YIEPIPIPI

Author
QR Leon
Company
None
Size
11.8 KB
Boards
30 / 32
Rating
3.50 / 5.00

Closer Look: Yiepipipi

By: Dr. Dos
Date: July 31, 2020
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Unusual games are quick to get people's attention, and sure enough Yiepipipi showed up on the Closer Look poll and promptly took the interest of the majority of voters. It won't take long to figure out why this game won so fast. Yiepipipi is definitely an experimental title that tries to tell a story in a way that hasn't been done before with ZZT. Can it pull it off? Let's find out!

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The title screen consists of this dark framed landscape. It looks to be snow covered with icy looking structures, or possibly mountains, but it's very difficult to say what we're looking at exactly. Not really knowing what's going on will be a recurring theme of Yiepipipi. It's a deliberate choice and one that would be quite easy to result in something uninteresting to play, but QR Leon does a lot with the concept here.

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As soon as the game begins we get the same shot, but now without the border and with some lighting, brightening up the scene, and then Yiepipipi reveals what makes it special.

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It's written entirely in a made-up language. There have been non-English ZZT worlds before. The ZZT community had a sizable portion of Dutch speakers who would publish their earliest worlds in their native tongue before finding the American-centric community and switching to a shared language. Some other titles have been written in Spanish and German as well. These are of course all languages that can get a few critical accented letters displayed with an extended 8-bit character set which explains ZZT's success in these countries as opposed to places like Japan. Generally speaking though, the ZZT community spoke English, and therefore the vast majority of its games were written in English by native speakers. America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and England all had notable ZZTers. The Netherlands actually managed to be the sort of exception to the rule where things still took off despite the need to communicate in a second language in order to be understood by the majority of the community. Of course, Yiepipipi is doing its own thing entirely. The language isn't one that you'll find anybody who can "speak" it. This is a bold choice and one that runs a real danger of inscrutable puzzles, story-lines, or even just descriptions of what objects the player touches. To tell a story without a shared language between the storyteller and the listener, is a significant challenge to impose on oneself.

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Even then though, it's not impossible to succeed with something like this. Myth's Winter is considered to be one of the great ZZT puzzle games and was purposely designed around immersing the player into an environment to solve puzzles. Winter eschewed the use of text beyond its intro and ending resulting in the atmospheric experience Myth had intended to create.

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Can Yiepipipi do the same?

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It's easy to be apprehensive about the concept, but you Yiepipipi will quickly give you confidence in itself right away. The visuals work in the game's favor quite well. Yiepipipi here is drawn in a very unusual manner, focusing on standard ZZT colors and leading to things like the truly white face that looks almost like a mask. (and who's to say it isn't?) The stark blackness of the facial features contrast quite well making the art something that feels very unusual for ZZT, especially for a game released as late as 2007. It looks like a relic of the past, but one from another place. This seems like a ZZT game that would be made by somebody who had no interactions with the English speaking community, a game made in ZZT but not for ZZTers.

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Unsurprisingly, a game made with a fictional language uses a lot of text. "Voap!" will show up quite a bit as will "vronkaben". I am unsure how translatable the text actually is. If you read closely you'll likely piece together a few words here and there, but I really feel like it's not a puzzle to be solved, and just a strange journey to enjoy.

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I believe that intro is supposed to establish the plot. It's far too difficult to try and put any pieces here together without having a game world to explore yet.

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Getting to play the game, and then return to the screenshots makes things even more confusing because even having a rough idea of what's going on, I still can't make heads or tails of a lot of the text. Linxr? What? Why is that capitalized? This lack of clarity is more of a thing after playing. When you're playing it yourself, it's a lot easier to focus on navigating the game's world rather than worry about the rules of its language.

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My one true complaint about Yiepipipi is that it doesn't use a custom executable. CleanZZT was a reasonably popular hack that was widely available and suppressed a lot of ZZT's default messages which are a minor distraction in most games, but in Yiepipipi suddenly getting some English text really sticks out. What I can reasonably assume is Yiepipipi's home doesn't have too much to interact with, but it does have an unconventional design. The shapes of the rooms are very wobbly making for a very strange overall structure.

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On the... shelf(?) is a Vounkelfsh. Perhaps the one thing that can be gleamed with confidence is that the top option must mean something to indicate "yes, interact with this thing" and the bottom must mean to not interact. Whether "Eurien" means "Read", "Look", "Take", "Open", or any number of potential verbs is a mystery to the end.

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Truly this is a game to experience yourself, especially if you plan to try and unravel some concrete meaning out of it. Every piece of text has me wondering if it's beneficial to include or not.

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The bed. Your bed. Why are both words capitalized? I have no confidence in any of this.

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To make things are tougher to understand, several objects can't even be recognized in the slightest when interacted with. I get the bed, and that thing on the shelf is probably a book, but touching this arrow produces this message and causes the arrow to move in a rectangle around Yiepipipi pointing in the direction of movement before stopping after doing a lap. The half-block character nearby acts somewhat similarly, but stays in place and instead animates between the four half-block characters in a circular motion. "Yosh Huinell Veen" is the explanation you get. From an author's perspective, putting in things like this has to be half the fun of making it.

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Yiepipipi's home continues, getting somewhat more comprehensible. A very clever lighting effect on the left side of the home creates a pattern of sunlight through the windows. These windows are lined with passages used as a way to let Yiepipipi look outside, communicating information via sight instead of text.

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It leads to this gorgeous looking art board of Yiepipipi pressed up to the glass and looking outside.

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Though the picture could easily be read as Yiepipipi showing some childlike glee as she looks out the window, "Iee!!!" is pretty universal as a mood and I think she's shocked at whatever she's seeing out there.

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Before pulling back to the inside of her home, we get this closeup of Yiepipipi's hand and a good look at a golden ring she wears on her middle finger. This is a great way at establishing some background information without the use of text while still being ambiguous. The game seems somewhat fanciful so far, but it's hard to say if this is a magical ring or a simple wedding band.

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There's no dialog at all on the closeup, just pure cinematography with that lingering shot of the ring. After returning to this board, I picked up some of the gems only to discover that they are objects, but they still give health, a gem, and points. I imagine this is so they can turn into a fake wall afterwards, or perhaps it's just a deliberate odd choice to make this game a little bit more unusual. Additionally, I checked the uh, shelves? There's another "Iee!" here though it likely is more joyous than the one for the window. This results in Yiepipipi getting the key and being able to head outside. All the other objects are empty: "Vronkabile. Voap."

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Yiepipipi heads outside into what looks like a pretty bleak winter scene. The gems act like the ones in the house, though this time they're on a black background so they certainly could have been standard ZZT gems. There's a new item to collect as well in the form of those white clubs. A lot of times when games are ambiguous about what specifically is being picked up, it's worth checking in the editor to see if the object has a name that might lead to some clues. Unfortunately for me, even the ZZT-OOP is written in "Yiepipipinese", with these objects that I would guess were mushrooms being named "SWEN". They give one point and two health. Normally, I wouldn't have cared enough to collect every single thing on the screen with such low benefits for doing so, but prior to playing this game for this write-up, I played it in the browser to get a feel for it and managed to die so it's probably worth grabbing most of the collectibles Yiepipipi comes across.

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There is one last object here. A skeleton perhaps? The object has no name and just produces this blank message. Yiepipipi saunters onward.

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As a particularly "artistic" game, I wasn't expecting much as far as challenging gameplay went. Frankly, I didn't expect any action at all, but things get dangerous as Yiepipipi heads south and runs into some ZZT lions. Again resources are scattered everywhere, but the important thing is for the player's eye to catch the brown object on the left which contains ammo. This is communicated by displaying a flashing message of a lone "ä" character. The board itself is of course split into two halves via a large red wall cutting across. As big as the wall may be, it looks to be nearly covered in snow and the passage through the middle is locked, routing Yiepipipi east.

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Any uncertainties about the wintry motif are validated when several homes are very clearly buried here. One house remains unscathed, but there are still some monsters roaming around and another skeleton as well. I do quite like the fencing made out of text on this board and the unusual shape it's willing to take on the right.

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The interior of this home is far more plain than Yiepipipi's. It is entirely empty save for a photograph that can be examined up closely via a passage. The passage character is able to blend into a window design a bit better than a small photo causing the effect to lose a bit of its luster here.

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Any complaints about the passage are promptly forgotten as QR Leon goes the extra mile here. It would be perfectly normal to just draw the art of the picture and maybe a frame, but having Yiepipipi hold it in her hands adds a personal touch to it. The photograph is of Yiepipipi and some other individual. Looking at the background it was likely taken just outside in a more pleasant season.

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She looks on in sorrow. It's clearly bringing back memories and probably some painful ones. There's no telling how old the photo is, or who the other person is.

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However we do go into a flashback afterwards. Yiepipipi is here and there's the other person just around the corner of the small home.

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It's Oryan. He seems to be surprised.

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The text is difficult to get a good read with just one sentence, but afterwards Oryan runs away from Yiepipipi a bit and she gives chase. Each time she catches up to him there's laughter as he runs farther around the house. It's very clearly a loving and playful scene of the two having fun together. It conveys a lot about the relationship without the use of spoken word.

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Finally the chase ends and the doors open to return the player back to the present, hopefully with a better understanding of Oryan and what he means to Yiepipipi.

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Prior to seeing the pleasant springtime flashback, the game being set in winter felt like it was just the time of year chosen. Coming back to it now, with Yiepipipi being alone for unknown reasons, things feel significantly more bleak. Beneath the photograph is the key to the gate allowing Yiepipipi to move into the rest of the board and continue south.

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It gets a bit abstract here. I'm not sure what I'm looking at here, but from Yiepipipi's screaming it doesn't seem particularly natural. The spinning guns are positioned in a way that they can shoot vertically and it's very possible to enter this board from a column where you're immediately in the line of fire and have to react quickly to avoid being shot. Yiepipipi's response here was my own. The actual trip across the board is a lot smoother. There are safe spots to hide from the guns and the firing rate is low enough that the player can wait for an opportunity to make their move.

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What follows is more of the same, in a continued abstract dark place with the usual foes and resources made available.

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