Retro Gaming: Planetfall part 3

(This is part of my journey going checking out Planetfall. You can follow the entire series on the Retro Gaming page.)

Back when I was a kid, I used to create games all of the time in BASIC on my family’s PC. Because graphics were tough to do (outside of basic ANSII mockups), most everything I did was text, and thus I loved whipping up text adventures and text RPGs. If nothing else, it gave me a deep appreciation for how tricky and complex text adventure design is, because you have to have a parser that understands a wide range of commands, you have to figure out how to deal with inventory (both on the character and in the game), and you have to deal with issues like the passage of time and events that fundamentally change a room or character.

So I am pretty impressed with what Planetfall’s doing here, even though I’m more than a little annoyed at the inventory limit and the need to constantly eat and drink. On one hand, it delivers a feeling of immediacy and urgency, but on the other hand, in adventure games all you want to do is explore and experiment at your leisure, not under a gun. I guess the limitations upped the replay value somewhat, because you could be looking to do better the next time around.

Anyway. Where were we? Oh yeah, we just encountered Floyd the robot.

f1True love is always painful. And always worth the risk of electrocution.

f2Who didn’t want a robot pet in the ’80s? I don’t think you could legally be a cartoon kid without one as a sidekick.

Floyd comes across as a hyper child, which is better than complete silence and isolation. I’ll take it. Plus, his comments and actions are somewhat entertaining as you go around doing normal adventure game stuff.

f3Floyd is a little put out that I deactivated him to find this card, but dude, you’re in an adventure game. You know what you signed up for. I’d loot the sun if I could.

f4Now it’s getting interesting. In the comm room, the game gives me a few narrative tidbits. The first is a distress call from the ship I was on before it mysteriously blew up (don’t know why that happened either). The second is an outgoing call in that badly spelled English asking for help due to a planetwide plague. The weird spelling — phoenetically correct but just barely — indicates that the people’s facilties were going. Or they were just idiots, which might be the case because all of the signs in this place are spelled like this too.

f5I spend a good amount of time getting the proper liquid to repair the comm system, because all high technology can be fixed the same way that you fill up your car. By the way, have I said how much this game’s parser irks me? Pouring the flask isn’t allowed but emptying it is. They couldn’t have anticipated pouring?

Oh well. At least the distress message has gone out, and here’s hoping that someone will come to answer it and help me out!

f6Well this was… random. Floyd is extremely emotional — y’know, for a robot — and he’s mentioned Lazarus before. Guess it was his friend? Mentor?

f7You would think that getting into a bed in an infirmary would be safe. You would think. And you would be wrong, because you’re playing this game.

f8The infirmary has a computer spool (very, very old tech from a 2015 perspective) that ends up telling me the dire news, which I’ll sum up here to save you the headache of reading the above: I have less than ten days for the unnamed disease to get me. The first symptom is a high fever, followed by the increasing need for sleep. That is not going to help me.

What might help me is some experimental medicine that’s nearby. What the heck, bottom’s up!

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