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Generic New York Apartment Reviews

Author: NewKid
Date: 1999
TADS


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 (Inside Erin: The AIF Community Newsletter Volume 5 Number 11 - December 2009)


Basic Plot

You are the building superintendent in a New York apartment building. And, it seems that every tenant is having a problem of one type or another. It is your job to fix all of the problems and get your tenants to
renew their leases at the same time. Of course, the female occupants are are suitably grateful for your efforts!

Overall Thoughts

This game was written at a time when it seemed that every TV sitcom was based in New York city, and all of them were in an apartment building. The author, NewKid, collected the main characters from several TV
shows and lumped them into one "generic" building. Because the referenced TV shows were all hit shows in the mid- to late-90s, they may not be recognized by players today - especially some of the minor
characters such as the older lady who lives across the hall from the Buchanans/Buckmans. Of course, with syndication and re-runs many if not all of the shows are still playing somewhere today so if players are
interested they can find the original stars.

If you ignore the TV tie-ins and examine the game just as an AIF game, then it boils down to the standard "handyman" theme. The player spends most of the game checking his answering machine for tenants
reporting problems, and then finding the tools and supplies necessary to repair them. While it sounds like a well-used theme (and has been used in many games), it is really well done by NewKid. The problems are
well thought out and for the most part realistic for an apartment building (well, an AIF apartment building). The characters would have been familiar to players from their portrayal on TV, but NewKid doesn't let
them rest on just that. Understanding that not everyone would recognize every character he builds them with his characteristic fullness.

Puzzles/Game Play

NewKid is well known for his puzzles, and this game doesn't disappoint. The puzzles aren't mind-bending head scratchers, but neither are they simple. They blend easily into the game, with only one puzzle that I
found that seemed to be thrown in simply to take advantage of a famous character in a TV sitcom: the Soup/Sundae Nazi. Other than that exception, the other puzzles represent problems that are typical of
building maintenance. Not all of the puzzles are just "find it - fix it" either. There are personal problems of your tenants that need addressing as well. This is nice, as the player gets a chance to build a relationship
with the tenants (especially with the "prize": Jane Buchanan).

The game play is good as well. The apartment building is laid out well, with none of those false dead-ends that are sometimes found in large games like this. (Example: "There are more apartments down that way,
but you don't need to go there.") While the player can enjoy the game without knowing just who all of the characters are, the game is a little more enjoyable when you encounter familiar faces who reflect their on-
screen personalities.

Sex

The sex in this game is well done, as is customary with NewKid. The one drawback is that it uses an arousal system that forces the player into a set path instead of allowing him some leeway in sexual
exploration. For example: Kiss her, then touch her, then remove her shirt, then kiss again, then remove her pants, then touch again, then remove bra, then...etc. The player is given a written verification that he can
proceed in sexual exploration with a message such as "She purrs as you feel her excitement rise." This may put off some players. Some more familiar sexual acts aren't implemented, relying instead on variations. For
example, you can't ask a character to "suck cock", but she will be perfectly happy to respond to "blow me". This is an indication of the early time period in which this game was written, when the "standard" AIF commands had not yet been established.

But aside from that, the rest is great. There are many characters in the game, each with a fully-fleshed personality. As such, the sex is varied from one character to another. Some of the characters have multiple
encounters, such as two roommates who are willing to share as well as have individual encounters with you. And if you play the game with the accompanying pictures, you are also treated to some original
graphics of the characters.

Technical

As mentioned, some of the common AIF commands are not implemented in this game (although there are alternatives), as well as some AIF body parts (the player is apparently not anatomically correct, missing a
very important body part). Once you realize NewKid's way of doing things, then it is better as each girl will respond to the same actions (perhaps not performing those actions, but at least responding). However,
coming from today's standards and going backwards may throw some players off.

The only other technical glitch that I could find has to do with the pictures, and this one only shows up if you play with the pictures turned on. Some of the pictures are displayed at the end of the accompanying
text, causing the picture to display off of the bottom of the screen. So, you'll sometimes see just the top of a character's head until you scroll down. It isn't anything game shattering, just a little annoying.

Other than that, the game is very clean, technically.

Intangibles

As mentioned, NewKid includes pictures and sounds in this game. He takes full advantage of the then-new HTML-TADS interpreter, allowing the player to click on words and pictures to perform tasks. For
example, the player can click on the picture of his tool belt, and the game will assume he means "remove tool belt" (or "wear tool belt" if the tool belt has been removed). Clicking on the red answering machine
button will trigger the "play message" task. Clicking on a character's name will display that character's description and accompanying picture. And so on. This is something that is hardly ever used in today's
games, and is used in just the right amount here. NewKid doesn't fill the game with clickable objects and pictures, but they are there if you need them. And, you don't need to take advantage of them if you don't
wish.

Along with this, NewKid realizes that many players will recognize the characters in the game as their on-screen personalities, instead of his re-imagining of them. So, he provides the capability of referring to
characters by their TV screen-names, and even their real-life names. This is really nice, as more than once when I was first playing the game I accidentally referred to characters by their TV names and was pleased
to find that NewKid had accommodated me.

Final Thoughts

Compared against modern games, this game may seem worse than it really is: dated commands and characters from old and possibly forgotten TV sitcoms. But trust me, this game is a winner. Forget the TV
shows the characters are based upon and just play the game for what it is: a fun, puzzling and sexy romp through a well-populated apartment building. This game is one of the first AIF games I ever played, and
still stands out today as one of my top 10 games of all time.

Oh yes, you're probably wondering which American TV sitcoms are represented in the game. Well, from my memory they are: "Mad About You", "Caroline in the City", "Friends", "Seinfeld" and "Becker".

Rating: A
 


Reviewed by Earl of Kent

Before I begin, I have to admit to a certain bias: I really like this game. It's an extremely original concept, and for the most part, it's extremely well-executed. I've introduced the game to several people, each of whom is struck by I thought I had the first time I played it: "Why didn't someone think of this before?" NewKid did a great job on this game, and he can be proud of the fact that it sets the standard for AIF: this is how a good AIF game _looks_, and, more importantly, _plays_.

Aesthetics

Enjoyabilty
Other than "An Afternoon Visit", this is the AIF game that I come back to play most often. Part of it is out of seeing if I can think of anything new (I still haven't found out how to get Jane in the bedroom, or even if it's possible), but mostly because the game is just plain fun. There are a few frustrating points, especially Amy's fax machine, but once you get past that, the game is very enjoyable.
Score: 8

Style
NewKid is obviously someone who either A) is a naturally good writer, or B) is a tenacious re-writer. The prose can be a little clunky in some parts, but for the most part the text is excellent. The sex takes place in cut-scenes, which are long, but well worth the read. More importantly, you can get different responses depending on theexact situation, and repeating some actions can lead to whole new scenes to read. There has been some debate on this newsgroup over which style is better: cut-scenes or "Moist-like" descriptions based on specific actions. I'll throw my two cents in here and say that variety and quality take precedence. If you're going to use cut-scenes, they have to be well-written, and allow for at least a little variety; if you're going to use decriptions tailored to the player's actions, there has to be a lot of variety, even though the descriptions would probably be a little easier to write. In many AIF games (particularly in many X-trek games), the cut-scenes are poorly written, to the point of being embarassing. GNA _definitely_ does not suffer from this problem.
Score: 8

Game Mechanics

Puzzles
Nothing too difficult, with two exceptions. The Sundae Nazi puzzle might be hard to figure out if you've never seen the relevant episode of "Seinfeld"; but then, if you _have_ seen that episode, you'll know what to do right away. The other exception is Amy's fax machine. The problem is, it's not listed in the room description. Thus, I got to a point in the game where I had done everything I could think of, but couldn't proceed because I didn't know about that damned fax machine! I eventually had to consult a walkthrough (which I am loathe to do), and found out that it _is_ there, if you type "examine all". This is an oversight that definitely needs to be corrected, since it can make the game unwinnable.
Score: 6

Synonyms
Well above average. There are some annoying points (the game recognizes "porkchops", but not "pork chops", even though the text uses the two interchangably), but for the most part, items are recognizable by common synonyms (even when they don't make sense: "PUT BULB IN LIGHT"). More importantly, the characters are recognizable by names other than the ones used in the text of the game. Thus, if you forget that you're pursuing Monique and Rochelle, not Monica(TM) and Rachel(TM), the game will forgive you if you accidentally (or not-so-accidentally) type the name from the TV show. In fact, it'll even recognize the name of the _actress_ that plays the part, if you're so inclined.
Score: 8

Story

Characters
If you've seen the television shows this game parodies, the characters are fantastic; they all act as you would expect them to act, sometimes even quoting dialogue used by their television counterparts. Even if you've never seen the show, there's a great deal of characterization in this game. Each "conquest" has different tastes, desires, and limits. While not exactly believable (if these women lived in my apartment building, I'd never get any work done), they certainly are fun!
Score: 8

Plot
Well, to begin with, none of NewKid's games have an absolute ending; in all three I've played, you get to a point where you've achieved a certain goal or passed a certain point total, at which point you're giving the ending message and allowed to continue. From this standpoint, the games (including this one) are poorly plotted, since there's no resolution. On the other hand, I usually don't _want_ the game to end, so I don't particularly mind this aspect. For GNA in particular, there _is_ a stated goal, and events that proceed from the player's actions; the game _isn't_ static, which is a lot more than can be said for most AIF.
Score: 7

Structure

Concept
Very open-ended. You've got a specific goal to complete (getting all the tennants to renew their leases), but you've got multiple paths to take to get to that goal. One unique aspect is the answering machine, which is kind of a built-in guide to what the player needs to accomplish; if you ever run out of things to do, just go check your answering machine. Plus, the game is _big_, with lots of areas to explore.
Score: 8

Execution
For the most part, the execution is excellent. Some puzzles have more than one solution, which in and of itself is a unique concept to most AIF games (and many conventional IF games, for that matter). The only problem comes with the fax machine in Amy's apartment; it's not there if you don't know to look for it, and you can get to a certain point in the game where you can't proceed until you can send Amy faxes. It can be extremely frustrating. Granted, it's only one mistake, but it's a big enough onethat it has a major impact on the game (and this review's score).
Score: 5

Technical Proficiency

Programming
For the most part, above average. In the HTML-TADS version, there are a couple of bugs that can mess up the display: in the basement, while fixing the furnace, it's possible for the game to print the pictures in such a way that the display area becomes wider than the screen, and you can't see the cursor; and after fixing the furnace, during the encounter with Amy, it is possible at one point for several lines of text to be printed over other lines of text, rendering them unreadable. These display bugs don't show up if you play the game in standard TADS, though. There are a few errors that show up regardless of the version you're using, too. The excess wire in the grille under the stove in Carmen's apartment is removable even without opening the grille itself; just type "TAKE ALL". In the laundry room, after Rochelle leaves, the room description lists the panties as being _on_ the dryer, but when you try to take them, the parser responds, "I don't see any panties here"; they are, in fact, _in_ the dryer, and you have to open it first in order to get them. Finally, after fixing the furnace, if you try performing oral sex on Fee while she's still wearing her dress, you'll get an error message (TADS-1026 in the HTML version).
Score: 6

Syntax
Very few errors. Almost no grammatical errors, probably none that will interfere with one's enjoyment of the game. A few forgivable spelling errors ("breath" for "breathe"), and a few that are debatable ("grille" vs. "grill", although the author's spelling is understandable given the placement of the item in question). Now, a caveat has to be proffered here: I've worked as a proofreader (both paid and on a voluntary basis) off and on for fifteen years, so I've developed an instinct for both spelling errors and grammatically incorrect prose. What I call "errors" in the text of this game may not be errors at all, but they do trip my instincts. The author is to be commended for at least taking the time to make sure his prose is as readable as possible.
Score: 8

===============================================================================================

TOTAL SCORE: 72/100

 


Reviewed by Anonymous

Generic New York Apartment Building, which was written by New Kid, is a prime example of the limitations of the genre, and especially the limitations of the sub-genre AIF.

In the story, the player assumes the role of a recently hired super in a generic New York City apartment building where the residents are parodies of television characters. The twist to this game is of course the fact that the super is not your average super; he's the type of super that you would find in a cheesy adult film. The only thing that this game did not have was terrible music and the line, "I'm here to clean your pipes."

Your goal in the game is to make sure that all of your residents renew their leases, and in order to do that the player must solve problems that the tenants have, and also perform sexual acts with the tenants. The luster of the adult aspect of the game wears off quite fast due largely to the fact that every situation is solved with the same commands. These commands are (kiss, rub, lick, fuck, and then the name of the female organ.) Sex may be fundamentally similar from case to case, but surely there were different situations that New Kid could have
come up with.

The thing that most drew me to this piece was that it had picture and sound files included with it as well; it was something that I noticed before I noticed that it was listed as AIF. The pictures and sounds that were included in this piece led me to the conclusion that neither images nor sound belong in interactive fiction. The pictures were faked nudes of television characters such as Monica and Rachel from Friends (in the game they were referred to as Rochelle and Monique). By including pictures in interactive fiction, the author steals away the ability to come up with one's own image of the characters. The sound bites are few and far between, and they become so annoying that the reader almost wants to turn off the program. The sound bites included were: a bell for the elevator, a dog bark, and a large explosion sound. The annoyance factor from the sounds and images greatly outweighed anything positive they were meant to bring.

As far as puzzle difficulty goes, the game was fairly hard for me. I am a rookie to the realm of interactive fiction and I played for about six hours before I had to resort to a walkthrough for solutions. At one point you're supposed to plug a fax machine in to the wall of one of the NPC's apartments, and I never in my wildest dreams would have thought to do that. Other than that the game was very straightforward. The NPCs would call you and tell you their toilet was broken, you go and fix it with a tool, and that was what went on in the game for the most part.

Generic New York Apartment Building was an okay game to play despite its shallow and juvenile story; I suppose though that if you are seriously playing a piece of AIF that you would not really care about the story being too deep. New Kid could have made the game better if he would have left out the faked photos and annoying sounds. The repetitiveness of the commands, especially the sexual ones, is one of the reasons that interactive fiction is not advancing as fast as it could be. It is very tedious to come up with different ways for problems to be solved and
challenges to be overcome, but it is what the genre needs to achieve greater depth. I do not think that the problem lies solely with the writer though, machines for IF itself need to be looked at in greater depth, but anyone involved with IF knows that.


 


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