Monday 29 February 2016

New Poll: Should we change our colours?

By TAG Team

When the photographer was gone, Suzie quickly jumped from Java to adventure gaming

A regular reader has asked us whether we could change our background colour to white, because apparently the black background of The Adventure Gamer has resulted in some queer looks from employers of the reader. As we did not feel we should do any major changes for the blog design just for the sake of one delinquent procrastinating at work, we decided to ask the opinion of all our readers: do you like the current colours of the blog or would you like to see them changed?

Sunday 28 February 2016

Game 67: Maupiti Island (1991) - Introduction

By Ilmari

The game has nothing to do with the island in this map.
The real Maupiti is in Polynesia, the one in game in Indian Ocean.

No, French games have definitely not thrilled us. We have had games with perhaps too original ideas (Captain Blood), games that have looked superficially great, but had poor game mechanics (B.A.T.) and games that should be thrown straight away to some deep cavern, where they can bother no living beings (Emmanuelle). And then there was Mortville Manor.

Reading through Trickster’s playthrough of the game was quite interesting. It appears that translation to English was, as always with these French games, a major problem - it was truly impossible to decipher what the plot was all about.

Friday 26 February 2016

Conquests of the Longbow – Won! (Plus a Surprise)

Written by Alex

Well, I did it. I have conquered Conquests of the Longbow. And for the first time in a while since I started blogging here, I enjoyed every minute of this game. My only gripe is that I wish it were longer: There were three more game days since my last post, but they came and went quickly. But at least they were consequential and chockablock with action. I’ll go through each day in a similarly swift manner.

But before I do, I want to underscore again how much this game does right. I don’t think we’ve such a game so well-constructed since The Secret of Monkey Island, although one could make a strong case for Quest for Glory II: Trial by Fire. In any event, we’ll get to all of that in the forthcoming final rating post, although given the tenor of my posts it’s not surprising that Longbow will likely land near the top of the PISSED scale.

And finally, please read this post to the end because, in the grand tradition of the Adventure Gamer blog, I have a cool surprise for everybody.

Wednesday 24 February 2016

Les Manley in: Lost in L.A. - Won!*

written by Aperama

… It was like my memory had been erased. I walked away for a while – it was the only way I could see the forest for the jungle. I forgot where I'd installed the game to. It was like the game wanted me to forget that it had ever been played. Could a game really have that sort of power? It had been a week.. no, a week and a half? Two? Even the calendars didn't make any sense any more. Why would someone dip a weenie in green tapioca? Every time I tried to recall what had actually happened in it, it was like I couldn't help but fall down another well of memories. It was thankful I was keeping notes. It.. It was just all terrible. The game was about missing 'celebrities', only even though they referenced some real people, they just had horrible models take some obvious homages to real people. I was willing to say that the game had just been made so that the developers could spend some time with the models they'd hired for their 'acting talents' at first, but then I found it – it seemed something more sinister. What if the 'celebrities' were actually the code for the long lost Larry game? The only way its hypnotising effect could be explained seemed like it must have been because the game wasn't really a game. It was something else.. mind control? I had all of the questions, but none of the answers. I was going to have to look deeper.. into the game...

Where we last left off! Well, sort of..

So, here's the thing. I've played this game before. I kinda remembered it as 'innocuous' – annoying at points but at least not grating in its length or puzzle idiocy. That said, I think I could well be remembering things a touch too kindly – it's as though the subconscious part of my mind kept all of the terrible puzzles in mind, ergo remembering to scrape pigeon droppings off of a windshield. Cause a significant planetary event by reading a paper. I'd like to say that I don't remember anything else, but maybe it'll come to me when I see the screen – who's to say? The game is at least kindly enough to not allow you to dead end yourself for particularly long.. but that also means I've found a dead end in this section of play. It didn't take long, but it was a huge exposition dump, and I also didn't want to be playing any more – so you get a summary of what I've done up to this point. If this were a conventional adventure game, this would likely mean that I'd be at the 'meat of the quest' by now – I'd have had some sort of trial or ordeal to overcome, and now have a good idea of what the game was really about. Oh, I know what the game's about, alright...

Monday 22 February 2016

Missed Classic 20: The Hobbit (1982) - Introduction

Written by Joe Pranevich

Smaug looms large in the Hobbit.

“In a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit.” With those words in 1937, J. R. R. Tolkien launched a fantasy series that arguably changed the face of genre fiction for all time. Bilbo Baggins, the titular “hobbit” (or halfling) is joined by a wizard and some dwarves to travel across the land, through caves and forests, to defeat a dragon and claim its treasure. Along the way he meets the sage elf Elrond and his hidden valley, lunches with a were-bear named Beorn, catches a ride on some eagles, and plays a riddle game on a hidden lakeshore deep underground. It’s a fantastic book, one of the first novels that I can remember falling in love with as a child. Tolkien followed up his children’s novel with a more mature and intricate sequel trilogy, The Lord of the Rings, between 1954 and 1955. In the years after his death, the Tolkien estate have released two further novels, The Silmarillion (1977) and The Children of Húrin (2007), short stories and poetry, as well as drafts and unfinished portions of yet more stories. The Hobbit itself was adapted into an animated film in 1977 and then, against all common-sense, made into a trilogy of films by Peter Jackson between 2012 and 2014. While some might argue that you should not transform a 293-page children’s novel into nearly eight hours of film, the movies collected nearly three billion dollars at the box office. How can you argue with that? Even if you believe that modern fantasy would exist even without Tolkien, you have to admit one thing: he changed the plural of dwarf from “dwarfs” to “dwarves”. No kidding.

Saturday 20 February 2016

Conquests of the Longbow – Burn the Witch

Written by Alex

Conquests of the Longbow does so much right, it’s difficult to pick out only one thing to discuss for each post. But one global thing I appreciate about this game is the attention to detail. Everything—each puzzle, character, inventory object, and potential player action—seems as though it has been thought through and extensively tested. Nearly every character has something unique to say about each situation, inventory object, or even disguise Robin is wearing, and these responses change as the game progresses. Further, although there really is a “best” solution for each puzzle, I appreciate the element of choice and alternate solutions, even though some are illusory. This detail creates a rich world that seems alive instead of a static backdrop for the player’s pointless clicking and brute-force puzzle “solutions.” The more I play Longbow, the more I believe it will rank rather high on the PISSED scale. Adventure game designers could learn many things from Ms. Marx and company.

Thursday 18 February 2016

Les Manley in: Lost in L.A. - Boyz Are Back in Town

written by Aperama

… It was easily the longest five hours of my life. Laffer just kept rabbiting on about all of his adventures – playing cards with medieval Kings. Bringing joy to Windows 95 desktop computing. He was so sure that this 'fourth game' was integral to his future well being. It all stacked up in his head – the game, the movie deal, his spiral into decadence. Something about a cousin going to college. The first 'Les Manley' game was like gold to copyright lawyers. It reused so many assets that it was like a hidden Limbo of the Lost. It even had his face from one of his earlier games – which it came out just after, enough to leave that true question. Could this truly be 'The Lost Floppies'? I had to boot up the game to find out. Well, actually, I had to find a PC/Mac/Tandy equivalent that would run it. It was just enough to throw me off of the trail for a few days. I'd managed to get far enough to discover that the Williams duo weren't involved. Nobody from Andromeda – and the name 'Lowe' wasn't even featured once. Were they just using pseudonyms to cover up how bad things looked? I was so close to the story it was like standing on the edge of a cliff. I just didn't know whether the cliff led to some sweet Weenie World – or whether it was a cataclysm that led me straight to biting the green one...

Where we last left off...

It is really difficult to properly give an indication of what this game is actually like. The music is dreadful. The dialogue can only be run through once, so if you miss something and don't know what's going on? Bam. Reload. I solved a puzzle but decided to try some different tact? Dead end. Bam. No more. I thought that this game didn't actually have any dead ends to its credit, but I was sadly mistaken – thankfully, I'm saving like it's going out of fashion. There's very little actual 'problem solving' involved in what I'm doing – it's all about finding an issue and brute forcing until the game will allow it through. All of the false leads that the game gives (which are few at best) collapse so quickly that you're virtually railroaded down the one path which will actually work. So, to check, we last left needing to gain access to police records (via Blade/Peacechild, who needs a phone jack and a computer before he'll be of any help I'm thinking, even though it doesn't actually let us talk to him about these things), to find Helmut in general (which is kinda a given), to get to the big party going on over at Dr. Nick, Plastic Surgeon to the Stars™ and to get.. money. Y'know. For a hotel room. For a phone jack. Because that's how these things work. The photo booth place I was about to check out has a hippy-themed lady who refuses to do her job because there's 'negative vibes' – and she's out of film.

Tuesday 16 February 2016

Missed Classic 19: The Witness (1983)

By Ilmari

I was supposed to do only Deadline, but because I had couple of weeks to spend before beginning Maupiti Island, I just couldn’t miss the chance of playing another decent Infocom detective adventure.
What would you wish from the Golden Fish?
(If someone was expecting a Marilyn Manson song, sorry I don't listen him)

While with Sierra we are used to one line of adventures being developed by a more or less consistent set of creators (Space Quests by Two Guys in Andromeda, Police Quests by Jim Walls etc.), Infocom did it a bit differently. There was no one person behind all Zorks, but different authors or implementors got a chance to show their skills in developing yet another piece of the series.

Sunday 14 February 2016

Conquests of the Longbow – All’s Fair in Love and Archery

Written by Alex

I’ve discussed previously how the designers of Conquests of the Longbow do a great job in creating conflict in every scene. Another thing that they do is foreshadowing events to come. Every scene and just about every line of dialogue serves some purpose, whether it’s general plot-related information, introducing new game mechanics to the player, nudging Robin off in the right direction, or just setting up future events. And amazingly, so far it’s felt completely natural and not hackneyed: I haven’t found any puzzles in this game to be totally oblique, but I don’t feel like I’m being spoon-fed the solutions either. The impression I get is that, as long as you pay attention, you won’t be totally lost. This is not to say that there isn’t some silliness. There is, and while a lot of it helps reveal the different characters’ personalities (think the Merry Men’s banter), a lot of it is just there to make you smile, but it doesn’t feel out of place.

Friday 12 February 2016

Les Manley in: Lost in L.A. - Total Eclipse of Descartes

written by Aperama

… It was a dark, stormy night. Wasn't it always? People in my profession never got to do things in the sun. 'Laffer', he said his name was. 'Larry Laffer'. Turns out the little pipsqueak had a 'video game contract'. It was a really confusing mess – muddled like yesterday's peat moss. He'd spent his last game trying to work out what had happened in his life to get him to where he was – he had a happy life, the job he'd dreamed of, the body of while not a Grecian God, certainly 'a fairly fit person'. 'I was looking for my game, y'know, The Lost Floppies? I was searching, and then I ended up in a little place called Los Angeles. And that's when I saw him. He was like me, only without the cool duds?' His 'duds' were cool back when my Grandma was still dating. Before the War. The First one. 'Manley. Lester Manley. Y'see, he had a game that was all about fitness babes, and that's when I got to thinking – what had I been doing for the past year?' Fitness babes sure sound like my thing, y'know? He worked at a TV station, and in my last critically acclaimed game, I did...' I really didn't want to stare at his combover any more, but he just kept going...

Sorry if I clicked through things a bit fast to read – but without the clicking the video took over five minutes.. and the music was getting to me. For some reason, DosBOX lost it. You're not missing anything. At all.

Wednesday 10 February 2016

Free D.C.! - Many Happy Returns

By Ilmari

My fine fellow adventurers! I have today with me two guest stars, you have all learned to love in the previous weeks. Please say welcome to Avery Zedd and his trusted companion, Wattson, from the instant unhit and none-seller, Free AC!

I know, I always confuse the two currents

Monday 8 February 2016

Game 66: Les Manley in: Lost in L.A. (1991) - Introduction

Written by Aperama

I truly can't believe that they roped Boris Vallejo in!

Les Manley 2: Lost in LA. I can feel the shuddering from behind your screen as you read that we're about to play this. Why? Because the first one most likely drove The Trickster into an adventure game coma. Thankfully, I am something of an old hand at terrible games, so I feel more than confident that I'll be able to muddle my way through it (I played it once several years ago and don't think I needed a walkthrough, unlike Les Manley 1 where I was incapable of escaping the initial few screens due to my unwillingness to shovel dung.) There's one noted difference between the two games – in spite of the fact that it's a very similar bunch of developers who came back to wrack the brains and emotions of prospective players one more time: they're now on a point and click interface! Essentially, this means that in the absolute worst case it becomes a pixel hunting exercise, right? So you guys don't need to worry..

Saturday 6 February 2016

Conquests of the Longbow – What the Fulk?

Written by Alex

Ho-hum. Another day, another rescue. Much like day five’s jailbreak of the Widow’s three sons, day six finds Robin springing another unfortunate soul free from the brutal clutches of Prince John’s lackeys. But his day didn’t start with the intention to free anybody, oh, no. Robin Hood awoke with one thing on his mind: Maid Marian’s ladyparts. And in order to get to them, he needs to recover her hand scroll from the monks in the fens.

Wednesday 3 February 2016

Missed Classic 18: Winnie the Pooh in the Hundred Acre Wood (1985)

Written by Joe Pranevich

Or roughly 404,686 m2.

It seems a bit strange now, but there was a time thirty years ago when Al Lowe was famous not for his adult humor, but rather for his excellent children’s games. His first efforts as an independent programmer brought us Dragon’s Keep and Troll’s Tale, both in 1982. Sierra was very impressed by these games and not only bought the publication rights, but also hired Mr. Lowe to develop games for them. Over the following years, Lowe would come to create several more adventure games for children including Mickey’s Space Adventure (1984), Winnie the Pooh (1985), and The Black Cauldron (1986). One further game, Donald Duck’s Playground (1984), was primarily a collection of minigames implemented in an adventure game engine. Mr. Lowe’s successful career as a children’s game developer would come to an end in 1987 with the launch of his Leisure Suit Larry series. He would return to this genre roots only once more, Torin’s Passage in 1995. In a world with infinite time, I would love to play through Mr. Lowe’s back catalog as a series of Missed Classics, but perhaps that will come another day.

Monday 1 February 2016

Free D.C.! - Free For All

By Ilmari

Avery Zedd Journal #4: D.C. is saved from the clutches of evil robots! But I could not rest on my laurels and spend the rest of my life with my new lady friend, since I had a new foe to reckon with - a bigger and cuter and Frenchier! It was my solemn duty to destroy this new vermin from the face of the whole Earth. But wait, even they weren’t the real baddies, since something even bigger and comfier was out there! What was it? You’ll see if you join me in the next episode, Free Amazon!

You took the words right out of my mouth

Free D.C. has overstayed its welcome many times by now. My emotions have gone from “My God! Why does this thing still have to drag on and on! Let it stop already!” through brief “Finally, I am beginning to get somewhere!” to the final “That was it????? Did they hire some French person to invent the plot????”