Friday 30 December 2016

Missed Classic: Geisha - Won! (With Final Rating)

By Ilmari

Eye candy for lovers of female anatomy - scantily clad people
Eye candy for lovers of male anatomy - a metallic phallus

Wednesday 28 December 2016

Missed Classic: Geisha - The Broad Way of Pleasure

By Ilmari

Where I stopped last time

Story so far was that Eva, the fiancee of the hero, was kidnapped by men that were supposedly members of Yakusa. A new plot twist turns everything around. Mr. O who might help me, is actually the leader of Yakusa. The real villain of the story is Napadami, famous scientist, who has created gynoids, which are in principle female sexbots. Napadami had once kidnapped geisha loved by Mr. O and used her exceptional beauty to power up his machines. The geisha died of repeated orgasms, and the same fate awaits Eva, if I don’t get to Napadami’s gynoid brothel Shato, which is located on a nearby island.

I am starting to feel a bit of a headache...

 “Youthful looks”, said the manual. If he is youthful, I need not worry about my age

Monday 26 December 2016

Saturday 24 December 2016

Missed Classic 32: Crisis At Christmas (1986)

Written by Joe Pranevich

Merry Christmas! Time flies when we’re playing great games and it’s already time for another Christmas special. In previous years, we looked at two holiday “classics” from 1984: Merry Christmas from Melbourne House and A Spell of Christmas Ice. This year, we have a new holiday treat to share with you: 1986’s Crisis at Christmas, a text adventure for the ZX Spectrum. Our Christmas games so far have been a mixed bag: Melbourne House’s offering was not much more than an early form of adware while Christmas Ice didn’t even get its title on its packaging. Will we finally break the mold with a good game? Before we can find out, I need to introduce some players first: Tom Frost, Tartan Software, and “type-in” code magazines.

The first surprise as I researched this game was that “Tom Frost” was not a holiday-themed pseudonym but rather a real-life gamer and game designer from Montrose, Scotland who tried his hand at nearly every aspect of our industry. By 1984, he was reviewing games for Micro Adventure magazine, had won a £400 prize (and the title “Britain’s Best Adventurer”) by being the first person to verifiably complete Incentive Software’s “Ket Trilogy”, was starting up his own mail-order software business, and won second place in the “Cambridge Awards”, a contest sponsored by CASES Computer Simulations (CCS). The latter also netted him a distribution deal for his submission, a World War II adventure titled 1942 Mission. To make this all more impressive, Mr. Frost did all of this in his spare time. In his “real life”, he was a 49-year old “quality control chemist” for a nearby lab. He was a man of many talents!

Thursday 22 December 2016

Gateway - Early Missions

Written by Reiko

Broadhead Journal #3: "I got lucky so far. I stepped on a planet that no human has ever visited before, and I didn't die. Dare I hope I will be as lucky next time? I haven't earned nearly enough to get out of here yet. The Orion Program is my only hope, so I'd better go on at least one more mission. Otherwise, will I be stuck here forever like Thom and Nubar?"

I can't sleep until 12:30 in the morning (it's all so exciting, right?), but after sleeping, I gather up my things and go straight to the hangar. I show my blue badge to the agent, who finds a ship that's ready and programs in my codes. I close the hatch, look around the ship a little, then sit down and take a look at the control panel.

Is there any food on this ship? What if I get stuck?

Tuesday 20 December 2016

Bargon Attack - The Kessel Run

Written by Alfred n the Fettuc

Bob journal #3 : “It’s beginning to make less and less sense! After what I can only assume was a trip to Bargon itself, I’m back in Paris. Under Paris, actually, in a world of smugglers, stolen pieces of art and talking statues… I’m getting closer and closer of this dreadful cult and its alien pals, though. Bargonians, here I come!”

After a week of weeping silently in the sewers after spending three hours trying to pass this stupid wall, I’m ready to resume my adventure! We left Bob under the streets of Paris last time, in what can only be the cult headquarters… As we’ll soon see, the sewers are no less a deadly place than the surface of Bargon. Let’s get sleuthing!

Skulls, grates, torches, bars, chains… we’re one pool-dancer away from a bar I know.

Sunday 18 December 2016

History of Adventure 2: Interactive Fiction with Graphics (1980)

By the TAG Team

Notable Titles: Mystery House, Transylvania, Hobbit, Wizard and Princess, Pawn, Fish!, Spellcasting, Gateway, The Portopia Serial Murder Case, Muv-Luv, The PK Girl

Notable Creators and Companies: Sierra (Roberta Williams etc.), Penguin Software (Antonio Antiochia), Melbourne House (Veronika Megler, Philip Mitchell), Magnetic Scrolls (Rob Steggles, Hugh Steers, John Molloy, Phil South, etc.), Legend Entertainment (Bob Bates, Steve Meretzky, Glen Dahlgren, Mike Verdu etc.), Enix (Yuji Horii)

It's been a while since our last installment on History of Adventure, but we didn't want to just forget this idea, so let's get started! While adventure games in 1970s were all text-based, excluding some quaint ASCII-drawings, since 1980 it became a trend to include simple graphics to help get a gamer in the mood (Mystery House, Transylvania and The Hobbit are early examples of this trend). In some cases graphics served no other purpose but to enhance the gaming experience - a notable example includes graphical revampings of Scott Adams’s older text adventures.

We could do without the picture of this Dracula wannabe, but it sure is evocative

Friday 16 December 2016

Gateway - New Fish

Written by Reiko

Broadhead Journal #2: "Why is everyone calling me 'new fish'? Do I look like a Pisces? It wasn’t just Thom, practically everyone I met said that. Anyway, tomorrow I'll ship out and try to make my fortune. The odds aren't good, but what have I got to lose? Even if I have to stay here a while, I guess it's not all bad. There's a cute receptionist at the office, even if she acts uninterested."

We're exploring Gateway because I don't need to meet Thom at the bar until later. I go north from the central intersection to find the dropshaft, which confirms that I started on Level Dog. Up leads to Level Babe, which nothing has mentioned yet, so I'll leave that for later, and go back down past Level Dog to Level Tanya. I can't help thinking there must be a whole lot of unimportant levels in between Dog and Tanya, because otherwise, those names are awfully random if they aren't more memorable names for sequentially letter-coded levels.

That's got to be a Chekhov's gun...

Wednesday 14 December 2016

Missed Classic: Legend of Djel - Won! (With Final Rating)

By Ilmari

Happened so far: Djel the Magician has to prove himself to people of the Kingdom of Ashes by solving three plights caused by three magicians from the neighboring countries. He has already dealt with an infertility problem by finding his beloved who happens to be also a daughter of Azeulisse, a ruler of a nearby kingdom. Now his has to just cure the magician Theros, thus ending a plague that has destroyed almost everyone in the Kingdom of Ashes, and to find gold for pauper Kal, who is using the hunger-induced raids of his subjects as a way to blackmail Djel.

Last time I had just received a statue from magician Theros (and Kal had taken back the one he gave me), so I begun by visiting Theros.

I really wonder where all these wizards sleep.

Monday 12 December 2016

Bargon Attack - Gargoyle’s Quest

Written by Alfred n the Fettuc

Bob journal #2 : “Ok, so maybe we’re in the suburbs? I don’t really go there a lot, so maybe it’s what it really looks like. I’m a bit surprised to find head-eating monsters though. Or quicksand. Or a killer sun… well I’m pretty sure that’s because of that global warming everyone is talking about… now where did this guy go? And what is this sound in the distance? It looks suspiciously like a giant crab to me…”

So last week we have made a lot of progress in an hour of playtime. Everything was coming pretty easily. This game was going to be a breeze… Even the giant crab I remembered from my youth was dead before it knew it. That when it dawned on me : the wall I hit when I first played this game was not the crab, but a few screens after that. A wall actually. A stubborn, solid, stupid wall. But first things first, we were on an alien planet last time. Let’s explore!

“Miles from nowhere”? That’s one heck of an understatement.

Saturday 10 December 2016

Gateway - Data Overload

Written by Reiko

Broadhead Journal #1: "I've made it to the station, finally. What a crappy place this is. Beats anything I could be doing on Earth, though. Here I can get away from it all and go somewhere totally new. Sure, it's dangerous, but what isn't, these days? Man, that Thom guy has a weird sense of humor. Does he actually expect me to read all this stuff in the data device?"

Home sweet home!

After the background intro, we're dropped into our quarters, very much as if we've just stepped off a transport. It's noon, and each action advances the clock by a minute. Time to get our bearings and learn where to go. But first, the commset is blinking. Who's messaged me?

I pick up the debit card from the desk [2 points] and take a look at it. "Account status information can be accessed through your PV Commset. All amounts are in U.S. Dollars." I examine the commset and find that it has a screen and a card slot, so I put the card in the slot. This shifts the display to a graphical representation of the commset, with a numerical menu. This could have been done in text, but it's a much nicer interface this way.

Thursday 8 December 2016

Star Trek - Won! (Sort Of) and Final Rating

Written by Joe Pranevich

Last time, Star Trek: 25th Anniversary went out not with a bang but with a whimper as I was unable to defeat the “final boss” of the game in epic ship to ship combat. TBD took a crack at it too, documenting the expanded version of the “Vengeance” storyline, but also failed to win. This would be a sour note to go out on, but we have one final trick up our sleeve: Fry has managed to beat the game and tell us how it was done. It’s teamwork!

After his brief look at the ending, I’ll jump into the final review.

Tuesday 6 December 2016

Bargon Attack - Paris Is Burning

Written by Alfred n the Fettuc

Bob journal #1 : “This is official, aliens are invading Earth! They’re going through our computers and our video games to get in our minds! And who are those weird cultists all around Paris? It’s time to investigate! Maybe the guys at the micro club will be of some help to me…”

Here we go in our first discovery of gaming in Paris. As soon as the weird intro is played out, you’re put in the very noisy shoes of Bob who is apparently going out of the “Théatre des égorgeurs” which could be translated as “Cutthroat Theatre”.


Sunday 4 December 2016

Missed Classic 31: Legend of Djel (1989) - Introduction

By Ilmari

While Joe is busy completing Zork 1, let's get a step further in our history of early Coktel Vision games - what did they do before games like Bargon Attack? Doing a quick summary of games that have been covered so far, Mewilo was an unknown classic, Freedom was barely an adventure game, Operation Getafix was too small and simple, and Emmanuelle… well, I guess we all remember what Emmanuelle was like. With a track record like this, it is hard to know what to expect from the next game designed by Muriel Tramis.

There’s magic! And dragons! And obligatory eye candy with ridiculous clothing!

Friday 2 December 2016

Star Trek - Extended Vengeance

Written by TBD

No, not THAT extended Vengeance

When I decided to play the CD-ROM version of the final mission of Star Trek 25th Anniversary, I knew it was extended due to complaints about the original version's short length, but I had no idea just how extended it was.

When Joe played the floppy version the only 'puzzle' he needed to solve was brilliantly deducing that using Doctor McCoy's medical equipment on the dying woman might be useful. The extended version gives us multiple puzzles, so let's see what happens between watching a Starfleet officer die and meeting the man who wants to kill us in a ship battle...

In the extended version, we don't immediately beam back to the ship after the woman dies. We can't even if we want to. Calling the Enterprise just has Uhura telling us that they're still tracking the distress call.

But we have other locations to explore. We don't even need to go to sickbay first. When we leave the bridge we are presented with a map of the ship.

Wednesday 30 November 2016

Game 79 : Bargon Attack - Introduction (1992)

Written by Alfred n the Fettuc

[Admin's note: You were probably all expecting an Eternam playpost by now. Unfortunately, Aperama works in a field where approaching Christmas means more work (and I am not implying that Santa's factories are actually located in Australia, although if I were him, I'd certainly consider moving Down Under from the cold North). So as not to make a large gap with only one official game and occasional Missed Classics going on, we've decided instead to continue for a while with another French game, Bargon Attack, this time played and reviewed by a real Frenchman! Aperama will return to the joys of Eternam in the future, when holiday season will be over. Now, I'll give the stage back to Alfred!]

My youth as a French adventure gamer who couldn't speak English was strictly limited to a few games. I couldn't understand all the Sierra Classics that were never translated and I wouldn't discover the Lucasarts masterpieces until Day of the Tentacle a few years later. In consequence, my first forays into the adventure genre was with Delphine Software Games (Future Wars, Operation Stealth...) and Coktel Vision. I have a lot of great memories of Inca, Ween and Lost in Time, and I've spent a fair amount of time playing Bargon Attack as 11-year old me. That’s why I’m really pleased to be able to play it again (and hopefully complete it, which I was unable to do at the time) as my first article on the blog. Let’s try and save French video gaming reputation!

French video gaming attack

Monday 28 November 2016

Missed Classic: Dungeon - And Another Thing… (Plus Final Rating)

Written by Joe Pranevich

Last week, I completed the adventure game marathon that is the original Zork. Of all the games that I have played here, this is the one that I feel proudest for winning. I have wanted to play and beat this game for years; thank you for giving me the opportunity to share it with you. I will get to the final rating shortly, but if you have been reading the comments then you know I have one remaining piece of unfinished business: the alternate versions.

Throughout my coverage, I have been aware that Voltgloss and others have been playing a different version of the game than I am. I was attracted by the “Dungeon” version because it was the one that I discovered for Linux many years ago and, as far as I knew, it was the only one. In this, I have betrayed my age because an alternate version of Zork has been available since 2004. I have a better idea now how these variants fit together and just won the other major contender for the “definitive” version. None of this affects the score so if you want to get right to that part, just scroll down.

Saturday 26 November 2016

Game 78: Frederik Pohl’s Gateway - Introduction (1992)

Written by Reiko

Frederik Pohl's Gateway, our next game from Legend Entertainment, is naturally based on the 1977 book of the same name and author, the first installment of the Heechee saga. Trickster covered the book last year on his short-lived Retrosmack blog, so I won't go into much detail about that here. Besides, while the game takes its setting from the book, the plot diverges quite a lot, and even the PC is somewhat different despite being supposedly the same person as the book's protagonist. The book seems to be much more character-driven, but the game focuses more on the setting and plot. You don't need to know anything about the book to play the game, because it's quite a rich setting, capable of supporting a lot of different stories. Apparently Syfy is going to adapt the book into some kind of TV show, too.

Thursday 24 November 2016

Star Trek - Lost! (For Now)

Written by Joe Pranevich

A long winded introduction!

Last week, we rounded out the fifth episode of the game by saving an Aztec god from certain death at the hands of a Klingon tribunal. Star Trek can be wonderfully strange sometimes! We’ve had fun, but this week we will draw the saga to a close. As you can see from the title, I was not as successful as I hoped. I hate to not stick the landing, but I’ll keep working at it until the Final Rating is posted. Those of you that have played this game before (or read the comments) will have a good idea of what I’m stuck on, but we’ll get there in just a moment.

On to the matter at hand: Starfleet has contacted the Enterprise with a sensitive mission. A pre-warp world around Alpha Proxima may be in trouble. An asteroid (comet?) on an elliptical orbit will be approaching the planet soon and the Federation’s monitoring satellite have detected something suspicious. We have to go there, figure out what’s wrong, and fix it without alerting the natives. Sounds like fun!

Wednesday 23 November 2016

Missed Classic: Dungeon - Won!

Written by Joe Pranevich

There are no pumpkins in this game.

Happy (Early) Thanksgiving! This week, I am thankful that both of the games I am playing are coming to a well-deserved end. We’ll talk about Dungeon today and I’ll close out the rest of Star Trek later in the week. As I ended last time, I had finally scored the maximum of 585 points and was visited by a wraith who opened the way to the Implementer’s Crypt. I have heard a lot about the famous Zork “endgame”, but I know nothing about it. I come to this point beautifully unspoiled. It is exciting! My score has now reset to 5 of 100 endgame points. I have a long way to go...

Inside the crypt, I find nothing: no corpses, grave goods, or anything else. The walls say “feel free” on them, but no amount of feeling seems to help. I’m so at a loss to what to do next, I even kill myself with the suicide knife. That thankfully is too dark of a place for this game to go. Should I fill the crypt with grave goods as an offering to the “gods”? I fetch the grail and coffin but they do not do anything obvious. I can close the crypt door, but nothing happens. What am I missing?

Sunday 20 November 2016

Hugo III: Jungle of Doom - Final Rating

By Deimar

And for the last time we are here, rating a Hugo game. At this point it seems a bit unfair. When Hugo I was released Sierra was still doing games with the first version of their SCI engine, still using a text parser. Graphically, those games were already squeezing all of the EGA’s power and there were some even prettier coming from competitors, especially from Lucasarts. In spite of all that, Hugo’s House of Horrors could be considered a product of the time. Not something spectacular, but at least not that much different from other games in that or previous years. By this point however, and even in spite of the graphic improvements, Hugo III seems totally out of time for 1992. The idea of this blog has never been to judge the games by their peers in their time period, but to look at them from the perspective of 30 years of graphic adventures. However, I wanted to point out that in spite of the low score I am sure I will give this game, I think there are signs of improvement from David Gray and that the effort put into it might be hidden between what came in 1991 and what is coming in 1992. Although it will probably still be the worst game of the year, let’s be honest.

I am sure something similar happened to Amelia Earhart...

Friday 18 November 2016

Star Trek - Walk Like an Aztec

Written by Joe Pranevich


It’s time for more Star Trek! Last week, we defeated the con artist Harry Mudd and arranged a reunion between him and his erstwhile wife as a parting gift. It was a fun mini-adventure even if it had some bugs and plot hiccups. At this point, all of our adventures have been standalone and that is fine, but I was hoping for some connecting thread or hints of an overarching plot. Thus far, the only recurring element has been the Elasi pirates, a group created for this game. We have a few episodes left so we’ll see what happens.

This episode breaks the mold by starting with a Captain’s Log rather than a message from an admiral. Federation intelligence is concerned about a military buildup near Hrakkour, a system on the edge of Klingon space. The Klingons are searching for a renegade, but we do not know what he did to deserve such a search party. Sensors have detected a faint trail leading to Zamphor in the Digifal system on the Federation side of the border and we are ordered to investigate. If we do not discover what happened and de-escalate the situation, there could be war.

Wednesday 16 November 2016

Missed Classic: Dungeon - Joe Versus the Volcano

Written by Joe Pranevich

So close and yet so far away.

Two weeks ago, I gave up. After finding my twenty-fifth treasure hidden in the middle of a sliding block puzzle, I could go no further. I was blocked by a mass of ice, a volcano that I could see but not touch, and by evil spirits that haunted the graves of former programmers. I still had a suicide knife, a bomb, and half a dozen other items with no known use, but I was out of ideas and had to turn to the blog for help. Fortunately, you all came through for me and I’ve been able to make progress.

Just before I jump in however, I want to discuss an aspect that I forgot to bring up last time: ASCII illustration. We had seen a couple of very simple ASCII graphics earlier in the game, plus the engravings on the giant well, but the game transitioned to simple ASCII graphics for room descriptions during the Royal Puzzle Museum section. Once inside the puzzle, room descriptions were replaced by a simple ASCII representation of our surroundings: a 3x3 grid of the local area with “S” and “M” for sandstone and marble walls. It’s all very simple, but it was a great touch and made a difficult section quite a bit easier. Sorry I forgot about it last time!

Saturday 12 November 2016

Hugo III - Won! (with a little cheat)

By Deimar

Hugo Journal Entry #2 "I just had a most strange dream. Penelope and I fell off our plane and she was bitten by a spider. I got to explore a jungle with elephants, piranhas, evil spirits, witch doctors… The dream ended with me looking at a mysterious crystal ball where I saw myself getting into the plane. Isn’t it strange?. Penelope doesn’t find it that fascinating. She has spent the last hour or so just complaining about me losing our direction. What a girl! She just doesn’t seem to understand how incredible my dream was. And now she just won’t stop screaming. And only because our plane is falling into a jungle. I really hope she appreciates the irony. In any case, I think it is time to stop writing and brace for impact... ”

Back to square one, but with a lot more knowledge. So once again Penelope gets bitten and once again we are set to save her. And once again I go to plane screen, only this time I type “get in plane” and voilá. A nice close-up and everything I need to solve this game is shown. Including: Some clay (why are Hugo and Penelope carrying some clay in the plane and why wouldn’t Hugo be able to take some from the jungle is a mystery we may never solve); a sandwich; some bouillon cubes; some pins and a water flask. These guys do travel light.

At least the close-up is pretty. Not pretty enough to save this “look into plane won’t work” issue, but it is something

Thursday 10 November 2016

Star Trek - His Name Is Mudd

Written by Joe Pranevich

Harry Mudd!

Last week, we conquered another episode in the saga that is Star Trek: 25th Anniversary. Thus far, we’ve rescued Federation colonists from fake-demons, saved a hijacked vessel from space pirates, and prevented a genocidal war with the Romulans. I am having a ton of fun so far, even as the interface and puzzles are clunkier than I was expecting. The game loves its source material and as a Star Trek fan I appreciate all of the little details they are getting right. Would a non-fan like the game as much? I don’t know. It’s a wonderful anniversary tribute so far.

This episode begins with Kirk receiving orders to travel to the Harlequin system to rescue a scout ship being harassed by Elasi pirates. I knew they would be back! The library computer tells me the system is a war zone with two inhabited planets, one Elasi-controlled and one Federation-controlled. We head there and provide just enough distraction to enable the scout ship to warp away but that leaves two attackers closing in on the Enterprise. It’s time for the obligatory combat sequence!

Tuesday 8 November 2016

Discussion Point: What Adventure Game Would Best Lure Your Friends Into the Genre?

By the TAG Team

There are times when our reviewers just have so much other commitments to deal with that they cannot make their posts on time. It just so happens that affairs of the most important nature have just delayed both our current reviewers.

We are not saying it has something to do with the American politics.
We are definitely not implying that 'Deimar' and 'Joe Pranevich'
 are just nom de plumes of certain otherwise famous persons.
We are also not denying it.

Sunday 6 November 2016

Future Classic: Snare (1997)

By Ilmari

Attention all Federation citizens! You have been duped!

In the last few weeks, you’ve been led to believe that the face of the Federation is benevolent and enlightened, a paradise based on the inalienable rights of all sentient beings.

Federation propaganda at its worst

These were all lies, which you have been made to believe with the careful administration of docility and gullibility inducing tranquilizers in the water system. In truth, the real face of Federation is far more ruthless...

Friday 4 November 2016

Hugo III - Welcome to the Jungle

By Deimar

Hugo Journal Entry #1: "So much for going home. Penelope and I just got stranded somewhere in a jungle. No idea where, as there are no jungles between England and the US. That storm must have really messed with our plane instruments, so we could be anywhere in South America, Asia or even another planet. Penelope says it wouldn’t be the first time one of us is in another planet actually. In any case, we are now in the middle of nowhere. Penelope has gone exploring while I change into my jungle suit. Yes, I don’t know why I was wearing a jungle suit. A present from uncle Horace? Wait… is that Penelope shouting? I guess I will check as soon as I’m finished with my change of clothes and writing this diary"

So, when we first take control of Hugo we have Penelope poisoned lying on the ground and a native telling me to go to the left as there is not much time left and that I have to find some magic water in a secret garden behind a waterfall. Sounds interesting, too bad I am not one to hurry and that there was something fishy with the urgency, so I decided to exit the screen to the right to find the place where the plane crashed. Sadly, I was unable to find anything there even after looking into the plane. Feeling a bit more foolish, I decided to take the girl’s advice and go left.

Yes. That is in fact a bare breast. Not so kid friendly after all.

Wednesday 2 November 2016

Missed Classic: Dungeon - Gold Carded (Request for Assistance)

Written by Joe Pranevich

Pushing against the wall. Literally.

Welcome back! Last week, I became a “Winner!” in Dungeon, at least according to the score, but am not quite at the end yet. I have played for more than 24 hours and suspect that I could give it a fair rating, but a victory seems hollow while there are still puzzles to solve and a mysterious “endgame” to find. I’m pumped! Unfortunately, I’m also pretty stuck. This post will bring you up to speed on the final puzzle that I managed to solve, where I am with several puzzles that I have not, and request your assistance for how I move forward. I hope I need only a nudge or two to drive this first game in my marathon to its conclusion.

As soon as I got my “winning” score last week, I searched all of the map again to see if any new areas had opened up. I vaguely remember that something did when I beat Zork I two decades ago, but I do not recall where and I have no idea if Dungeon bases that off the score or the number of treasures in the case. In the end, I gave up and looked at the various puzzles that I had left. I suspected that there was treasure in the dead-end pit room after the Thief’s den, if only because he told us that there was none. Last time, I became trapped and had to restore, but this time I thought of something new: pushing the wall. It gave way and opened up a brand new area!

Monday 31 October 2016

Star Trek - Better Living Through Chemistry

Written by Joe Pranevich


Happy Halloween! Last episode, we defeated a group of space pirates that had seized a Federation ship. So far, the game appears to have a set pattern as both missions started with a space battle before segueing into a traditional adventure. No items were kept between episodes; they seem standalone so far. I am frustrated that this is my second episodic game in a row, but I can appreciate some designers may prefer that route. This game forces us to play the episodes in order so I still hope that there will be plot progression.

An admiral delivers our orders: Romulans have raided across the neutral zone to attack a station, ARK-7. Our job is to defuse the situation. A planet, then a ship, and now a station? At least we are getting a variety of locations! I find our destination in the copy protection map and emerge from warp to be greeted by a de-cloaking Romulan ship. The captain claims that the Federation is engaging in treachery and that they know of our plans. What plans? Before I can ask, they attack and the episode begins!

Friday 28 October 2016

Game 76: Hugo III: Jungle of Doom - Introduction

Written by Deimar

First, they took his girlfriend and put her behind bars guarded by a genie and a man with a passion for obscure 50’s TV series. Then, he fell unconscious and his girlfriend had to wander around a stupidly large garden, a planet with killer robot and a man with a scarf and a mansion full of very suspicious people just to discover there never was anything to discover. Now the troubled couple is back for their final chapter. With a vengeance. May I present to you… Hugo III: Jungle of Doom!!

Adventure!! Cliches!! A three-headed monkey!! Come and see! Come and see!

Wednesday 26 October 2016

Missed Classic: Dungeon - Go Ask Alice

Written by Joe Pranevich

I think she’ll know.

Last week, we crossed the halfway mark in Dungeon by returning sixteen treasures to the trophy case. We whitewater rafted, smooshed a piece of coal into a diamond, dug for buried treasure, and even drained a reservoir to discover long-hidden pirate booty. More importantly, we’ve also explored the whole world of Dungeon: there are no more areas except those blocked by puzzles. Every exit on my map has been followed and documented! To progress deeper into the maze, I have to invest some time into solving the remaining puzzles. Last week also reminded me that I can’t get complacent: we found stacks of money in the Bank of Zork, an area that I was sure I conquered on the first day. There could be more treasures hidden in areas that already “solved”.

I am also reaching a point in the game where I am solving the puzzles more slowly and with more frustration. This post accounts for more than ten hours of playtime, almost as much as the previous three combined. I made some good progress (with one “Google accident”, more on that in a bit), but I might soon be reaching the end of what I can accomplish without help. Another theme this week is “parser weirdness”-- I may be exiting the polished portion of the game as nearly every solution involved some butchering of the English language. This week, my adventure started in Hell...

Monday 24 October 2016

Discussion Point: The Best Introduction to an Adventure Game

by The TAG Team

We're going to try something a little different now – The Discussion Point.

It's pretty straightforward – we throw out a topic we'd like to hear people's opinions about and then we all discuss.

Today’s topic:
The Best Introduction to an Adventure Game

What do you think is the best introduction to an adventure game? Is there an introduction or starting area that impacted you so much you can still remember it in detail years after playing it?

Do you prefer a the intrigue of a cutscene showing the potential health risks of an old man throwing a cloth hat across a room?

Or perhaps getting straight into investigation mode by determining an employee's future after asking a single question?

Saturday 22 October 2016

Mixed Up Fairy Tales - Final Rating

Written by Aperama

Mixed Up Fairy Tales is a game I had quite a bit of fun with. Admittedly, I did augment my experience somewhat by using it as an introduction for my far-too young daughter to watch an adventure game being played, but that's not to say I couldn't have had fun with it solo. The issue with the game, even if I'm to ignore the fact that it was designed for a younger audience and the other things that will doubtlessly be explored in the actual rating, was the way it was designed for 'classroom' play. This is to say that I feel the relatively simple design may have had a double purpose (and I invite Corey to dispute or confirm as necessary). If you have a game that really has lots of finicky interactions, you're going to have a single player hogging the computer for a huge degree of time. Sure, there's still the definite sense of exploration in this game, but there's always the option to go back to Bookwyrm for puzzle solutions and there's never a puzzle that requires more than one item to solve. Whilst this would no doubt infuriate a veteran adventure gamer in their twenties who spent large amounts on this game (I tried to get an RRP for its release but couldn't find one), it'd be considered a boon to a game that an entire classroom of youths would want to get through. This before they were giving iPads to individual kids as they started school, anyhow.

The game design lends itself to being played by lots of different people, not so much the same person/family over and over again

Thursday 20 October 2016

Star Trek - Pirates of the Federation

Written by Joe Pranevich

Space pirates!

In our last episode, Captain Kirk and his crew saved a group of colonists from shape-changing robots guarding an ancient sleeping race. It was a fun adventure even though the space combat was tricky on modern laptops and I struggled with the eclipse puzzle. As the curtain closes on that episode, it’s time start another: “Hijacked!”

The story opens as usual with an assignment from Starfleet: the USS Masada failed to report in as scheduled. We are to travel to the Beta Myamid system, investigate the delay, and take whatever actions we deem necessary. It seems like another rescue mission, but this time we are looking for a ship. Once in the system (after passing the requisite copy protection), we are greeted by an “Elasi” captain. He’s a surly sort and tells us that we have to leave immediately because we are interfering with their affairs. Moments later, he arms weapons and raises shields; we have no choice but to fight.

Tuesday 18 October 2016

Mixed Up Fairy Tales - Malia in Wonderland (Won!)

Written by Aperama

I know – one play post and we're already to the end. This is not a typo or a trick. Unfortunately, the truth is that this game is simply.. well, simple. It's not like I didn't enjoy it! I enjoyed reading Game of Thrones, but I don't need every novel to go several hundred pages. That said, I can't really pad it further I feel. Outside perhaps of giving more detailed synopses of the stories contained than the games actually give, as they're all told from the first person of an outsider in-game? This makes it far more interactive to a player, yet does remove certain intricacies that we can gain from having either multiple points of view or a tale being told from afar. When you're the one getting the magic beans, unless there's something noteworthy which happens during the journey to do so, there's really not a lot to say about Jack's quest up the beanstalk. Why? Because Jack is still the one climbing, not the player. King's Quest 1 takes the opposite approach, knocking out Jack and putting you in his shoes, where this is very much about the story of origin first.

Sunday 16 October 2016

Missed Classic: Dungeon - Frigid River Rafting

Written by Joe Pranevich


Last week, I deepened my descent into the Great Underground Empire and returned ten treasures to the trophy case. I defeated a troll, was trounced by a cyclops, and was killed by magic cutlery. I was stumped by a wall of ice and a giant’s well. I even saw a vampire bat hold its nose to keep away the smell of garlic. It’s been an experience but judging from my map and score, I barely scratched the surface.

Although the game is huge, there does not yet seem to be a lot of logical progression. Why is the Bank of Zork connected to an artist’s studio? Why is a coal mine tucked behind a magic mirror? As I fill in more of the map, I hope to get a better sense of the internal geography but for now I will continue to describe discrete regions as I find them. As before, I will simplify my narrative a bit. While I will describe the puzzles that I solved in order, I switched back and forth constantly between areas as I searched for solutions. I hope I have struck a good balance between step-by-step narration and readability.

I ended last post just after locating an air pump to go with my inflatable raft. It’s time to pack my camping gear and explore the Frigid River!

Friday 14 October 2016

Star Trek - The Devil Went Down to Pollux V

Written by Joe Pranevich

Star Trekkin’ across the universe...

“Space… the final frontier…” Star Trek: 25th Anniversary begins exactly where it should: with the famous introductory lines and a computer version of the opening theme. It’s a nice way to get us in the Star Trek mindset. The game itself opens on the bridge of the Enterprise just as Captain Kirk receives orders to participate in a readiness drill. Captain Patterson and the USS Republic are here to engage with us with mock combat. Uhura receives a message that our opponent is in position. Spock suggests that we raise our shields and arm our weapons. The game is on!

Or… it would be if I knew how to do either of these things. We start in a ship-to-ship combat mode and moving the mouse steers rather than allowing me to talk to any of my bridge crew and ask them to get ready for the battle. I pause the game and look through the manual. As I alluded to last week, there are a lot of keyboard shortcuts. In this case, we have to press “S” to raise shields and then “W” to arm the weapons. It’s a good thing this is a training fight because a firefight is not the right time to be learning the controls...

Wednesday 12 October 2016

What's Your Story - MrValdez

Answers: MrValdez
Introduction and captions: Ilmari

It's been a while, since we've had a chance to get to know our community members, so it's time to do that right now. You might have noticed that MrValdez was kind enough to donate a prize for our Star Trek playthrough - and you might soon find out a perfect reason for that. Yet, he has been of assistance to the blog even earlier and you probably see his handiwork every time you start to read a new post. What are the first words you'll see? "Written by..." Yes, it was MrValdez who suggested adding the author to the beginning of the post, when the blog was transferred from Trickster to community!

Now that's a cool hat!

Monday 10 October 2016

Mixed Up Fairy Tales - Book 'em, Wyrm-o

written by Aperama

A rooster gives my first impressions of the game

It's fair to say that there really hasn't been another game quite like this on the blog as yet. It's not as though I consider it a bad game – hell, I am fairly sure that I would have far preferred it to the 'Wheel of Fortune' clones et al that littered my school computers before my brother managed to trick the school staff into using our copy of Monkey Island on them (er, not that this happened naturally because piracy is bad) but in truth, all of the other games we've reviewed aimed at an 'easier playthrough' or a 'younger audience' really aren't quite on the same level as this one. This game is very much a First Steps to Adventure-styled title, not something that really offers much for an older audience. Amongst the things which simplify it are a system with no real inventory (the panel for inventory says 'your hands are empty' but the only things I have been able to 'hold' have actually been people/animals following me), lots of big text, big sprites that really show everything off in the game openly – you see a frog and using the hand icon on the frog makes it jump, for instance – I will not say using the 'do' icon on the frog, as that is just a bit frightening – meaning that where there have been other titles that perhaps lean upon the 'edutainment' side of things.. we're really into a game that is more an 'experience' than it is a game with puzzles that culminate together to a pleasant outcome. That said, I've been playing it with my toddler on my lap / narrating it throughout, and that feels like a happy medium – she's very much interested in the graphics and music and enjoys the attention of having something read to her like a 'story book'.

Thursday 6 October 2016

Missed Classic: Dungeon - Beyond the Troll

Written by Joe Pranevich

When we left off last week, I had just explored the opening areas of Dungeon (a forest, an artist’s studio, and a bank) and had come across an enemy that served as a sort-of gatekeeper for the rest of the labyrinth: a troll. I was able to defeat him with some handy swordplay and emerged into the rest of the Great Underground Empire.

Unfortunately, here is where my straightforward narrative breaks down. The Empire is-- as I just rediscovered-- huge. To cover the ground that I did in this post, I had to backtrack a great deal as I poked at each puzzle in turn to try to find the ones that I could solve and the ones that I needed to put off for later. The best way that I can express this is that Dungeon is an “open world” adventure game with a ton of different areas that opened up at once. To make this easier to follow, I will break up the narrative as best I can by region. I’m really “solving” these in parallel, but I don’t need to bore you with page after page of trying out false leads and then restoring. But first, we need to talk about combat!

Tuesday 4 October 2016

Game 75: Star Trek: 25th Anniversary - Introduction (1992)

Written by Joe Pranevich

Adventure games… the final frontier...

It’s a wonderful coincidence that we are about to play this game, produced in honor of Star Trek’s 25th anniversary, shortly after that show’s 50th. I am thrilled to be able to play it for the blog! Star Trek has been a part of my life almost as long as I can remember. I watched the original show with my father as a kid, young enough that I would hide before the credits so that I did not have to see the “scary” face at the end. As a nine-year old, I debated the merits of the “old” and “new” Star Trek with my friends shortly after The Next Generation took the airwaves. As I grew up and the world became a more complicated place, Deep Space Nine infused that vision of the future with just enough darkness and complexity that I was hooked. By the Voyager finale, I was in the workforce and watched it surrounded by my friends and coworkers. Enterprise debuted on my birthday. It’s no exaggeration to say that Star Trek has been one of the yardsticks of my youth.

All that said, I had never even heard of this game before getting involved with the blog. I was aware of the Nintendo version, but I suspect that Paramount did themselves a disservice by releasing three different games with the same name. More on that in a bit, but the important thing is that I am coming into this fresh and excited. Did they build a fitting game to honor the silver anniversary of this beloved franchise?

Sunday 2 October 2016

Game 74: Mixed Up Fairy Tales - Introduction (1992)

written by Aperama

Mixed Up Fairy Tales is a Sierra game, so it's as good a place as any for us to start 1992 as any! That said, it's definitely not the game that most would associate with 1992. In fact, I'd not actually realised that I was signing up for Mixed Up Fairy Tales, a Lori Ann Cole designed venture programmed by (what I affectionately think of as) our own Corey Cole, but had rather expected it to be Mixed Up Mother Goose. Bizarrely, Mixed Up Mother Goose never actually hit The Adventure Gamer in spite of being almost Accepted and was really the initial reason Trickster introduced the term 'borderline'. At the time, Zenic, Canageek and Ilmari were all pretty dubious and Zenic even went so far as to suggest that 'when one of Trickster's kids grow up, they can play Mixed Up Mother Goose and give it a simple thumbs up or thumbs down'. We're now into the land beyond Trickster, where Mixed Up Mother Goose could have just as easily have been played by an infant and reviewed summarily. Fortunately, I happen to have one handy – my daughter is now 9 months old! We all know kids are growing up faster these days with tablets and smart phones, so it's clear she's more or less ready. (I'll possibly do the writeup, and the actual use of the mouse, and the play decisions, but she will hold executive veto of blabbing and loud noises.)

Friday 30 September 2016

The Year That Was… 1991

By The TAG Team

1991... the year of quality entertainment and quality games!

After a more quiet year, Sierra came back with a vengeance. Space Quest, Police Quest, Leisure Suit Larry and Conquest -series all got new sequels, Space Quest 1 and Larry 1 were remade with better graphics, and completely new games, like Castle of Dr. Brain and EcoQuest were published. If you also count the games Dynamix made (Heart of China and Willy Beamish), the total rises to ten games, which is almost half of the adventure games that made it to our official gaming list. Of course, not all of these games were flawless, but even at their worst (Larry 5 and Police Quest 3) Sierra games had their moments and at their best (Space Quest 4 and Conquests of Longbow) they were unforgettable classics. Compared to Sierra, Lucasfilm again published only one game (Lechuck’s Revenge), but as could be expected, it was almost pure gold.

Wednesday 28 September 2016

Consulting Detective - Alternate Versions

Written by Voltgloss & Joe Pranevich

Although we closed up Consulting Detective with a Final Rating last week, there is still a bit more to the story. In its publication life, the Consulting Detective games have been released in four distinct forms: the 1981-1995 pen-and-paper original game by Sleuth Publications, the 1991-1993 computer versions by ICOM, the 2012 remaster of that version by Zojoi, and a 2012/2015 (French/English) update of the classic game by Ystari Publications. We’ve now spent eight weeks covering the ICOM version of the game, but it’s worth a look at the others to see how they stack up. The Zojoi games may be played on this blog at some distant future date, but it will be a very long time before we get to contemporary adventure gaming history.

Joining me in this retrospective is Voltgloss who has been kind enough to take an in-depth look at the new Ystari Publications version of the game, as well as provide some details for the pen-and-paper game in general. The Ystari version features a number of plot changes from the cases that we played and he has patiently documented those in detail. If you intend to play any of these three Ystari cases, we will be dealing in spoilers for those games, but I will put up a spoiler warning when the time comes.