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IF COMP 2004 - Who Created That Monster?

Game #18: Who Created That Monster?, by N. B. Horvath
Played On: 10/13/04 (8:00 PM to 9:20 PM)
Unofficial Score: 9.0 (8.0 base with +1.0 skew)

     This entry begs for commentary, and I suspect that when the contest ends, the political debates will ensue. Before I offer my opinion on the subject matter, I'll address the merits of the game itself.

     I'm either becoming less inclined to spot typos, errors, and problems, or COMP04.Z5 has rolled a list for me that simply continues to improve in quality. For the first time, I have absolutely no technical criticism. In part, this is probably because the game drives you forward to the next task and the next. Random experimentation isn't quite as necessary. Early on, I did try a few things with unimplemented objects, but I made no notes and found that this didn't detract from the game in any way. That's not to say this isn't a puzzle game -- it certainly is -- just that the puzzles are neither difficult nor illogical. At times, it felt like a series of errands, but that's okay. For the second time, I finished one of the competition games with no hints and without even a frustrated glance at the walkthrough.

     Baghdad, 2026. Despite the easy setup, "Who Created That Monster?" takes an unexpected direction. Sci-fi is given a cursory nod, but the author's agenda seems to be... well, you just have to play it to get the point. Suffice it to say, you have to be inanely dense (or in too big a hurry) to miss the message (sorry, to anybody who may have drawn different conclusions than I did). Ultimately, Bobbie Joe Lavoro plays his (her?) part in answering the title question. It all comes together like clockwork: the new threat just waiting to be discovered, a shift in blame, and international appreciation for being a good little puppet. While Bobbie does the fist-pump of triumph, somewhere, important people are probably pointing, smirking, sharing a little wink-wink, nudge-nudge.

     I'm curious to find out if this author entered the contest under a pseudonym.

     This is where things get tricky for me in scoring this game. This isn't my "wow" game (although it's probably going to be for others), so it's not a 10 for me. A 9.0 would mean I liked almost everything about it, but the plot (rather, the "point" of the game) seems to put me at odds with the author. Basing it lower than an 8.0 does the game an injustice, by my scoring system. It's a great game (considered strictly AS a game), but in a "genre I don't personally favor" (see the info about my 8.0 base) -- the genre being global political satire. It's not that I'm close-minded; I just [SNIP]. (Several lines of ranting, none of which have any bearing on the game or the review, were removed in a follow-up edit.)

     Then again, I could be reading way too much into the author's message. It's a thought- provoking game, and one that's sure to strike a chord, be it positive or negative, with many judges. I'll take it as purely entertaining, and skew it +1.0 for being fun, solid, multi-layered, and nearly (if not entirely) flawless.

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