Ninja's Fate

Hannes Schueller (2010)

This game is a dedication to Paul Allen Panks, a person who was part of this community until last year when he died unexpectedly at the age of 33. He’s written over 40 games going all the way back to 1993, starting out writing stuff on the Commodore. He created Westfront, and a series of games within that world, and moved on to writing a number of games in MSDOS Basic. He started entering games in the IF Competition back in 2005, under the name “Dunric”, and his last games surfaced for the Comp in 2007. I even played part of Vampyre Cross that year.

But in Ninja’s Fate you find yourself trying to recover an idol that has been stolen from your village, though it seems that you’ve really found a museum dedicated to Paul A. Panks. The bust on the mantel really gives it away. There's an Early Works Gallery here that covers Paul's games from 1993 to 2005, and there's a Competition Gallery that covers his work from 2004 through 2007. There's also a section dedicated to Westfront, it’s optional and becomes a sort of mini game as you wonder around killing monsters. Westfront was Paul's sort of claim to fame on the Commodore 64.

The only real problem I have with the Ninja’s Fate is that even though the goal is clear, getting the idol, opening the box is not, and the solution is abstract. This might even be how Paul did things so it could work here, but as a side effect I think most players will be forced to turn to the walkthrough to see the end of the game, unless they spend a lot of time playing around.

In the end this is a moving game, it pulled on my heart strings. The Unfinished Room just seems so appropriate. It might be a simple design, but it's a great tribute to someone who will be missed. Thanks for immortalizing Paul, I think in all of us there is an outsider always looking in, and in our own way can identify with who he was. I loved this game, I scored it an 8.