CIPC #271: Sable maze: Norwich Caves

Ah, hidden object games! If you have the licence to slap a popular title on a game but you haven’t got the game to slap it on, you can always make it a hidden object game. If you’ve hired more designers than programmers, which are more expensive, you can make a hidden object game. If you’re just lazy, you can make a hidden object game. It’s really easy: you make some backgrounds, sprinkle some sprites through them, perhaps add a puzzle or two to hide the utter uselessness of the entire project and you ask €2.99 in the app store or, even better, offer some in-app purchases for gullible kids. Unsurprisingly, there are metric tonnes of these games with a wide variety of premises and stories, each one stupider than the next.

The Sable maze series seems to revolve around people getting lost in mazes, or possible around sable being a classy word, especially when used as an adjective. The premise of this particular entry in the series deals with an entirely fictional old university based in an equally fictional place called Norwich Caves.1 Underneath the campus, there is a convenient maze for students to get lost in, which they promptly do. Your mission is, unsurprisingly, to get them back.

Along the way, you see a gargoyle, lying prone at the bottom of a staircase, with a chessboard in front of him. There is a small diagram lying on the board showing the following position:2

The knight on f5 and the bishop on f4 are already there, but instead of a queen there is a king on e4. That is much more sensible, as the position with the king on d4 is impossible: a double check like this just cannot happen. Of course, even putting that aside, the position is almost as ludicrous as the plot of the game. Why on God’s green Earth would white have promoted to a bishop?3

Either because he likes pointless extravagance or because he’s an idiot.  In any case, it is likely he went on to design hidden object games.

Realism: 0/5 Putting aside the impossible double check, there is also the minor problem of the missing white king.

Probable winner: White. Even if we swap the king and the queen to get at least a legal position, black is lost. If he tries 1. … Qxc5, hoping for 2. Bxc5 Kxf5 he will get a nasty shock: 2. Ng3+!

1. [Which, to my great annoyance is pronounced nor-which instead of nor-ridge.]
2. [If you also want to leave small diagrams lying around in random places, I suggest this site.]
3. [Is this a reference to Norwich’s episcopal significance? Probably not; I don’t think the game designers put in half as much thought as I did.]