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Zack Smackfoot: Escape The Jungle Terror Reviews

Author: Ken Franklin
Date: 2005
ADRIFT 4.0


Reviewed by C. Henshaw

1. Does it set the scene? 
The initial opening is fun – hooray for a bit of motion! It also makes sense when you read the first description, rather than acting just as an attention-getting gimmick (although it’s that, too). 

The opening text is well-written, and describes not your surroundings, your first actions and reactions to your situation well. You are given enough information to know what’s happening at the moment, although the details are shady enough to let you know there is more to find out (at least that’s what I assume) about your predicament (why are you flying from Peru to Florida? why do you have a locked metal briefcase? why do you have a gun? why is there a crate of poisonous snakes? Things that are no mystery to the character, but allows room to flesh out the story at the appropriate moments). 

The description of the interior of the plane is decent – adequate for the purpose, not too padded with adjectives, and gives further information on the situation you are in. This is an action game, and not a time to sit around and marvel at your surroundings. 

Good! There’s a character description – and it provides useful information on your personality (wheeler dealer, live by your wits, etc.). You can even examine your clothes, with an appropriate response for trying to take them off. 

Getting out of the plane was satisfying, although the jungle description could have been more enticing to make me really want to get out there and figure out what the Jungle Terror is (or is it the jungle itself?). 

2. Is it well implemented? 
I had some difficulty getting into the cargo bay, since there was no directional. I did get in eventually after trying a number of commands. 

There are a few bugs and grammatical errors in the narrative but they were not bad enough to bother me (except in one case having to do with the penknife and the slot), and didn’t interfere with game-playing. 

The responses to different actions are well-thought-out – informative and interesting, it makes you want to try various things just to see what gets said. 

Playing around with the snakes is kind of fun, although I have no idea why they are there, and if they will play any role in the plot. A possible bug is that upon opening the box, it says there is ‘a’ snake, indicating ‘one’ snake. But if you spend time in the cargo bay, more than one snake seems to make an appearance. I’m not sure if that’s deliberate or not. 

3. Do I want more? 
Yes. I’m interested in the character, the background to the briefcase, Peru and the snakes, and some more of those puzzles. 

Score (each out of 10): 
Scene setting: 8 
Implementation: 7 
Appetite whettage: 7 
Bonus points: 2 for the cute opening 
Total: 24 (quite good, to be frank) 


Reviewed by David Whyld

In brief: your plane has crashed in the jungle and you have to escape from it. 

It started pretty well with the opening screen describing nicely your plane crashing but then seemed to lose its way a bit afterwards. I immediately ran into problems due to the game not accepting the normal directional commands. You can’t go north or south in Zack Smackfoot; nope, you're restricted to “go back” or “go forward”. Is this better than a simple “n” or “s”? I wouldn’t have said so. It also isn’t helped much by the fact that when I first tried to use the standard directional commands, I got hit with a message stating “you can’t go in any direction” leading me to suspect at the time, wrongly as it happened, that this was a one room intro. 

Once I’d got the hang of the strange system of moving around, things got a bit easier. I manoeuvred my way out of the plane without too much trouble although there were several parts that could really have been worked on. For a very short game, it had more than its fair share of rough edges. There were a few instances of “it’s” being used when “its” should have been (a pet peeve of mine and one I probably tend to notice more precisely because it annoys me) and error messages being delivered even when I’d done what was required. Try putting the knife into the slot before opening the knife and you get a message telling you it’s too big to fit into the slot. Open it and try again and you get the same message, followed by the cargo door opening anyway. Oh, and the door “hit’s” the ground with a crash. 

I'm not sure whether I’d look forward to playing the full game but this wasn’t horrible by any means. Then again, the odds of this ever being turned into a full game are probably less than the people at RAIF proclaiming ADRIFT as superior to TADS so it’s perhaps a moot point anyway. 

Do I want to play the full game? Maybe. 


Reviewed by Stefan Donati

This entry of the Adrift Intro Comp 2005 was written by Ken Franklin and finished fourth. 

I loved the intro to the game, with its simple yet effective way of describing the sounds of a crash. It turns out that you're the pilot of a cargo aircraft which has been struck by a lightning and is now stranded in a vast jungle, somewhere between Peru and Florida. 

The first thing you get to see after gaining your consciousness again is the cockpit of the aircraft. Everything in it is nicely explained, and gives the player the ability to choose how much he wants to go into details. However, examining a room by referring to its name (as in 'examine cockpit') doesn't work throughout the game. The most intriguing object inside the cockpit is a metal briefcase, and beside some suspicions you have about its content, no more information can be obtained. Not knowing exactly if the briefcase will play a further role in the game, I took it with me. 

While you struggle to find a way out of the airplane, you can also make an acquaintance with a dangerous snake. Handling the snake is no big problem per se, but careless players will get bitten. Luckily, the poison isn't deadly, so it's actually a clever way of warning the player to pay more attention in the future. The only inconsistency was that the command 'kill snake' didn't get a proper response, even though the player is carrying a knife. 

The game ends after you have found a way to leave the airplane, which is a rather easy task. Still, at first I was left wondering how to move forward, as I wasn't sure about the exact command. I unsuccessfully tried 'move out' and other alternatives, only to find out that 'out' is everything which is needed. Perhaps I'm not familiar enough with text adventures, but a covering of this command would have been helpful to me. And then a nice surprise came afterwards, in form of two different endings (depending on whether you've taken the briefcase from the cockpit with you) - nice touch. 

I liked the setting of the game as well as the freedom the player has to examine the surrounding world. The story about the suspicious briefcase and its owners was still a little vague, a few more information could have helped the already good atmosphere further. However, all 'flaws' mentioned can be easily solved, and with this scenery, the game could become an adventure in the truest sense of the word. 


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