Review of "Tookie's Song"

Tookie's Song is a Z-code 5 interactive fiction game written with Inform 6 and is © 2002 by Jessica Knoch. At the 2002 XYZZY Awards, it was a finalist in both the Best NPCs and Best Puzzles categories.

Review by David Welbourn

Finally, something lighthearted. Frankly, it was a relief to play a less serious game at this point, and the opening puzzle with the keys was just right. The game felt friendly, and I liked that.

The game feels very much like it's the author's first IF game. For example, the four seasons are a mild cliché, and using gemstones as treasures is a bigger cliché. And I doubt that an established author would leave in an object description like "see row of icicles text", or put in an algebra puzzle.

Furthermore, our aliens don't seem very alien at all, nor are the challenges. In fact, it all feels very North American, particularly the bowling. Even the seasonal theme is North American: not all countries divide the seasons into winter, spring, summer, and fall, and only an English speaker would use plus signs as a visual pun for "summer".

There were a few problems, too. Some items were underimplemented; for example, the office equipment. Communicating a time of day was frustrating; for example, phrases like "say 8 to eddie", "say 9 am to eddie", and "say 10:00 am to eddie" weren't understood. The bowling sequence was tedious, forcing me to type "g" for every ball in the game. I appreciate the amount of work that the bowling score chart must have taken, but really, that section would work better if the entire bowling game was played out all at once. Just summarize how the bowling game went and tell me who won and lost.

On the plus side, some of the puzzles had multiple solutions, several of the aliens were chatty enough to talk to (and offer hints), and the epilogue summarized on how well you did and commented on what you missed.

So, um. I liked it. It wasn't great, but it was okay.

Rating: 5.

✍️🏻 See my handwritten notes.