verb endings. "Climbeth" is third person singular -- as in "Yon fool climbeth the tree." It can't be use as an imperative, nor as first person indicative, so "climbeth tree" is ugly and wrong as a command.

  2. At least ye auyor didn't mix his "ye"s wiy "thee"s, as I've seen before in professional games.


    ps - the _Zelda_ game where Link's a kid.