IFReviewed by Andrew Plotkin on 2006-06-25 10:10
"The inability to act on basic commands like RESTORE and QUIT is part of a resounding interactive fiction tradition, by the way..." Hey! Don't get defensive. If it works, you don't need to apologize, and if it doesn't work, nothing will help. (I type this before playing any of the game, so I don't yet know if it works.)
(The business of showing directions as single letters, by the way, does not work. The text looks bad that way. I expect you already know this, and are just being a jerk about it.)
That detail aside, I think the conceit of the game is perfectly good. No apologies are necessary. This definitely goes on the shelf with Nord & Bert and other games that Get Away With This Crazy Shit Successfully. (Are there any others? I haven't played T-Zero, the other example the author cites. Undo counts, as far as I'm concerned, but it's very small.)
My only concern is that the thing is way over two hours, for non-cheating players. I started looking in the hints before I felt stuck -- I could have gone on trying words and flipping through dictionaries for hours, and it would have been fun, but it would have been hours.
Some things (like the pig) I wouldn't have gotten at all. This sort of word/idea-play either comes to you or it doesn't. (And if it does, it may not be for hours or days.) You don't have the presumed world-logic, and the almost-right command responses, that normal games use to provide context and tiny hints.
Playing with a friend helps, of course. But at 10:30 PM on a Thursday, it's a bit hard to find someone willing to show up within your two-hour competition time limit.
(What this adds up to is, the length is fine, now that the competition is over. But in the competition context, I did have to rush to play it, which reduced the fun level.)