Shop Forum More Submit  Join Login
About Varied / Hobbyist Celina StanawayFemale/United States Groups :icongalactic-hero: Galactic-Hero
 
Recent Activity
Deviant for 8 Years
Needs Core Membership
Statistics 240 Deviations 18,001 Comments 148,098 Pageviews
×

Donate

CyberneticCupcake has started a donation pool!
1,937 / 2,048

Current Amount: + 24



Help Me Get Points Stamp by BETACRYSTAL Help Me Get Points Stamp by BETACRYSTAL Help Me Get Points Stamp by BETACRYSTAL

You must be logged in to donate.
:icondahub::icondahub::icondahub::icondahub::icondahub::icondahub::icondahub::iconalluminocity::icondahub::icondahub:
Cancerous by CyberneticCupcake

"There are some games you just don’t want out there in the open in case someone accidentally plays it, gets hurt, and their destiny is forever altered."
Clint B, Lazy Game Reviews

"This was sold as a game?!"
Vinny, Vinesauce

I have to admit, I used to love watching review shows on YouTube, and even reading review articles on other websites. I thought it was cool when review people tore apart a piece of media so mercilessly, and that only cowards ran away from a good roasting session.

Then I realized that many of these reviewers had some pretty lousy biases…

Bigotry and lack of knowledge were one thing, but then there were the reviewers who seemed like they hated on something simply because it was the "theme" of their show not to show any mercy to a piece of work, or even give any sense of dignity to its fabric or history. *cough*CHANNELAWESOME*cough*

I don’t blame these guys at all, save for something that was stuck in my throat; after all, it’s apparently popular to look at childhood media with a disdainful eye. However, there’s a very wide gap between having an age-embittered opinion of something you grew up with long ago, and just hating upon something from a bygone era unfamiliar to you for YouTube money.

Above all, however, in spite of "majority" views, I actually really like The Adventures of Ninja Nanny & Sherrloch Sheltie. Why? Because I actually read the damn thing from start to finish…

"Do they expect me to read all this? Guys, this isn’t a reading game, is it?"
Mike P, Panoots

"It’s just a bunch of scatteredness going on in-between occasional bits of story, and this other stuff is far more interesting!"
Clint, LGR

AtTheIroningSleeping by CyberneticCupcake
mfw

I think I opened myself up for trouble trying to understand this game as an actual piece of literature or a part of gaming history. However, I have my reasons for this. Using my Sherlockian skills of deduction, I’ve come to the hypothesis that the creators of this game, Silicon Alley, were possibly another startup software company that wanted to break out of their small farm town mold with a game drawn from their experiences that would appeal to children and start them well off in life. It really does feel like the sort of game that I would have made, had I had the resources and wherewithal at the time, and I have to commend them just for trying.

Yeah, I know, if I believe that…
PleaseBeCareful by CyberneticCupcake

It's clearly a second-rate game. It feels like a sorry attempt to create something easily in a known successful genre while also poorly initiating a brand new format (the DictioPedia NinjaNannica and other gimmicks) in order to break out in a competitive children's edutainment game market.

DictioPedia by CyberneticCupcake

Actually, metatextually speaking, it feels like another Sherlock parody, Buster Keaton's Sherlock Jr., in that it tries to do two things at once and expects to do justice to both. In this case, it tries to be both the animated story of likeable characters on madcap misadventures and a text-heavy interactive encyclopedia of all knowledge the developers could stuff in there at the time. Like Buster's bumbling wannabe detective, it dreams of being something greater than it is, and ultimately suffers for its self-aggrandizing misconceptions.

However, let's weigh my personal pros and cons of this game before I become another one of those indignant internet ill-speakers. Bleh
(spoiler warning, in case you actually want to read it for yourself)

Pros

  • I really liked the backbone of the story, the mysterious cow with strange talents seeking an honest career for laudable reasons. If it weren't for the strange directions the story took, it could have made a quaintly entertaining children's book series.
    • In particular, Norbertina's trials and tribulations were a fascinating read, and though gratuitous in places, they gave a pathos that made me root for her to succeed in her mission. Is it okay if I adopt her?
  • Many of the characters had interesting quirks to them that were satisfying to see in action time and again; it not only shows a care toward character development and continuity, but in some cases suggest where such behaviors could come from psychologically.
  • Forgoing the samurai/ninja kerfuffle, a lot of the professions portrayed in the story seemed well-researched and realistic, at least in terms of the actions necessary within a job, not necessarily the requirements or skills necessary for them. Then again, could a cow really qualify for a nanny, or a moose for a postmaster?
  • The punctuation is pretty solid, with unexpected uses of both semicolons and dashes in correct usage without overuse; the multiple question and exclamation points in places are gratuitous, but understandable.
  • As unnecessary as they sometimes were in context, I like the flavor text and other supplemental materials given in certain places in the book, especially the vox pops from the very loquacious humans in certain parts of the game where they give their views into what's happening in the story, or even insights into the many characters in it. Too bad they were little more than exposition depositories; it would have been cool for them to have bearing in the story beyond just giving backstory. They're not 100% necessary, but I would have done something exceedingly similar if I had the chance, though maybe that's just my detail obsession.
    • My favorite vox pop characters were Archie Livingston Pritchard and Sir Fabius Corpus. They had a lot to say on the happenings in the story and otherwise were interesting characters on their own.
    • I have to give props to Emperor Norton XXXIII as well, just because I liked the real-life character he was based on. (EmperorNortonII, is this your kid?)
  • I actually do like the integrated dictionary/encyclopedia that can be accessed at any point during the story. If only it could open up on an unfamiliar word by clicking on it instead of having to search for it, but it's better than flipping back and forth between the middle of a book and its glossary in the way-back or front.
    • I also like the collection of eccentric words it collects and uses in its writing, though only a few times does it explain itself within the context of the story by using similes or other contextual clues.

Cons

  • Naturally, the biggest evidence for this being a cheap knock-off product is the overlong sensationalist title that doesn't deliver whatsoever, except maybe in visiting No. 11 Downing Street for a short while.
  • "It doesn’t even turn Nanny into a Ninja!"
    ClintLGR
    • It barely turns her into a nanny, either. I felt it was a bit of a copout for one of her major characteristics to be given to her instead of taught the way she wanted, but then again the whole end of the story seemed strangely rushed into promises of further adventures.
  • The readability of the story suffers from the author's apparent lack of understanding of paragraph structure. Large blocks of only marginally related sentences run alongside shorter spurts of dialogue more in line with a speech-heavy piece of writing. It was especially difficult to figure out where dialogue ends and narration begins, since there were gigantic dialogue chunks in places that had no call to run that long apart from filling up disk space.
    • There are some grammatical quirks that I stumbled over a few times; they reminded me of certain British writing colloquialisms, yet the spellings and idioms are American for the most part, so I can't be sure whether they're true errors or just part of its voice.
    • It doesn't use the serial/Oxford comma, either, but that's just a personal pet peeve of mine, and not a big one.
  • The story tells more than shows, and that's difficult when it keeps going on about "poor" Norbertina or the "great" Sherrloch and provides little-to-no in-story evidence for either, just the narrator spoon-feeding this information to the reader.
  • A lot of the story points would have worked better as interactive segments, but of segments given, they're either the vox pops with more lengthy text to tell, or they're limited animation "spectacles" with pointless "choose-your-own-adventure" elements that punish you for deviating from the story(?!) and too many non-sequitur clickable gags that only vaguely have to do with what's happening at the relevant point in the tale.
    • Especially in later chapters, a lot of the clickables lead to winding trees of "educational content" from the vox pops. It can get difficult to invest in the interactive part of the story when it won't focus on relevant information, let alone get you back easily to where you started. It's only mercy is that, once you manage your way out, it drops you back to the main story page on the line where you left off.
  • The encyclopedic elements often contain irrelevant descriptions to the words and phrases given in the story, which is troubling when you actually want to learn what these words mean in context of the story! For example, an entry about San Francisco's nickname of Baghdad by the Bay goes off on a tangent about the legend of 1,001 Nights.
    • Having random stock footage clips make up at least ⅓ of the dictionary descriptions doesn't do it favors, either.
  • Sherrloch Sheltie as a character just doesn't work. He's very self-centered, much like any known incarnation of Sherlock Holmes himself, yet without much clout to his tales, or backbone to his personality, he's just dislikably flat and inanimate. It doesn't help that he doesn't get as much development in the story despite supposedly being one of its main characters.
    • His Scottish anger comes on in places where it shouldn't, and then disappears without reason, as if its reason to exist is just to make Norbertina's life more difficult than it already was. The two just have no chemistry as a team, and there's no indication that they could bond other they're supposed to by the next story. So much for her "faithful companion"...
    • His rivalry with Hercule Puddle (yes, I know) tries to explain his temper about being the best detective, but it only confuses the situation more and makes him seem untrustworthy as a detective to follow to the end, especially for a story that emphasizes a mystery to solve and criminals to catch.
  • A "mystery" that wasn't, really. It's almost Steven Universe like in its gall to set up all these plot points with the intention of either letting readers decipher them for themselves, or bringing them back up later on with their resolution, or some semblance of such. Very few times has that happened within the story as it stands, and with the very vague send-off of the trailer for episode two, it doesn't look like they wanted to make a mystery story to be solved, let alone easily.
    • Norbertina's oft-mentioned "Halfstein" nature and her birthmark being a mug (or stein) like splotch on her sides could mean anything, from her being a special Holstein-based breed engineered by beer-obsessed scientists; to having half of Albert Einstein's mental capacity (one of the program's icons is a cow with E=MC2 over her head), to even having been conceived, not in a test tube, but in a pint mug! It would be nice to confirm these hypotheses for sure.
      • Her Halfstein nature gets her in serious trouble from organizations out to "get" her. Why? To sell her (or her products) off at exorbitant prices? To get at her precious D.N.A.? To breed a race of supercows?
    • What's up with Baron Von Moribund and his various henchspecies? There's indications that the Baron is untraceable and elusive, yet he and his comrades are painted in such broad, bold strokes that it begs the question of how the police haven't suspected a thing, let alone refused to believe Sherrloch's observations of the Baron for all this time. There's also the suggestion that the Baron, despite appearances, isn't even human, with notable comparisons to bulls and other tall, strong animals. Loch Monsters exist in this world, so why not a Minotaur (or Halfstein, maybe) in a mask?
  • PLOT HOLES. Characters that know more than they should, characters that forget something that they knew a few chapters ago, and other niggling mistakes of continuity, not to mention suspension of disbelief.
    • In particular, the nature of human-animal relations in this story: the first chapter indicated that Norbertina's capacity to read and write were part of her special abilities that separated her from other farm animals, but then we enter a world where animals talk to humans on a regular basis, wear clothes like them, and take jobs amongst them?? What makes Norbertina so special in this context, especially as she continues to act mostly animal amongst critters with "two-legs-better" mindsets? What's her stake in this whole thing (or should I say steak Wink/Razz)?
    • On that note, it was just a little weird that everything about this world was the same as our own, except for intelligent animals living amongst people, including the booming industries of animal-based products such as meat, dairy, and certain textiles. One character even talks about taxidermy as a solution to Norbertina's problems! Get stuffed, indeed!
  • The font used was clearly meant to be an "appealing", kid-friendly font, but it just looks like Comic Sans' haughty cousin (and I'd otherwise defend Comic Sans). It's difficult to decipher in places, and the unusual blockiness of it at times due to bad aliasing made it even more difficult to parse. Not that not having it installed looks any better, as it just replaces the font with a default sans-serif that reads even worse.
  • I wouldn't recommend the story to actual children today, not only for the potential of childhood trauma from all those weird animations, but also for some pretty shifty writing about true crime, morbid peril, numerous alcohol and tobacco mentions (seriously, Heineken and Norbertina Onebeer??), and even mild swearing—mostly religious oaths if you're curious. Give your kid an actual dictionary and/or encyclopedia to leaf through at their leisure and it would work just about the same way.
And yet in spite of the overwhelming problems with the whole project, it was an enjoyable experience to read and play. You could have given this to young me and I would not have known any better. That I enjoy this at the age I'm at, knowing very well how flawed it is and how it could have gone horribly wrong behind the scenes, likely shows how creative I am, or at least that's what people have said to me, and that's what I'm putting on my biography Greetings.

It's just that I kept asking myself how it could go into this much detail if it just wanted to shill itself towards money and fame. Maybe it truly was the honest efforts of a writer that got caught up in the interactive storybook software trend of the time, and teamed up with a startup software company. Maybe the writer really wanted to have a part two, but didn't have enough money or disk space at the time. Maybe the company went bankrupt before they had a chance to complete the sequel, and it was either wiped completely or perhaps still somewhere in someone's old PC and/or storage locker. Pray

Maze by CyberneticCupcake

Do I think it deserves a Part 2? Well, yes and no.
No, because it's a disagreeable product of its time that just seemed to want to make it big on as little effort as possible.
Yes, because the story itself begs further exploration into the weird world it sets up and the thrilling adventures within.

It would be neat to rewrite the whole thing—improve on its notable faults and expand on its strengths—and turn it into a graphic/visual novel, but it would be a pretty involved endeavor for something based on a cruddy CD-ROM game; wouldn't be hard to draw, though, since just about anything would be better than the art it already has. I'd also like to see if I could contact the people behind the story to get their input or blessing, but finding out where are they now would take a bit more detective work than I have the time or brainpower for right now.

Frankly, my brainpower is diverted to weird headcanons of a possible part two, from Norbertina flying or sailing off to Japan to learn her ninja skills, to her and Sherrloch looking through numerous records on his hard disks to find her Halfstein legacy, to finally facing off against Baron Von Moribund and his goons in an ultimate battle of nicies versus nasties to the bitter end!

Either way, it's 25 years to its release date, and there's no word whether there was a part two, even a prototype or first draft.

Could it still work after all these years? It's obviously notable for its mild memetic value alone if nothing else, but could it hold its own as one of many retro reboots of the new 10s and possibly 20s? Only time will tell, I suppose.

DullExcursion by CyberneticCupcake

In case people are averse to playing the game and reading for themselves, I might do a game rip of the text and post it to some archive like sta.sh or Google Drive. I might do two versions, though: version one being the straight rip with appropriate links and formatting, and version two being an improved version with better grammar and syntax. It's going to be involved, though, since it is so very, very text heavy.

Meanwhile, stop by my horribly unnecessary Pinterest mood/aesthetic board for the project and gaze at my obsession with these not-so-fresh oats in some awkward mixture of envy and pity, most likely. Hey, I bloody did my research on this, don't kick me!

Shoutout to PilotAaronIzzardDefleshed-Martyr, and 27Paczkis for joining me and/or putting up with my shenanigans regarding this program. It's been a ball.

deviantID

CyberneticCupcake's Profile Picture
CyberneticCupcake
Celina Stanaway
Artist | Hobbyist | Varied
United States

The same goes for Llamas and other little gifts...



Is there anything else you'd like to chat about? You are free to do so in the comment provided.

Have nothing to say other than thanks?

Then please be courteous and assume all gratitudes are mutual. I'm not trying to be rude or ignore you, but if you don't follow these rules, consider your comment hidden or even flagged for spam.
Interests

Comments


Add a Comment:
 
(3 Replies)
Add a Comment: