What's your opinion of them?
I wish modern games would bring them back. I quite enjoy controlling the game entirely from the keyboard without need for mouse. Especially for gaming on the go, such as in airports or on a flight =)
But, of course, more importantly, it allows for a much richer range of input from the user than a mouse does. Man, I miss the old glory days of adventure gaming.
Nostalgia aside, text parsers have a lot of downsides and not too many strong advantages. Aside from the simple truth that the mass gaming market would never accept a text parser in the newest Call of Freedom Bullet Halo, there are a couple technological issues that just make a mouse/trackball/gamepad a better choice for many modern games:
- Even a deeply sophisticated parser can't anticipate the words that every person will choose to try to solve a problem, typos aside. Even if you accept the greater burden of knowledge required of the user, there are more opportunities for the game not to know what's going on, so in any real-time sort of game there will be an opportunity for a given gamer to lose out because the machine doesn't know what the player wants
- Text parsers are going to require keyboards for the near future. Even the very best vocie recognition software isn't good enough for games, and the cost of maintaining a library of voice commands in a hojillion languages for the games is going to be prohibitive. Consoles don't have keyboards. (Yes, I know they do. But aside from That Mythical Guy You Know - who *never exists except in your stories* - you've never actually met someone who has one)
- Typing isn't as efficient as steering, and being constrained to use a less efficient system when there exists a clearly available mechanism to increase efficiency is one of the best ways to anger your customer base. Interestingly, that's not applicable to games alone, so I can easily point out that the leading case of speeding tickets and aggressive driving in cities is improperly low speed limits relative to road conditions, which is a passably adequate metaphor.
That said, I loved Heroes Quest (which became Quest for Glory) and still prefer the original with the text parser to the redone version - but in part that's because the game was designed with the parser in mind. Parsers are pretty fun, and they do allow for a slightly more rigorous understanding of what's going on than exclamation points over heads and a shaded in map telling you where to go.
But then, Quest for Glory never made $90 million a month. So we pretty much all know what the chances are of text parsers coming back.