Thursday 29 October 2015

Missed Classic 13: Colossal Adventure (1983?)

By Ilmari

Since Joe Pranevich has already written great posts on Sierra’s early Hi-Res Adventures and Scott Adams's Questprobe games, I thought I should also do my duty and acquaint myself with some company making text adventures with graphics. With lot of options to choose from, I finally decided on a British gaming company, Level 9, mainly because I had never played any of their games, but also because after Infocom, they had the largest catalogue of text adventures.

The story of Level 9 begun with three brothers, Pete, Mike and Nick Austin. It was a family-based company, and as the years went by, they hired at least their father and sister. The exact details of the founding of Level 9 seem a bit hazy, with Brass Lantern and Digital Antiquarian giving two conflicting set of dates for their early years. What everyone seems to agree on is that the brothers begun by making an extension of BASIC on a rare computer called NASCOM, but the company manufacturing these computers promptly went bankrupt soon after.

Austin brothers in 1987.
On the background, Ingrid Bottomlow,
a character from Gnome Ranger

Tuesday 27 October 2015

Police Quest III – The Puzzle From Hell: Prelude

Written by Alex

Oh, Jim Walls and friends: Why do you hate me? I’m following proper police procedure. I’m using the manual. I’m picking up on in-game clues and hints and trying to do everything right. But it’s not working. Why? Why must you be so damned finicky?

I’ll tell you why: Because you can. That’s why.

Saturday 24 October 2015

Willy Beamish - Dinner at Willy’s

Written by Joe Pranevich

Casa del Beamish

William J. Beamish Journal #2 - Well, that didn’t go well. I guess I got cold feet because I gave dad my report card after all-- but I didn’t expect him to lock up my Nintari! Now how will I practice for the big competition? And I guess dad lost his job or something.

Where we last left the young Mr. Beamish, he had just returned from a final round of after-school detention. Through trial and error, we were able to find a way to sneak out early so that we could get home before any of his parents or siblings grabbed the mail and saw his report card. With the report card in hard, including its terrible “C” grade in “Music Appreciation”, we can cross the threshold into the Beamish household.

Thursday 22 October 2015

Results of the Lurker Poll

by The TAG team

The Lurker poll ended a while ago, and it seems that most non-commenters just didn't feel they'd have anything to contribute to the discussion or then they just didn't want to go through all the fuss of creating an account, just to make a comment. We've now decided to solve the latter problem in an easy way and to continue accepting anonymous commenting in the future.

Tuesday 20 October 2015

Police Quest III – Happy Wife, Happy Life

Written by Alex

At the end of last post, Sonny had just been called to check out an assault at the Oak Tree Mall; since there were no other available officers, Sonny was next on the list. Dutifully, he rushes over, only to his wife Marie’s car in the parking lot. Running to the paramedics, Sonny finds his worst nightmare come true.

Saturday 17 October 2015

Police Quest III – Sonny on Patrol

Written by Alex

So this is what it feels like to be a highway patrol officer!

After booking crazy Brian Forbes, Sonny gets called to Highway 41 near the 7th Street on-ramp to help Officer Morales with a violator who refused to sign their citation. Apparently, such a situation may require a supervisor. Whipping out, I mean, opening the PDF of the game manual, I check out Section III, Traffic Officer, Part 12: “Refusal to sign a citation.” Anyone refusing to sign must be advised that a signature is not an admission of guilt but only a promise to appear in court. If the violator still won’t sign, then they earn a one-way trip to the klink and have to post bond before being released. This rule, however, has one specific exception: “Pregnant women and the elderly. Advise the violator as above. If the violator still refuses to sign the citation, call a supervisor to the scene.” So given that Morales needs a supervisor, I’m dealing with either a pregnant woman or a senior citizen. Isn’t this exciting!

Thursday 15 October 2015

Willy Beamish - Afternoon Snack Club

Written by Joe Pranevich

The dangers of daydreaming

William J. Beamish Journal #1 - No more teachers, no more books, no more of Ms. Glass’s dirty looks! I made it home, and not a moment too soon! I have managed to snag my report card before my parents found out that I got a “C” in Music Appreciation. If they find out, there’s no way they will let me get to the Nintari championships!

The game begins on the last day of school and Willy Beamish is in detention. His frog had jumped on the principal during a morning assembly and now he was paying the price. But Willy’s detention daydreams of winning the Nintari Championships came to a crashing end when his teacher, Ms. Glass, asked him if he was paying attention. Nope, but what we have is the first task of the game, a choice between three possible responses: admitting we don’t know, making up a story about having something in our ear, or guessing that she said we could go home early. Which to pick?

Tuesday 13 October 2015

Police Quest III – Crazy by the Water

Written by Alex

Sonny Bonds is in his car and ready to hit the streets, accompanied by that totally awesome Jan Hammer soundtrack. I would seriously love this track to play every time I got into my car.

Let’s talk about the driving interface here as Sonny heads off to Aspen Falls to do whatever dispatch wants him to do. As an aside, wouldn’t a dispatcher give a police officer a little heads-up as to what to expect on the scene? Something like, “Gunshots fired,” or “Kitten stuck in tree,” or “Crazy naked man doing rude things to passersby”? This could have only help so that the arriving officer doesn’t jump into a dispute over a bridge game guns blazing, or stroll into a gang war with no weapon other than his disarming smile. For a game that’s supposed to be so realistic pertaining to police procedure—and, in fact, is very procedurally accurate, as far as I can tell—this strikes me as a little odd.

Saturday 10 October 2015

Spellcasting 201 - Final Rating

By Aperama

Not exactly the most beautiful picture in the world, but kinda endearing
– just like the rest of this game

I'm somewhat conflicted as it comes to this game. It was fun pretty much all the way through, always making me feel like a little bit of a fool every time I got something wrong as it really was the 'obvious' solution almost every time. At no point did I feel like the game was working against me to solve any puzzles, but I do think that the game would have been far more fun were you able to visit everything and enjoy your time a little more. The obvious correlation I take here is between this game and The Colonel's Bequest. Not because it's a better or worse game, but simply because of the way it runs itself – time is always a factor, but you can visit everything you'd like before a critical moment changes the clock. If this happened in this game and I could sit back and watch Sid and Gary messing around for their own pranks without having to reload, it'd be fantastic – it's only that I decided I wanted to take the long road and enjoy matters that I found the game so flavourful. Thankfully, the game allows dozens of saves – but I still consider it pretty harsh that you can't sit by and watch some of the most entertaining writing in the game and actually go on to succeed also. There are now two comparable games to Spellcasting 201 that have been blogged through – its precursor 101 and Timequest, and I plan to base this rating at least partially off of a mixture of whether or not I feel the game has progressed and used its strengths in favor of hiding its weaknesses.

Thursday 8 October 2015

Game 60: The Adventures of Willy Beamish - Introduction (1991)

Written by Joe Pranevich

Is Willy the boy or the frog?

Pull up a chair, I’d like to tell you a story. Once upon a time, there was a video game company called “Dynamix”. It was a good little company, primarily building action and racing games, including some award-winning flight simulators. One day, they were purchased by an “adventure game” company (Sierra On-Line) and suddenly decided that they had to make adventure games, too! You’ve already heard this story before, back when Ilmari completed his excellent review of their first adventure game, Rise of the Dragon. While that one was far from perfect, it’s higher than 3/4ths of the games reviewed on the blog so far. The following year, Dynamix made two more attempts at adventure games: this one and Heart of China. We will be getting to the latter before too long, but I am very curious to see what lessons Dynamix learned from their previous game. Can Willy Beamish crack our top ten? Our top five? I have no idea.

Tuesday 6 October 2015

Police Quest III – Administrative Affairs

Written by Alex

Firing up Police Quest III, we get a rather high-quality intro that features all the tropes of cheesy yet awesome cop movie and TV shows: Scenes showing car chases and officers dramatically pointing their weapons towards the camera set to a pulse-pounding score. And what’s this? The music is done by none other than Jan Hammer, keyboard and compositional whiz known best for the soundtrack to the television show Miami Vice, so you know exactly the vibe that this game is going for, at least musically: Minor key and driving, with a lot of Latin percussion and horns. Fun fact: Frank Zappa played a villain named Mario Fuente on an episode of Miami Vice called “Payback.” But lest you think Mr. Hammer only does TV work, he’s also an accomplished prog rocker, having, among other things, been an original member of the Mahavishnu Orchestra with John McLaughlin and playing with Jeff Beck on some classic albums. If none of this means anything to you, don’t worry: This is a blog about computer games. Let’s just say that having Jan Hammer work on your computer game is a pretty big “get.”

Saturday 3 October 2015

Spellcasting 201: WON!

Written by Aperama

Ernie Eaglebeak's Journal #5
“Saved the world. Again. Well, probably.”

Ernie Eaglebeak's Journal #5 – Addendum
“So maybe I should give a little more info. Eve left me to go to Housewife U. I mean, dynamite girl and all, but really would have cramped my style. Hu Delta Phart accepted me in after I mooned the Queen of Balmoral. She didn't mind or anything – I even got her infamous Bubblewand for showing her a good time after she got me out of jail. I figured I'd take the last piece of the Appliance down before having an easy night – I was fairly sure we HDP pledges had all won our way in as I saw Sid freshly welding together the door to Gramma Eta Pi and had already heard of Gary parachuting into the middle of the funeral of Otto – were I writing this yesterday, I'd be saying I wish I coulda been there. So I attach the Bubblewand.. and there's Chris Cowpatty and Professor Hiddenmolar standing in front of me. Only it's not Hiddenmolar – it's Joey Rottenwood! Bastard was trying his best to make his way back into taking charge of Sorcerer U again, shut the entire campus down. Thankfully, I still had a few tricks up my sleeve. Rottenwood removed the Bubblewand, but he also set the Appliance so I could assume the identity of Professor Moldybreadcrust, not resetting it. Arrogant bastard! UGUGOOWAH served me well as I slipped through the sewers underneath the lab in Ivorytower and quickly made my way up to the Trustees Room while the Appliance was still taking effect. When I was confronted with Otto Tickingclock's perfectly preserved body, I thought of what the Bubblewand left as an imprint when I attached it the first time – 'necromancy'. I loaded Otto onto the pastry cart, pinched the Bubblewand back from Rottenwood on the way, DEPLUMITed my way back down to the Appliance.. bam. Instant Dean. Now this time, we've got to keep Rottenwood GONE! Oh, and Chris Cowpatty got dumped by HDP. Bonus!”

Step 1: Find my way off campus!

Thursday 1 October 2015

Interview with Scott Adams and Kem McNair

Introduction by Joe Pranevich with questions by “The Adventure Gamer” readers


Before we close up our summer series on Questprobe, Scott Adams and Kem McNair have been kind enough to agree to be interviewed by our community. As you know, Scott Adams was the CEO, lead programmer, and game designer for Adventure International. Scott pretty much invented the personal computer adventure game with his release of Adventureland in 1978. He has been tremendously helpful to me during my several months with Questprobe, answering many questions, and even providing me with the incomplete copy of Questprobe #4 which you have already read about. Kem McNair was the Art Director for Adventure International and drew the graphics for many of the games personally, including the Questprobe series that we have just played.