Flight of the Hummingbird

Michael Martin (2010)

In this new game by Michael Martin you play the role of a super hero out to destroy the evil Dr. Sinister. Itís a humorous piece thatís broken into two sections, exploring the secret island base and then unlocking the space station so you can get at the doctor. The writing is smooth, making for a quick read and fast pace, but some of the puzzles are badly designed slowing things down and making it a little frustrating. But in the end, I made Dr. Sinister pay.

The strength of this game is its writing. It comes off with a liquid smoothness that feels natural to read. And thereís that light touch of humor that you would expect for a super hero game, it doesnít take itself too seriously. Another cool factor at work here is the playerís super power that introduces a new dimension to IF, height; with the PC being able to fly up and down reaching things that otherwise would be unattainable. Maybe it seems like a simple idea, but I think it definitely adds a level of depth to the puzzles and game play.

The gameís introduction doesnít really tell you what you need to know, like who you are or anything about your powers. You have to look at yourself and look at the drink to get a good idea of whatís going on. I donít usually look at my inventory right away, so I was a bit confused right at the beginning of the game and needed to turn to the walkthrough. I think that most of the stuff in the PCís description, and the drinkís description, should be worked into the intro, giving the player a good sense of whatís going on right out of the box.

The biggest problem I ran into was fueling the rocket. I had trouble finding the truck, but I had a good idea what to do when I found it, right up until the last step. At this point I should have to TAKE HOSE and then PUT HOSE IN ROCKET, or PUT HOSE IN RECEPTACLE, but there was no receptacle. The problem is, it just wasnít implemented deep enough to make a puzzle like that work, and using a guess-the-verb puzzle to solve it really rubs me the wrong way. Also, the author hit on another pet peeve of mine, useless ďcanít goĒ routines. Like when you run into the wall and it says, "You can't go that way." Please tell the player the available exits at the time. Itís hard enough trying to navigate these games blind without being told what direction to go in, and rereading the entire room description is unnecessary. It also takes time, time thatís being used to judge your game.

While I found the secret island base very fun to explore, large with plenty of stuff to do and unlock, I found the space station small and confining, and even disorientating for a bit until I got my bearings. This felt much drabber than the colorful island, and with guards standing right outside the doors there wasnít a lot of exploration going on. At this point the game is close to concluding, and I looked at the walkthrough one last time to get through it. Dr. Sinisterís time had come.

This is a great game that was going smooth until I ran into the guess-the-verb puzzle. And the implementation, while itís solid, thereís still little things that could be done to improve it. But it paints a vivid picture with a fast stroke, that's easy to get through and enjoyable to read. With a few tweaks this would be near perfect. I came down hard on it. I scored it an 8.