Search for the Ultimate Weapon

Sharilynn (2008)

Search for the Ultimate Weapon tries to demonstrate some basic core beliefs held in Chinese martial arts, as you wander around a Shaolin Temple. The game is small, with passable writing, but the implementation of the self-coded interpreter only gets in the way. Some puzzles are too easy, while others rely on guess-the-verb, and the broken out menu system for talking to other characters doesn't even support black and white choices. There's not much depth here.

This game is a homebrewed application that fails to adhere to IF Standards. Unless you're coming up with some amazing innovation, that adds to the game play, why built the game in its own interpreter? A lot of time had to go into programming this game. There's two play modes, auto-completing sentences, and changing color schemes; but for all that work, it still doesn't understand things like 'enter'/'climb'/'tie', and they are commands that are needed in the game. It also doesn't understand some of the IF shortcuts like 'x' for examine. There is no compass directions listed in the room descriptions, and some of the puzzles are so hard I had to turn to the walkthrough.

There are even more technical problems with this game. It will automatically complete sentences for you, but this becomes a pain when you've already typed 'sw' and need to go south. You actually have to spell the word 'south' instead of using the shortcut of 's' because of this feature. But there are a few things it does nicely too, like the color schemes. They change from night to day and add a little to the game, and a lot of the objects that are listed below the room description are hyper-linked, giving you some of the IF options available. There are even buttons you can push for a lot of the IF standard commands, but I don't think all of this adds enough to the game to justify its own interpreter, and features like the auto-complete just don't work that well.

Even if this game was coded in something like Inform or TADS, you still have a story that's not very compelling. Maybe that's because the author had to work so hard on the interpreter, where the time would have better spent on the story. Tools like Inform and TADS help us tell our stories, and I think they should be used unless you're trying something that's really out of their range. What they do, they do well, and if you're only going to write a text adventure, then writing it in your own interpreter is probably going to hurt it. It's up to you. I gave this game a 2.