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A Day At The Seaside

A forum where new and old games can be reviewed - an alternative to the reviews on the Adventures page of the main ADRIFT site. Also the place to ask for any assistance if you are stuck playing a particular game.

Postby David Whyld » Mon May 09, 2005 8:18 pm

A Day At The Seaside - By Matthew Hunter

*** As featured in Reviews Exchange Issue 4 ***


Inspired ideas for the Spring Comp 2005 must be seriously lacking this year. One game involved wandering around your house tidying it up, this one has you wandering around a seaside town doing… not much really.

I wasn’t really sure what to make of A Day At The Seaside. Is it a guidebook for some little seaside town? Or is it a work of interactive fiction? It fails as either.

The guidebook idea doesn’t work very well because the town is small, no more than a dozen locations, and the geography is strange to say the least. The whole town map can’t be displayed properly because of the bizarre layout and so sometimes when you tap F2 for the map, you get an error message and other times you get a map which seems slightly different depending on which location you're currently standing in.

As a work of interactive fiction, it doesn’t work very well either. Commands only seem to be included if they're needed to make progress in the game and left out if they're not necessary. So no swimming in the sea, unfortunately, which is perhaps the main reason people go to the seaside in the first place. You also can’t examine the sea either which is another of the game’s bad points. In one part of the beach, you can dig if you're carrying the bucket and spade but trying to dig in another part hits you with an error message. Digging in the final part produces a sandcastle which is also apparently invisible as you're not able to look at it once you’ve made it. You can also make multiple sandcastles if you're so minded but as all of these are likewise invisible, there's probably not much point.

There isn’t a proper introduction to the game and so figuring out what you need to do is big problem. A bit of text hints you should head to the beach but as nothing happens when you get there, there's clearly a lot more to it than that.

Wandering around the town produces a few oddities. I'm able to buy a camera despite the fact that I don’t have any money – at least, nothing is listed in my inventory which starts off completely empty (I came to the seaside carrying nothing at all? Looks like it.) – yet elsewhere I'm confronted with the problems of a photo booth that requires money to operate and which I'm not able to use. Maybe the money is considered to be part of the player that doesn’t need to be listed in the inventory, like your clothes (assuming you're wearing any and haven’t just come to the seaside stark naked), but I still wasn’t able to figure out the correct phrase to get the phone booth to work.

Items seem to be scattered around pretty much without reason. A bucket and spade can be found near the beach (okay, I’ll let that one go, it’s the seaside after all), a form that requires filling in, a pen… I'm not able to fill the form in once I've got the pen. Guess the verb issues? Or something else that needs to be done first? I couldn’t say.

A gimmick that A Day At The Seaside uses is a picture of each location. I wasn’t too keen on this to be honest, even though it was a nice touch, as they are actual photos as opposed to the drawings that appeared in the text adventures of my youth (…nostalgia again…). But they were an interesting touch all the same. Some of the locations seemed to lack much in the way of text (one only lists the exits and nothing else) so having something to look at helped.

It was hard to keep any real enthusiasm going for this game. It’s not a terrible interesting subject full stop and the amount of things not covered makes matters worse. On top of that, there's no walkthrough and no hints so when I became stuck, which happened before too long, it wasn’t hard to resist the urge to quit.

3 out of 10
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Postby KFAdrift » Mon May 09, 2005 9:58 pm

Have to admit I rather liked this game, having a liking for the images used. This was a game that, with a bit more care would be really pleasurable to play, as David says there isn't that much in the way of motivation.

This was certainly an experimental piece unlike the normal ADRIFT games we see, and for that it deserves credit. So many games follow a formula these days. This really isn't a guide book, more of an interactive visit where you could wander around, and hopefully if you made a real visit it would help. I think a nice touch would have been a sketch map the player started off with and that they could check from time to time. This would have made it less of a mystery tour and would have allowed a degree of planning.

As has been said, the game did lack any form of apparent help, which made it ultimately frustrating as I did feel there was more to the game than I was able to find.

A worthy effort 5/10.
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Postby surrealist » Fri May 13, 2005 7:31 pm

**SPOLIERS WITHIN**

Hello, author here, thanks for your reviews.

I'm aware of the shortcomings of this adventure, as it's my first. I was extremely cheeky to enter it into the comp as it was really an amusement for fellow forum members in Portobello Online, a community website in Edinburgh, UK.

Here is the thread where I inflicted the puzzle on the board :

http://portobello-edinburgh.org.uk/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=1274

One of the things we are most aware of here and which may not be apparent to the random player is the amount of local council control here (not all of it bad!), but for that reason the only instructions for the game are written on a council sign. If you don't find it, you'd have trouble working out that before you get the bus home you have to go swimming and take a scenic photo.

Portobello is small. There aren't many locations. But you do have to move about from place to place to get things done.

There is no swimming in the sea for a reason, which frustrates most locals - the sea is freezing. Again another in-joke for us local yokels I guess.

Sorry about the digging errors and multiple sandcastle errors.

Although I didn't explain it, the player has paper money but is struggling for the right coinage for the arcade game (to win a bigger coin) and the photo booth (which takes the winnings from the arcade).

The items are not scattered for no reason. In fact one of the cliches I did not adhere to was the infamous red herring! Bingos always have pens, beaches always have hidden treasure in the sand, council pools always have forms you have to fill in. But I guess I could have given more clues.

It's meant to be frustrating that you can't just go swimming but need to own a leisure access card, but that is what life is like. It's meant to be frustrating that in order to get the card you need a passport sized photo. It's meant to be frustrating that in order to get the photo you need the right kind of coin even though you've got paper money. Etc.

Maybe there isn't a "proper" introduction, and maybe I did react a little extremely to some games' hand-holding, but the information *is* there - people, and not just locals, have completed this game with no hints. But I don't seek to detract from the obvious shortcomings pointed out.

I will certainly take these comments on board when we return together to the seaside....
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Postby David Whyld » Fri May 13, 2005 7:53 pm

Any chance of a revised version with all the errors fixed and some clues added?
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Postby KFAdrift » Fri May 13, 2005 9:05 pm

Well done, for a first game this was a very good effort, and better for the fact of not pushing the fact of it being a first game.
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Postby surrealist » Sat May 14, 2005 7:39 am

Ah! I didn't know I was allowed to change the game once I had entered it.

Does this mean I can do a George Lucas and insert bad CGI then call it the Special Edition?
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Postby David Whyld » Sat May 14, 2005 7:56 am

Sure. So long as you don't put any jive-talking aliens in called Binks. Permanent ban for someone who does that.
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Postby surrealist » Sat May 14, 2005 8:24 am

bwrrrrr. Meesa workin on it right now sah. ;)
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Postby KFAdrift » Sat May 14, 2005 9:15 am

Think in many ways you can look at competitions as betaplus testing, as so often there is little time to fully test a game before the event (unless you are David Whyld and can write so far ahead of schedule) :p
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