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In which I check out Legends of Zork, or, At Least the Art’s Nice

April 2, 2009

(Disclaimer:  I don’t work for Kingdom of Loathing, but if they went out of business I would have to get a job, so it’s not necessarily in my best interest to like Legends of Zork and say nice things about it, but I still wanted to.  There’s room on the internet for more than one turn-limited browser game – pretty much by definition, right? – and I was sort of excited about it and now I’ve played it for a day and as far as I can tell it’s just not very good.  It’s a shame for other people’s opinions to prevent one from expanding one’s experience, though, so check it out for yourself.)

One thing I’m finding is that it’s very hard to come up with a battle taunt for a character without any distinctive features.  There are eight avatars to choose from:  blondes, brunettes, redheads, and People of the Ethnic Persuasion, one each male and female.  They are all charming and full of personality but none of them has, say, a cheese grater for a face, which is what you really want as inspiration for a battle taunt.  (“Come over here and I’ll grate you like cheese… WITH MY FACE!”  You cannot tell me that is not brilliant.)  There’s always over-the-top vulgarity, of course (“I’m gonna shit up your nose so hard it’ll come out milk”), but that doesn’t seem very Zorklike and I’m not even sure what that one means.

What?  Name must be 14 characters or less?  All right, fine.  I’ll use my real name and my real battle shout (“Ow!  Ow!  Ow ow ow!”)

The game recommends I go to the White House to go to my first base.  I can’t remember now whether first base includes tongue.

Weapons/Armour: You can buy kittens here. No we’re lying.
Bastards!

Oh, okay, people are not lying about this being Progress Quest except you have to click a button.  Well, at least the art’s nice, I guess.  If I’m just going to watch myself fight, though, I’d like to watch something interesting. Maybe something with, I don’t know, verbs, verbs that describe something happening?  This is what combat looks like:

Okay, the Fanucci cards look like they might actually do something interesting, namely interact with each other when (hee hee) put in slots, but I’ve only got one so far.  It’s going in Body, where it gives me 2%.  Of something.  Apparently.  Awesome.

It’s possible things will get more interesting once I’ve unlocked a new area (maaaaaybe) but right now I’m bored.  For a game based on a text adventure, there is not a lot of friggin’ text.  No descriptions.  No quests.  No sense of purpose.  Nothing to actually do during combat (yes, I do have a level 39 ProgressQuest character somewhere, but, y’know, that you just let run).  Art’s nice.  Did I mention that?

For my first skill I took +25% probability of solving mechanical puzzles.  I sure hope somewhere in this game are some mechanical puzzles, or I’ll have to feel dumb.

What is carrying capacity for?  Everything I find on the ground I seem to sell automatically.  Maybe I only sell it when I click on my house?  So if my bags are full it means I forgot to click on my house?

Oh, exciting, I’ve unlocked a new combat location, which means I get to look at pictures of different monsters with different stats.  Art’s nice.

It looks like someone did bother to design mechanics for this game – looks like a rock-paper-scissory thing that changes your chance of winning depending on what you’re wearing, but there’s still nothing to do during combat itself, so, yawn.

Uh-oh, you’re doing some sterling adventuring here but you’re about to run out of Action Points. If you don’t want to wait until tomorrow for more AP, you can buy some more in the Perks store for a handful of Coconuts.
This is something KoL specifically does not do because it comes off as a skeezy cash grab.  Let’s see, what’ve we got?  Hmm, ten coconuts for 200 turns, two coconuts to remove all advertising… how much is a coconut worth, anyway?  Doot de do OH WOW, “purchase coconuts or get them for free from our friends at Offerpal?”  I am suspicious of Offerpal.

Okay, did I say something looked skeezy earlier?  I totally blew my wad.

Everyone’s got their own opinion about what is or isn’t a valid internet business model, but this makes me not want to play the game in a way that it simply not being a very good game didn’t.  Love horoscopes and flirting tips sent to my cell phone indeed.

Edit:  Oh, and it’s not actually funny. I thought Zork was supposed to be funny.  Remember how on the Dick Van Dyke show Rob used to crack up Buddy and Sally with such comedy gems as “ENCOUNTER RESULT:  YOU WON?”  Remember how he used to trip over that ottoman?  That was great.

I would suspect the money intended to hire the funny writer was diverted to the art department, if I actually thought anyone intended to hire a funny writer in the first place.

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