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Postby DuoDave » Tue Jun 05, 2007 7:23 pm

You're reviewing a text adventure game based on the movie set of the Mel Brooks comedy "Robin Hood: Men in Tights". Starring Cary Elwes, Richard Lewis, Roger Rees, Dave Chappelle, Amy Yasbeck, Tracey Ullman and Mel Brooks.

In the game the player is a member of the crew, not an actor, not the director. Any or all of said actors may or may not appear in the game. Helps to have seen the film but I suppose it isn't required.

Have fun!
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Postby David Whyld » Wed Jun 06, 2007 12:04 pm

First time I've written a review of a game that doesn’t exist. Surprisingly easy, though, as I didn’t have to play anything first to base my review on and could pretty much make it up as I went along :)



I approached this one with some anticipation. I don’t like Mel Brooks’ films, anything with tights in the title is off to a bad start with me and Cary Elwes sounds like a girl’s name. As writing hurtful and insulting comments about someone’s work, knowing full well they’ve worked on it for months or even years, is so much more entertaining than writing something positive, this one seemed right up my street.

The storyline is a parody of Robin Hood, that dashing outlaw who stole from the rich and then kept all the money for himself. Or gave it to the poor*. Or something like that. Unfortunately, you don’t get to play Robin Hood here, or even Maid Marian, or, indeed, any of the characters you might want to play. Nope, you're actually one of the crew making the film.

* Which poses an interesting question: if he gave all the money to the poor, wouldn’t they then become rich? So in fact he'd have to go and steal the money back from them to give it to the new poor (i.e. the former rich folk) who would in turn become rich again so further potential robbing material? No wonder you don’t tend to get outlaws these days. It’s a terribly confusing business.

Of course, there are problems with getting the film done. Cary himself has decided that he doesn’t want to be portrayed as a scruffy outlaw living in the middle of Sherwood Forest as it’s beneath his status as a world class actor. So he’s commissioned the nearest poor fool he can put his hands on (i.e. you) to rewrite the storyline to make his surroundings a little more… entertaining. A bar might be an idea. And maybe some piano music. But at the same time it has to remain authentic to the Robin Hood legend. Bit of a problem there.

For the most part, the game is sparsely implemented. There was a great big redwood tree in the first location but attempts to examine it hit me with the dreaded YOU SEE NO SUCH THING. Funnily enough, I was able to climb the redwood and fire a fake bow and arrow I found at some passing tourists – who screamed most delightfully, it has to be said – so clearly the tree exists. Maybe my character is just incredibly short-sighted or something.

Interaction with the NPCs in the game, a vital part of solving the majority of the puzzles, is troublesome. You can’t interact in the normal way – there's no TALK TO [NAME] or ASK [NAME] ABOUT [SUBJECT] system here – but instead you examine items whilst in the presence of an NPC and if they’ve got something to say about it, they pipe up and tell you. This causes problems on a number of fronts. Firstly, there's the fact that the NPCs tend to wander around pretty much at random, so if you want to ask them about, say, the redwood tree, you can’t just ask them about it wherever they are, you have to wait till they pass by the tree and then ask them. They won’t respond to anything not in the same location as them. Certain items can be carried around, so they don’t present much of a problem, but for any immovable items you want someone’s opinion on, you're just left with a tedious game of waiting by said item for said NPC to stroll past. As some of the walk patterns for the NPCs are lengthy (Little John will often traipse around most of the 260 locations in the game, spending several turns in each, before returning to where you need him to be), this can be a very tedious process. It’s also further complicated by the fact that only one NPC in each location will respond to your attempts to examine items whilst in their presence. So if you’ve got Robin Hood and Friar Tuck in the same location and you examine something, only Robin will respond. Tuck won’t. Of course, Tuck might have something to tell you about the item but you'll need to wait till Robin’s left before he’ll divulge what he knows. And if he happens to leave before Robin… well, then you've got to wait for him coming back again.

As previously mentioned, the game has a vast number of locations. 260 in total. Drawing a map here isn't just a good idea, it’s pretty much essential as the layout is both huge and confusing. It also make precious little geographical sense: going east from Robin’s hideout in Sherwood Forest takes you to the gates of Rottingham Castle, yet going back west takes you to a muddy path. I spent a lot of time drawing the map, a lot more time re-drawing it, and then more time still trying to get everything fixed in my mind. As part of the game runs on a series of timed puzzles, which require you to get from A to B in the shortest number of moves possible or it’s GAME OVER time, knowing which way is which is vital. Unfortunately, as with a number of games I've played which contain a vast number of locations, most of them are very sparse and similar in appearance. Over 100 are set in Sherwood Forest itself, which seems to look very, very similar for the most part. This is one location:

YOU ARE ON A WINDING PATH DEEP IN THE DEPTHS OF SHERWOOD FOREST. SHADOWS LURK IN THE DARKNESS BENEATH THE TREES AND YOU FEEL VERY AFRAID.

EXITS LIE TO THE NORTH AND THE EAST.

This is another:

YOU ARE ON A MUDDY PATH DEEP IN THE DEPTHS OF SHERWOOD FOREST. SHADOWS LURK IN THE DARKNESS BENEATH THE TREES AND YOU FEEL VERY AFRAID.

EXITS LIE TO THE SOUTH AND THE EAST.

Swap ‘winding’ for ‘muddy’ and ‘north’ for ‘south’ and you have the same description used for two different locations. Now on its own this wouldn’t be a terrible thing – particularly in a game boasting 260 locations – but I counted no less than 35 locations in Sherwood Forest which were essentially the same with just a word or two changed here and there. As these were locations merely joining more interesting places together, I can’t help but feel that the game would have been better off jettisoning them and keeping its overall size down to a more manageable amount.

Item carrying restrictions apply. Boy, do I hate them. I managed to lug an actual mini-bar through Sherwood Forest (long story, don’t ask) at the same time as being burdened down by a barrel, a length of rope and a signpost giving directions to Kansas (again, don’t ask) yet when I saw a packet of cigarettes lying on the ground that one of the actors had misplaced, the game wouldn’t let me take them because they were too heavy. Even more frustrating, when I dropped the barrel to pick up the cigarettes, the game not only wouldn’t let me take the cigarettes (still too heavy I guess) but also wouldn’t let me pick the barrel back up. Leaving me with no choice other than to head to the outlaw camp (i.e. the film set), dump everything I had, and then wander right the way back through the forest to pick up the barrel and the cigarettes. Talk about frustrating.

But… but I didn’t hate the game. You might have got that impression from the largely negative tone of this review so far but despite its many flaws, I actually found myself enjoying it for the most part. The NPCs are well done, from Cary Elwes (still sounds like a girl’s name in my opinion) and his pouting, prima donna, to Tracey Ullman trying to seduce me every time I ventured near her trailer. (I never did discover just why she was trying to seduce me, but when women are practically throwing themselves at me and demanding I satisfy their every carnal desire, I'm happy to overlook the logical inconsistencies and just do as they ask.) The storyline itself is quite interesting, too. At certain points, based on my actions, I was able to influence how the film turned out. One time, because I’d failed to bring Cary his high class wine, he went out and got drunk then turned up on set totally hammered and proceeded to pummel the poor chap playing the Sheriff of Rottingham to a pulp. (Not a good ending to the film alas.) Another time, when I’d got him his wine, he showed up sober but the Sheriff of Rottingham, who I’d failed to convince of his motivation in doing the scene, failed to show up and so poor Robin Hood ended up fighting a duel with the teaboy dressed as the Sheriff. (Also not a good ending.)

Getting to a good ending is hard. I don’t know how many endings there are (the author is notoriously tight-lipped when it comes down to these things), but I found 6 bad ones – ranging from me being arrested for murder to the film simply flopping at the box office – before I hit a good one. Fortunately, the game is impossible to put into an unfinishable state. Even if you screw up everything possible – throwing items away, beating up cast members and setting fire to Sherwood Forest (yes, carelessly leaving a box of matches out isn't a good idea while I'm around) – you'll still finish the game. Naturally, a bad ending awaits you but at least this gives you the incentive to try again and see if you can change things for the better and see one of the game’s better endings.

So in conclusion: not a bad game. It needs a lot of work and I’d quite happily hang the beta-testers from the walls of Rottingham Castle because they missed a huge number of errors and typos, not to mention outright inconsistencies with the plot, but for a first game by a new author, this certainly showed promise.

6 out of 10




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Postby Chenshaw » Thu Jun 07, 2007 6:58 am

Wow. David wins. :D
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Postby Kevin Cantara » Thu Jun 07, 2007 3:08 pm

And to the winner goes first prize! He has to CREATE this game. :P It actually sounds like a great source of entertainment.

Guess you should have made the number of rooms in your description smaller, huh Dave? lol
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Postby David Whyld » Thu Jun 07, 2007 3:22 pm

Someone else going to review the game then? I'm curious to see if other people's opinions of it are the same as mine. ;/



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Postby Lumin » Thu Jun 07, 2007 10:19 pm

Men in Tights: The Sherwood Murders is...well, it's different, I'll give you that. When I first started playing the game, strange title or not it seemed to be a light-hearted parody of the Robin Hood story, much like the movie. Then it turned out that in fact it was a light-hearted look behind the scenes of making the movie, which I was fine with until it became obvious that it wasn't 'light-hearted' at all.

This is my first and probably biggest complaint about the game; the genre just jumps all over the place. Fun action romp? Great. Good-natured poking at Hollywood stereotypes? Okay. But then there's this abrupt shift in tone right about the time Mel's assistant puts the wrong kind of cream in his latte, and it's one that I think most player's are going to find pretty jarring. (And of course once you get used to that, there's a period midway through where it briefly slips back into a silly farce.)

Another problem I had was that the characters simply weren't very likeable. Granted, I don't know much about the real life actors' actual personalities, but I somehow doubt Mel Brooks is a violent control-obsessed lunatic, Cary Elwes is a hedonist who spends twelve hours a day out of his mind from various illegal substances, eleven partying with half a dozen women in various states of undress, and maybe one hour actually acting. In addition I doubt Dave Chappelle acts exactly like he does on The Chappelle Show in his off hours...or rather like a bad parody of his persona on the show - whenever this otherwise unresponsive NPC showed up I don't know what I found more offensive - the constant use of the 'n' word or the way he called every female character a 'ho'. (The only time the latter made any sense was in reference to the dead prostitute you're supposed to remove from Cary's trailer, and possibly when speaking to Amy Yasbeck, who is as ridiculous a stereotype as everyone else.) And I won't even start on Tracey Ullman's character, since I can't think of anyway to do that without spoiling the ending...

But all of that would be forgivable if only the PC wasn't so repulsive. You play Mel's personal assistant/bodyguard, and before the game reveals its true colors you seem harmless enough as all the puzzles are of the 'Ha ha, watch me take unreasonable orders from my draconian boss' variety. But then there comes that turning point I spoke of after the latte incident. Maybe it's just me, but I have a hard time rooting for a character that will laugh sadistically while chopping off a young man's fingers, right before scalding him to death with hot coffee. (Though I will admit that the series of puzzles revolving around hiding the body were very clever and one of the high points of the game for me.)

And yes, I know the previous paragraph contained spoilers, but that's something that happens fairly early in the game and I think potential players have a right to know what they're getting into, because shock tactics abound and things get even more disturbing from there. I mean, I'm not a prude or anything, but IMO Amy's actions during the orgy scene alone go way beyond depraved and get into the territory of 'stomach turning', and that's before the midget and donkey show up.

It's almost a relief when the film is finished and the titular murders begin, though frustratingly enough this is where I encountered most of the bugs. The most aggravating was the one that apparently keeps me from saving Patrick Stewart, because frankly he's the only one of the lot remotely worth saving, even when you include the PC.

But to give credit where credit is due, none of the bugs in the (obviously rushed) ending are game-breaking or even important, and on the whole the game is soundly implemented, as you might expect from a veteran author. The NPCs have very little to say outside of the cut scenes, but that's a minor nitpick.

The writing is good as well, the rooms and objects were thoroughly described with several original puzzles, and as I played this I couldn't help but wish the author had used their obvious talent to write something a little less pointless and bizarre. I also found myself wondering how a harmless an inoffensive movie such as Men in Tights, released over a decade ago, managed to draw out this much bile and hatred. Whatever the case, I hope through writing this game (and hopefully getting some good therapy on the side) David has worked out whatever issues he had with the film and is now ready to go back to writing amusing games about sentient eyeballs and the like.




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Postby brain in jar » Wed Jun 20, 2007 11:38 am

It is NOT worth playing. I want that to be known right now to save you an earful.

First off, you're working as a crew member for the production of Mel Brooks' film Robin Hood: Men in Tights (The film I can recommend :-D). I thought that if a single fan of the film worked so hard on it, then it would probably be good. Saying that, it does contain a fair amount of references to the film in it that you might not get hadn't you seen RH:MIT. Like Maid Marion's chastity belt and Broomhilde's "Russian" (as the game called it) accent. I let some things slide, of course, like the Jewish joke in the middle. I hoped that it would be the only one; it was, but there were many more sex jokes to come. I think the limit for carrying objects was 10 heavy objects. Oh, golly, that went horribly wrong. Either the PC magically ended up with no hands, or the task is accidentally preventing you from taking anything. Even in the first "chapter" when I was asked to take Mark Blankfield's script to him, I couldn't lift the damn thing because my hands were too full! The game wasn't passworded; turns out I had to type "acquire " each time instead of get or take. Eh? When I did finally get to hold the script, I had to read the script to him as well. His character is blind, not the actor! In the final chapter, for some reason I fear will never become apparent (the only possibly satisfying explanation for me being: all of the crew except for you were either knocked unconscious or fired from the set), and you were given the sacred responsibility of getting the chastity belt prop for the huh-larious final scene from the props room. Groan, what a nightmare! I had to go through the Nottingham forest set to get to the props caravan. Not only was the set a generic "you are here" maze, but there were no clues as to directions, nothing that might guide you in the right way or even a friendly character who says "follow me!" But ah-ha! Rather than guess what I might do next, I went back into the Generator and found that I need to "shout for a sets crew guy". Talk about guess the sentence! I saw hints to asking sets experts during the game, but talking to the NPCs, even for vital information, is neither fun; they're emotionless bastards, even Cary Elwes and Mel Brooks to a depressing degree, practical; they walk off before I can truly ask about crucial details, nor even particularly helpful. When I found the Holy Grail, the hint that tells me I need to call a "sets crew guy", it was worded totally unlike the task I needed to type: "Oh! You probably want to call a sets expert." I can imagine someone saying “call a sets expert, dammit!” Getting the belt was just a case of tediously going through generic boxes (and the rampant ambiguity problems therein). When I finally got the belt back to the castle set, Amy Yasbeck just made one more dirty joke (which, believe me, the camel's back had already been long broken) about Roger Rees' and Cary Elwes', I got an abrupt, unrewarding congratulation screen and a weird credits sequence where the author's name would come up telling you that the author did all the programming, disappearing afterwards. All in all, it was poorly thought out and even more poorly done, with too much dirty humour.

0/*****
Zero out of five stars




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Postby David Whyld » Mon Jun 25, 2007 12:21 pm

Only registered members can edit their posts.
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Postby brain in jar » Mon Jun 25, 2007 3:00 pm

...How registered is registered?
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Postby David Whyld » Mon Jun 25, 2007 3:10 pm

It means if you've registered Adrift 4, there should be an option in the Help menu in the Generator to become registered on the forum.
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Postby NickyDude » Mon Jun 25, 2007 3:44 pm

If you re-write it BIJ, I'll remove the other post for you ("what a guy!")
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Postby brain in jar » Mon Jun 25, 2007 4:29 pm

I've registered ADRIFT 4 already so I'll just sort it out soon. Thanks though, NickyDude!
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Postby NickyDude » Tue Jul 31, 2007 9:32 pm

Is there a cut-off date for this Dave?
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Postby Lumin » Fri Jan 11, 2008 5:31 am

You know I think maybe...just maybe...this little contest is dead now. Probably best to unsticky it so it can have a decent burial. (though I wouldn't mind seeing a new review contest, or better yet the resurrection of the writing contest...)
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