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Emy Discovers Life Reviews
What does AIF stand for? Adult Interactive Fiction.
If you likely to
be offended by games with sexual content, you are advised not
to open these files.
Reviewed by A. Bomire
This game tells the story of a 15-year old school girl in 1950's England (the title character, Emy) struggling with the changes of growing up, and the hormonal urges that accompany those changes. As with most girls her age, Emy is just discovering the feelings engendered by her neighbor-cum-boyfriend, Sam. At the same time, she is discovering her own body along with her best friend, Jen. As if this wasn't enough to deal with, she is also consumed by guilt over these feelings. Her struggles to resolve these feelings guide the main storyline of this game.
When choosing a game to be reviewed this month, I was astonished to learn that this game had not as yet been reviewed. Or, at least had not been reviewed by a member of the AIF community. This game is considered a seminal work in the AIF community, being one of the first games to actually tell a story as well as being one of the first with a female protagonist. MKJ received a lot of criticism from mainstream IF over this game, and true there are some things that could have been done better. However, when taken in the context of most other AIF works being produced at this time (consisting mostly of rather poorly written Star Trek fantasies), it was really ahead of its time.
The puzzles in this game consist mostly of doing the right thing at the right time. Instead of being a 'treasure hunt' where you basically hunt for and deliver various articles to other characters, you are expected to do certain things at certain times. Most of those things involve doing naughty things either with your friend Jen or with your neighbor Sam. There is a bit of guess-the-verb as not all of the puzzles are straightforward, and most players would do well to track down a walkthrough.
The actual sex scenes themselves are pretty average, as far as hotness goes, but another aspect of AIF in which this game was in the vanguard was in describing the feelings Emy experiences as she explores her sexuality. As Emy 'discovers life', both in the company of Jen and her boyfriend Sam, she is feeling guilty over a lot of it, and sometimes she is stopped by her own feelings of guilt. Other times, outside influences interrupt her (such as Sam's or her own mother arriving at inconvenient times). As such, the sexual interaction experienced by the player builds from very
little at the beginning to full intercourse as the game progresses. During these scenes, you get the feeling of a young girl both excited by performing such 'naughty' acts, and guilt-ridden over doing what she knows is wrong.
This game was written using AGT, which as a platform was the most popular system at the time. However, it was quickly replaced by such systems as Inform and TADS, mostly because of
limitations within the AGT system itself. It is very buggy to run now, and very few players will have the opportunity to play the game in the original AGT format. You will most likely need to use an AGT emulator such as AGiliTy or Gargoyle. These emulators sometimes don't interpret the game exactly as the original AGT interpreter did, and it is a little tough to judge the game based upon that. As I remember playing it on an older system many years ago, the game didn't have many bugs, but it wasn't bug free. As I mentioned, there were some guess-the-verb problems, and sometimes the game didn't recognize or execute commands when they were supposed to be executed.
This game was written by a Danish author not entirely comfortable with the English language. As such, there are a lot of phrases and expressions used which may not translate completely to English. For example, Emy's neighbor Sam is often referred to as "the cute Sam". *Warning: minor spoiler! Skip to the next section to avoid!* One of the biggest complaints about this game is the ending. You simply cannot end the game (other than quitting in the middle) in any way which prevents Emy's mother from shipping her off to boarding school. This could be social commentary from the game's author, MKJ, as this was not an uncommon reaction in 1950's society to the way that Emy behaves. However, many players felt let down by this ending.
Even though this game could be considered rather poor by today's standards, at the time it was a really good game that really expanded the horizons of AIF. During the first Erin's awards ceremony (2002), it walked away with 8 Erins, including Best Female PC, Best Male NPC, Best Story, Best Sex and Best Game (all in the "First Age" games category). So, despite what many may consider to be its problems, it is definitely worth checking out.
Quentin D. Thompson
Okay, I'm laughing. Hard. This game is so stupidly and consistently pathetic that it's funny. I know it's downright mean of me to say this, but c'mon, MKJ, couldn't you at least ask some of your buddies on alt.sex.stories to proofread your erotic masterpiece? The writing sometimes is so abysmal that it makes the player laugh at all the wrong moments, and the gameplay is absolutely no better. Simply put, this game is awful.
Gameplay and Interaction: (1/10)
Ha ha ha ha ha. And a few more laughs if you want my feelings verbatim. This one combines dreadful, "erotic" prose with some of the weirdest and most guess-the-verb puzzles in the history of AGT. What's even sadder is that some of the objects seem to have been carefully implemented (including a 20-set encyclopedia), but none of the more promising bits go anywhere. The player character, I assume, is a girl of about 16, but character definition goes out of the window fairly soon - it's just "boff as many people - of either sex - as you can, and flee". Rap band Niggaz With Attitude were banned in England for writing a song with a similar theme, and if anyone's interested in emulating that example, and stamping out this game, please let me know. Its existence is a blot on the history of IF, and even AIF.
Story and Writing: (0/10)
If you've read that sample dialogue by Emy's mom (she actually says something like "OOH DEAR! My only baby girl somdomizing with another one!" in the game) you'll know what the righting - oops, writing - in this game is like, so we'll leave it at that. As for story, I'm reminded of what a friend of mine sarcastically replied when asked by someone else if porn flicks had a plot. He said: "Plot? You don't need a plot in a porn movie. Just turn on the music, get two people in a room, and go right ahead." This one doesn't even have music, but if it did, it'd probably be a Vengaboys remixes album. Simply put, this game sucks. It makes "Detective" look like "Trinity". Also, the ending is soooo incredibly cheesy and generally idiotic, it makes the ending of "Stiffy Makane" look like the ending of "Photopia".
It's hard to get into the flesh - pun CERTAINLY NOT INTENDED - of a player character whose ideology is "Findum, ****um and Flee", especially when the prose isn't even comic or self-parodying. The title is also pretty misleading - it could've been handled in at least 69,105 better ways, but trust MKJ to find the wrong one.
All the humour in this game is unintentional, but I'm not holding it against MKJ. He's worse than Chad Elliott on Prozac.
NPCs: (0/10) DO NOT NAME AN NPC "THE CUTE SAM". NEVER. DO YOU HEAR ME? "THE CUTE SAM"? I MEAN, YOU'VE GOT TO BE KIDDING, RIGHT? THAT'S NOT _REALLY_ WHAT MKJ CALLED HIM, RIGHT?? JUST DON'T DO IT.
The schoolgirl friend NPC was probably the only one who had anything non-sexual to contribute to the game, and that was precious little. Overall, _bleagh_. Even though the NPCs are above AGT standard, I can't forgive ANYONE who names an NPC "THE CUTE SAM". Okay?
Design Decisions: (0/10)
MKJ made one bad design decision in this game, and that was writing it in the first place. That's all.
Though I personally wouldn't want to write AIF, I have no objection to talented and well-implemented works of IF that include strong sexual elements - and in that category I would place "Exhibition" as well as "Chix Dig Jerks". This game was talentless, poorly organized, and had the sexual maturity of a ten-year-old on testosterone. People like MKJ probably do "adult" IF a greater disservice than any of the genre's critics. So don't waste your download time on this, unless you want a few laughs.
My score for "Emy Discovers Life": 0 out of 10.
[This was originally 0 out of 10. I added one for humour and subtracted one for "Eeagh! THE CUTE SAM??" to arrive at the final score.]
Reviews should be considered copyrighted by their respective authors.
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