Given that it’s gone from zero to six submitted works compared to last year, allow me to name Spring Thing 2011 as another happy beneficiary from 2010’s all-over IF revival. Spring Thing, which has occurred off and on since 2002, is intended as a sort of antipode to the Comp, happening six months afterwards (or beforehand!) and welcoming longer works.
I’ve so far played only one of the games, Sean M. Shore’s Bonehead; between its title and its premise, it offered me the strongest hook of the bunch, so I don’t mind singling it out here. The game straps the player into the overwaxed cleats of Fred Merkle, a teenaged second-stringer for the 1908 New York Giants who’s about to commit the blunder that would earn him the eponymous nickname and cloud the rest of his life.
That’s an unusual theme for an IF work, but this short game meets the challenge, including a frame story that puts the second-person interactivity into satisfying context. The compelling narrative is enough to overcome some quibbles I had with a rather contrived opening puzzle, and the fact that the narrator digresses into baseball trivia a little too often (even given the setting). I also got a little lost in the many ways you can end the story prematurely, once the ballgame starts; I had to consult the (built-in) hints to plant poor Fred firmly on his predestined path, but I’m glad I did. The whole story’s well worth experiencing.
So, yes, do give Bonehead and the other five Spring Thing entries a look; voting is open to the public though May 15. (And for meatier reviews of the bunch, have a look at Emily Short’s blog.)
And now I am off to play Mentula Macanus: Apocolocyntosis, which I understand to be exactly, erm, what it sounds like…