Bugged is a short but clever game with a unique premise: your cousin has written a terrible text adventure in a generic fantasy setting, riddled with bugs which make it impossible to progress by normal means. This means, of course, that you must exploit the bugs to finish the game. Duncan Stevens' review for SPAG says it all: |
"Anyone who's ever tried to slog through a vintage AGT game will get a chuckle or two out of Bugged, where the bugs are deliberate -- you're beta-testing a game for a cousin, see, and the cousin needs a lot of programming help, and the only way to plow through the game is through exploiting bugs (because the solutions your cousin has attempted to implement don't work, due to other bugs). It's no more than a chuckle, but chuckles are important in the IF world too.
The bugs themselves are standard-issue: takeable objects that aren't, untakeable objects that are, mostly, along with a dash of verbs defaulting to the wrong noun. Getting into the spirit of things takes a while unless you're a long-standing beta-tester, you're unlikely to think of getting rid of an obstacle by simply taking it, say -- and things get difficult toward the end, when you're carrying around all kinds of immobile objects and it's not clear which one of them is useful. (The last puzzle, in fact, turns on a bizarre syntax trick that fits nicely into a buggy game but doesn't exactly spring to mind otherwise.) In other words, the bugs accumulate over the course of the game, after a fashion, and the potential for ridiculous interactions among various unlikely objects becomes considerable. Some of the bugs strain credulity a bit -- it's not clear what sort of coding error would make an object both out of reach and takeable. Likewise, it sometimes seems like every single object that should be takeable isn't and everyone that shouldn't be is, suggesting that the "cousin" simply doesn't understand the word "static" (or an Alan equivalent) -- but on the whole it's a plausible buggy game.
The joke, I suppose, is that the buggy game is more interesting than the non-buggy one would have been; the puzzles that you would have solved are bog-standard, whereas the buggy version at least requires some thinking outside the box. True enough, though it's hard to picture anyone writing a game that's quite as boring as the one your cousin supposedly tried to write, and in that light it's not hard to come up with something more interesting. For my part, I found Bugged entertaining simply because it's loopy in the usual way of a buggy game; something about picking up apparently huge objects with no comment on your feat of strength is inherently amusing, though the humor would probably pall in a game of any length. As it is, Bugged is quite short, short enough that most players are unlikely to tire of the idea before reaching the end.
The main problem with Bugged is the lack of a hint system (and in this case a hint system is even more preferable to a walkthrough than usual, because the puzzles are well suited for nudges but the solutions are usually one-move) -- it's frustrating enough to struggle with a game that's trying to be helpful, but when things are intentionally broken it's even worse, as there are (naturally) no clues that you're on the right track. In fact, since some bugs amount to red herrings, it's possible to get suckered into trying to exploit the wrong bugs altogether. I ended up poring over the data file to solve a few of the puzzles, which is appropriate, in a way -- cheat to finish a game whose premise is cheating to finish a game -- but not especially satisfying.
Bugged is a twenty-minute diversion at most -- if it takes you longer, resort to the data file -- but it's amusing enough, and perhaps it's a fitting tribute to/preparation for the upcoming competition. (Shame on this cynical reviewer.) IF veterans should get a kick out of it."
Reviewed by: Underdogs