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Saturday, May 06, 2006
Reviewed by Peter Mackay.

Spooks is a fun adventure game from first time developer The Ivy (Erin Robinson). Set in the land of the dead, a sassy ghoul girl named Mortia wins a goldfish (Spooks) at the local carnage-val side show. Mortia is informed that spooks is "alive", an exciting yet apparently fragile state if a safe home is not found.

Visually Spooks works well. Powered by the Adventure Game Studio the graphics are primarily grey scale with dashes of colour, an effective juxtaposition for life in the land of the dead.

The in-game music was composed by The Scorposer and suits the carnival atmosphere adequately. It was a little on the quiet side so I would suggest turning the volume up before beginning.

The adventure clocks in at about an hour in length which is satisfying considering the download is less than 5 megabytes in size. While some may feel this is too short, this is often the case when you are having fun. I certainly look forward to future efforts from The Ivy.

Name: Spooks
Developer: The Ivy - Erin Robinson
Category: Adventure
Type: Freeware
Size: 5MB
Reviewer: Peter Mackay
Blogger gnome said at 4/28/2006 11:55:00 AM:  
Great review!! Sweet, short and informative. Thanks.

PS Couldn't agree more...
Anonymous Zambonista said at 4/28/2006 01:11:00 PM:  
Just a piece of advice for future reviews: you seem to be missing the core aspects of adventure gaming. Art, music, length, etc. are peripheral. Relevant questions are puzzle design, interface, challenge. Leaving those out makes the review somewhat useless, since we can look at screenshots ourselves to figure out what the graphics look like and click on the link to see the playing time. Just a thought.
Anonymous Zambonista said at 4/28/2006 02:08:00 PM:  
Reviews like this one might as well just be links with a sentence or two (tops) of text. It can't take substantially longer (any longer?) to write a review like: "Spooks, although clearly borrowing heavily from the setting and theme of the iconic adventure game Grim Fandango, nevertheless is a short but plesant romp. The puzzles are fair if somewhat easy and the pixel hunting frustration is quite low. The writing is good for an amateur adventure game and suits the lighthearted atmosphere. The graphics are likewise sufficient, especially with the interesting use of a grayscale palette interspersed with flashes of color. At 5MB and no cost, you'd be crazy not to check out Spooks."

Note that I've never played Spooks, so I have no idea if any of that is true. I imagine it is, partly because it's full of indy-game banalities like "fair if somewhat easy." Regardless, wouldn't a review like that be much more helpful than what Mackay wrote? He clearly played the game (which took an hour) and is a competent writer, so why not actually try to convey the main information? Shrug.

By the way, I played through Noitu Love, so if you want a review of that I'd be happy to zap one off; I can't remember if you'd reviewed it already
Blogger Peter Mackay said at 4/28/2006 09:43:00 PM:  
Thanks for your comments guys, its good to hear some feedback. I will discuss this further with Tim!
Anonymous zambonista said at 4/28/2006 10:18:00 PM:  
Again, I should make clear that it's not so much that the review is bad -- the writing is fine and it contains a variety of information that is worth knowing (like it's an AGS game, who made it, it's fun, the palette stuff). It just seems to be missing the core stuff a review could use. That's not b/c Peter is stupid or a bad writer, but probably because it's one of his first capsule reviews (I'm guessing?).

As for your reviews, Tim, some of them -- like the shooter reviews -- seem well done, although not playing shooters I don't know. Those reviews always home in on the key parts of shooters (attack patterns, powerups, difficulty, shooter type), which is what the reader really needs to know.

Other reviews are a little sketchier. Friction, for example, doesn't say whether the games are *fun* or *addictive*, which is probably the core question for a minigame collection. Too busy to read all of them now, but that's just my quick reax.
Anonymous finefin said at 5/03/2006 10:29:00 AM:  
I like the game and it's monochrome/color subject.
hmm reading the discussion about what is important in adventure games, I missed a thing: the NPCs.
"Spooks" has some really wierd characters, like the talking bulb or the invisible three-headed monster...