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A Day At the Seaside Reviews
Author: Matthew Hunter
Date: 2005

Reviewed by David Whyld

Inspired ideas for the Spring Comp 2005 must be seriously lacking this year. One game involved wandering around your house tidying it up, this one has you wandering around a seaside town doing… not much really. 

I wasn't really sure what to make of A Day At The Seaside. Is it a guidebook for some little seaside town? Or is it a work of interactive fiction? It fails as either. 

The guidebook idea doesn't work very well because the town is small, no more than a dozen locations, and the geography is strange to say the least. The whole town map can't be displayed properly because of the bizarre layout and so sometimes when you tap F2 for the map, you get an error message and other times you get a map which seems slightly different depending on which location you're currently standing in. 

As a work of interactive fiction, it doesn't work very well either. Commands only seem to be included if they're needed to make progress in the game and left out if they're not necessary. So no swimming in the sea, unfortunately, which is perhaps the main reason people go to the seaside in the first place. You also can't examine the sea either which is another of the game's bad points. In one part of the beach, you can dig if you're carrying the bucket and spade but trying to dig in another part hits you with an error message. Digging in the final part produces a sandcastle which is also apparently invisible as you're not able to look at it once you've made it. You can also make multiple sandcastles if you're so minded but as all of these are likewise invisible, there's probably not much point. 

There isn't a proper introduction to the game and so figuring out what you need to do is big problem. A bit of text hints you should head to the beach but as nothing happens when you get there, there's clearly a lot more to it than that. 

Wandering around the town produces a few oddities. I'm able to buy a camera despite the fact that I don't have any money - at least, nothing is listed in my inventory which starts off completely empty (I came to the seaside carrying nothing at all? Looks like it.) - yet elsewhere I'm confronted with the problems of a photo booth that requires money to operate and which I'm not able to use. Maybe the money is considered to be part of the player that doesn't need to be listed in the inventory, like your clothes (assuming you're wearing any and haven't just come to the seaside stark naked), but I still wasn't able to figure out the correct phrase to get the phone booth to work. 

Items seem to be scattered around pretty much without reason. A bucket and spade can be found near the beach (okay, I'll let that one go, it's the seaside after all), a form that requires filling in, a pen… I'm not able to fill the form in once I've got the pen. Guess the verb issues? Or something else that needs to be done first? I couldn't say. 

A gimmick that A Day At The Seaside uses is a picture of each location. I wasn't too keen on this to be honest, even though it was a nice touch, as they are actual photos as opposed to the drawings that appeared in the text adventures of my youth (…nostalgia again…). But they were an interesting touch all the same. Some of the locations seemed to lack much in the way of text (one only lists the exits and nothing else) so having something to look at helped. 

It was hard to keep any real enthusiasm going for this game. It's not a terrible interesting subject full stop and the amount of things not covered makes matters worse. On top of that, there's no walkthrough and no hints so when I became stuck, which happened before too long, it wasn't hard to resist the urge to quit. 

3 out of 10 

Reviewed by DIY Games (April 2005)

This is less an adventure game than an interactive guide through Portobello, a small town near Edinburgh. Each location features a photo, making this one of the better guides I’ve seen, but lacking any sense of direction for the player.

Reviewed by Robert Rafgon

This game is based on wandering around a tourist destination. Unfortunately the game looks very rushed and incomplete. This game uses photos, which are generally well done, and the writing is reasonable. However, more objects could and should be implemented in each location. Most of the locations are reasonably described, but the tasks are not. Carrying out point-scoring tasks needs to give players a reward, by an entertaining paragraph, rather than a simple sentence. 

This game has promise, as an Art Show like entry, where you wander around trying out and looking at stuff. However, there isn't much to try, as not much is implemented. The aim of the game should have been better articulated. I would personally have started the game next to the council sign, so as to give some ideas of what to do. If this game hadn’t been a competition entry, I would probably have given up after a few minutes of aimless wandering. 

It took me a long while to figure out anything, and I only solved the game with full points after a hint from the author. The biggest problem is the lack of error messages for close, but not quite right actions. An example (with a spoiler warning) is in the photo booth where "buy photo" only gives a message if you are holding the correct object. Otherwise you just get a standard error message. This made me think that it was a guess-the-verb problem rather than an actual puzzle. 

With the photos and room descriptions being generally well done, I almost wonder if this was someone's attempt at showing off their home town, or where they went on holiday. The author shows promise, but needs to put a lot more effort into the game mechanics with more objects and tasks implemented. This game could really be improved with a bit more work. 

SCORE - 3/10 

Reviewed by KFAdrift

Have to admit I rather liked this game, having a liking for the images used. This was a game that, with a bit more care would be really pleasurable to play, as David says there isn't that much in the way of motivation.

This was certainly an experimental piece unlike the normal ADRIFT games we see, and for that it deserves credit. So many games follow a formula these days. This really isn't a guide book, more of an interactive visit where you could wander around, and hopefully if you made a real visit it would help. I think a nice touch would have been a sketch map the player started off with and that they could check from time to time. This would have made it less of a mystery tour and would have allowed a degree of planning.

As has been said, the game did lack any form of apparent help, which made it ultimately frustrating as I did feel there was more to the game than I was able to find.

A worthy effort 5/10.

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