Monday, 25 May 2020

Infocom Marathon: Leather Goddesses of Phobos (1986) - Part One

Written by Joe Pranevich

Sex sells, but few things market a product better than controversy. Throughout much of the 20th century, it was an adage that a book or a play “Banned in Boston” was guaranteed to sell well elsewhere. Oscar Wilde once said that, “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.” Barbara Streisand discovered that the fastest way to get a lot of people interested in taking photos of her house was telling them that they could not. So it was in that spirit that Steve Meretzky penned A Mind Forever Voyaging as a controversy-magnet, guaranteed to get the conservative pundits wagging their tongues about his leftist pollution of young minds. The controversy never materialized and that game flopped. Unperturbed, he pushed for yet another game that could “go viral”, but this time he aimed to incite the ire of the pundits (and the libido of the players) by embracing sex. Could an assault on decency succeed where AMFV failed?

Whether it was the sex, the return to traditional puzzle-based gameplay, or something else, Leather Goddesses of Phobos garnered enough attention that it became Infocom’s final true “hit”. TBD reviewed the game in 2017 and so I will look at this game through a different lens. Instead of a sequential playthrough and review, I am going to focus on the game’s puzzles. This game is rightly credited as having some of Meretzky’s most clever mind-benders, but does he put them together in a satisfying way? I will also place LGoP in the context of Infocom’s broader story as we progress towards the end of 1986.

My original plan had been for this to come out as a single post, but it turns out that I have more to say about his puzzles than I thought. Rather than cut it down, I’ve decided to split the work into two. Today, we’ll cover the introduction and collect the first four key items. Next week, we’ll conclude with the final puzzles and some thoughts on how the game comes together as a whole.

Monday, 18 May 2020

Eric the Unready – Fair and Fowl – Request for Assistance

Written by TBD

Eric the Unready Journal Entry #4: I found myself in a fair near a fire-breathing dragon. And the dragon's protecting the Steak of Eternity. Seems simple enough - just need to cover myself from head to toe in fireproof armor and steal a hungry dragon's meal. I've got most of it covered but I still need one more item...

One final Monty Python reference left over from the previous mission

Thursday, 30 April 2020

Eric the Unready – Secret of the Snooze

Written by TBD

Eric the Unready Journal Entry #3: My nightmares are filled with turtles – small turtles, tall turtles, elderly turtles, teenage turtles, ninja turtles. Hopefully Lorealle can stay safe while I collect a seemingly random collection of objects...

Day 4: Blicester Castle – It's Only a Model

While the previous mission spent a lot of time referencing Zork, this mission was full of references to one of my favourite comedy movies, Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Friday, 24 April 2020

Asylum II: Stubborn Like a Mule

Written by Will Moczarski

Last time I thought I’d made a pretty good run through Asylum II – the game seemed as tedious but a lot easier than part one, that is until I was confronted by one of the guards who told me that my escape was not to be this easy. The difficulty ramped up after that and the events that followed left me scratching my head more often than not. My new goal was to rid the asylum of the “master mystic” and present the guards with some proof of my achievement in order to be allowed to leave.

Sunday, 19 April 2020

Eric the Unready – The Acceptably Decent Underground Empire

Written by TBD

Eric the Unready Fondor Bindlecrank Journal Entry #2: I'm well on the way to rescuing the princess. My magic banana worked, I think. It took me to the location of one of the items that Bud the Wizard told me I'd need to complete my quest. I had to pretend to be someone I wasn't, but with my cunning disguise, some people randomly giving me needed items and a little ingenuity, I now have the pitchfork I need. One down – four to go.

Greetings all. Hope you're doing well. This week I took a break from randomly reorganising all the rooms of my apartment and played a bit of Eric the Unready. Let's see what happened...

Day 3: Enchanted Forest – The Air Down There

After my magic banana had me dropped off at my next mission, I find myself in a cemetery.

The occupant of the sepulchre must have paid for an extremely long-term newspaper delivery before he died.