In the last IFComp, I submitted a game based about two comic-book supervillains’ attempted capers. “Dynamite Powers vs. the Ray of the Night” is a game also in that some pulp comic-book genre, but it’s a very different game. I was pesronally especially interested in it particularly as a constrast with my own game, but it’s a clever, charming game I’d happily recommend to anyone.

Gameplay: The protagonist is a superhero trying to stop a Martian supervillain. (The comics here are space opera ones; neither character has superpowers, and ray guns and doomsday machines are prominent.) The game is fundamentally a puzzlefest, albeit one with substantial flavor and good writing, that has three main puzzles that must be solved in succession. The relatively small map focuses attention on the well-designed puzzles, and the game doesn’t feel rushed or unfocused. 9/10.

Mechanics: There are three puzzles to the game: a standard adventure-style inventory and set-piece puzzle; a puzzle that’s almost a logic problem; and a puzzle involving understanding the color mechanic in the game. The idea of a “black-and-white” text-adventure in the latter is brilliant, and the puzzle surrounding it is creative. All three puzzles are of reasonable difficulty, and they have a few separate subparts. To alleviate frustration, the author provides in-game hints and a walkthrough.

The only problem I had with the mechanics is that it’s unfair in one particular part: A certain puzzle requires using information from previous fatal attempts to solve it. It’s not a mechanical problem, given the length of the game and the presence of save files and the undo command, but it’s hard to call it completely satisfactory. Adding a warning about the upcoming puzzle (e.g., a map) would eliminate the problem. 9/10.

Presentation: The writing captures the golden-age comic-book sensibility well, and it’s short enough that it can keep up its over-the-top style without overstaying its welcome. The characters are stock ones, but the pacing of the game prevents them from being shallow or repetitive. It’s hard to dislike a game involving a bit of math, references to “Ulysses,”, and comic-book superheroes and supervillains. 9/10.

You might be interested in this game if: You like multi-part puzzles involving systems to play around with.

Score: 9

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