My favorite underdog of the 7th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition, Fine Tuned is a charming, very atmospheric game that unfortunately has far too many bugs in the second half to fulfill its potential. (although they have been squished in later post-competition releases, now up to version 7). Adam Cadre says it all about this underrated gem in his review: |
"...[Fine Tuned] is both astonishingly hilarious and astonishingly buggy. Not only has the author created an absolutely wonderful world, full of "anti-autoists," roving herds of goats, and fist-shaking train engineers, but it dares -- and manages to pull off -- a number of pieces of participatory comedy, which is much harder to pull off than just writing a bunch of funny lines that always show up. For example, the trip down the driveway could easily have been dull, had the PC put on his entire costume and only then started up the car, but by adding a sidekick who's eager to get started, the author prompts the player to try to get moving after donning each article, making for a hilarious sequence... and then you have the gag with the parking brake, which is an instant classic. I'm talking about the way that, if you don't remember to release the parking brake (and who does?), the mechanic will shout at you to do so; and then if you don't remember to set it, the car will start to roll away until the mechanic sets it for you; and then comes a major event, and the game is truly underway, as you head out on your own for the first time -- and as you attempt to sally forth, the car lurches forward and the mechanic sticks his head out of the ditch he's in and screams, "The parking brake! RELEASE THE PARKING BRAKE!" I laughed so hard I thought I'd die. But what really impressed me was that I had to make the joke happen, or rather, the author had to set things up such that I would genuinely forget about the parking brake three times, without me noticing this piece of misdirection, and it worked beautifully. I so very much wanted to give this game a ten... but after the infinitely decreasing score bug, and the [** programming error **] bugs, and the stack overflow bug, and the hundred other problems, I just couldn't do so in good conscience. It looks like the author ran out of time; had the game been truncated, chopped down to chapter one alone and polished so that even that much was bug-free, this would have been a ten without a doubt. As it is, it was the second-place game on my ballot."
Even with bugs and all the aggravation, Fine Tuned is a must-play IF gem that is well worth the patience to finish -- just be prepared to save often to circumvent some nasty bugs that may remain in the game. Highly recommended!
Reviewed by: Underdogs