IF Comp ’09 – Dave Horlick’s GATOR-ON, Friend to Wetlands!!

October 11, 2009

I’ve been listless the past few days.  Blargrughiphinated.  Devoid of pep.  Clearly, the only cure is GATOR-ON, Friend to Wetlands!

I’m going to say it again, only bigger.  Hmm, where is my thing to change font size?  Does <h1> still work?  Are we even still using those pointy bracket things?  It’s all CSS these days, isn’t it.  Why do they insist on changing shit once I’ve bothered learning how it all works?  Forty years from now young people are going to have to help me into the supermarket while I mumble about how in my day you just pushed doors and they opened, well, unless you weren’t on the pushing side, but even then all you had to do was pull them, and the young people will smile politely and murmur sympathetically as they lead me past the rotating laser blades into the transmogrifier, secretly pitying me a childhood spent pushing on boring single-function doors.  What the fuck was I talking about?  My scalp itches.  Oh, right:

…yeah, WordPress has ish with <h1>.  I think I’ll just say “GATOR-ON, Friend to Wetlands!” quietly to myself in a normal font size and be done with it.  Too bad, too, I was looking forward to telling progress to go fuck itself.

Mostly Spoiler-Free Upshot: This game could have been pretty awesome, and in fact gets sort of awesome near the end.  It’s just that there are way more pointless rooms full of nothing than the game requires, like someone went “Oh, the Everglades are very big, how many rooms would that be?  Fifty?  Then that is how many rooms shall comprise the Everglades.”  Also this game takes place in the Everglades.  I hope you didn’t not want to know that.

[spoilers begin here]

Pyth-nor?  Secret Everglades base?  This bodes well.  Riff says this game is awesome in places but ultimately disappointing.  If he’s right, I hope the awesome places are particularly awesome.

Why can’t I see the wetlands?  They are my friends!

I have no idea if I was supposed to stay in the tram or not, but it wasn’t very interesting, so I got out.  Hopefully that is all right.  What am I supposed to be doing again?

Not a great deal of implementation so far.  It’s possible I was never meant to be standing in the wetlands trying to look at things mentioned in the room description, but still.  (I really like the phrase “but still” – it’s like daring anyone to be reasonable at you.  “Well, yes, I understand that everyone else is right and I am shockingly amazingly wrong; we are talking unprecedented levels of wrongness, in fact, but still.”  If you use it out loud, make sure to narrow your eyes accusingly for bonus unreasonableness points.  Oh, and remember:  the loser of any argument is not the one who was wrong to begin with, but the first one to give up loudly and clearly insisting they have always been right.)

Um.  There is a lot of this road.

Uh.  All these rooms look the same and I am lost.  Where am I even going?  Where’s my secret base?  Is it that much of a secret?  Should I have stayed on the tram?  If I should have stayed on the tram, I object to the game letting me off the tram.  I object to my own free will.

Yeah.  I’m just getting back on the tram.

The tour guide maintains that the Everglades and the nearby city of Miami co-exist in ecological harmony.
This Dave Horlick cat, I am taking his measurements.  Dude loves the Everglades, hates tour guides.  I am not sure what size spats he wears, but if I had to guess, I’d say he doesn’t wear spats at all.

Um.  Am I supposed to stay on this tram?  We seem to just be going around this loop road in a… loop.  I think I will get off again and walk around until I find an anything.

Okay, here is an example of what is wrong with this game:

A short path connects the Loop Road, to the North, with the Observation Tower, to the south.

> s
Path Near Observation Tower
A short path connects the Loop Road, to the North, with the Observation Tower, to the south.

Why do we need all these different rooms with the same description and nothing in them?  Also, I better be able to fucking look at something from the Observation Tower.  Anything.  Mariachis even.  I don’t fucking care.

> x structure
It consists of a spiralling, painted concrete ramp. […]

Oh!  I have a homing beacon!  For the record, I hate it when games assume I’m going to check my inventory first thing, because I pretty much never do.  Hence, flailing and confusion and disorder and chaos and cats having sex with walnuts and flailing and chaos and flailing.

What do you want to unlock the hatch with?
I want to unlock the hatch with the bag of fucking corn chips (closed).  Can we not all just assume that keys are what people unlock doors with?  Can we not all just be cool about this?

Also, I’m torn between leaving the transmitter so I can find my hideout again, or taking it with me to prevent someone stumbling upon it.  I guess I’ll leave it and hope that doesn’t bite me in the ass.  There should be a good GATOR-ON!  Friend!  To!  Wetlands! joke about biting me in the ass, but none of the ones I can think of are actual jokes.

Oh, fuck that crow, man.  Wait, where’d he go?

I feel as though a crow who had flown away to the north should be somewhere to the north, you know?  Wandering around looking for it is not a very good time actually, especially since there are very few rooms that serve as landmarks, which makes knowing where the hell you are difficult.

Oooh, after spamming “n” and “s” a shitload of times, I found the crow!  Now what should I do with it?  Catch it?  No?
> bite crow
Ha ha.
…I don’t get it.  Am I not GATOR-ON, Friend to Wetlands?  Am I just some dude?

> hit crow
Some environmentalist you are!
Dude.  This crow is a dick.

The hint menu suggests I will need some way to trick the crow into revealing its hiding place.  I suppose I could get it to steal my transmitter, but I’m honestly not sure I can find my hideout without it.  Why do we need all these rooms?  Blue Lacuna took me five long sessions to play, and it didn’t have this many rooms.  Is walking around looking for shit supposed to be the core of the gameplay?

Okay, to get to my hideout, I go two north and one west from the very southeast corner of the map.  I feel as though I should not have to be so careful about writing this down.  Now to find that fucking crow again…

Oh, I see, this is why I have a bag of corn chips!  Because when I left the house today I said “I will need the beacon that leads me to my hideout, the key that unlocks my hideout, and the corn chips that I will use to trick the crow that unbeknownst to me is going to steal the key to my hideout.”  It’s not a bad puzzle, though, as these things go.  Actually, I think it’s my favorite puzzle in the comp so far.

Whoo!  Got my key back!  That damn crow better not take it again, because there’s nowhere around here to buy corn chips and I can’t cross US-41.

Wait, did I say two north and one west?  I did.  Where’s my hideout again?  Oh, phew, found it.  I may never leave it again.


The bay bursts forth from a hundred estuaries against the backdrop of a pure blue sky.  The clouds appear to be perched almost directly atop the water.
That sounds really nice actually.  What am I supposed to be doing again?

Oh, man, I am one of five color-coded robotic alligators!  Kick friggin’ ass!

The orange-colored one is piloted by Dipole, a noted chemist and manufacturer of drink containers that grow into topiary animals when discarded.

The caramel-colored one is piloted by Petal, a young woman who lived in a tree for a year to prevent it from being cut down (for a year).

The lime-colored one is piloted by Osceoleta, the brilliant (and beautiful!) Seminole engineer who designed the robot alligator fleet.

And finally the lemon-colored alligator is piloted by Jasmine, a fifth-grader who wrote a moving essay on the importance of water conservation.

This is bloody brilliant.  I’m almost tempted to forgive the big empty map and the find-the-damn-crow business.  Except that I’m not.

Oh my God, it’s Pyth-nor!  Time for the fight of the century!

Maybe, and this is just a thought, when I’m in the Florida Bay as Gator-On, and Pyth-nor is crushing the living shit out of me with his stainless steel body, the room description should be altered to mention his presence?

Also, the hints menu could stand to be hintier.  I think it’s telling me I want to be one of five discrete robotic alligators again, but I have no idea what verb to use for that.  Oh, okay, “wake up” worked.

Huh.  I shouldn’t have woken up all the way back to my real self, I guess, since I can’t seem to open the canopy and I’m still wearing this helmet.  Oh, this is where the “unbite” spoiler I accidentally read comes in, although “open jaws” works also, so I’m not too pissed off.  Okay!  GATOR-ON, REFOOOOOOORM!

You are seized with the pronounced inclination to form a crackling mace.
Constantly.  How did you know?

You deliver Pyth-nor a decisive blow with the Crackling Mace!  Its bulk casts eerie shadows as it grinds to a gradual halt.  The Sun is setting over Florida Bay, but not on the future of the Florida Everglades.  Or on its new champion.
Violence isn’t the answer to this one.
Um.  Are you sure?  Could you check again?

Yeah, that was one awesome moment surrounded by way too much empty shitty nothing.  Oh, and that one puzzle I liked.  Why did this game have so much empty extra bullshit?  I tried to take note of the locations of the borrowing pits (for borrowing stuff from, I guess), thinking they’d be important later on, but nope.  And what was with the tram?  Oddly enough, with less work put into it, this would’ve been a better game.



  1. Shouldn’t that be two exclamation points in the post title?

    • You are so right.

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