GATOR-ON, Friend to Wetlands!

Dave Horlick (2009)


In the help section of GATOR-ON, Friend to Wetlands! it says that itís a game about missteps, both ecological and otherwise, that can be reversed. But all of this is lost in a game that quickly becomes unplayable as you wander a map that reuses descriptions to compensate for itís overall huge play area.

This has to be another first-time author, because you really have no idea what youíre suppose to be doing other than getting into the secret base, and the reasons behind this are a bit vague. Finally I ran into the base, but I did have to wonder around the 240 plus rooms to find it instead of using the homing beacon. Who would have thought the homing beacon pointed to the base? I thought about putting it in the bag and giving it to the crow so I could follow him somehow.

And thatís the thing about IF and they way events unfold. Maybe if I checked my inventory first I would have thought to look at it, but by the time I found it I was already interested in the crow. Also, I donít check my inventory right away when I play a game. I like to check things out a bit, see what the new world is about.

When I went to open the hatch I was thwarted by the crow, tried a failed idea and finally turned to the walkthrough. This thing is a mess. Itís the straight transcript, so you have to read through pages of stuff just to see whatís going on instead of looking for a key area and seeing that youíre missing a particular object or command. This poor walkthrough made it impossible for me to figure out what was going on with out reading straight through the game. At that point I just gave up on it.

There also wasnít a lot to interact with in this game, almost none of the scenery is implemented, and there are several objects that the player might be interested in. Like the alligator hole, visitor center, or the observation tower. Maybe I could climb the tower, seeing an outcrop for the secret base and not have to rely on a homing beacon to find it, but my skills as a tracker in the swamp. Alas no.

I scored this game a 2. I donít even consider it playable because of the bad design; you really canít navigate it without feeling lost. The whole thing was probably done in 20 rooms just repeated over and over again, and the author should have just stuck to the original 20. The writing is passable, but the game is a bare-bones implementation that I think was suppose to make a point. But how will anyone find out what you're trying to say if they donít finish your game?