Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Timequest - 1361 BC Survey

Written by Reiko

Temporal Corps Private Journal #4: "I dodge another attempt on my life, view the sunrise on the summer solstice, talk to two different kinds of philosophers, and meet King Tut. Another exciting day in the life of a time agent! I’m acquiring quite a lot of loose ends at this point."

I jump to Mexico in 1361 BC and immediately find a Olmec Indian trying to kill me for taking or getting rid of Quetzlcoatl. "What have you done with the feathered god?" he cries. That implies that Vettenmyer actually stole an idol itself and put it somewhere else. No wonder the guy in 44 BC was waiting for it to return. So I guess I have to find a Quetzlcoatl from another time and bring it back to this time, or find the one that Vettenmyer took.

There’s a hint here that I should know something the Olmec doesn’t.

If I hang around more than a minute, the Olmec knocks me unconscious, puts me in a cookpot, and then lets me contemplate my fate for a few minutes after I wake up while he sharpens his knife. They're cannibals, after all. Not a nice way to go. Too bad there's no obvious way to arrive a few minutes later. Time doesn't advance while in the interkron.

Moving on, I jump to Rome in 1361 BC. The sewer location is just a clean stream with a muskrat sipping the water, because of course there's no city yet, as this is long before Rome proper. But the Academy location is a meadow with a philosopher sitting on a log. The philosopher doesn't have much to say, though, and I don't see any items here.

Should I know who this philosopher is?

In Dover, I appear in the same shed as later on (presumably rebuilt between now and then). Here it's the time of chieftains and druids. The chalk cliff's trail leads all the way down to the shore in this time, where I find a large conch shell. The interface indicates there's an exit to the south from here, but that's into the water, and the response only says, "Persons with a strong death wish are urged not to play this game, as it could be hazardous to their health." Okay then.

That’s a beautiful shell, don’t you think?

Back outside the tavern, I take the road west that doesn't exist in 44 BC, and "after several hours of walking" I reach Stonehenge. It also says that "night falls" which is interesting as it was after 8:00 pm when I started, and now it's 5:30 am, which basically means I walked all night and it's nearly dawn. I think that would make even less sense if I had dinked around in Dover for a few hours before setting out.

I can sit on the sighting stone at Stonehenge, but I don't see anything obvious to do. Yet I wait for a few turns, and my patience pays off as I'm given a description of the sunrise. It seems I've done the right thing, as the rays of the rising sun blind me for a moment, and then an old druid appears and approves of my sunrise vigil, even though it was mostly by accident. So it would have been a problem if I'd wandered around Dover much longer, as I would have missed the sunrise on the summer solstice. I got five points for this. Plus a clue!

I stand witness to the summer solstice, and get to meet a druid.

The druid says there will be a solar eclipse on the other side of the ocean at one hour after midday. I should be able to use that somehow to impress the Olmec Indians and restore the Quetzlcoatl myth, if I can stay alive long enough to advance the clock that far. The druid is dismissive of those who do not study the sun and moon and are frightened by superstitious nonsense, which I agree with, but in this case it might work in my favor. I can see that a lot of this game is going to involve being in the right place at the right time.

For the record, there was no eclipse of any kind around June 21, 1361 BC. I checked the database, and the closest is a partial solar eclipse focused on Asia on July 26th. There were two total lunar eclipses that year, in February and August, and two other partial solar eclipses, but basically this scenario is a fabrication. I know when the game was made, it was probably a lot harder to look up eclipse timings, but there were a number of historically significant eclipses already known that they could have used. I'm getting the impression that I'm not likely to learn anything useful about history from this game except through my own research.

I return to the shed and move on to Cairo in 1361. I appear in the same tomb as in 44 BC, and the Avenue of the Dead looks very similar, but instead of the time of Cleopatra, it's the time of Nefertiti...and Tut? The historical summary says, “From the Mediterranean to the first cataract of the Nile, the kingdom of Egypt has already been united for almost two thousand years. The great pyramid at Giza is over a thousand years old, and the country is still reeling from the new religion embraced by Akhenaton and his queen, Nefertiti.” Wikipedia says Nefertiti was born around 1371 BC, so that would put her only around 10 years old here...that’s awfully young for a queen, even for Egypt.

I walk north and east to the shore of the river, where a girl and a boy are playing. I somehow know that the boy will be King Tut, and the girl is royal too, but not named. Suddenly a cradle with a nearly newborn baby appears. I enter the water, retrieve the cradle, and give it to the girl, receiving five points.

Cute exchange, but the timing is completely wrong for Moses.

Okay, let's pause. This scenario doesn't make any sense at all. This is clearly supposed to be baby Moses, but the timing makes no sense. The presence of Tut doesn't fit at all, as he supposedly lived 1341-1323, so not even born for twenty more years at this point. The timing of Moses himself isn't well agreed upon, but from what I've read, it's much more likely that he was born around 1530 BC for an Exodus 80 years later around 1450 BC. Also, Exodus 2:2 specifically says that Moses was hidden for three months before his mother put him in the cradle on the river, not just a few days. Pharaoh's daughter found him when she went to wash in the river, not just playing with another royal child. And Moses's sister Miriam followed him and got their mother as a wet nurse for the Pharaoh's daughter. There's no sign of her in this scenario.

Some scholars think the Exodus happened around 1250 BC, which would put the birth of Moses closer to 1330 BC, or during the lifetime of Tut, but Tut and the other pharaohs that would have lived during the life of Moses don't match the patterns of the other textual evidence we have about Moses and the Exodus. So even if you think Moses and Tut were contemporaries, the year isn't right, and it doesn't make sense that they were contemporaries anyway. I won't belabor this any further, but if you're interested in this sort of thing, here's a link with more information on the chronology of the life of Moses:

Anyway, after the unnamed royal girl runs off with the baby who is supposedly Moses, Tut sticks around and asks to play Pharaoh and says I should give him a royal gift. I don't have anything suitable yet, so I'll have to come back later.

Tut looks more like a priest or monk than a royal child in this shot.

In Baghdad/Babylon in 1361 BC, the cave is identical to how it is in 44 BC (minus the creepy message) and the caravan and the village of Baghdad are also the same. The city of Babylon is at its height rather than in ruins, though. The Hanging Gardens are beautifully designed, except that when I go up to the roof and look down at the courtyard, I can see that the vines have been grown in a pattern that reads "Zeke is Number One!" In English! Another creepy message from our favorite psycho time traveller, which gives me another point for finding it. I bet one of those is going to be the "last lousy point".

How long did Vettenmyer have to spend here to grow the vines like this?

The Tower of Babel on the other side of the Ishtar Square requires a password for entry. I don't know if this is something I should be able to find or not. I try saying a few things, but the only response is, "Okay, you've said it. Now what?" It would be helpful to know if I'm supposed to be able to enter the tower, but other than that I'm not asking for any help yet.

Status and score so far.

Next time we'll finish surveying the locations in this time by visiting Peking.

Session Time: 1 hours 0 minutes
Total Time: 4 hours 30 minutes

Note Regarding Spoilers and Companion Assist Points: There’s a set of rules regarding spoilers and companion assist points. Please read it here before making any comments that could be considered a spoiler in any way. The short of it is that no points will be given for hints or spoilers given in advance of me requiring one. Please...try not to spoil any part of the game for me...unless I really obviously need the help...or I specifically request assistance. In this instance, I've not made any requests for assistance. Thanks!

Monday, 29 June 2015

What's Your Story - TangoBunny

Answers by TangoBunny
Introduction and captions by Ilmari

It's great to see new and enthusiastic readers finding our blog. One of the more recent newcomers is TangoBunny, who stumbled on the blog whilst trying to find some info on Questprobe: Hulk -game.

Who could resist this lovable green ogre?

The interest in the game was no accident, since TangoBunny has her own Tumblr-site, dedicated to video games, old and new. She also sent us her What's Your Story -answers, so what are we waiting for!

Related to Bugs Bunny, perhaps?

My home country is…

England. Even though there's very little to do near where I live, in a way I think I'm grateful for that, as I've spent all my free time playing video games instead!

My age is…

18. It feels good to finally be an age that's considered pretty normal! I remember when I would babble endlessly online about games years ago, and people would get really confused when I said I was still in my early-to-mid teens.

The first adventure game I played was…

Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Kill. It was one of those Myst-style slideshow games. I really loved it because you got to explore an American college, as opposed to a fantasy/cartoon/historical setting like a lot of games, and it was full of little novelty puzzles hidden in the scenery.

Morse code in the border of a poster, cryptograms, some letters on a memo in slightly different coloured ink that spelled out a secret message... almost all of it was completely optional, but I had a great time sitting down with a notepad and glitter gel pens decoding all the hidden clues scattered around.

I've never played any of these, but I loved the books as a kid
I guess we'll get to play them in couple of years

My favourite adventure game is…

The Legend of Kyrandia 2: Hand of Fate. I absolutely adore its music, the characters are charming, the interface and potion-making mechanic works really well, and it just feels like a really pleasant experience from start to finish.

I especially love the protagonist, Zanthia. It's hard to explain what makes some characters appealing, so I'll just say that she's one of those characters where I think "She's great. I'd totally want to hang out with her."

Kyrandia-games divide players - some love them, some hate them.
I'll admit that Kyrandia 2 was the best of the three, though

When I’m not playing games I like to…

I dork out over entertainment, so my other hobbies are things like novels, anime, comics/manga, toys, and trading card games. When I was little I did ballroom dancing, and when I was in my teens I played tennis, but I don't have as much time for those any more.

I still like to keep fit though, so I often go on lengthy walks to various towns to buy something just so it feels like I had a purpose to go there, and then barely using the thing I ended up buying. That kind of mindset is probably how my unplayed game collection grew so much! I spend a short amount of time each day on a treadmill or exercise bike too.

I like my games in (a box, digital format)…

In an ideal world, both in a box as well as on a digital distribution platform, which some games have been doing lately. I like having a physical box so I have something tangible, but I like the convenience of just having to click a button to play it.

If I was forced to pick between them, I'd choose digital just so I knew I'd always be able to play them at any time. Old games tend to get scratched up and their boxes can take up a lot of space!

The thing I miss about old games is…

Synthesised 90s music, detailed pixel art, vibrant colours, and painted backgrounds.

I miss quirkiness too, games that go out of their way to be stylish and interesting, rather than trying to appeal to the widest possible audience and removing anything that caters to very niche tastes.

The best thing about modern games is…

New game genres that can only exist with modern technology. First person puzzle games, multilayered music scores that seamlessly change, huge open worlds, crowdfunded niche games, and I guess the most recent one would be virtual reality games that are actually playable, rather than headache-inducing 2.5D low-framerate nightmares.

I definitely appreciate that there are ways to play older games from all systems on a PC too, where you can dump cartridges you've bought and play them on a PC without worrying about old TV standards, cables, and region-locked consoles. Save stating and load stating is a godsend for me too, where I often just like to experience some older games without dedicating a month or two to mastering it.

The one TV show I never miss is…

My favourite TV shows are physical and creative game shows. Knightmare, Fort Boyard, Sasuke/Ninja Warrior, Fun House, DERO!, TORE!, and so on. They aren't on UK TV often, so I don't 'miss' them, but I'll often seek them out!

Ninja Warrior: you have to see it to believe it

If I could see any band live it would be…

I'm not sure if it counts as a band, but the video game composer Shoji Meguro, and the rapper Lotus Juice, put on absolutely incredible Persona music concerts in Japan, and I would love to experience that.

For a more standard band, it'd have to be Metric.

My favourite movie is…

I'm not as much of a movie watcher as most people, so it's hard to pick a favourite, but I'll probably go with Battle Royale. I love stories like that for similar reasons to liking physical game shows, and as cheesy as it is, it's definitely memorable. Doubly so with Takeshi Kitano in it.

One interesting thing about me is…

It's hard to pick just one thing! Given this is a game-related questionnaire, I'll stick with something game-related. I love the concept of gambling in video games, so as a result, I have huge stacks of Japanese pachinko, pachislot, and strip mahjong games.

Suddenly I want to have one of these

When people see my room housing dozens upon dozens of strip mahjong games, they tend to find it pretty odd.

I am slightly disturbed that they've made a movie about the topic

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Timequest - 44 BC Survey

Written by Reiko

Temporal Corps Private Journal #3: "I’ve uncovered some hints of what else Vettenmyer has been up to and obtained a couple of items of dubious usefulness, but the highlight of the day has to be my visit with Cleopatra. Except then she implies I can’t keep up with her and puts me off until later. If it weren’t already quite the interference in the timestream even to get involved with her, I’d have to suggest just what she can do with that aphrodisiac she gave me. Hmph."

So I originally didn't solve the mission in 44 BC Rome all at once; I went on to several other time periods before going back and figuring it out. I thought maybe there was a chance that there was a cotter pin in another place. I reasoned that if Roman chariots use cotter pins in the year 44 BC, then perhaps chariots or wagons or other wheeled vehicles in another city in the same year might use similar cotter pins. It wasn't a great hypothesis, since various civilizations might have very different technology levels (I've played way too much Civilization, clearly, but these cities mostly represent standard civilizations - British, Romans, Egyptians, Chinese, Aztecs) and practices like pottery can vary quite a bit between towns even just miles apart, but it's all I could think of at the time. So here's what happens in the other cities in 44 BC.

History of Dover in 44 BC.

In Dover, I appear in a shed next to a tavern. I don't necessarily know if there are any plots I have to stop here, but I'd better keep my ears open. I exit from the shed onto a lawn, which seems to be the same kind of beautiful but pointless vantage point as the Academy scene in Rome, including the SAME BUSH whose description says, "It looks like a kinder, gentler bush." What does that even mean?? Kinder than what?

The tavern holds some sailors and an innkeeper polishing a tankard. Not much here either. I head back out and follow the path down the cliff. Partway down, I find a loose piece of chalk, which I pocket for five points. The path doesn't seem to go any farther down, though. As far as I can tell, that's all that's here. I try waiting around for a few hours just to see if there's anything exciting scheduled, but nothing happens.

Note the murals. At this point, the Indians have been boiling men in cannibal pots and defeating all their enemies.

On to Mexico in 44 BC. I appear in a temple to Quetzlcoatl. It doesn't look like I can go anywhere from here, but there's an opportunity to interact with a native who's meditating there. Apparently his lineage is waiting for Quetzlcoatl to return, and he's the last. When I “ask toltec about god”, he says this: “The feathered serpent appeared on this very spot over a thousand years ago. At that time, he commanded us to build an altar and await his return for 100 generations. He said that if he became displeased with us, he would return and show to us the symbol of our doom. Then, if our ways still did not please him, he said he would return again in the guise of a white man bearing that selfsame symbol. At that time will our race come to an end.” So if Quetzlcoatl doesn't return in his lifetime, then it's a sign that his people are invincible and Quetzlcoatl will destroy all their enemies.

According to the briefing notes: “In 1519, Hernando Cortez landed in Mexico with only 500 men and 16 horses. Yet in a matter of months he conquered the entire Aztec nation of more than half a million people. He accomplished this astounding feat with the help of an Aztec myth that the vengeful god Quetzlcoatl would one day come in the guise of a bearded white man and destroy the Aztecs.” Apparently Vettenmyer did something with the original myth in 1361 BC to make the Toltecs think their civilization would be permanently invincible if Quetzlcoatl didn’t return again by 44 BC, so I’ll have to go see if I can undo that. Then the priest here in 44 BC should say something different. I don’t see anything else useful here yet.

Before I move on, though, I have to comment that, at least according to the wikipedia article on Queztlcoatl, this Cortez connection seems to be a myth that could have been manufactured by the Spaniards to cement their superiority over the Aztecs. It isn’t clear that the Aztec Emperor Montezuma actually believed Cortez was a god; in fact, the Aztecs weren’t initially hostile to the Spaniards: Montezuma and Cortez exchanged gifts, and the Spaniards were hosted for several months before violence broke out. It makes a good story to have Vettenmyer tamper with the Quetzlcoatl myth, but it isn’t good history.

History of Egypt in 44 BC.

In Cairo, I appear in a dusty tomb. Outside is a road through the City of the Dead lined with many other tombs and mausoleums. I have arrived just before Cleopatra's procession will pass through on her return from Rome. I can also explore further to reach the royal compound and walk along the river, but I don't find anything of interest. A guard blocks me from entering the palace itself, which doesn't surprise me. When the procession arrives, Cleopatra notices me, still wearing the wreath from Rome, and invites me to join her for a "night of pleasure" to thank me. Well then. Oddly enough, entering "say yes" doesn't work; I have to enter just "yes".

Anyway, she takes me to her bedroom. I wonder how much later in the year this is. The Rome mission takes place on February 15th, but here in Cairo, Cleopatra is just returning from Rome. I don't know how long that journey takes, but of course I've just used the interkron to travel more or less instantaneously, while she's maybe taken a ship or traveled overland over the course of some days or weeks.

Should I be insulted or grateful?

It's clear what Cleopatra wants. But this isn't that kind of game. She summoned me with a kiss in Rome, so I offer one back. Then she says I need an aphrodisiac to keep up with me, so she gives me one and says to come back in five nights. I don't think we'll have a chance to keep that date, but the aphrodisiac might be useful somewhere. Five points for acquiring it.

History of Babylon in 44 BC.

In Baghdad, I appear in a secluded cave between Babylon and the village at the modern location of Baghdad. There's some writing on the wall, which says, "Everywhere you go, I've been there too." In ENGLISH. Creepy Vettenmyer. Somewhere it suggested that he has a psychological desire to be caught, and leaving all these clues is possibly one manifestation of it. I also get a point for finding his message. I wish I could scratch it out or something. That kind of message would play havoc with modern archaeologists if it lasted that long.

Outside the cave, there's a caravan taking a break, but they seem unfriendly and I quickly move on. The village of Baghdad holds a bazaar and not much else, apparently. I see a wagon with wheels in the picture, but it doesn't really exist in the implementation. Following the trail the other direction, I reach the ruins of ancient Babylon. There's a broken clay bowl, but I can't take it, and there's nothing else here.

History of China in 44 BC.

In Peking, I appear at a roadside shrine. There's a box of candles, but nothing I can take. You might think the altar or statue would have some description or at least history attached, but nope. I move on to a park near Peking's main gate. I know in another time I'll have to open the gate to preserve Genghis Khan's invasion, but in this time I can just walk in.

Aside from the picture, this marketplace could practically be identical to Baghdad's bazaar. There are "people" and "wares", neither of which have any description other than I don't see anything unusual or special about them. WE'RE IN HISTORICAL CHINA. How is this not unusual? It certainly wouldn't be the sort of goods I'd find at the nearest grocery store. At least Baghdad's room description listed some of the things that might be for sale: carpets, spices, figs, etc. What would a Chinese market sell? Silk, I would imagine. Rice, surely. Any number of daily necessities. This is shoddy work.

I move on, returning to the park and then following the road out to the burial cave of the Shang emperors. This too will be significant in another time, but for now it's sealed over with a huge boulder. The road continues north quite a long way to the Great Wall. When I walked up to Baghdad from the cave, it said I walked for a "long time" but no more than a minute advanced on the clock. This time it says, "After an hour's walk..." and the clock does advance by an hour. I'll have to be careful not to go back and forth too much here, especially in other times where timing might matter.

And there's a barbarian army just about to attack. The sentries on the wall are gone, killed or bribed. I don't know yet if I need to intervene here, if this is the result of interference from the past, or if this is supposed to happen and I need to leave well enough alone. But I don't see anything I can do. There's nobody to talk to in Peking, and the army starts shooting at me if I try to walk along the wall. So I'll leave it for now.

That concludes our tour of 44 BC. In the first post, I only covered the intro to the game, which takes place in the present headquarters, and in the previous post, I only covered the mission in 44 BC Rome. Now I'm starting to jump around to more places, some of which I'll have to return to later.

So to keep track of where I've been and what I've done, I've made a grid of the locations and time periods. Green marks places where I think I've finished the important interactions. Orange marks places where I know I need to visit another place first and then return. Blue marks places containing messages from Vettenmyer, which don't seem to hold anything else important, but I can't rule them out completely. White means I haven’t visited or I’m not sure what’s going on yet.

Status of 44 BC locations, plus inventory and score.

Next time I'll start working through 1361 BC locations, beginning with Mexico to investigate the Quetzlcoatl myth issue. If you’ve played and know I’ve missed something really important in a 44 BC location, let me know, but otherwise I’m not asking for help, per the usual note below.

Session Time: 1 hours 0 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 30 minutes

Note Regarding Spoilers and Companion Assist Points: There’s a set of rules regarding spoilers and companion assist points. Please read it here before making any comments that could be considered a spoiler in any way. The short of it is that no points will be given for hints or spoilers given in advance of me requiring one. Please...try not to spoil any part of the game for me...unless I really obviously need the help...or I specifically request assistance. In this instance, I've not made any requests for assistance. Thanks!

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Game 57: Space Quest I: Roger Wilco in the Sarien Encounter (VGA remake) (1991) - Introduction

By Andy Panthro

That classic 90s Sierra logo!

Roger Wilco, our intrepid hero of both space and time returns... back to Space Quest 1! Again! Sometimes a location is so good you can't resist visiting it three times in five years. This time, we'll get to see the entire game in glorious 256-colour VGA, rather than just Ulence Flats. From what I remember from playing this not so long ago, other than the obvious visual and audio upgrades the game is basically the same as the original with a few minor changes. It's the first and only Space Quest game to get the official VGA upgrade, but there is a fan-made Space Quest 2 VGA game which I'm sure we'll get to in the distant future.

Were any of the other games referred to as "chapters"?

The Space Quest series is a firm favourite of mine, a wonderful mixture of science-fiction and humour that is not done often enough! (this series, Red Dwarf and Futurama being the most obvious examples I can think of, which have a number of similarities.) The game begins with an attack on the ship Arcadia, of which Roger is perhaps the lowliest crew member. Woken from his slumber in a cosy janitorial closet by a rather loud alarm, he stumbles out to find the ship being boarded by Sariens, who are very much in the "shoot first, ask questions later" mindset.

"Encounter" sounds a little less hostile than the reality!

In my early years, playing the original, I found this initial section punishingly difficult. Sarien soldiers would appear all too quickly if you lingered in many of the rooms and corridors, and figuring out where to go and what to do was particularly challenging (it didn't help that I didn't have a manual to give me any background information!). These days it surely shouldn't present too much of a problem for me, unless I've forgotten something since the last time I finished it.

The Sarien ship stalks it's prey...

The first major change from the original game: Roger now has bright blonde hair, rather than his muddy brown from before. I can't actually remember why this is, perhaps just an advantage of having the extra colours? I'm sure it was mentioned in another Space Quest post, so answers in the comments please! The rest of the graphics are very well done, bright and colourful and with a cartoon-ish quality that suits what is a comedy game at heart.

Before beginning it's attack..

There's not a lot of music in this early section, the main audio being the alarm and the footsteps of approaching soldiers, but it's a vast improvement over the original (unless you're a fan of the rather limited sounds available to 1980s computers?). Sometimes less is more when it comes to game music though, and having no music and just ambient sounds can create a more tense atmosphere.

A rude awakening

I'm playing this on the Steam version of the game (well, sort of, I've copied the game into my normal dosbox directory), since the version doesn't come with the VGA version for some reason. Hopefully I shouldn't have any issues with game speed, there is an arcade section but I think it can be skipped if I have any issues.

Unknown intruders? Didn't they watch the intro? They're Sariens!
So, beginning in the next post I'll see if I can get Roger out of this mess! No death count here though, I don't find it unfair to kill off the player character (most of the time), especially when you have the opportunity to save anywhere. I'll try and highlight a few of the more interesting death screens though.

Only 15 minutes to escape? Good thing I know this ship like the back of my hand!
Time for everyone to guess the score, and it will be interesting to see how the scores compare between this and the original, and also Space Quest IV which was released at a similar time.

Note Regarding Spoilers and Companion Assist Points: There's a set of rules regarding spoilers and companion assist points. Please read it here before making any comments that could be considered a spoiler in any way. The short of it is that no CAPs will be given for hints or spoilers given in advance of me requiring one. As this is an introduction post, it's an opportunity for readers to bet 10 CAPs (only if they already have them) that I won't be able to solve a puzzle without putting in an official Request for Assistance: remember to use ROT13 for betting. If you get it right, you will be rewarded with 50 CAPs in return. It's also your chance to predict what the final rating will be for the game. Voters can predict whatever score they want, regardless of whether someone else has already chosen it. All correct (or nearest) votes will go into a draw.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Leisure Suit Larry 1 (Remake) - Final Rating

Written by Alex

At long last, I am ready to give the Leisure Suit Larry 1 VGA remake its turn with the PISSED rating scale. Since this game is a remake, it should be interesting to see how it stacks up against Trickster’s original rating from three years ago. It may be a little of an apples-to-oranges comparison, seeing as how Trickster and I aren’t the same person (shocking, I know) but I have a feeling that the remake won’t score higher on every single metric.

Before getting started, I went through and did a second playthrough to find those missing ten points I was complaining about last post. It turns out that you can dial 209-683-8989—the Sierra hint-line at the time—for a funny little Easter egg message and ten points. “Gee,” I thought, “how was a player supposed to figure this out without a hintbook or a FAQ?” Checking the manuals that came with the collection shows a whole bunch of phone numbers, none of them the number listed above. Oh well.

Speaking of the phone, what does the asterisk in the picture below look like to you?

Yeah . . . moving on to the PISSED rating.

Puzzles and Solvability

In all honesty, Leisure Suit Larry 1’s puzzles are pretty easy. Even when something seems like a head-scratcher—how do you get by Faith? What about the pills in the window? How do I get by the pimp? What am I supposed to do with the woman in the bathtub?—the answers are usually spelled right out for you, or you just need to use an item you didn’t previously have at the chokepoint, because it’s an adventure game. The Spanish music with Faith, and the game’s explicit hint that she needs medical help, don’t hold your hand as much as shove you towards the right solution, which is giving her the bottle of Spanish Fly. Getting the Spanish Fly is slightly more subtle, with the clue being hidden in the issue of JUGS magazine. Larry can buy at the convenience store. If you do not buy the magazine, the fact that you’re left with nothing to do but try your new item (the ribbon) everywhere you can follows standard adventure-game logic. And then there are the puzzles where, if you don’t have a previous item, you either need to revisit every location to find said item, or you’re dead-ended. Speaking of which, on my second playthrough I tried to find all of the “walking dead” situations in the game. Here’s my list:
  • Eat candy
  • Eat apple
  • Give candy to cabbie
  • Give pills to cabbie
  • Give ring to bum (you can also give him the remote control and the magazine, which won’t dead-end you, but is kind of interesting)
  • Get tied up by Fawn without getting the knife from the bum
  • Give diamond ring to bouncer
  • Give disco pass to Faith before getting married (she confiscates it for some reason!)
  • Don’t pick up ribbon
Other puzzles are just plain obvious: See a drunk guy? Give them liquor! And so on.

However, despite the hand-holding, the game is designed really well. And since this is, primarily, a comedy game, I can’t fault it for being a little on the easy side. Since, graphics aside, the game is unchanged from the original, I cannot justify giving this a different rating than Trickster’s original.

Trickster’s Original Rating: 5
Remake Rating: 5

Interface and Inventory

The Sierra VGA-era point-and-click interface is easy to use. With this remake, blowing up the inflatable doll using the “nose/mouth” icon may be the only tricky aspect, since up until then, that icon is only used for funny messages. The “zipper” icon, conversely, comes in handy when you want to make Larry do something naughty.

As far as the inventory goes, the point-and-click interface works great for inventory management. Clicking the “eye” on each object reveals more information about it, and as a bonus for the obsessive clicker (me), every object, when clicked on another object, gives a unique and humorous message. Kudos to Josh Mandel for this attention to detail.

Trickster’s Original Rating: 5
Remake Rating: 6

Story and Setting

Again, this is a comedy game aimed at adults, and the story and setting have remained unchanged from the original. The whole thing plays like a Judd Apatow comedy: Raunchy, but with a little bit of heart. Larry is not a sleaze, he’s just a loser. And yeah, he’s looking for physical gratification, but he just wants love! He’s the butt of the jokes, much more than any of the women in the game, and the whole thing feels tongue in cheek and not titillating. If you are the kind of person who gets titillated by Leisure Suit Larry games, then please shut your computer off and seek help.

Trickster’s Original Rating: 6
Remake Rating: 6

Sound and Graphics

Ugh. These new graphics are ugly. They are so 90s it hurts. I understand the tacky aesthetic they were going for, but I feel that it’s a bit much. In all actuality, I like the original’s graphics better! And the cartoon-like Larry works, since that’s the visual style Larry has had since the box-art on the original game, but it looks weird when he’s matched up with the realistically-depicted women. But the sprites aren’t what offends my eyes here. It’s the backgrounds.

Sound-wise, the new tunes are great, and have that characteristic lighthearted Larry flair. However, I did get very sick of the taxicab theme.

This may sound strange, but I have to dock this category a point from Trickster’s original rating. It’s so ugly, not even the improved music and sound can balance it out for me.

Trickster’s Original Rating: 5
Remake Rating: 4

Environment and Atmosphere

Ugly graphics aside, Leisure Suit Larry 1 does a fantastic job of setting the tone. You buy that you are in a sleazy Las Vegas-type of city, looking to gamble, party, and get lucky. The quickie wedding chapel, disco, and convenience store add to the atmosphere, as does Lefty’s gross bar.

Speaking of the environment, I said previously that each location has a lot of stuff to do in it, and I stand by that statement, the casino, Lefty’s, and the convenience store in particular. Considering that the game only has five locations that Larry revisits a lot, this keeps the game interesting. Can’t figure out what to do here? Come back later with new items. Yes, it’s adventure-gaming 101, but it helps make the world feel alive. Also adding to the environment are the things which exist purely for gags, such as the casino’s cabaret and the flasher outside of the chapel. Pointless, but fun.

Trickster’s Original Rating: 7
Remake Rating: 7

Dialogue and Acting

No acting in this game, but the writing is fantastic! While most of it is cribbed from the original Larry, some stuff has been added, such as the inventory messages, and some characters give different responses depending on what items are clicked on them. The two drunks, the prostitute, the cabbie, the guy in the barrel, the bouncer at the disco, Faith, Fawn, and Eve in particular give humorous replies to just about everything in Larry’s inventory. It’s little touches like these that help elevate this remake above the original from a joke standpoint. Fitting, since some of the things present in the original, like the “bodily function” commands and other parser-specific jokes, are missing. 

Trickster’s Original Rating: 6
Remake Rating: 8

Trickster’s Original Final Rating: 57
Remake Final Rating: 5+6+6+4+7+8/.6 = 60. 

Wow, higher than I thought! But I feel that this is a fair rating. The game is fun, clever, and does what it sets out to do: Be a comedy-adventure. As it is actually funny, and plays much better as an adventure game than it has to, the extra three points seem apropos. Looking at the game rankings, I don’t think that this is overly high: The Leisure Suit Larry 1 remake will rank above the original, and Police Quest II, but still below Maniac Mansion. It hurts a little having this be higher than Larry III—one of my favorites—but PISSED don’t lie!

CAP distribution

120 CAPs for Alex
  • Blogger Award - 100 CAPs - For blogging his way through the game for our enjoyment
  • What's Your Story Award - 20 CAPs - For WYS answers
60 CAPs for Ilmari
  • Classic Blogger Award - 50 CAPs - For a Missed Classic on Softporn
  • Psychic prediction award - 10 CAPs - For guessing the score
20 CAPs for TBD
  • Genre Appreciation Award - 10 CAPs - For mentioning Tex Murphy and Larry sales
  • Farrah Fawcett Award - 10 CAPs - For winning a caption contest
15 CAPs for Laukku
  • Genre Appreciation Award - 10 CAPs - For pointing out two Kickstarters
  • Piano Player Award - 5 CAPs - For recognising the music played in the chapel
11 CAPs for Dehumanizer
  • Exterminator Award - 6 CAPs - For handling the cockroaches
  • Wine Snob Pretender Award - 5 CAPs - For using a line from Larry in real life
10 CAPs for Aperama
  • Cheat Award - 10 CAPs - For revealing how to avoid the age quiz
10 CAPs for Corey Cole
  • Reminiscent Moose Award - 10 CAPs - For recounting the tale of moose heads in Sierra games
10 CAPs for Rowan Lipkowitz
  • What If Award - 10 CAPs - For an alternative history of adventure games
10 CAPs for Crunchy Frog
  • Christina Applegate Award - 10 CAPs - For winning a caption contest
5 CAPs for Torch
  • Antler Award - 5 CAPs - For guessing the answer to Alex' riddle
5 CAPs for Charles
  • Missed Photos Award - 5 CAPs - For uncovering more photos of Rick the Waiter
5 CAPs for Andy Panthro
  • Genre Appreciation Award - 5 CAPs - For notifying of a bundle on GOG
4 CAPs for Kenny McCormick
  • Lewd And Trashy Jokes Award - 4 CAPs - For providing entertainment to the readers
That was that! But before we let Andy Panthro on the stage with the remake of Space Quest, let's see what are the current rankings for the 1991 games:

1. Space Quest 4 - 65 points
2. Leisure Suit Larry 1 Remake - 60 points
3. Hugo II - 18 points

So far no big surprises, since everyone guessed that SQ4 will score high and Hugo II low - the high score of LSL 1 might have surprised some. We'll be updating the rankings regularly with each new game played, so you can check how well you've guessed the order of the games.