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Man Overboard! Reviews
Author: Tony
Date: 2006

Reviewed by Robert Street (Reviews Exchange 8)

Man Overboard!!! is a fairly easy game that chooses to use the ship's helm theme from the Writing Challenges. The game does a good job of expanding the horizons of this concept, without becoming a cliché such as a pirate adventure. This game is a comedy game, with nothing being taken seriously. Unfortunately I found the humour to be a little over the top at times and it was not nearly as funny as the game wanted itself to be. It wasn't bad, just not great. Even if I didn't find every joke funny, the writing style for the game is still good.

The puzzles are not difficult, so this game should not take too long. The game uses the full ten room limit to create a convincing layout for the ship. I liked having a room specially for the plank. A bit more detail could have improved the game, with the NPC's in particular being fairly lifeless. Reasons are given for their lack of responsiveness, but they really might as well not have been there. My overall thoughts were that this is a reasonable game, which can provide a good short diversion.

SCORE - 5/10

Reviewed by David Whyld (Reviews Exchange 8)

An entry to the Writing Challenges Comp I hosted (see? Even now the comp has ended, I'm still plugging it at every opportunity!). This one chose the ship’s helm location for its setting.

You're Captain Jean Luc-Warm (yes, very witty) of the Royal Navy cargo ship, HMS Challenged. You’ve been assigned to deliver a cargo of IKEA furniture to the inhabitants of the Island of the Damned, only while you're at sea you realise that the rest of the crew are a bunch of hopeless incompetents. How do you handle this situation? Go down with the ship like the captain should? Hardly. You're going to abandon ship.

Amusing intro. Amusing game on the whole. Within the confines of a game that is restricted to a maximum of ten rooms in order to meet the comp requirements, there's a fair bit to do here, although I felt the lack of NPC interaction could have been improved upon.

There was only one bit in the game that stumped me and this involved looking under something. At every other point in the game that I tried, LOOK UNDER [ITEM] had produced the same response as EXAMINE [ITEM], leading me to suspect that the two were going to be treated the exact same way throughout the whole game. Not so. At one crucial point, I was required to LOOK UNDER an item to find a couple of things – this I discovered after checking the walkthrough to see if there was anything I was missing about the game. Perhaps strangest of all was that the item I needed to look under (a pantry) isn't the sort of item I would otherwise have even tried to look under. Isn't a pantry a small room off one side of a kitchen where food is stored? And aren't those small rooms off one side of a kitchen where food is stored generally situated on the floor? As such, is it even possible to look under one of them?

Other than that, any faults the game had were pretty minimal. There are a few NPCs around the ship to speak to. The conversation system used is in the TALK TO [NAME] format but whereas this works with some NPCs, it doesn’t with all of them. Instead you get hit with ADRIFT’s default advising you to ASK [NAME] ABOUT [SUBJECT], only when I tried this I never managed to get a meaningful response from anyone no matter what I tried. Then again, I don’t think conversation is really required for this game as I managed to reach both of the endings without engaging in a single conversation.

Aside from a few rough edges (and the odd typo here and there!), this was a pretty decent game for a newcomer: amusing and nicely written. Very easy as well. None of the puzzles really require any thinking about, and assuming you don’t trip yourself up with the items under the pantry, you ought to be able to get through the entire thing in about 10-15 minutes. Fortunately the pantry problem only affects one of the game’s possible endings so if you can’t figure it out, no need to worry. Just go for the other one.

7 out of 10

Reviewed by TDS (Reviews Exchange 8)

General (for players)

This entry is TonyB's first effort at an IF game and it isn't too bad. You are the captain of a cargo ship on the way to "the Island of the Damned" to deliver furniture. Unfortunately your crew are a bunch of idiots and you plan to abandon ship to start your own lingerie firm on the internet. Needless to say, it's a lighthearted adventure that doesn't take itself too seriously.

Exploring the ship I found an alarming number of common first-time technical mistakes such as every room description starting off with "You are in..." and actions in descriptions. Your crew is pathetic and there's no npc interaction within the game. You're given the common excuses as to why you can't talk to them. Since the game is a comedy it could benefit from funny conversations with the ship's highly incompetent crew members. The game could've also done better with a little more length. Some of the rooms and all of the characters were useless and could've provided for nice puzzles or at least been a little more entertaining. Although I do like the fact the game has multiple endings. It adds to the replay value and many games(especially small ones) would do well to have them. The writing needed a boost along with every other aspect of the game.

However, this is his first game. Be aware the game has a ridiculous amount of technical errors (which I will discuss in the technical review). If you can get over that you'll find a decent adventure you can beat in a couple minutes.


Technical (for authors)

*This is my analysis of the game. Everything I suggest are just suggestions that I think would make the game better.

Hmm...where do I start? How about the first thing that hit me upon playing.

Sloppy intro

The introduction to the game is rather sloppy. It gives the game title twice and the second time it is in quotes. No need for quotes and no need restating the title twice for an intro screen. There are colors which some may find to be a signal of newbdom but I personally don't mind. The intro also breaks the "fourth wall" a couple times by saying things such as "Welcome drifter" and "we start our quest". It also mentions how many rooms there are within the text. Since it's a comedy it isn't too bad but if you're going to break the fourth wall, do it elegantly.

"You are in..." syndrome

Every room description in the game starts off with "You are...." This is silly because we know by the room title we are in the room! Adding "You are.." at the beginning every room description shows the author is new to the whole authoring game. Try not to start any room with "You are in..." and your writing will improve, guaranteed.

Actions in descriptions

The unwritten rule (actually I think it is written) of IF design is that you never put actions in descriptions.

You notice a large mouse scuttle across the floor and vanish under the pantry.

That is in one room description and it never changes. So every time I enter the room a large mouse scuttles across the floor. That is BAD.

There is some writing on the wall in red marker pen that reads "Please knock before entering". You decided not to bother knocking as you know the first mate is never in his room, and, as you operate a "no knocking policy" prior to snooping round people's rooms looking for stuff to steal.

Also BAD. The player is being controlled way too much. It's the player's choice to knock on the door or not. Remember, descriptions describe a place, person, or thing. I shouldn't examine a floorboard and end up pulling it up, you know?


>x floor

A wooden floor...what more can I say?

You can say a lot more! Force your brain to pump out a creative way to describe it. Leaving the description bare hurts your creativity in the long run.

> x shark

A shark is circling the water below you...

Details, details, details. What does the shark look like? Although I have an idea of what a shark looks like it's the writers job to paint an image for me.


You can move North, East, South, West, up or down.

I don't know if this is how old school text adventures did it or just the mark of a first time author. But there is no reason those directions should be capitalized. It doesn't help me notice it in the text and sticks out like a sore thumb. One shouldn't just flat out say "You can move north, east, south, west, up, or down" either. Mix the exits in the room descriptions. It looks much better and the player knows where he or she is going. 


· Easy on the exclamation marks.

· Don't capitalize so much.

· When using ellipses (using multiple periods like this...) use three if you use in the middle of a sentence, four at the end of a sentence. "Press any key" doesn't count.

· Don't say the player is wearing something in the room description unless it changes or player can't take it off.

· NPC's need life. Give them a soul for god's sake!

Lots of potential on author's part. Next game should be better.

Technical Rating - 1/10

Overall Rating (not average) - 2/10

Reviews should be considered copyrighted by their respective authors.


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