Wednesday, 17 December 2014

The Year Ahead - 1991

Written by Ilmari

The end of the year is coming quite fast, and since we are just getting used to the idea of a community driven blog, we thought that we should begin the discussion of the year ahead a bit earlier than Trickster used to. After all, we want to have more time to get eager volunteers for upcoming games.

For anyone uncertain about how this works, all games marked by Accepted are on the official gaming list. Readers can spend CAPs to transfer to the official list games which are marked as Borderline (50 CAPs for an individual or 100 CAPs for a joint effort) or Disregarded (200 CAPs). Just like last time, the below is now set in stone, so don't bother heading off to Moby Games to vote or Wikipedia to edit the Notable list. Any CAP trades need to occur before the introduction post for the last game of 1990 (King’s Quest V), after which time 1991's playlist will be set. Next year's games are to be played approximately in the chronological order wherever possible. All discussion on CAP trades for the 1991 playing list should be had on this post. The admin will be adjusting the CAP leaderboard and each game's status as trades are made.

This is the year when adventure games in general finally turned from parser-based EGA games into point-and-click games with beautiful graphics and hauntingly good music. I am sure many of you will want to relive your memories with some of the old classics coming up, or perhaps some of the more unfamiliar games might appear interesting. If you want to play and blog some of the games accepted in the official gaming list, you can express your interest in the comments here. So here we go!


The Adventures of Willy Beamish
Is it clearly a graphic adventure game?Yes
Does it have 20 or more Moby Games ratings?Yes (72)
Is it on the Wikipedia Notable Games list?Yes
ResultAccepted

There’s a definite Bart Simpson vibe going on here

Castle of Dr. Brain
Is it clearly a graphic adventure game?
No
Does it have 20 or more Moby Games ratings?
Yes (44)
Is it on the Wikipedia Notable Games list?
No
Result
Accepted (group)
More of a puzzle game, but still beats Myst

Conquests of the Longbow: The Legend of Robin Hood
Is it clearly a graphic adventure game?Yes
Does it have 20 or more Moby Games ratings?Yes (69)
Is it on the Wikipedia Notable Games list?Yes
ResultAccepted
I liked it more than Conquest of Camelot. Does anyone want to play Robin Hood?

Cruise for a Corpse
Is it clearly a graphic adventure game?Yes
Does it have 20 or more Moby Games ratings?Yes (37)
Is it on the Wikipedia Notable Games list?Yes
ResultAccepted
Will the curse of the French games be finally lifted?

EcoQuest: The Search for Cetus
Is it clearly a graphic adventure game?Yes
Does it have 20 or more Moby Games ratings?Yes (50)
Is it on the Wikipedia Notable Games list?Yes
ResultAccepted
Let our ecopowers combine!

Elvira II: The Jaws of Cerberus
Is it clearly a graphic adventure game?No
Does it have 20 or more Moby Games ratings?Yes (22)
Is it on the Wikipedia Notable Games list?Yes
ResultBorderline

Is there still some love for Elvira? Or are all busy washing their hair?

Free D.C.!
Is it clearly a graphic adventure game?Yes
Does it have 20 or more Moby Games ratings?No (12)
Is it on the Wikipedia Notable Games list?No
ResultDisregarded
I’ve never even heard of this game

Heart of China

Is it clearly a graphic adventure game?Yes
Does it have 20 or more Moby Games ratings?Yes (40)
Is it on the Wikipedia Notable Games list?Yes
ResultAccepted
Grand Adventure in Far East

Hugo II: Whodunit?
Is it clearly a graphic adventure game?Yes
Does it have 20 or more Moby Games ratings?Yes (20)
Is it on the Wikipedia Notable Games list?Yes
ResultAccepted
It can’t be worse than the first one, right?

It Came From The Desert
Is it clearly a graphic adventure game?No
Does it have 20 or more Moby Games ratings?Yes (54)
Is it on the Wikipedia Notable Games list?No
ResultDisregarded
Transferred to 1991 when Trickster found out its real publishing date. Still no adventure game

Leisure Suit Larry 1: In the Land of the Lounge Lizards (remake)
Is it clearly a graphic adventure game?Yes
Does it have 20 or more Moby Games ratings?Yes (98)
Is it on the Wikipedia Notable Games list?No
ResultAccepted (Ilmari)
If you count Softporn, this is the third version of the same game. Still not tired of it?

Leisure Suit Larry 5: Passionate Patti Does a Little Undercover Work
Is it clearly a graphic adventure game?Yes
Does it have 20 or more Moby Games ratings?Yes (64)
Is it on the Wikipedia Notable Games list?Yes
ResultAccepted
Larry V: one of the easiest games to beat

Les Manley in: Lost in L.A.
Is it clearly a graphic adventure game?Yes
Does it have 20 or more Moby Games ratings?No (14)
Is it on the Wikipedia Notable Games list?No
ResultAccepted (Aperama)
First game was awful, do we really want to make someone suffer through the second?

Martian Memorandum
Is it clearly a graphic adventure game?Yes
Does it have 20 or more Moby Games ratings?Yes (37)
Is it on the Wikipedia Notable Games list?Yes
ResultAccepted
Second game in the Tex Murphy series

Maupiti Island
Is it clearly a graphic adventure game?Yes
Does it have 20 or more Moby Games ratings?Yes (27)
Is it on the Wikipedia Notable Games list?Yes
ResultAccepted
Transferred to 1991 when Trickster found out its real publishing date.
Mortville Manor wasn’t very good, which doesn’t bode well for this game

Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge
Is it clearly a graphic adventure game?Yes
Does it have 20 or more Moby Games ratings?Yes (452)
Is it on the Wikipedia Notable Games list?Yes
ResultAccepted
I guess we’ll have to fight over who gets to play it

Police Quest 3: The Kindred
Is it clearly a graphic adventure game?Yes
Does it have 20 or more Moby Games ratings?Yes (58)
Is it on the Wikipedia Notable Games list?Yes
ResultAccepted
Riddle: What was first black, then white and now brown?

Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective
Is it clearly a graphic adventure game?No
Does it have 20 or more Moby Games ratings?Yes (27)
Is it on the Wikipedia Notable Games list?Yes
ResultAccepted (Joe Pranevich)
I wonder if this is an elementary game

Space Quest I: Roger Wilco in the Sarien Encounter (remake)
Is it clearly a graphic adventure game?Yes
Does it have 20 or more Moby Games ratings?Yes (56)
Is it on the Wikipedia Notable Games list?No
ResultAccepted (Andy Panthro)
Does someone want to go through the first Space Quest again?

Space Quest IV: Roger Wilco and the Time Rippers
Is it clearly a graphic adventure game?Yes
Does it have 20 or more Moby Games ratings?Yes (109)
Is it on the Wikipedia Notable Games list?Yes
ResultAccepted
We skipped a couple of Space Quests and jumped straight to number ten…
Oh wait, this was a time travel story (and the best SQ, I’d say).

Spellcasting 201: The Sorcerer's Appliance
Is it clearly a graphic adventure game?No
Does it have 20 or more Moby Games ratings?No (18)
Is it on the Wikipedia Notable Games list?Yes
ResultAccepted (Ilmari)
Second in a series of rowdy games of spell and sorcery

Timequest
Is it clearly a graphic adventure game?No
Does it have 20 or more Moby Games ratings?Yes (20)
Is it on the Wikipedia Notable Games list?Yes
ResultAccepted (Ilmari)
A less known classic of Legend Entertainment.
 I wonder who will use all their CAPs for these masterpieces of interactive fiction

Monday, 15 December 2014

Game 46: Countdown – Final Rating

Written by Aperama

This is the first game officially played since the revival of the blog, so I don't mind saying that the hardest post to write is most certainly this one. Trying to use the even-handed approach that I definitely feel Trickster always managed to offer out is sure to be a challenge and a half – and it doesn't help that I find this game to have been one that had a small gem that, were I not playing this game for the sake of the blog, I feel I would have given up on or just followed a walkthrough to beat. The game was challenging only ever in the points that I don't appreciate a game in being challenging – giving a largely artificial time limit that would take being rather daft to not manage to complete the game by, but leaving that incessant clock in the corner of your screen making you all the more cognisant of the looming possibility of a deadline – being the perfect example. Oh, and the timing-based walking puzzles were just insipid. On the other hand, I did like the story, as it managed to be plausible yet out there enough to keep my interests piqued. The end results? Let's see..


Puzzles and Solvability

Countdown is a game that, were only a few things changed, I might not even consider an adventure game. It most certainly is – but if you, for instance, removed the inventory system, the game would almost certainly have fallen more upon the 'creeping around' sections that were quite simply silly. It wouldn't have been hard to enhance them, either – all that would have needed to be added would be the ability to look into the next room whilst in Sanctuary and the death screens would have been much less prevalent. Still, I don't feel I can really deduct points for this – however, having a game that has no inventory interaction (which existed, after all, in King's Quest 1) is a big no-no for me, and the puzzles themselves were almost farcical every time they popped up. On the plus side, there was never a point where I was stuck staring at my screen wondering what had just happened – everything was clear and made sense, even if it wasn't particularly difficult. The real shining jewel could have been the conversation system – but instead of feeling organic, the puzzles that arose from that were largely the result of trial and error. So, to check – it had puzzles, and they were solvable – but they just weren't very good. Well, except for the parrot dropping the key to Mason's drawer – I still don't get how that happened. I'll also note here that Trickster similarly found that the puzzles were almost universally too easy within Mean Streets – so this really tells me that they didn't even learn from their mistakes! I feel thoroughly vindicated giving this a low score.

Rating: 3

The clues were there to let me know to give him wine – he wouldn't stop drinking! But the 'getting' there never felt right.

Interface and Inventory

I've already mentioned the inventory – it's rather woeful. There's a single, shining light in this once more, being the CAD system – it makes sense for a spy-styled person to have an advanced tool to fingerprint and do other such analysis. Unfortunately, it didn't let me continue to examine items, which is where the CAD system falls apart and you're left with a non-interactive inventory that largely depends on memory. Not being able to check the amount of cash I had on hand in my inventory (and only learning at either the video blackjack game or during travel) is a perfect example of the failure here! The conversation system was definitely also a positive at least in idea.. I wasn't a fan of the implementation, but the idea was quite good. They also tried to tell me in the manual that it'd work by using mixtures of conversation trees, so I can only blame myself for not realising that one. In practice, it really came down to 'click all of the buttons in every order until things progress'. The other main interface was the 'Look, Open, Move, Get, Use, GOTO, Talk, Taste and Travel' one.. while not quite as egregious as some of the early Lucasarts games, the 'taste' and 'travel' buttons felt fairly useless (there were about five objects that 'taste' even reacted to, and the 'travel' function was largely unusable except in instances where there was an alternative in just walking through a door to leave), and the 'goto' function only ever really came into play when attempting to scale things. I'd almost be willing to call it passable in this regard (though the either ESP or Reed Richards-like powers that Mason sometimes uses to open doors from across the hall and walk into them past a guard has to be considered impressive) – but even in this one, there's just too many damned flaws! You can walk up the sides of walls, the 'goto' function is almost unusable.. and all of the overhead sections were simply dreadful. Some might note that this was essentially the first game under a new engine, and that hiccups are bound to be made – to this, I say that these people haven't played Countdown.

Rating: 2

Also, pixel hunting. I won't go on about it, but it's there. If you see a key on the screen.. well, you're a clairvoyant

Story and Setting

If it weren't for the story that Countdown threw out, I'd be almost worried that this game would be wandering into the Psycho/Emmanuelle category. The game starts out hazy, and I'm almost entirely sure that a lot of people never got to learn more about the main thing that makes this game worth playing. There's a rich and well-thought story with an atypical twist or two that after wading through the horror that is the Sanctuary really makes the game more enticing. It's quite unfortunate that the game takes the amount of time it does to get to this point, yes – but I'd feel remiss saying bad things about a story that simply takes a while to come into its own. You can learn a lot of what's on offer over and over again, but everyone has at least a slightly different opinion, leaving you sifting through a lot of familiar information with little tidbits that can easily draw you down the wrong path (and did for me, several times!)

The game takes you to all sorts of locales, and is definitely adept at making one place seem different from the next

I almost find the story a touch hard to summarise, yet I fully understand it – this gives a decent idea, I think, of the way in which the game manages to both draw you in with intrigue and keep itself coherent and rich. I'll try to sum the story up quickly – there's a conspiracy going on in the CIA, with a fake terrorist organisation operating from within the 'Company'. This is entirely a scheme to get a hardline President elected. You happen to be one of the fall guys to throw those who are investigating off the trail – but through a mixture of luck and cunning, you manage to escape your captors. In an attempt to stop a world-shattering terrorist event, you end up inadvertently exposing the nature of the 'Black December' group. The game ties off many of its loose ends quite well.. the only real negative I can give it here is that by keeping the entire game within the settings of the Middle East and Europe, the opportunity to explore some of the wider world was lost. Looking over Trickster's posts, though, I realise that he typically notes the NPCs for a richness of feel – and that was definitely a flaw. A couple of caricatures could very easily have stood out (a la Buzz Brezhnev, the jolly KGB agent) but you're simply never around anyone for long enough to really get to know them outside of a simple question and answer session with each portrait given character. Also, the 'fake terrorist group' idea came from Die Hard.

Rating: 6

Come to think of it, Lisa and Hans Gruber die in the same way.. coincidence? Perhaps not!

Sound and Graphics

I'm definitely of the thought that these two categories can be split perfectly down the middle. Unfortunately, that would mean that it only has a score of 'one' in sound. Why? There's one musical track (the one that plays during the introductory sequence) and some of the most grating audio effects that can be imagined. There's a gunshot (that breaks the game when played), a few pieces of heavily grainy digitised speech (which is where the single point comes from for at least offering that rarity in this era), a brain-shatteringly annoying shriek that occurs dozens of times.. and then nothing. On the plus side, this means that the gunshot which breaks the game is largely missable.. but the fact that the game doesn't even introduce music where it would be a natural fit is quite jarring.

Ever been to a strip club/cabaret without music? I mean, of course, theoretically, if you'd ever been to one..

The graphics, on the other hand, are fairly impressive for the rich detail that has clearly been poured over them. There's small amounts of animation – just good enough to not look ridiculous – the walking looks natural without feeling forced. There's also a technical pallet swap near the end with Mason donning the vestige of a priest.. taken from the body of an unconscious person who had previously taken it from a dead body. (He wouldn't take any of his dirty laundry in his apartment, though – that'd just be gross!) The backgrounds never left me guessing as to what something was (with the exception of certain pixel-hunting objects), and while some things perhaps could have been slightly clearer, the graphics are definitely quite good for their era. There's one thing that I have to take a step back on here and mention – the portraits. They were all universally ridiculous, and felt entirely out of place. They essentially turned what I definitely felt was supposed to be a serious spy thriller into a game where everything looked as though it was tongue in cheek. They're unique, most certainly – but 'unique' also means 'nobody was silly enough to go this exact route beforehand'. They're cringeworthy for the most part, and probably have to be considered a negative, even if the game otherwise looks crisp.

Rating: 4

Fontaine is written as a hard-nosed, ruthless assassin. He is drawn as Alfred Hitchcock dressed as Dr. Who.

Environment and Atmosphere

The game has good and bad points in this category. I think it goes without saying that the vast majority of people who have played or will play this game probably only experience the opening area – it does work, in spite of how much I do loathe it. The 'Sanctuary' is largely infeasible, but it does give you the legitimate feel that you're in an unforgiving place where there are terrible things happening. Access Software proved in Tex Murphy that they were more than happy to make ridiculous things happen in spite of a serious setting, and I definitely think that this detracts from the overall experience. If they'd committed more to either a humorous setting or knocked off all of the goofiness, there's every chance that the game would feel a lot firmer in one boot or the other – but instead, it consistently struggles to decide whether it's all a self-referential joke or a serious spy thriller.

The notion of finding a skeleton in the observation room of a hospital could be horrifying. This? This is not.

If you have the patience to traverse the catacombs and escape the Sanctuary, there is definitely one strong point that simply begs to be addressed. The entire game takes place around Mason not remembering exactly who he is. He regains enough of his memory to know people from one another, sure – but the game is more about remembering the exact details of the incident that led to him being thrown into Sanctuary in the first place. Consistently littering the game with triggers – broken glass, blood, his name – and assuring that the entire cutscene when played has a decent amount of digitised voice all are points in its favour. The fact that they didn't actually put many more locations after the fact also has to be a sticking point – you can visit three places in Turkey, one place in Greece, two places in Italy and then the endgame takes place on a train and in Paris. You also visit a few other places – but they're just explained in a short, textual blurb as opposed to giving much real interaction. I'm also shaking my fist at the game for its treatment of both the Jackal and Fontaine – they're supposed to be these scary individuals, you drug them, leaving them prone to whatever you would do to a mass murdering criminal hitman (as they both are)? And you.. leave them where they are. It just reeks of incompletion. I'm not even suggesting that they need to be killed – but you don't tie them up, call the authorities on them – you just leave them where they are! Still, I can't be too harsh on the game for what is otherwise one of its strong points.

Rating: 6

Really? Sounds interesting! Wish I could've seen it for myself..

Dialogue and Acting

This game is probably one of the first that I feel the 'acting' term could be used against.. but I won't be that cruel. (The portraits giving the short animations to show what happens between 'neutral' and 'angry', for instance, would be a great instance of some of the earliest acting in video games. Well, they could be. As I say, I'm not that mean.)

And the Academy Award goes to.. Buzz Brezhnev, for actually having multiple faces to cycle throughout

The dialogue is, for the most part, wooden. It's not hard at all to find an example of rushed writing that simply doesn't feel realistic. The doctor in the first act seems entirely too calm for someone who is being threatened with a scalp(a)l to the neck the entire time, for instance. There are a couple of good instances slipped down in the interim – the three dialogues that occur in Venice are actually quite noteworthy. Golden Desire, for her utterly ridiculous name, actually manages to give an impassioned speech over the way her boyfriend was being treated. Brezhnev's speech isn't too forced – it actually could be 'English spoken as a second language' as opposed to 'Yakov Smirnoff' levels, yet still makes him sound like a clever man. Scorpio also gives a few good diatribes. Unfortunately, they're the bar set, and much of the rest of the dialogue feels either forced or simply bad. I've also got to address the writing, here – the entire game is absolutely littered with spelling mistakes, which for a game that has far more text than it does graphics or sound is definitely a huge minus. The occasional typo is almost guaranteed – but they're prevalent enough that you can't go an entire conversation without seeing at least one mistake that would make an English teacher shudder.

Rating: 4

Probably because they try to insist that they spell it 'psychiatrist', eh Jackal?

Total

Adding up my scores, 3+2+6+4+6+4 = 25, which divided by 60 equals .4166 recurring – so 42 rounded up. However, I'm going to insist and give my discretionary point of deduction for the litany of death screens that utterly flood Countdown – not to mention the fact that the game simply feels unpolished. Just a few tiny changes would have hugely made for a better game – unfortunately, it was released in the state it was. It can probably be noted that the game was released between Mean Streets and Martian Memorandum – it's possible they were just using the game to try and polish up their ideas for the coming sequel to Tex Murphy. As it stands? I feel that this game thoroughly deserves its position as 'the largely forgotten game by Access Software between two far better games'.


And the closest guess to 41 is... Fry with 43. Fry's cunning plan to guess a rating based on the ratings of Mean Streets, Deja Vu and Deja Vu 2 has paid off. 10 CAPs coming your way. Andy Panthro also generously offered a Tex Murphy game to the winner so if that's still the case there's also a Tex Murphy game in your future.

CAP Distribution

100 CAPs for Aperama
  • Blogger Award – 100 CAPs – For blogging his way through the game for our enjoyment

60 CAPs for Ilmari
  • True Companion Award - 10 CAPs - For playing the game along with Aperama and completing it with some assistance
  • Adventure Award - 50 CAPs - For writing the Missed Classic post on Adventure

25 CAPs for Kenny McCormick
  • "Violence IS the answer" Award - 5 CAPs - For encouraging Aperama's violent tendencies with the goodly Dr. Hashish
  • Dragonborn Anonymous award - 10 CAPs - for starting an off-topic discussion in the 'Join The Tag Reviewers' discussion and discovering that others share the same addiction
  • Missing Title Award - 10 CAPs - For finding a loophole in Ilmari's contest in Adventure's Missed Classic post

20 CAPs for Andy Panthro
  • Sponsor Award - 20 CAPs - For sponsoring the blog with a free game

20 CAPs for Zvonimir
  • WYS Award - 20 CAPs - For sending his answers for the 'What's Your Story?'  questions

15 CAPs for Fry
  • Psychic Prediction Award - 10 CAPs - For getting the closest prediction for the final rating
  • Man Eating Plant Award - 5 CAPs - For giving a correct answer to Ilmari's riddle in the Adventure Missed Classic post

10 CAPs for Deimar
  • Kickstarter Award - 10 CAPs - For noticing an adventure game related Kickstarter

5 CAPs for Charles
  • Spelunker Award - 5 CAPs - For finding out the reference to Jules Verne 

5 CAPs for Joe Pranevich
  • Beanstalk Award - 5 CAPs - For giving a correct answer to Ilmari's puzzle in Adventure's Missed Classic post

5 CAPs for TBD
  • Genre Support Award – 5 CAPs – For announcing a new adventure game sale on Steam

Now, to pass the baton onto whoever's next! Spellcasting 101 and Elvira, here we come!

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Game 48: Operation Stealth - Final Rating

Written by Joe Pranevich

Drumroll, please...

Being my first game that I have reviewed for “The Adventure Gamer”, I did not know what to expect either from the game itself or the process of documenting and reporting on my experience with this game. There is also a fantastic legacy of fairness to uphold. Trickster built a site that we all loved, and I want to live up to that expectation. I started out enjoying “Operation Stealth” very much: the plot was interesting, the atmosphere was the right amount of cartoony for the subject matter, and the puzzles were challenging without my ever feeling like I did not have a lead to follow even when I did need to backtrack. By the end however, I found myself frustrated by an experience that had gone off the rails, first by adding too many minigames and then by making the final section extremely difficult. I became increasingly frustrated by the interface, the poor translation, and the bugs. I came very close to quitting this game, which is not a great start for what I hope will be a few posts for this blog. Having had a week or two to think it over, I have mellowed out a bit on the game and I am curious where this PISSED rating will take us.


Puzzles and Solvability

I suspect this will be one of the more challenging categories for me to discuss in this review. Let me start off with the good: most of the adventure game puzzles are fair. The vast majority of the time I played this game I felt like I had leads or I had avenues to explore and that the solutions to the puzzles were logical in the game world that I was playing in. This does not mean that I did not find myself insanely frustrated at more than a few points, but I chalk this up to interface over puzzles. The puzzles were well designed; the interface was crap.

Looking back at the two puzzles that stumped me, the elastic band and the distraction with the electric razor, I realize in hindsight that both were at least somewhat reasonable. For the elastic band, for example, I completely clicked through a message that would have given me the hint that I needed:

Somehow, I missed this message twice.

I suspect this was because my CPU settings were too high (an issue which also hurt in the final confrontation with Dr. Why), but I give them the benefit of the doubt. Once I knew there was something to find, I found it easily enough (barring the interface problem). The electric razor was similarly logical if I had noticed the electric socket right outside Dr. Why’s room. That would have clued me in to the only “logical” solution given the items that I had. It is still crazy because of the metal door, but maybe they left it open. So for both of these, I think I'll give the game a pass. 

The only “adventure game” puzzle which I particularly have an issue with is the fake orders. When you are given a gag item that instructs you to play more Delphine Software games, you do not expect it to be something you can use in-game. Fourth-wall breaking is fine, but how exactly did that paper get me past the guard?

The action puzzles in this game were a huge drawback for me. One or two would have been fine, but too many hours were spent in mazes, banging my head against timed sequences, or dodging sharks. This may have been fun for some, but I felt that the game overall placed too much emphasis on these sequences to the detriment of the adventure game aspects of play.

I’ll give it a 4. It would have easily be a 5 or 6, but I’m still pretty steamed about having to do the rat maze again.

Rating: 4


Interface and Inventory

Let me take the gloves off: the interface in this game is not fun. The mechanics of it are fine: right-click to open a menu or operate on inventory, left-click to select an item. But the translation is challenging and it took most of the game to work out the difference between “operate” and “use”. (For the record, “operate” implies no direct object. If you need to act on something instead of just act with something, you use “use”.) The error messages in this game are useless, the vast majority of the inventory items have no description, and some of the inventory items change names as you enter different parts of the game. Nothing you cannot figure out, but still annoying.

Then comes the pixel-hunting. Especially in the last area, you have to really search to find the objects you are looking for. The “ink pad” for example had no on screen clue, and I do not think the “glass” did, either. (But the latter was clued in the description.) Mousing around with “examine” selected in each screen became a habit, but even after I had done it for hours I was still missing things because they were so darned small. I ended up playing through some sections several times and still missed details. This aspect of the game is just no fun.

Getting new spy equipment was always a joy.

A huge bright side? The inventory. The spy gadgets that you received during the game were interesting, well-spaced within the narrative, and always fun to figure out how they could be used to solve the puzzles at hand. While they were all described in the manual, almost none of them were used in the way that was implied. You never, for example, used the “electric razor” as a recording device, nor cross between buildings using the watch cable. Even the rocket launcher was just a distraction for you to do the real damage. Some of the other items were a bit silly, such as only having enough money to buy two flowers in the beginning or the flotation device which I still do not fully understand, but overall this was a strong area for the game.

I will go with a 3 here. No matter how much I loved the inventory puzzles, the interface overall was terrible. They made the game difficult for all the wrong reasons.

Rating: 3


Story and Setting

Surprisingly, this is one category where Operation Stealth really shines for me. While I am not an expert in “James Bond”, by any means, I am familiar with the tropes of the genre: the gadgets, the girls, and the somehow overly fashionable games of spy-vs-spy. Real spies, I am sure, do not go around being the center of attention. This game had all of those elements in spades, and put them together in a fairly interesting way, even being more than a bit tongue in cheek when things started to get too over the top.

Are you? Because I’m having trouble keeping track.

This game is a popcorn-entertainment scenario played out in a popcorn-entertainment setting. It was not realistic in the least, but there was something fun about having the CIA, the Russians, a homegrown resistance cell, and Spyder all playing in the same sandbox and crossing each others’ paths. The twists and turn of the story were fun, and I even forgave John getting captured so many times once I was informed (by a commenter) that this was a standard trope in James Bond films that I was unaware of.

I did at times lose track of the plot, and I had difficulty telling identifying characters on sight. We also dropped the subplot with the Russians and the resistance cell midway through the game. This is not Shakespeare, but it was never intended to be and it does very well at being what it intended.

I’ll go with a 6 for this one.

Rating: 6


Sound and Graphics

The tropical setting of Operation Stealth as well as the “colorful” world that John Glames/James Bond inhabits lends itself to a bright palette, and this game does not disappoint. I have already deducted points for pixel-hunting, so for this let me just consider the graphics themselves. Overall, I found the screens to be nice, the use of colors good, and the game appealing. There were no fancy scaling tricks or view angles, so from that perspective the game was quite vanilla, but it was still a pretty game to look at. One exception here is the design of the minigames and the underwater sequences, both of which looked very muddy and difficult to make out what was going on.

This is the most creative the game ever got with camera angles.

Sound in this was nice with a few interesting songs and the background music when it was present was not glaring. Sometimes you would get rooms where you had to turn the sound off because it was grating (and I did have to play sometimes without sound because I have a small baby), but mostly it was an addition rather than a drawback.

I’m going to go with a 5 here.

Rating: 5


Environments and Atmosphere

As I said earlier, I thought the story was great and the setting fitting for it. But when it comes down to the environments that were depicted for the game, they do tend to run rather vanilla. An airport, a town, a cave, an underwater spy base? It is not that all of these places were the same, but that there were few real stand out sets or scenes in the game. That said, the atmosphere did manage that cheesy 1980s spy-film feeling which is more or less what they intended.

I go with a 4 here. Not bad, but could have been less monotone.

Rating: 4


Dialog and Acting

This is another tough category. The actual story and dialog that supports it is pretty great. There are occasional jokes that work (the recurring one about spies using their real names when they are not supposed to comes straight out of “Get Smart”), as well as some ham-fisted fourth-wall breaking that does not work. The explanations and dialogs are clear and overall I never was distracted by the quality of the prose to get taken away from the game that I was playing.

But the interface text and error messages were terrible. From the very first post, I complained about badly written error messages and they never got better or more understandable. There were objects that would randomly be renamed or referred to in multiple ways, the duplicated “ink pad” issue, and a few other gaffes. For example, I’m still not entirely clear what the water safety device I bought in the second or third post was supposed to be.

It’s funny, right?

So once again, a mixed bag. I’ll go with a 5.

Rating: 5


Totals

Actually, not that bad. Except the ending.

4+3+6+5+4+5=29 *100/60 = 45!

But I am going to use my discretion and give the game the “You Made Me Play That Rat Maze Twice, You Bastard” award for -1 points, giving the total as 44.

This is marginally better than “Future Wars” and that seems about right. It also is a bit lower than the first “Manhunter” which I recall also hating the controls for, so that also does not seem too far off the mark. This game would have scored significantly higher if the last section had not been so terrible, but honestly the early parts were not perfect either.


And the closest guess to 44 is... Ilmari... with 44!

Also, congratulations to Laukku who bet in the introduction post that Joe "won't find the rubber band in the sea without help." So a whopping 50 points for one of the few winning bets on this blog.

Caption contest winner: Kenny
Caption contest: The sermon by the leader of the Cuban Cult Of Smuggled AK47s was just too enrapturing for James and his Bond Girl.

James Bond Trivia Results
Post 1: Laertes = 1, Canageek = 1
Post 2: No trivia
Post 3: Charles = 1
Post 4: Ilmari = 1
Post 5: Andry_Panthro = 3, Ilmari = 1, TBD = 1
Post 6: No trivia

The winner is Andry_Panthro! On the basis of poor participation! ;) And a bonus 5 CAPs for all participants!

CAP Distribution

190 CAPs for Joe Pranevich
  • Blogger Award – 100 CAPs – For blogging his way through the game for our enjoyment
  • Classic Blogger Award - 50 CAPs - For blogging his way through Mystery House for our enjoyment
  • WYS Award - 20 CAPs - For sending his What's Your Story? -answers
  • Sponsor Award - 20 CAPs - For sponsoring the blog with a free DVD!

25 CAPs for Andy Panthro
  • Clue Award - 20 CAPs - For answering Request for Assistance
  • Shaken but not stirred Award - 5 CAPS - For contributing James Bond trivia

20 CAPs for Corey Cole
  • "Would You Like to Work with Adventure Games?" Award - 20 CAPs - For sharing with us how people were employed in Sierra

65 CAPs for Laukku
  • Delphine Historian Award - 5 CAPs - For pointing out the reference to Future Wars
  • Frustration in the Seaweed Award - 50 CAPs - For successfully betting that Joe would not find the elastic band
  • "Go for the eyes" Award - 5 CAPs - For continuing to look at the screen shots after the initial shock
  • It's Good to be the King Award - 5 CAPs - For announcing a trailer for a new King's Quest game

15 CAPs for Ilmari
  • Psychic Prediction Award - 10 CAPs - For having the closest guess of the final score
  • Shaken but not stirred Award - 5 CAPs - For contributing James Bond trivia

10 CAPs for TBD
  • Genre Support Award – 5 CAPs – For announcing a new sale on GOG
  • Shaken but not stirred Award - 5 CAPs - For contributing James Bond trivia

10 CAPs for Kenny McCormick
  • Cuban Cult Leader Award - 10 CAPs - For winning the caption contest

5 CAPs for Novacek
  • Genre Support Award – 5 CAPs – For announcing a new adventure game on GOG

10 CAPs for Fry
  • Psychic (Mystery House) Prediction Award - 10 CAPs - For having the closest guess to Mystery House's final rating

5 CAPs for Rowan Lipkovits
  • Mystery House Award - 5 CAPs - For sharing a link to Mystery House Taken Over

5 CAPs for Charles
  • Shaken but not stirred Award - 5 CAPs - For contributing James Bond trivia

5 CAPs for Canageek
  • Shaken but not stirred Award - 5 CAPs - For contributing James Bond trivia

5 CAPs for Laertes
  • Shaken but not stirred Award - 5 CAPs - For contributing James Bond trivia

5 CAPs for Tymoguin
  • "Go for the eyes" Award - 5 CAPs - For continuing to look at the screen shots after the initial shock

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Missed Classic 2: Adventure (1977)


Written by Ilmari

There is an immense number of adventure games and the official playing list of TAG contains only a small selection of them. The games that make it to the official list have passed a tight criteria that we hope will let through only the most memorable adventure games. Then again, someone might think that the rules have been too strict and some forgotten classic has slipped through our hands. Well, since TAG is now a community effort, there is a perfect chance to rectify this - one can just write a review of this hidden gem, and we might publish it as part of our irregularly appearing Missed Classics -series. The rules of the official playing list can be followed, but reviews of a more relaxed formula fit also right within Missed Classics. We’ve already seen Joe’s take on Sierra’s Mystery House and now I will move to an even more distant past.

Personally I was always a bit disappointed that Trickster limited TAG to graphical adventure games, since so many memorable text adventures had to be ignored (then again, if that decision would not have been made, we would probably still be stuck in the 80s). It is still debatable whether at least purely text-based adventure games should not be included in the Missed Classics, and I would love to hear opinions on this in the comments. Nevetheless, I think the rules can be bent once, when we are dealing with the game from which the whole genre got its name: Adventure, also known as Colossal Cave.

The story behind Adventure has been told over and over again by far more talented and well-informed writers, so I’ll just give a quick summary. I urge any reader who is interested of more details to check Jimmy Maher’s Digital Antiquarian or Rick Adams’ Adventure page.

It all began with Will Crowther, one of the programmers behind ARPANET, the predecessor of Internet. In addition to programming, Crowther was known as an enthusiastic spelunker and was especially famous for exploring part of the Mammoth-Flint Ridge Cave System in Kentucky with his wife, Patricia Crowther. Due to their divorce in 1975, Crowther was separated from his daughters and was then inspired to write a program that they might find amusing.

The man behind it all, Will Crowther

The program recreated geography of a part of the so-called Bed Quilt Cave of the Mammoth Cave System. For a long time, it was thought that Crowther’s original program was nothing more than that - a mere guided tour through a cave system. When the original code of Crowther was discovered in 2005, it became clear that this first stage of Adventure was something more. It had obvious D&D influences, like magic words and little dwarves running around, but most importantly, it already had puzzles and was thus a primitive adventure game. Yet, it was also clearly unfinished and had no proper ending.

However incomplete, Crowther’s program was spread from one person to another and eventually found it’s way to Stanford Medical Center’s computer system, where it was discovered in 1977 by Don Woods, a graduate student in computer science at Stanford University. Woods decided to contact the author of the program and ask a permission to complete it. This was quite a feat in itself, since the program had no more suggestion of its origin than the surname of Crowther. Fortunately, the Internet of late 1970s was far smaller than nowadays and Woods could simply send e-mail to all Crowthers in the net. Crowther gave his permission and Woods began adding features and especially ending to the game that was now known as Adventure. This is the definitive version of the game that gave its name to the genre we so love.

Don Woods receiving award for his work on Adventure

Rest is then history. Adventure has been ported to many computer systems and many enhanced versions of the game have also appeared. I am playing Don Ekman’s DOS port of the game, which should be as close to the original mainframe Adventure as possible. It even faithfully recreates the possibility to set “opening hours” for the game - a feature useful in mainframe versions, because people were not encouraged to use all their precious time with playing Adventure. Since I’ve played the game earlier to a successful completion and this will not be part of the official playing list, the following will be more like a guided tour through the prominent features of the game.

Spelunker’s diary: Who would have guessed that a cave in the middle of Kentucky would contain volcanos and even dragons! Somehow I feel that I’ve fallen into an elaborate game of treasure hunt, so unbelievable everything seems. And what did that voice say about the cave closing?

I hope the screenshots satisfy even the readers with a more refined taste

Adventure wastes no time for beginning. If the player wants some info when starting, the game mentions a legendary Colossal Cave, where magic is rumored to work and which should contain immense riches, if one just is able to get back alive. Without any further explanation player is then dropped in a forest near a small brick building. The building itself contains some basic equipment for caving expedition – lamp, food, water and a set of keys – but the legendary cave is not in the immediate vicinity. The forest itself contains few rooms and there's also a valley and a hill, but these are all mere scenery. Instead, one should follow the stream, which soon ends with a locked grate, behind which the entrance to Colossal Cave lies. The keys found in the building fit, and the player finally steps into the cave itself.

While the description of overland rooms is nothing out of the ordinary, in the cave system Crowther's expertise on the topic becomes evident – I have no idea what a frozen river of orange stone looks like, but it sure sounds like coming from a person knowing his geology. Some rooms, evidently added by Woods, have more fanciful features. For instance, in two rooms you see a shadowy figure waving to you through a window - later you’ll learn that these rooms overlook a huge canyon containing an enormous two-sided mirror.

This is what frozen river of orange stone looks like.
Anyone interested of the real Colossal Cave should check
the photos available in an article by Dennis G. Jertz.
It sure looks more cramped than I thought it would be.

Now, while in graphical adventure games it is fairly easy to see how the rooms connect to one another, especially the earlier text adventures made navigation truly difficult. One might move north, but going back to south might land you to a completely different place than the one you originally started. In Adventure this makes some sense, since you are meant to walk in an elaborate cave system - you are choosing a tunnel leading out from the northern side of a room and this tunnel might lead to east side of another room.


For those who want to orient themselves better,
here's a map of Adventure by courtesy of Joe Pranevich.

(Here's a better version)
10 CAPs for the first one to point out a room missing from Joe's map

The navigation becomes truly difficult, when the descriptions of the rooms become completely identical - this happens in the famous “maze of twisty little passages, all alike”, where all rooms are described with just these words. Joe has detailed rather well how to handle such mazes in his Mystery House review, so I’ll not bother explaining it again - I’d just like to point out that I personally find them a bit tedious, adding nothing but wasted time for the game play. While this maze originated with Crowther, Woods added a second maze to the game, this time one of “twisting passages, all different”. In Woods maze the descriptions of the rooms are slightly different, with same words, but in different order, which makes mapping it much simpler.

Another obstacle in mapping Adventure - and one that fortunately felt quickly out of fashion - is the randomness in movement. Both in the overland forest section and in the caves themselves there are some rooms in which moving to certain direction won’t have a certain result, but the player will land to a random destination. This is probably meant to suggest how utterly confusing movement in the area is, but I find it rather perplexing that even after hundreds and hundreds times of going through the same rooms the would-be spelunker hasn’t learned to navigate through the tunnels.

Especially irritating this randomness of movement is in case of the famous puzzle of the last lousy point. Gaining the point is rather easy. You’ll find a magazine in the caves, addressed to certain Witt. Then you’ll just have to find a room called Witt’s End and drop the magazine there - the point is yours. Problem is then finding your way out of the Witt’s End, when going to any direction seemingly lands you back to the same place. Solution is to move to any other direction except west - you have a small chance to land somewhere else than Witt’s End.

Speaking of points, the game does have a scoring system, added by Woods. You gain points by finding the cave, but most of the score comes from discovering treasures and moving them to the safety of the brick building (especially the latter part is not explained well in the game and the player might well wonder what to do with all this gold and jewelry). Points can also be lost - the game offers hints, but charges points of it. Furthermore, after player dies he can choose to be resurrected, which also costs some points, but lets you keep all the treasure you’ve managed to accumulate. In the original Adventure (and also in the port I am playing) the maximum score was 350.

Yes, I am back alive again!

But because I used up my lamp, I am still kicked out of the game. Doh!

Now, picking the treasures up is usually the easy part and the challenge lies in getting forward to the places where treasures lie. Most of the cave system is without light and wondering around in dark leads eventually to falling down a pit, so after entering the cave, first problem is quickly to get some light. This might not be as easy as it sounds. True, the brick building contains a lamp, but since the game’s parser accepts only two words in a sentence, it is a bit tricky to find the right formula for turning the lamp on - it happens to be just “lamp on”. The lamp works with batteries, which have a tendency to run out. The player can find a battery dispenser in the “all different” -maze, but buying a battery requires some coins, which as a treasure are then deducted from your score. A player wanting to get a full score must then be so fast that new batteries are never required.

The first real puzzle the player will face concerns the rod, the parrot and the snake (sounds like a great rock band). The first items you’ll meet inside the Colossal Cave are a cage and a rod that has the appearance of being magical (later on you will have to wave the rod to create a crystal bridge over a chasm - somewhat unfair puzzle because there is nothing to hint that waving will have any effect there). Next you’ll meet up a bird, which will probably seem frightened and fly away, when you try to pick it up. After a few steps down the cave and you’ll get into an ominously named hall of the mountain king, where a snake guards the entrances to further rooms.

The solution to this conundrum requires careful inventory management. The player must have the cage so that the bird can be carried - this is very obvious. What is not so obvious is that the bird is afraid of the rod. So, before the bird is picked up, the rod must be dropped. What use is the bird then? You shouldn’t feed it to the snake, which would still be guarding the passageway. Instead, you are meant to throw the bird, which then scares the snake away.

I am not going to go through all the puzzles of Adventure in detail. Most of them seem rather commonplace - at least until you consider that these puzzles were bright new, when the game came out. Oiling rusty doors and feeding hungry bears is something we’ve seen in dozens adventure games after this.

Watering a plant and climbing it: 5 CAPs for a similar puzzle in another adventure game

Compared to later Infocom games the two-word parser makes the puzzles somewhat easier. With Infocom games the player would be expected to write down exactly where the bird is to put, but in Adventure holding a cage and picking up the bird is enough. Similarly, the player is not meant to tell, which tool he should use for opening an oyster, it suffices that he is just carrying the right item. An interesting twist on this theme is the use of a pillow - you will find a delicate vase, dropping of which leads to its shattering, unless the room contains a pillow, on which the vase is then dropped.

Note how important is the ability to drop things - something rarely found in graphical adventures. Adventure comes with an inventory limit, which forces the player to drop items occasionally. Furthermore, there is a place where the inventory items prevent movement forward - the passage supposedly becomes so tight that you cannot get through. Then it’s just a matter of leaving your items behind, while you attempt to move through the toughest spot. In another room you’ll find a particular treasure (gold nugget) that is apparently so heavy that you cannot carry it up and you’ll have to find an alternative route to take it outside.

Another interesting feature of Adventure are the magic words. At the same spot you find the magic rod you’ll also see the word “XYZZY” written on a wall. Using that word in that particular room lands the player back to the brick building and doing the same thing at the building transfers one back to the XYZZY room. I remember being confused about all of this, when I first played the game - I thought I had to have the rod in possession and that saying XYZZY would somehow invoke its magical powers. Indeed, I think that the magic words should have been introduced more substantially than just by telling that magic works in the cave and by placing an incomprehensible scribble on one room (especially as some rooms have scribbles that do not work as magic words). Of course, the matter would be different if all the magic words were nothing but shortcuts, like XYZZY and PLUGH, which one hears a hollow voice saying somewhat further down the cave, but two of the words are also essential for solving actual puzzles.

The first case is actually rather good puzzle, at least once you know how the magic words work. At one point the player arrives at a room of giant proportions with a large nest containing golden eggs. On the wall of this room one can read the words “Fee”, “Fie”, “Foe” and “Foo”. Saying these words does not make the player move anywhere else, but it does make the eggs return to the nest, if they are out of it. How does this help? Well, the player will later on meet a bridge guarded by a troll, who won’t let anyone through, unless they forfeit a treasure. The obvious trick is to give the eggs to the troll and then say the magic words to make them return to their nest.
The second case is more unfair. Remember the tight spot I mentioned earlier, where you had to drop all your items before moving through to next room? Well, the tight spot leads to a room with an emerald that is the size of a plover’s egg. The emerald is small enough to be carried through the tight spot, so that’s not the problem. The true enigma lies in the room beyond the emerald room. Emerald room has light, but the room next to its hasn’t. Since you have to leave your lamp before going through the tight spot, you apparently cannot bring light to the dark room. The solution is that the word “PLOVER” (mentioned only briefly in the description of the emerald) transports the player between emerald room and and an earlier part of the cave system, thus making it possible to bring light to the dark room (it contains nothing else but a platinum pyramid, which is one of the treasures).

While the magic words are quite problematic (especially PLOVER), I’ve learned to truly dislike the random elements of the game, that is, the pirate and the dwarf. They appear from time to time quite unexpectedly and generally try to screw things up: pirate steals your treasures and dwarves try to kill you. It is because of them that I cannot say to have won the game this time (I’ve done it earlier), as I finally resigned because of exhaustion. After a few rounds of reminding myself of all the important things inside the Colossal Cave, I started to really solve the puzzles, but did it a bit too slowly and noticed too late that I’d forgotten to get a new battery. Result: falling into a pit in darkness.

I tried to plan my second attempt more carefully, but failed at one crucial moment. When you encounter a dwarf for the first time, he will throw an axe at you, miss and run from the scene cursing. The axe is then for yours to take and boy you are really going to need it. When you later meet a dwarf, usually the only thing to do is to throw an axe at him and hope you’ll manage to kill him, before one of his knifes hit you instead of the wall (the knifes vanish so you cannot pick them up). Well, I had failed to notice the first appearance of a dwarf (this happens easily, if you are doing things too quickly) and I had no idea where the axe was, when a dwarf appeared next time. Dwarfs have a very bad aim, but they have an infinite supply of knives and they tail you relentlessly - and it is very possible that after one dwarf another appears. So there I was followed by three dwarves - needless to say that I couldn’t finish before being gutted.

Fun for the first time, not so much for the next thousand times

At this point I was getting a bit annoyed and angry at my own lack of attention. I then decided to just follow the quick walkthrough included in the ZIP of the game, just to get the screenshots of the last section. I followed the steps and killed some dwarfs on the way, but then the problem of non-appearing pirate appeared. You see, when the pirate appears to steal your precious items, he hides them in the “all alike” -maze together with his own treasure chest. The chest itself is a treasure and it doesn’t exist before seeing the pirate. So, if you never see the pirate, you are doomed to spend the rest of your Adventure walking in circles and waiting him to appear.

At the moment I realized I wasn’t going to make it this time either, I was pretty tired of the whole game and decided to stop it. After all, I had managed to complete the Adventure before, so I had no great urge to do it another time. Screenshot was still missing, but hey, I could always ask the readers to provide one. So, here’s a challenge - first one to send screenshots of the end scenes will get 20 CAPs!

So what’s the ending like then? Well, you have managed to procure all the possible treasures (not counting those you might have broken, given to troll or used up in buying batteries) and there seems to be nothing left to do but wander around the cave system aimlessly. Then a voice is heard, announcing that the cave is closing. Soon you are whisked away to something called a repository of the “Adventure” -game - filled with all the stuff from the caves, including a number of sleeping dwarves you do not want to disturb. We’ve had plenty of discussions whether breaking the fourth wall makes for a good plotting - now you know it started at the very beginning of genre.

At one end of the repository lies a steel grate leading to treasury, with keys apparently in the main office. Getting to the treasury is one of the lousiest puzzles in the game. Will Crowther had for some reason programmed an answer for a use of the verb “blast”: blasting requires dynamite. Woods apparently thought this verb should have some actual use (it’s beyond me how he thought the player would even consider using such a verb). Among all the junk in the repository there are rods that are slightly different from the magic rod in the caves - they are actually dynamite. All you then need to do is to leave the dynamite at the opposite end from the grate, go yourself to the other end and say “blast” (if you remain in the same end with the dynamite, you will get blown to pieces, and if you blow up the dynamite in the wrong end, the repository is filled with lava). When the dynamite explodes, dwarves are buried in the rubble and a hole to the main office is opened. The player is then carried by elves to sunset… actually it’s very unclear what the elves mean to do with the player character. 10 CAPs for the best explanation!

Time played: 3 hours
Total time: 3 hours


PISSED -rating

Puzzles and Solvability
The first adventure puzzles ever! I feel I should be excited by them, but I find myself rather underwhelmed. Problem is probably that I am constantly comparing Adventure with Zork trilogy. Just look at the dwarves in Adventure and then think about thief in Zork I: dwarves are just a nuisance that makes you repeat the exact same moves from time to time, while facing the thief requires more of strategic thinking. Most of the puzzles in Adventure just feel so simple. There are few problems with interesting twists, but also some that require you to read the mind of the programmers - and I really have no liking for the puzzles that require just luck. All in all, a very mixed affair.
Rating: 3

Interface and Inventory
Here I once again find myself torn by the pioneering status of Adventure and its crudeness when compared with later adventure games. Inventory is a bare list, and two-word parser just doesn’t have the sophistication that a text adventure truly requires. Then again, Adventure efficiently does what it can with the technical limitations and there are interesting results for most of the possible verb-noun -combinations. Minor quibble is that “throw” seems to be the “do-it-all” -verb, which sometimes leads to unintentionally humorous results.
Rating: 3

If I can just throw bears around, why couldn't I handle a troll by myself?

Story and Setting
I am beginning to sound like a broken record, but the story feels a bit non-existent when compared with later adventure games. The cave system is undoubtedly quite believable and even the more fantastic elements fit right within it. There are some minor oddities, like the more oceanic objects, which don’t really fit in with subterranean surroundings. Still, the major complaint I have is that there’s no real sense of what all this stuff is doing there. Even Zork I with a similar “gather all treasures” -quest had glimpses of the fabled Great Underground Empire, the remnants of which the player was exploring - Colossal Cave, on the other hand, seems to have no history. The strangest feature of the story is the ending with its suggestion that the cave is nothing more than an elaborate game. The idea is very underdeveloped and in retrospect it seems like a cliched way to have some closure for the dungeon exploration.
Rating: 3

You are lost sir, Disney World is in Florida

Sound and Graphics
No graphics, no sounds.
Rating: 0


Environment and Atmosphere
This is probably the highlight of Adventure. You truly feel like you are a seasoned spelunker exploring an unknown cave system, mapping out its dangers and conserving your light source. The attempts at humour break this atmosphere sometimes and it would have been better, if either all the humour would have been dropped or then the game would have taken a bolder step towards weird silliness, like Zork (these comparisons are starting to repeat themselves).
Rating: 5

Adventure failing to be funny

Dialogue and Acting
The characters do have couple of sentences, but most of text is still narration. Text in general is terse and efficient. On occasion the writing does rise to an even poetic brilliance, but it still is far from the great works of interactive fiction.
Rating: 4
If only the narration could be consistently of this quality

3 + 3 + 3 + 0 + 5 + 4 = 18, and dividing that with 60 makes 0,30 or 30. Because Adventure is the greatgrandfather of all adventure games, I am giving it exceptional 3 points bonus, which makes the final result 33. Does this seem low? Well, we have to remember that this is still very early in the development of adventure games - story, writing, parser and puzzles still have a lot to improve. Also, one thing that weighs heavily is that PISSED is developed for graphical adventure games. If we instead used an alternative SPIED-rating with no evaluation of graphics and sounds, the result would be 39. This sounds quite fair - Adventure does have potential and clear historical value, but some of the more annoying features make it less memorable than it might have been.