"Excelsior" is a fine, old-school puzzler. There's no story; at least, nothing worth mentioning or remembering. We're making your way up through a tower, solving puzzles and finding coins and levers simply because we can. Normally, it's story and attitude that engages me first, but in this case it's the progression of puzzles: set pieces that start out simple and grow increasingly complex as we near the top of the tower. And of course, part of the puzzle is in figuring out what we're supposed to do in the first place.
One interesting thing that the game does is that nearly all interaction and object manipulation is done through a single verb: "use". If you want to pick up a lamp, it's "use lamp". If you then want to light it, it's "use lamp" again. This is essentially what Sierra did when they reduced their command menu to a single-point-and-click system. I remember thinking, when that system first came out, that it would almost certainly be a source of constant frustration: one would click on something expecting to do X and find oneself doing Y instead. But in practice -- perhaps through careful game design -- such situations are not all that common. Similarly here: at no point did I find myself doing something other than what I meant to do when I clicked -- excuse me, when I used something. And in a way, it relieved me of having to consider what I wanted to do with the things I found, and seemed to help in establishing the parameters of the puzzles I was facing.
Although I do not think I would recommend that this become standard IF practice. I'm still rather in love with being able to choose from a hefty list of possible actions to perform on any one object. The design worked here, probably because the game was designed with objects having unique functions: there's pretty much always only one way to interact with any one thing. That may not always be possible, depending on an author's vision of what he wants to do.
So, I found this to be a pleasant little diversion. I don't know that the experience will stick with me for very long, but I enjoyed myself. And I acknowledge the innovation of the single-verb system.
If this were breakfast, I think it would be fresh-baked bread and aged cheddar cheese, with a cup of American coffee. Nothing fancy, but good, hearty fare.