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IF Comp ’08 Review – Anssi Räisänen’s The Ngah Angah School of Forbidden Wisdom!

October 4, 2008

As you enter the twilight zone of Adventures, you stumble and fall to your knees. In front of you, you can vaguely see the outlines of an Adventure that never was.

SYSTEM ERROR: Checksum error in Acode (.a3c) file (0x22aac5 instead of 0x22aa94).

Well, that would qualify as an adventure that never was.

Update:  I’ve gotten this game working on the new PC, which is kind of sad, ‘cause I really liked this review the way it was.  Still, I promised myself I was going to judge these games as fairly as my arbitrary, biased, inherently unfair system would allow, and that means no skipping Anssi Räisänen’s The Ngah Angah School of Forbidden Wisdom.

Ngah Angah sounds like something you’d say if you accidentally dropped a cigarette on your tongue, doesn’t it?  I mean, you’d be all “ngah!” and then someone would ask you what emotion you were experiencing, and you’d say “angah!”  Then you’d think about it a little and say “Actually, mostly I am experiencing  pain, but that is not an emotion!  Therefore you did not phrase the question as relevantly as you could have done,” to which the other person would respond “Ah, but you are assuming I was curious about your overall condition, not purely your emotional state,” and you’d say “Well, yeah, can’t argue with that,” and go look for a cold beverage.

[spoilers start here after a nice hot shower – be warned that they are very very spoilery, pretty much complete puzzle solutions, so if you do not want that, do not read further, thank you, I love you, there’s ham in the fridge]

Gosh, the lack of preliminary exposition is a tad jarring.  Not saying this is necessarily a bad thing, but the game begins more or less “Hi!  You’re in a room with some murals!  Drink this cup of tea!” only without the part where it says “hi.”  I added the “hi” myself to ease the transition.  Anssi Räisänen does not fuck around, is what I am saying.

Okay, this is some sort of examination, presumably to do with the School of Forbidden Wisdom.  I am supposed to drink a cup of tea on a table behind six armed warriors.  I don’t much care for tea.

The symbol in the first warrior’s clothing resembles a fish spear.
The symbol in the second warrior’s dress resembles a bow with an arrow.
The symbol in the third warrior’s uniform resembles the stalk of some small weed.
The symbol in the fourth warrior’s attire resembles a fish spear.
The symbol in the fifth warrior’s outfit most closely resembles the human ear.
The symbol in the sixth warrior’s tunika resembles a sun rising half-way above the horizon.

Oh dear God it’s going to be one of those sorts of puzzles.  All right.  Back with you in a half-hour.

I am carrying a piece of paper on which I have scribbled the local alphabet to learn the language.  I am unable to read this piece of paper.

Oh no, this trinket was covered in exposition!  Story of my life much, me?  Oh, okay, I want to pass this examination so I can be with my one true love.  If there is one thing I have learned in my real life it is that you never follow anyone you’re dating to magic school.

> x examiner
Wrong; he is examining you.
Nice.

***  You’ve been beheaded  ***
Oops!

Oh, now that I’ve restarted, I get an actual introduction.  Wonder how I missed that the first time.

In case the image of the text in the piece of paper in the hero’s inventory isn’t showing in your interpreter, it is to be found in the enclosed .jpg file.
Oh phew.

Okay, I see the ear… fish spear?  A maybe?  Huh.  What does AGNARP mean?

> agnarp
Nothing happens except that the examiner sneers.

Internet Anagram Server – oh how I love it – not turning anything up… okay, game, can I get a hint?  No?  Is there a walkthrough?  No?

Oh!  Okay!  I had to say it backwards for some reason which escapes me, perhaps because it was AGNARP to me but PRAGNA to the warri- oh I don’t know.  Anyway, it’s tea-drinkin’ time!

Huh, okay, the second test is to have butterflies thrown at me?  What do you want from me, game?  Oh, I see, these are deadly butterflies.  Um.  Well.  Back with you in a moment.

***  You’ve been poisoned  ***
Well, poop.

A-ha, I had to light my staff on fire.  I am awesome, have I mentioned?  On to the third test and hopefully the waiting arms of my beloved whatever-her-name is.  Dirndu?  Something like that.  She’s got lips like sarsparilla, my Dirndu.  Diridu, sorry, Diridu.

Okay, in this room there is a statue of a goddess with a silver key in two of her arms and scary pointy weapons in the other four.  The examiner tells me that she will drop the key when her head is touched by any means.  I have used two of the three things in my inventory on the last two tests, so I am going to take the third thing, this trinket Diridu gave me, and throw it at her head.

That was it?  Seriously?

And we ride into the sunset on a magic tiger.  Well okay then.

I’m a little torn on how to score this one.  You know how sometimes Flash games will have a little story, like “your brother has been kidnapped by werewolves and only your skill at Bejeweled can save him?”  This game was a bit like that, except instead of Bejeweled there were three puzzles of the “examine everything” variety.  I happen to rather like those sorts of puzzles because I can fairly reliably solve them, which makes me feel good about myself, which makes me more inclined to be generous when scoring games.  For the puzzles, for the attempt at vivid imagery, for infallibly telling me what color things were, and for containing the phrase “you take her by the hand and together you mount the tiger,” I give this a six.  Next game, though, I would like to see the story fleshed out.

Also please note that there are many snarky things I could have said about the grammar in this one, but Anssi Räisänen looks like a Finnish name to me, and I am not going to say word to your mother about some Finnish dude’s English until I have learned to so much as ask for the bathroom in Finnish.  In other news, “Finnish” has stopped looking like a word and begun to look like, I don’t know, some species of cucumber.

Pragna.

(Update:  I totally meant “pranga.”  Pragna is wrong.  I totally just backspaced “Pragna is worng”, so perhaps you can see how I might have fucked that up.  Thank you!  And thanks to Reiko for pointing that out.)

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One comment

  1. […] enjoy the notion that my character is a gifted text-adventure protagonist.  Anssi Raisanen entered an odd, short, vivid puzzler to the competition three years ago back when people cared more about umlauts, and I am interested […]



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