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Treasure Hunt in the Amazon Reviews
Author: Kenneth Pedersen and Niels Søndergaard
Date: 2019

Reviewed by MathBrush

This game is a remake of a 1985 Danish game (which explains the two authors).

The game warns you that it comes with randomization, hunger timers, etc. and has a really clever idea: allowing you to turn all of those off. I tried playing with them on at first, and it was actually fun, since the map wasn't too confusing (especially with the automap. And Adrift online makes playing a lot better!). The music and images worked well with the text.

Some parts of the interactivity just seem too farfetched to guess on your own, though. I knew I needed to (Spoiler - click to show), and I knew that (Spoiler - click to show), but I never thought the two would be combined to solve a puzzle. And some tools seem like they could have many uses (such as the (Spoiler - click to show)). But a lot of this stems from older game design where it was expected the player would only have a few games available and play each of them off and on for multiple days or weeks.

More concerning is the inherent colonialism in the game. I ran into this when adapting Sherlock Holmes in to a game; I left in negative references to gypsies, and the feedback I received taught me a lot more about the negative experiences gypsies have had over the years (including in the Holocaust!) This game does something similar, where the natives are portrayed as more or less dumb and associated with alcohol, and there are no moral qualms about entering sacred spaces and stealing artifacts to take back to Europe. This wasn't exactly unusual in 1985 (just look at Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom from the year before!), but sticks out now, to me, especially since I've also adapted older works with colonialist views. I don't really have any advice, these are just my thoughts.

Reviewed by Stian

Treasure Hunt in the Amazon is not a great game by today’s standards. It shows that it was originally crafted in 1985, and I suppose it was a relatively decent game back then. The remake is certainly decently implemented and lets you disable all the elements of time and randomness that made the original difficult to finish on a first playthrough. Without such restrictions, however, the game became surprisingly easy; the map is not big, the verbs don’t have to be guessed, the descriptions are sparse, and an automap makes it easy to navigate. In the end it took about 15 minutes to play through. It was nice to play, but rather as a curiosity – a way to experience a classic from the eighties through the comfort of the present.

Reviewed by Antimony

And in the kind of tonal whiplash I love IFComp for, a 1985 puzzler, translated and updated. I'm going to try to play it in the online option.

The online engine is very slow (although switching browsers helped), but I'm not going to blame the game for that. I really, really appreciate the modern conveniences; thank you no hunger timer. It's sturdily implemented, but definitely old-school. Also, I'm completely stuck not very far in. The walkthrough point me to the fact that I'd tried the right idea, but hadn't examined the right thing (getting the rope). It also points me to needing an item I was already sure I needed, but hadn't found, and ended up needing the walkthrough to locate. Cute, but very, very old-school, complete with stereotypical generic natives, illogical puzzles, and unnecessarily large caves. The modernization and translation is really solidly done, though.

Reviewed by Alex/Comfort Castle

Played 7th October
Download version played in ADRIFT Runner
Playtime: 70mins, including 1hr first playthrough and 10mins second run

Treasure Hunt in the Amazon is an hour-long ADRIFT parser game, originally written by Søndergaard in 1985 and translated by Pederson for IFComp. In this game, the player has 10 days to find a jewelled crown before the Amazonian area the game is set in floods. However, this timer and other features can be disabled at the start of the game.

If you’re going to translate and re-release a 34-year-old game, this is the way to do it. The features you can disable are basically a list of all the classic text adventure challenges which died out because they weren’t actually very fun: you can disable the timer, a hunger daemon, the inventory limit, and/or random item placement. I really appreciate that these are completely optional – Treasure Hunt is a short game now, but I suspect it was a lot longer if you had to contend with these back in the day. (I disabled all the challenges for my first run, and then did a quick second run with the time limit and hunger enabled – I cut it pretty close with hunger, even knowing where to go, and I bet that randomised items would make the game virtually impossible on some runs.)

The translation seems very good, not that I have any knowledge of the original Danish. I don’t recall seeing any typos, and there’s no phrasing that struck me as being particularly awkward. Room descriptions are barebones but well-implemented – I didn’t see as much of “you can’t see any x here” as I have done in other parser games. The game is spruced up with some lovely little cartoons by Steffen Vedsted, with an explorer who looks like he’s the main character of a newspaper comic which has inexplicably been running for 70 years, and soundtracked with some of Eric Matyas’ compositions, enough of them so that repeat songs don’t get annoying. It’s some of the best presentation I’ve seen in the competition so far this year.

This is primarily a puzzle game, as many 80s text adventures were. It’s fairly straightforward. There are no red herrings, and most items have one use, so that it feels like a series of keys to open doors. (There are a few literal keys as well.) There’s a maze which Pederson warns you about right off the bat, but it’s completely benign, as he reassures the player – it has a neat little solution, and you can’t even enter the maze until you’ve found the clues you need. There are no striking or beautiful puzzles here, but there aren’t any clangers either.

I do want to address the game’s colonial theming a little bit, since it bothers me. Exploration narratives are risky because of their historical connections to imperialism – here’s the white explorer heading into wild spaces to map space and enlighten natives, that kind of thing. Treasure Hunt in the Amazon is relatively benign, as these things go. There are natives, presented as friendly and willing to help (the rationale being that they need to raise money for after they evacuate the flood area) – I am curious how truly happy they are to help us storm into the rainforest to steal the ancient treasures and eat every animal like Naked Snake. I am also uncomfortable at a sequence from the endgame which sees hired natives fleeing from a totem that we can breeze right past – without being able to ask them what the problem is, it smacks of “unenlightened natives” a little bit. (To be clear, I don’t accuse Pederson or Søndergaard of being malicious or racist here, especially since there were plenty of stories like this in the 80s and before. I know a little of the history of British imperialism and exploration, though, enough to know how truly gross and damaging these ideas can get when they are employed maliciously.)

Treasure Hunt in the Amazon is not breaking new ground, of course. It’s so old it’s got a Kilroy Was Here joke in it. But it’s competently done, bug-free as far as I saw, and it’s nice to play an old-fashioned text adventure without the old-fashioned obstacles. The colonialism is a big caveat that comes with recommending this, but I’d still like to see more classic adventures updated in this style.

Reviewed by Thomas Mack

“Treasure Hunt in the Amazon” is a revision of an interactive-fiction game released in 1985. While it’s interesting as an artifact from that era, the old-school design of the original game makes it difficult to enjoy for its own merits.

Gameplay: The original game was squarely in the first generation of interactive fiction games, and the updated version preserves the hallmarks of games from that era: a desultory plot, unfair randomness throughout, harsh inventory limits, hunger and sleep timers, and so on. Keeping those features in is an entirely reasonable design to choice to make, but the author kindly provided options to disable them for modern players. (I appreciated them, having died four moves into the game in my first attempt.) There are puzzles throughout the game, but gameplay is more about exploring the setting and managing supplies. As such, turning off the randomizer and removing the various timers substantially change the player’s experience. In either case, the game itself is simple: use inventory objects to kill off a few animals, use other inventory objects to solve some basic puzzles, and then grab the treasure. 4/10.

Mechanics: Even knowing that the game is a remake of one from the mid-80s, I find it difficult to put up with the most egregious features of interactive fiction from that era. Some of those can be turned off, but the game also contains a maze and a few bizarre, unmotivated puzzles (for example, killing a jaguar and eating it in order to find a key that’s in its stomach for some reason). 3/10.

Presentation: Like most games from that era, descriptions are sparse throughout. One typical room description, for example, is simply, “The ruin consits of a of a few walls here and there. There is some graffiti on one wall.” The Amazon could be an evocative environment, but the description of a jaguar is the terse, “It is a huge jaguar. Unfortunately, it looks very hungry.” The cartoons in the game, however, are entertaining. 4/10.
You might be interested in this game if: You’d like to try a Danish interactive fiction game from the mid-80s.
Score: 4

Reviewed by Breakfast Club

This is apparently an update of an adventure game from way, way back, so the aesthetics are pretty old-school: descriptions are sparse and shallow, and the story itself feels almost incidental to the game's overall puzzle. Most of the staples of the bad old days have been pulled out of the basic game and made into optional challenges, which seems like a pretty neat way of doing things.
As a game, it's fairly unremarkable. There are a couple of places where it can be made unwinnable, but it's fairly easy overall, so that's probably not going to be an issue. The real challenge would probably lie in finishing the story with one or more of the old-school challenges in play.

As a breakfast, it's bubble-and-squeak: a reworking of yesterday's leftovers, it's really all about what you put into it.

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