AGS Team Challenge Deluxe Special Feature by Ian Welch

“The Great Stroke-Off” review

Packed with a wad of sleazy innuendo comes this quirky little golfing adventure, from Old School Point ‘n’ Click, the winning team from this year’s AGS Team Challenge.  You play as Ned, who’s working at his Uncle’s Mini-Golf course during the summer holiday.  It’s the day of the big competetion, The Big Stroke-Off.

Let’s start by taking a look at the Graphics.  The Backgrounds are pretty, and considering it has a cartoon style, they have a very nice style to them.  There’s a problem, however, and that’s the fact that they’re so stylised and cutesy, that they’re almost devoid of detail.

As for the character art, there’s only technical issues.  They’re well drawn, with a style of they’re own and they compliment the backgrounds well, but they do sometimes have problems with their outlines act a little funky.

Musically, I can’t help but be impressed.  It’s simple yet comic melodies fit perfectly, and add a lot to the atmosphere of the game.  A novel idea is the inclusion in to game of a main stereo, pumping the music into speakers located around the golf course, allowing you to interact with it and thereby turning the music off if you so wish.

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Interfaces. These have the potential to make or break a game.  All the other parts are important, sure, but if a game’s got a lousy interface, then that’ll have a major effect on the quality of play.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t very impressed with how this game fares.  It’s a cross between the LucasArts “Words/Inventory at the Bottom” style and the Sierra “Icons Along the Top” style.  Okay, fine.  I made those titles up, but that doesn’t matter right now.  What matters is the fact that the GUI in this game seems like an undecided mish-mash of two styles, and doesn’t seem to be as well thought out as it should be.

More important than the interface, is gameplay.  Plot.  Puzzles.  How enjoyable it is to actually sit in front of the thing.  The Great Stroke-Off has a well thought out plot, some clever puzzles and lots of in-jokes and comic references.  It’s only downfall, is the humour.  Sure, everyone likes Nob Gags, but this game takes it a step too far.  It’s starts witty, but quickly ends up being feeling rather immature and forced.
All in all, I would have to recommend this game, even with it’s faults.  Keep in mind the history of it, though.  As part of the ATC, it means that it’s gone from conception to completion in just two months.

Overall Score: 65%

 

ATC Exposé.

The AGS Team Challenge.  Elite squads of five rough and tumble AGSer’s team up.  One background artist.  One spriter.  One musician.  One coder.  One writer.  Together, they’re issued the challenge of creating a full length game, in a month or two, that will beat the rest of the teams’ efforts.
In theory, this sounds like immense fun.  Reality rarely matches up to hypothetical situations, though.
Sure, it’s provided some good games.  Two of a Kind won an AGS Award at this years ceremony.  But for the most part, it’s a not as good an idea as it seems.
I, myself, competed in the last two competitions.  As did my slave driving Editor, Vel.  I’ll explain the situations i faced.

In the first ATC I entered, I was the musician.  We were all given teams by random.  Most of my team, I’d never even heard of, let alone spoke to before.  Our team started well, but soon after people were off doing other things, and we had no time to finish.  We vowed to continue making the game, even after the competition was over, but still nothing got done.
So, next time around, things got changed.  You could now form the teams yourselves, and the time frame was changed from one month to two.  I was undecided for a while, but I finally entered as a musician, again.  This time, things were off to a terrible start.  Our spriter lost his internet connection shortly before the beginning.  We thought we could carry on.  Two weeks later, with nothing really concrete, our background artist goes AWOL, too.  Needless to say, we didn’t carry on.
In my opinion, the ATC is a bad idea.  I’m grateful to Andail for organising everything, but I’d recommend we call it a day.  For one thing, making a full length game is tough.  Making a full length game that you’ve got no real passion for is tougher.  Making a full length game that you’ve got no real passion for in a short space of time and having to rely on four other people is just ridiculous.
Our Editor-in-Chief, Vel, told me I should use this piece to suggest what I think should be done to improve the ATC for next time.  In all honesty, I’d have to suggest putting it out of it’s misery.  Take it out into the field, pat it one last time and say goodbye.  Then put both barrels from a sawn-off through the back of it’s head.

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1 Comment

  1. His_wife44 said,

    October 22, 2009 at 8:36 pm

    It is too small, even if all these atoms played the same role, as they do in a gas or in a drop of liquid. ,


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