Author: Alan and Ian Mead
Genre: Science fiction
If not for "Koan", this would go on my list as the worst game of the
competition. In fact, after playing "Terrible Lizards", I reconsidered
the low low score I gave "Scary House Amulet", deciding that maybe it
wasn't all that bad. Even "Blade Sentinel", though unplayable,
wasn't such a painful experience.
It's hard to point to just one thing wrong with "Terrible Lizards". The
premise and story aren't all that bad, going back in time to collect
dinosaur DNA samples. It's just once the game starts that the problems
begin. The author didn't take proper advantage of TADS to enable
disambiguation in the very first room. So when you try to examine your
bot, you can't unless you leave the room. Several, but not all, of the
many many rooms had lower case room names. There was no consistency.
Nearly all of the rooms served no purpose other than atmosphere, so there
was a measure of frustration as I tromped from room to room, mapping as a
necessity, but not finding anything in the least bit interesting. A
number of different rooms had descriptions listing exits that did not
exist. And though my job was collect DNA samples from specific dinosaurs,
there is no actual way to do this.
In fact, this leads to what is unquestionably the game's biggest flaw.
"Terrible Lizards" really only has a couple of puzzles, and when you
finally win, it's not because you complete your assigned mission. In
fact, attempting to fulfill your contract is precisely how you
won't win. The ending of this game makes no sense in the context
of the story, and I can only figure that the author had to rush to finish
in time for the competition.
(View this game on Baf's Guide to IF or The IF Ratings Site)