Monday, 25 May 2015

What's Your Story - Alex

Alex is currently blogging through Leisure Suit Larry for us and is about to become even more prolific with game playthroughs in the near future, with Leisure Suit Larry V and Police Quest III also coming soon.

My home country is… The United States of America. I am a born-and-bred New Englander currently living about 60 miles outside of Boston.

My age is… 34 later this year.

The first adventure game I played was… I think it was Space Quest I on my grandfather’s old Leading Edge computer. My uncle, who is quite a bit younger than my dad, set it up for me and my brother. We were hooked. Police Quest I, King’s Quest III, and yes, Larry I soon followed.

Another Sierra game with a remake coming up here very soon

My favourite adventure game is… This is a tough one. Gun to my head, I say Quest for Glory IV. It does everything almost right. Then again, so does the first Gabriel Knight game. Believe it or not, I didn’t play the first Monkey Island until four or five years ago, but that has to be up there.

Distinguishing them from the shadows of light?

When I’m not playing games I like to… Play with my three-year-old son and my wife, play my guitar or bass or drums, play basketball, write, read, smoke cigars, travel.

I like my games in (a box, digital format)… At this point, digital all the way. I’m running out of space in my house.

The thing I miss about old games is… The charm. There was something about the limitations of the systems back in the day, especially regarding the graphics, that made the developers compensate with design and story choices that really stoked the imagination and made the games come alive. Modern games are pretty rad, though, or so I’ve heard. I don’t have the time or money to invest in them.

The best thing about modern games is… You tell me! I think the most recent game I’ve played has been the Nintendo DS remake of Dragon Quest VI (I’m a sucker for Dragon Quest).

The one TV show I never miss is… I don’t watch much TV at all (I’m a bad American!). In fact, my wife and I cut cable about 5 years ago and survive on Skype, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. My main TV watching is sports, though, my beloved Celtics (basketball), Patriots (football), and Red Sox (baseball). I’m not a huge Bruins (hockey) fan (I’m a bad New Englander!).

If I could see any band live it would be… Well, I would have written Primus (saw twice before their most recent hiatus), Faith No More (have had tickets to see twice, never made it), or Blur (saw once, sans original guitarist), but all three of those bands released albums and are touring with their original lineups. In 2015. Am I back in high school? I suppose other than the usual answers (Beatles, Zeppelin, the Who, etc.), I would have to say the original Mothers of Invention circa 1966-1968, although I would love to see any era Frank Zappa in person. I have been fortunate enough to see his son Dweezil twice play with his Zappa Plays Zappa band, which featured members of Frank’s old groups.

My favourite movie is… Again, gun to my head, I say The Empire Strikes Back, though some days it may be It’s A Wonderful Life (yes, I’m a cornball), The Blues Brothers, or Ghostbusters. I don’t know. I don’t consider myself a “movie person.”

Movie person or not, this is a great choice!

One interesting thing about me is… Everybody thinks I look like somebody else. I have gotten, in no particular order: Harry Potter (because of my glasses), George Clooney, Ty Burrell (Phil on Modern Family), Cary Grant, Bruce Campbell (because of my chin, I guess?) and John Mayer (???), among others. People also tell me I look just like some friend or relative of theirs, but whenever I see a picture or meet the person, I look absolutely nothing like them. This happens all the time.

This is Alex's true form. He just doesn't know it yet.

Friday, 22 May 2015

RetroSmack is Upon You!


I’m sure you came here today expecting to read about Space Quest IV. Well I’m afraid that’s not going to happen now. I’m reclaiming this blog for my own selfish purposes, and there really isn’t anything you, or the Two Guys from Andromeda, can do about it. As much as I’d love to spend the next few paragraphs taunting you for your inability to stop me, I sadly must focus on relaying an important message before that pesky Roger Wilco returns. That bumbling idiot has a habit of unwittingly ruining my plans for blog domination. He won’t succeed this time.

Hear my words Adventure Gamers: RETROSMACK IS UPON YOU!

This unsuspecting planet is about to feel the full force of RetroSmack, and I invite all of you to visit my domain to witness your approaching doom before the rest of humanity. It pleases me much to know that your suffering will be extended, knowingly awaiting the oncoming storm while others live in ignorance around you. As a token of my gratitude for our former allegiance, I have decided to offer you a single chance for glory. You have three days to visit www.retrosmackblog.com and join my cause. Do this, and I shall reward you with riches beyond your wildest imagination. I will allow you to trade your worthless CAPs for glorious Smacks, and you will be trained in the ways of RetroSmack so as to prepare for the upcoming Retrocalypse. Three days I give you. The clock is ticking.

The Trickster

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Game 55: Leisure Suit Larry 1: Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards (VGA Remake, 1991) – Getting Hammered in Lost Wages

Written by Alex


Where we left Larry


And Larry is back! After our pop quiz, Larry is ready to get to it. The conceit of this game is simple: Larry is a 38 year old bachelor who lives with his mother and is terrified of the opposite sex. One day, he decided he’d had enough with his pathetic existence, put on a leisure suit, and made his way to the city of Lost Wages to get laid. Did I mention that Larry is a virgin?

So yeah, it’s a stupid plot. It’s also based on an old text adventure game called Softporn Adventure, which I believe someone will get to on this site in the near future (Admin's note: Done!). Anyway, let’s help Larry get some!

One last note: Instead of comparing this remake with the original on a screen-by-screen basis, I’ll just point out any interesting differences or changes. Here’s one: Instead of just the usual eye/hand/walk cursors common to Sierra’s point-and-click games, the Larry 1 remake adds a zipper and a nose for further interaction. They provide humorous messages and not much else. I’ll be sure to include the good ones.

On with the show. First, let’s take stock of Larry’s inventory.


Gotta love Sierra’s point-and-click inventories!

We’ve got a wallet with $94.00 and a bunch of unusable credit cards, a bottle of breath spray, and a watch. The time is currently 10:00 p.m. Is this game timed? We’ll soon find out!

Going either to the left or right of Lefty’s takes Larry to the same place: an alley where a surly looking thug stalks towards Larry with malice in his eyes.


“Nah, I’m cool here.”


You should have listened to the narrator, Larry!


This makes it sound like hanging out in dark alleys is a habit of Larry’s.

Wait . . . who said that?


. . . the hell?


Is that . . . is that a blender?


Gross!


I’m not drinking that!


 And out of the tube comes . . .


Another Larry!


Very funny, Al Lowe, very funny.

So all of that brings us back to the front of Lefty’s bar. I have to say, I enjoy this particular death in the original Larry 1, where you see other Sierra characters like Graham and the dragon from the original King’s Quest, and Roger Wilco’s droid from Space Quest 1.



 In any event, let’s see what happens when we walk up from Lefty’s, instead of left or right.


Between the building and those two trash cans.



It’s another alley, complete with a dumpster and a wall I can’t climb over. The two windows above are each interesting: The one on the left emits a glow, while the one on the right is dark with something on the windowsill that Larry can’t make out from down here. The fire escape is out of reach, meaning that, if I want to see who, or what, is in the left window, I’ll likely have to do it from inside of Lefty’s.

Clicking the eye cursor on the dumpster gives the message, “Unfortunately, you can’t see much from out here.” Is that a hint that Larry needs to go inside the dumpster?


Yep!

Larry, looking way too happy to be sitting in a dumpster and getting his leisure suit all grimy, fishes through the trash and finds Lefty’s hammer (3 points). With nothing else to do in the dumpster, Larry decides to check out Lefty’s posh exterior. 

The sign on the post out front reads “Taxi stand,” but I don’t think Larry wants to hail a cab just yet. Maybe he’ll have better luck with the ladies in the bar instead of outside of it.



Lefty’s is sleazy, tacky, and smells funny. Reminds me of a bunch of places in Boston. There is a bar with four dudes and one lady; this sausage party isn’t going to help Larry in his mission. Lefty tends bar, and there is a hallway in the back and a closed door on the right. There is a jukebox against the left wall, and a moose’s head on the right. Looking at the moose tells me that it’s an antique left over from King’s Quest III. Pop quiz: what other Sierra games covered on this blog also have moose heads? 5 CAPs for the first correct guess!

Well, let’s check out the jukebox.



This is kind of cool! Putting a dollar in lets you choose one of several music tracks from the game, as opposed to the original Larry 1, which merely plays the Larry theme. I think I’ll play “Taxicab from Hell,” since that sounds similar to a Frank Zappa album title.

Checking out the patrons reveals that the fat and skinny guys on the right and the dude in the white shirt on the left pounding a beer have no interest in speaking with Larry. Neither does the woman, who we’re informed isn’t exactly a looker but probably has great leg muscles. She tells Larry to piss off or else her boyfriend will beat him up when he gets back from the rest room (SPOILER ALERT: She’s lying). The fat mustachioed guy next to the woman has nothing to say, so Larry might as well sit at the bar.

Upon sitting, mustache-man turns to Larry and starts blabbing. Clicking the talk icon lets Larry tell him off, giving him a rare psychological victory but not much else.



Talking to Lefty gives the options to buy a round, champagne, wine, light beer, beer, or whiskey. I buy a round, which Lefty informs Larry costs $90.00. I do so, which the game informs Larry is another unsuccessful attempt to buy friendship. Being left with only $3.00 seems like a pretty dumb thing to do, so I restore and order wine instead. The following exchange ensues:

Larry: “May I please have a glass of your delicate white zinfandel, sir?”

Narrator: Hey, was that your voice?

Lefty: “That’ll be $5.00, please.”

Narrator: You flip five bucks onto the counter. You delicately sip the wine until it’s all gone.

Larry: “I find this impudent and sassy, with the slightest hint of impertinence.”

Narrator: He gazes at you longingly and moistens his lips!

Say! Maybe love isn’t so hard to find in Lost Wages after all!

You can get drunk and spend all your dough, but when ordering a whiskey, Larry decides to carry it with him for some reason (1 point). Let’s check out that red door!

Knocking on it causes some creep to slide open the peephole and ask for a password. Not knowing any password, Larry is quickly told to take a hike. Let’s come back here later. Right now, I want to see what’s down that hallway.



There’s a drunk, a door, and a whole bunch of clutter blocking the rest of the hallway. Again, sounds like a lot of bars in Boston!

This sounds like a pretty good place to wrap things up. I anticipate the next few posts will go a bit quicker.

Session Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes.
Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes.

Points: 4 out of 222.
Inventory: Wallet with $83.00, breath spray, watch, hammer, glass of whiskey.

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, 18 May 2015

Missed Classic 9: Softporn (1981)

By Ilmari

Since Alex is about get his hands on the remake of Larry, I thought we might take a look at the game which it is based on. But didn’t Trickster already review original Larry way back then? Indeed, but before there was Larry, there was Softporn. Yes, we are getting back to the very source of smut, that has now, in form of Larry I, been remade three times - that’s gotta be some sort of record!

Softporn is a bit of weird one among the early Sierra adventure games, as it is the only real non-graphical text-adventure Sierra ever published. The game itself was made by Chuck Benton, a field engineer from Boston. It had begun as a programming exercise, but Benton had then got the idea of making some money with the game. This proved to be rather difficult, until Ken Williams, who happened to have purchased a copy from Benton in Applefest 1981, called and asked if On-Line Systems (the predecessor of Sierra) could publish the game. (For a more detailed story, look at the Digital Antiquarian).

Sierra didn’t really change Benton’s game in any way, although there was a talk of a graphical upgrade even back at the day. What they did was design a new game box, with a famous picture showing Roberta Williams with two other lovely ladies in a jacuzzi.


Kenny, I know what you are thinking, stop that immediately!

The game flamed the public interest, and quite predictably, the hatred of moralists, which made it even more successful. Years later, when Infocom re-introduced sex into IF with Leather Goddesses of Phobos, Sierra decided to redo Softporn wih graphics - and rest is history!

I’ve decided to play a version of Softporn ported by Gary Thompson to PC in 1991, because it should be an authentic reproduction of the original. Well, Thompson apparently got one detail wrong, since the original designer of the game is named Chuck Barret in the game. This version is also nostalgic for me, because it was included in a Leisure Suit Larry -collection I happened to purchase back in the days. So what are we waiting for, let’s start the game!

Puppet’s diary: All I wanted was a moment’s peace from the hectic life in 21rst century, but the holiday has taken a bizarre turn. I am being controlled by a mysterious entity, who forces me to indulge myself on all sorts of depraved perversions. I’ve been intoxicated with alcohol and forced to eat strange mushrooms, I’ve had to spend all my money in gambling and now I am about to be made to satisfy my carnal desires with a lady who is clearly infested with some bug. I need help!

Opening the manual reveals a curious piece of information - Softporn is scifi! The game is set in year 2020 AD, and although the sky is apparently green with plutonium, nothing much seems to have changed from 1970s - disco is still very much in vogue and inflation is rampant, interest rates doubling annually. The game even knows the word “inflate”, responding to it with “But the prime rate is already 257!!”. No wonder a glass of bad whiskey pays hundred dollars.


Adorable that even the ability to save a game is higher on the selling point list than sex and booze

The main character of the game is a nameless fellow, who has decided to spend his vacation in a gambling town “Lost Vagueness”. His aim is to fulfill his erotic dreams and seduce three different women (every time the character “scores”, your score rises by one, so there’s just three points to get). Both in the manual and in the game the character is described as a puppet, just doing what the player commands.

I am not going to make a detailed description of the plot, since the basic scenario resembles Larry 1 so much and Alex is about to play the first remake anyway. Instead, I’ll just concentrate on the similarities and especially the differences of the two games, going through the three different areas of the game.


Bar


Even the first few rooms show how similar Softporn and Larry 1 are. You begin in a sleazy bar, in which you can order beer and whiskey - no wine in Softporn, though. Also, compared to Larry, the bar is really empty and there appears to be no other customers to speak with. Then again, we are told that cockroaches run around, which I definitely did not see in Larry 1.


Note how all the interactible objects show up at the at the top of the screen.

Moving to a hallway we find drunk businessman, who is just dying for a glass of whisky and willing to give his controller unit to anyone satisfying his thirst. There’s also a desk with a rose and a magazine that explains how to play blackjack and slots.

The hallway leads to a bathroom, which even the cockroaches avoid because the horrid smell. Sink hangs from the wall by its rusty plumbing, but at least the washbasin contains a ring. And yes, there’s some graffiti on the wall.


Nice ASCII-art, but Bellybutton is a lame password

Getting back to the bar, there is no door you could knock, but there is a curtain and a button, and pressing it makes a voice ask a password. Once we get in the backroom, there’s a big dude with a pin asking us to support our local pimp. There’s also a TV set, with some interesting shows to watch.


TV shows are the only place where the scifi theme is perpetuated
(Remember that 1996 was still in the future)


They are also full of sexually loaded scenes


And this is just weird…

It’s easy to find a channel that the pimp finds interesting, but he’ll still charge 2000 dollars for going upstairs. It turns out the TV set is important only when visiting the premises a second time. The pimp wouldn’t let us see his girl a second time, so he needs to be distracted with the TV set.

Getting upstairs we find a box of candy and a funky prostitute, and unlike in Larry, Softporn insists that we take a closer look at her, because the game won’t allow us to continue to balcony without scoring with her. The prostitute has an atomic clap, which is one of the ways to get the main character killed. Sofporn is a bit lenient with death, by the way. You are given a chance to take one of three doors. One of them takes you to the same choice, one of them to hell (DOS) and one of them lets you escape death and continue from the same position, as if you’d solved the puzzle that led to your demise. So, it’s perfectly possible to use the services of the prostitute without any protection and still complete the game.

After taking care of the prostitute, the game lets us go forward to balcony, from which we can move to a window ledge, if we just have some rope to secure us. People are screaming “don’t jump”, but if we just use a hammer, we can break a window and move into another room. The room contains lot of stuff, like a centerfold and a pink bathrobe, but the only thing we can interact with is a box of pills, which we can take with us.


There's also another piece of ASCII art, this time an image of a billboard

Getting back to the balcony, we can finally go down to a dumpster. If we expect a hammer, we will be disappointed, since the only thing of interest is an apple core full of apple seeds. More on those later.

Getting out of the dumpster, we get to a street in front of the bar. A sign tells us to hail a taxi and so we do. Trickster had some problems in Larry 1 trying to determine where to go with the taxi, but in Softporn the driver helpfully tells us the three main spots of the town. You don’t want to carry any alcohol in the taxi, because the driver will take it and run over you. Let’s move to disco then!


Disco

With the disco area I can be quick. We begin with a residential street, with a bum living in there. He has a bit more history here and is apparently a previous player of Softporn, who just got caught in a programming bug. He would like some wine, although he can’t stand it much, as it makes him puke, and he is willing to part from his knife to get something to quench his thirst.

On the street, there is a pharmacy, the only merchandise of which are condoms and porn magazine. In Larry 1, the magazine contained a helpful article on the use of ropes in window cleaning, but here we learn that women like to be pampered with gifts. The pharmacy does not sell wine.

The street also has an entrance to a disco, which requires a pass card to get in. Within disco there’s a waitress selling some wine. There’s also an innocent country girl waiting for some gifts. And of course you get to do some dancing. While in Larry 1 this was a fun animation, here it is fun for different reasons…


Nice to see disco will be well alive in the future

Unlike in Larry 1, the telephone booth is within disco. The use of the phone is still similar. You can order some wine to the hotel and you can also phone to another number…


I wonder why they need these answers?


Casino

Just like with disco, the casino area has only one street, so we don’t have a separate street for the church or “Quickie Marriage Center” (alas, no guy flashing to you). The preacher is also less talkative than in Larry 1 and does nothing but winks at you when marrying a woman.

The Adventurers Hotel contains no separate cabaret with a comedian, but there are rooms for slots and blackjack. According to some walkthroughs, in the original Apple version the blackjack used a pre-determined sequence and was thus easy to beat. This appears not to be case in the PC conversion, which also has thousand dollars as a betting limit. Thus, I think slots are the best option, since they involve only pressing Y key for a long time - and they also have decently good profit margin, since triples are fairly usual and give out 1500 dollars (no wonder the inflation is so rampant).

The hotel itself is much smaller than the one in Larry 1 - in addition to the bottom and the penthouse, there’s only one floor, in which you’ll find a pass card to disco, and more importantly, the honeymoon suite, with a woman wanting some wine. The suite has also a separate balcony, where you’ll find a radio, where you can hear an ad for a wine shop, and a peeping hole.


 She’s practicing a magic trick, but the Magician's Code forbids me from telling you anything more
10 CAPs for the first to tell the name of the trick

After you’ve got wine to the room, the woman ties you to bed. Surprisingly, this is all she does, and your money stays intact.

The elevator to the penthouse is guarded by a blonde with a great derriere, who loves to eat strange pills, but who also has a boyfriend. Getting rid of that problem, we get to take a ride upstairs, listening to some boring music. The penthouse is apparently full of pictures by some centuries-old artist (none of which we can interact with, of course). Moving forward, we find a living room, with a closet and something to actually inflate.


I don’t know which makes me facepalm more, the lame sex scenes or author’s incapacity to spell.

After that incident, we move to porch and phone immediately rings.


The second line ruins the joke.

But let’s get down to the main business and in jacuzzi.


Maybe she doesn’t mind!!!!! But I do!!!!! Bieng a grammar nazi!!!!

We all know what we should know - give Eve the apple. But where is it? In Larry 1, an apple was sold to us by a broke businessman, but no such luck here - closest to a fruit we’ve seen was that apple core with seeds.

This is the most original part of the game, and I am not at all surprised that Al Lowe decided to drop it. There’s a group of bushes hidden behind a plant in the hotel lobby, and entering them would apparently be kinky. The bushes lead us to a lush garden with roses and other flowers - there’s also the hammer you’ll need to break a window. The soil of the garden is just perfect for growing apple trees, so all you need is some water, which you can luckily get from a kitchen in the penthouse.

So, now we have our instant apple and the only problem is getting out of the garden, because the entrance has just vanished. Luckily among all those plants there’s a mushroom and eating that takes you to a psychedelic trip - somewhere to the bar area.


How many mushrooms had the author eaten, when he invented this puzzle?

This is indeed all there is to the game. Now it’s time to see how it fares under a close scrutiny:


Puzzles and Solvability:

Trickster noted that Larry 1 was a bit too on the easy side, and the same problem occurs in Softporn also. Even the puzzle that was not approved by Al Lowe is, in all its weirdness, quite simple - just find some soil and water to grow an apple tree. In some ways there is less hand holding in Softporn - no one is telling you to use medical stimulants with the lobby woman - but with other puzzles there is more hand holding (come on, do I have to be told in a magazine that wine and gifts work with a woman). The possibility to escape death makes the game even easier. On the bright side, the puzzles are rather logical and there is rarely any sense that you would get stuck due to a dead end or incredibly bad puzzles, mazes, guess the verbs etc. Indeed, it is easy to see how the almost same set of puzzles could have lasted for four games, as the puzzle structure is so well crafted. I am thus following Trickster here…

Rating: 5


Interface and Inventory

Softporn is a rare two-word-parser game where the limitations of the technology do not matter that much. It’s mostly about the simplicity of the puzzles again, but there’s also in some cases sincere efforts to tell the player what the correct command should be - for instance, we have a sign in a kitchen telling that WATER ON will turn water on. The separate part of the screen indicating all the interactible objects and exits in the room was also a pleasant surprise. All in all, the interface deserves a better score than all the early text adventures thus far.

Rating: 4


Story and Setting

It is in this category where the differences with Larry 1 really become apparent. Al Lowe managed to carve out of Softporn the essential and viable core: a story of an eternal loser trying to score even once in his lifetime. Problem with Softporn is that it tries to be something more, but without any clear direction. The main character is not a lovable virgin, but someone just wanting to get laid for - I don’t know - existential anxiety over living in a polluted dystopian future. Add to the underused scifi setting with its clear overtones of 70s the weird fantasy element of a garden with magic mushrooms, and the resulting mix is just confusing.

Rating: 2


Sound and Graphics

Technically I should give no points, since the game has no graphics and sounds, but I liked the occasional bits of ASCII-art that I am going to be generous.

And this might be called animation…

Rating: 1


Environment and Atmosphere

Something’s not quite clicking in the game. I already talked about the mix of different genres in the story section, but I’ve yet to say anything about the humour. Generally, it just feels like the producer wasn’t sure what level of levity and hilariousness he should pursue. There are some amusing one-liners and jokes, but the main story seems rather bleak and jokeless in its obsession with sex. I am not sure whether I am meant to laugh or get aroused with the game’s description of all the women, but I am not doing either. Al Lowe took the whole sexual innuendo thing farther than Softporn ever does and also made the sex into a major source of the jokes - heck, I think our very own Kenny knows his innuendos better than Sofporn.

Rating: 3


Dialogue and Acting


Considering that this a game based on relationships, you would suppose that you’d spend a lot of your time conversing with other characters. Not so, since this is a game with no ability to TALK. The other characters do have a line or two to say, but it is hard to get any sense of what they are like, when you don’t get their basic motivation. For instance, it is not apparent why the woman in the disco wants to marry you, and it becomes even more of a mystery, when she without any reason ties the player character to a bed, without even taking the money.


Could this be the first mention of gays in a computer game? 
If so, I have to congratulate it for its neutrality


On the other hand…
Rating: 3

5 + 4 + 2 + 1 + 3 + 3 = 18, which divided by 0,6 gives 30. I am also going to give it an additional bonus point, because of one special joke that never gets too old.


No matter what the century, this is always awkward

So, the final score for Softporn is 31. I think this is very much in line with what these old text adventures have got so far.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Game 53: Hugo II, Whodunit? - Final Rating

By Deimar

So before starting with the rating I have to state that I went back and finished the game “the right way” using Joe Pranevich’s ROT13’ed clue. To be honest, half of me wanted the game to be something else. I see some potential with the set up. The mystery might have not been great, but looking at clues like the will in the safe or the health insurance letter it could have been so much better with a little effort... But no. The “right ending” is just lazy. You can say “nobody” when Higgins ask you “whodunit” and then Harry congratulates you instead of laughing at you. I’m ecstatic. Let me show you how much by rating the game.

If you never thought I could guess it is probably because it is impossible to guess at this point without “failing” once...

Puzzles and Solvability

Hugo II has a major problem. There are not enough items to make the game interesting. In each section there is one item to interact with. Just one thing. You can have something to take. Or you may have to use something. And in some cases there is nothing to do at all. This scarcity makes the game’s puzzles really obvious. However, many of the obstacles in the game are only an obstacle because of the perspective or how to phrase the solution. For example, the venus trap garden, the bridge or the chasm in the cave. Having played the first one and reading Trickster’s rating I’m gonna give Hugo II the same points. I think the game is basically the same in this aspect, which is not a good thing.

Rating: 2

And because I hate this bridge so much...

Interface and Inventory

The interface is rather bad. I mean, it is an standard parser. However, in Sierra games or even text adventures you can look and be given a list of items in the room you can interact with. And most of the items in those games have an appropriate description. In this game there is no such thing. Or at least it is not common. There are some rooms with some of the interactive items listed, but in most of them you have to guess what is in the room. For example, the sticks outside the dog house or the cabinets. Granted, being a non­native english speaker this is more of a problem for me than or other people so I will try not to be too harsh on the game. However, the interface is still horrendous. The parser is way too specific in my opinion. There is no need to look at any item because the description is usually just the name of the object. Navigating the “mazes” (venus garden and the bridge) is unintuitive because you don’t know what you are actually hitting to trigger the death. No improvement after 1 year of development since the last one.

Rating: 1

Not to mention navigating this maze is as boring as watching a stone evolve

Story and Setting

So this is a murder mystery without any murder nor mystery. The game starts with a promising story only to diverge to exploration for the sake of exploration and random happenings (doctah, looking at you). Padding at its best. Then it goes back to the murder mystery only to make the player do some more random things that could have pointed to clues to solve the mystery but that in reality are red herrings that the player must follow because otherwise the game won’t end. And that is even more padding. There is a story in the game, yes. But it is so nonsensical and it is often so forgotten by even the game itself that it is not worth commenting. And I’m gonna avoid commenting of the suspicious similarities with Colonel’s Bequest.

Rating: 2

So why has this mystery suddenly become The Goonies?

Sound and graphics

Little to no sound. And when there is sound you wish there wasn’t. PC Speaker at the peak of its popularity. Regarding graphics, it is still the same Paint graphics as Hugo I. There are some screens that are noticeable because they look like scanned photographs. But those are too little and the change in art style is too noticeable. They are not bad, but by comparison with the rest of the game they kind of look like they were bad. If I don’t count the animals/murderer robots there are a total of 3 different models for the characters. And that’s giving that men and women models are different beyond using different clothes because the faces are all the same. The third model is the fat guy if you were wondering, represented by the gardener and the genie. And I’m pretty sure the three models are the same as the ones in Hugo I. As with the previous categories, not a lot of improvement in this regard.

Rating: 2

Completely on par with Space Quest IV. What a big change after just one year of development!

Environment and Atmosphere

That the history feels so disconnected is in great part thanks to the environments. There are a few (house, garden, street and cave) but they have so little to do with each other that it just feels like a random mess of screens until you have a game that lasts enough. The atmosphere is also lacking for the same reasons. There is no coherence. The game failed to present me an interesting scene. Or an interesting anything. It is simply a random mess.

Rating: 1

Behold!! A completely empty and useless screen!

Dialogue and acting

I think this will be the category in which Hugo II gets the highest rating. It is not estelar, but I can say it is acceptable. More often than not it is even funny, although there is not a lot to talk with the people in the house. Even though, they do have some personality traits that get reflected into the dialogue. So, there you go. A 3 as the highest score for this game.

Rating: 3

Well. You also have dialogue like this to be honest. But let’s not beat the dead horse...

2+1+2+2+1+3 divided by 0.6 is 18.33 which makes 18 the rating for Hugo II, Whodunit?. I think that’s about right. I mean, the first game got 24 but I think it felt more of a complete coherent game that this one is. As I’ve said, this one just seems like tying screens together to get a game of appropriate length. Joseph Curwen please come to receive your prize. Lots and lots of  CAPs!!

Cap Distribution:

100 CAPs for Deimar:
Blogger Award ­ 100 CAPs ­ For blogging his way through the game for our enjoyment

20 CAPs for Joseph Curwen:
Whodunit award ­ 20 CAPs ­ For guessing the game’s score

17 CAPs for Mr. Valdez
Amy award ­ 10 CAPs ­ For playing this excellent game with me
Alot award ­ 5 CAPs ­ For finding spelling errors
Cat Lady award ­ 2 CAPs ­ For identifying a cat scratching post

10 CAPs for Illmari
Rose award ­ 10 CAPs ­ For playing this excellent game with me

5 CAPs for Joe Pranevich
Poirot award ­ 5 CAPs ­ For revealing the murderer

5 CAPs for TBD
Genre Dissemination award ­ 5 CAPs ­ For mentioning a GOG sale

5 CAPs for Fry
Enigma award ­ 5 CAPs ­ For discovering what “b*g *a*pe*” means

5 CAPs for Jan Larres
Humanitarian award ­ 5 CAPs ­ For disseminating information about Mike Berlyn’s cancer fund

5 CAPs for Laukku
Double Fine award ­ 5 CAPs ­ For posting about Broken Age part 2