Sunday, 1 April 2012

Game 14: Shadowgate - Fool's Gold

Journal Entry 3: “After making such great progress towards my goal of defeating the Warlock Lord, I now find myself lost and with very little in the way of resources. I fear this will be my final entry before taking my life. The shame of failure is too much! I’m quite sure that I’m rapidly losing my mind anyway, as some of the things I’ve seen and heard in the past two days simply cannot be part of this reality and must be the projections of a subconsciousness besieged by frustration and failure. I constantly hear voices! What’s worse is that I’m quite certain whoever is speaking to me is trying to help me make progress, but I am unable to understand their bizarre dialect! “Gbqnl vf gur svefg bs ncevy. V'yy unir n erny cbfg fbba.” What does it mean?!?! Anyway, it turns out that all my previous success was an illusion. While I thought that damn wizard Lakmir had transported me to Castle Shadowgate, it turns out he missed the mark by some way, and I’ve been forced to travel many leagues in search of it. I’ve used many strange forms of transportation on the way, but I must have taken a wrong turn at some point. All that is left is to end this miserable existence. I cannot face a world where the Warlock Lord rules, knowing that my failure led to his success...”


All of a sudden the game starts talking about another land and portals

When I last posted, I’d just defeated the fire drake and was about to go through the door at the end of the bridge. I was feeling pretty good about myself too after having a fantastic game session where everything was coming together nicely. Little did I know that Shadowgate was about to pull the rug out from underneath me. As soon as you get across the bridge, the game starts jumping genres in the most unexpected way and I’ve had to pinch myself numerous times and check that I hadn’t accidentally started up the wrong game. I’m all for adventure games adding in little mini games that make use of other genre styles, but it’s important that the game at least stick to the tone it started with, and Tarantino-like shifts midway through are just not cool. After being informed that I was not actually in Castle Shadowgate at all, the game unbelievably switches to a top down view where you’re forced to wander around the landscape looking for clues that might lead you to the correct destination. Every now and then you come across cities, where you can buy resources and even hone your skills (what, is this an RPG now!?)


One of many cities you come across, all of which look the same


The warriors become progressively harder each time you win

As off-putting as this shift in gameplay and perspective was, what happened next is just unfathomably ridiculous! When departing cities, you get the chance to purchase forms of transportation; including the sort of technology that just doesn’t belong in what I originally thought was a swords and armour style adventure game. At first a selected a car, but as decent as the graphics were while driving around, the sameness of the landscape made knowing what direction I was going extremely difficult. With no minimap available in this mode, I figured I was just going to get lost really quickly, so I restored back to the last city and took the second option available, the submarine (you think I’m joking?)! At least the view from the submarine gave me directional bearings, so I was able to have a fair idea where I was going. Unfortunately, you can’t reach Castle Shadowgate by sea alone, and when I was informed at one of my port stops (you have to stop to refuel way too regularly) that the only way to reach the castle was by air (what is this? Howl’s Moving Castle?), I left the ocean and went in search of some sort of plane.


Driving is quite fun, but the landscape doesn't change much


If you'd told me I'd be in a submarine a couple of days back...

By this stage of the game, I was pretty much prepared for anything. But I still had to laugh when I uncovered a space ship in an uninhabited warehouse in the middle of nowhere. It’s here that some of the parchments I’d read earlier in the game started to make sense. “Five to find, three are one.” It’s clearly talking about the modes of transportation and the spaceship meets the description of “three are one” as it allows you to travel under water, along the ground, or even into space. Having already covered land and sea, I cranked up the engine and flew out into space, thinking that the developers at ICOM had clearly played Ultima at some point. It’s here that I finally got completely lost, and to be honest I no longer really care about finding the Warlock Lord. Shadowgate had finally won me over, despite all of my initial fears, and then it all just turned bizarre and I have to question the sanity of whoever decided any of this was a good idea. I actually found a way to kill myself in the game, so I decided that was the best way to end my session. It’s the first game on the list that I haven’t finished which is a shame, but I have better ways to spend my time.


The game should at least be remembered for being the first to allow suicide!

22 comments:

  1. Good. lord. What on earth just happened there? I never played this game, although I frequently saw the NES version on the rental shelf at Erol's (remember those, anyone?) as a kid. That strange genre-jumping reminds me a lot of an (obscure?) game from my youth called Covert Action. But in an adventure game, fairly unusual. Although I suppose, for example, Quest for Glory III has an overland map, traditional third-person gameplay, and also some logic/skill mini-games.

    Still, sounds like Shadowgate really went off the rails.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hhahahahahaha! Fooled. Now that I think about it, the driving sequence looks like Test Drive, and the submarine pic maybe from GATO or 688.

      Nicely done.

      Delete
  2. April fools! You had me going for a second there, but I recognized Budokan and Test Drive (2?) screenshots and realized what was going on :p

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha...I had a lot of fun putting this together and wondered how long it would take for someone to figure it out.

      10 points to HunterZ for being the first.

      Delete
  3. Nice post. Don't know about the first screen shot, but the others are Budokan, Test Drive 1 (definitely the first one, which I had in glorious CGA back in the day!) and I *think* the last is Strike Fleet.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I kind of like the idea of a throwback 3-color video game that's almost dream-like, in that you have to keep looking for a goal that you never reach until you become more and more disillusioned.

    ReplyDelete
  5. 10 points to the first person that can name all four games I used. Budokan and Test Drive are correct, Strike Fleet isn't.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah well. But Strike Fleet was a darn fine game. Now we need someone to start a blog going through the history of PC sim games!

      Delete
  6. Okay. Phantasie, Budokan, Test Drive and Sub Battle Simulator?

    ReplyDelete
  7. Phantasie and Silent Service! (or GATO?)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Phantasie and Silent Service is correct! Well done Alfred.

      10 points coming your way.

      Delete
  8. Arg I didn't refresh my screen fast enough, Monkeyfungus was faster ;)

    ReplyDelete
  9. By the way, really fun post there, Trick, while reading I was preparing to utter my biggest "WTF???" while thinking that it was probably the biggest twist ever in a video game. Then I remembered which day we were ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've been planning to do something for April Fool's Day for the last couple of weeks. I'm just glad I remembered this morning! :)

      Delete
  10. I was thinking the last one could be Silent Service as well (only played the NES version). Another possibility is 688 Attack Sub, which I haven't played, but believe was out back in the old DOS 4 color days.

    ReplyDelete
  11. This was the best April Fool's Day post/joke I've seen in a long time. You had me really going there for a while!

    (I wonder how many other people recognized the Howl's Moving Castle reference... The author's "Tough Guide To Fantasyland", in case you haven't seen it, is also a very entertaining satire of the illogical bits of fantasy books/games.)

    ReplyDelete
  12. ARRRRRRRGH!!!! If only it weren't for time differences, I'd possibly have nailed my first points!!! CURSES!!! Foiled again!!!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Good job. You had me until way too far into this, despite the title AND despite the fact that I noticed both of today's entries had "Journal Entry 3" at the beginning.

    Honestly, I think I finally figured it out as I was finishing it. It was just like, "oh yeah...."

    Paradox had a good one today as well: http://www.meta-metacritic.net/
    There's also obviously Google's 8-bit maps, but I'm guessing you've all seen that.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Oh yeah, April Fools. Here I was thinking of my comment, and coming up with nothing but "surreal."

    Hmmmm. Well...

    Surreal.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I got it as I've seen enough ROT13 to recognize the letter patterns and decrypted the 'code' at the start right away, which kinda spoiled it.

    ReplyDelete