Saturday 30 July 2016

Missed Classic: Robin of Sherwood: The Touchstones of Rhiannon - WON! with Final Rating

Written by Alex

It’s been a long time coming, but work and life have conspired to keep me away from this game, and anything resembling free time really, for the better part of a month. But I persevered and eventually finished The Touchstones of Rhiannon, thanks in no small part to our maestro Ilmari and some timely hints he provided when the parser got in my way. But we’ll get to that later.

As with the previous post, I’m going to go scene-by-scene instead of providing a linear narrative. The important things to remember are that I have one touchstone, 200 gold pieces, a quarterstaff, a longbow, a quiver full of arrows, the magical sword Albion, and a list-ful of quests.

Tuesday 26 July 2016

EcoQuest - Seagull and Dolphin

Written by Reiko

Adam Greene Journal #1: "The other kids here are so boring! I just wanna play with the dolphin and help my dad. These poor animals get trashed and it's up to us to fix them up! I love feeding the dolphin and playing frisbee with him to make him feel better. But today he started acting a little weird, and then he started TALKING! So cool! He wants me to let him out of here so he can go search for King Cetus in order to save his city. Should I let him out?"

Why would I want to go outside if I can work with a dolphin?

So I'm diving into the world of EcoQuest with Adam Greene, a spunky ten-year-old who loves the ocean and working with sea animals with his dad. When I start up the game, Adam is hanging out with his dad in their lab at a temporary research center for the "Ecology Network". Dad suggests Adam go play volleyball with some other kids, but Adam just wants to stay and help in the lab. Amusingly enough, the book that Adam's reading at the beginning is described as the hintbook for EcoQuest, but once the game starts, "Adam doesn't have time to look at the hint book. (Rats!)"

Saturday 23 July 2016

Elvira II - Final Rating

By Deimar

I don’t think you really know how happy I am of finally being able to click there...

And the second Elvira game, the third for Horrosoft, is in the can now. Finally, I might add. I was reviewing my opinions of Elvira I, as comparisons between them are inevitable, and I can say that it is better than this one.

I thought that the first one was a game that didn’t know if it was an adventure game or an RPG. The second one tends more to its RPG side, but it is simply not very interesting. The spell system is almost completely useless; there is no reward for exploration (beyond looking at more brown walls); at no point you feel like becoming more powerful; and there are no opportunities to really role-play you character. And all of that goes in detriment of its adventure side, which is roughly less than one third of the game. And although I really like how it is presented, I can also see the sacrifices made to integrate the RPG side.

Summing up, Elvira II feels a bit disjointed. It wants to be an RPG but it is not. Let’s see how this affects its PISSED rating.

Thursday 21 July 2016

Interview with Mike Woodroffe

Introduction by Joe Pranevich

Head of Adventure Soft, Horror Soft, and Adventure International UK

A couple of weeks back, we posted a call for questions for an interview with Mike Woodroffe. And while he hasn’t been able to answer all of our questions, he has been kind enough to give us a peek into the thought processes behind one of the most important adventure game companies in Europe, if not globally. Here on The Adventure Gamer, we’ve still only scratched the surface of his catalog, covering Seas of Blood (1984), Robin Of Sherwood (1984), Elvira (1990), and Elvira II (1991). I know of at least ten more adventures that he created or was heavily involved in, several of which are already on the list for us to play in the future. Almost two dozen more were games that he helped shepherd to market in his role as head of several adventure game companies. He has made a terrific impact on our genre and I’m glad that he agreed to take some time to speak with us.

So without any more fanfare, here is our brief interview with Mr. Woodroffe, plus some bonus information from my correspondence with him over the last several weeks.

Tuesday 19 July 2016

Heart of China - Curse of the Ninja!

Written by Aperama

First, I'd just like to apologise to everyone. I'm not going to make any real excuses or do anything more than just explain – ninjas attacked my computer. Oh, sure, it was a 'fixable' thing, but it was undoubtedly the work of black-clad people who broke into my house mid-way through the night. Smoke arose from my computer and it died – and we all know what ninjas do with smoke, after all. It's been so long since I got to talk about this game that you've probably all forgotten about it – so my apologies. Ninjas. What can you do?

Okay! I get the picture! Ninjas 'didn't' kill my computer! No problems, Sir!

Anyhow. For those who weren't paying attention last time around...

We even get a postcard!

I'm at a bit of an impasse which is rare for me in my time here on the Adventure Gamer – I had to stop because I didn't feel I'd be able to get enough information down in the space of a post, instead of wanting a break from the game. Heart of China is really quite fun! Dynamix is borderline amazing at managing to take a whole bunch of small things that really could irk (there are so many stereotyped characters and iffy dialogue spots that it would be out and out considered racist these days I feel) and still coming out with something that feels a bit more than the sum of its parts. Last I left the bunch of you, Lucky, Kate and Chi were all piled onto a plane and deciding whether they should try to rush back to Hong Kong and E.A. Lomax's safe arms.. or if, y'know, they should actually cure Kate of the poisonous cobra bite that was completely Lucky's fault.. or Chi's for not being willing to fight a cobra. Or even Li Deng's – why on Earth he thought 'surrounded by a pit of cobras' was a reasonable way of holding a hostage...

Sunday 17 July 2016

Game 72: EcoQuest: The Search for Cetus - Introduction (1991)

Written by Reiko

EcoQuest will be my first "normal" adventure game for the blog. Castle of Dr. Brain was a puzzle game primarily, and Timequest was a text adventure with a few graphics. But not only is EcoQuest intended to be an easy game, since there's no way to die or cause an unwinnable state, but it's also a game with an agenda: environmentalism. So maybe it's not such a normal game after all.

Friday 15 July 2016

Missed Classic 25: Dragon’s Keep (1982)

Written by Joe Pranevich

Is that dragon a sock puppet?

One of the things that I love about “Missed Classics” is that they give us a chance to dig into the history of the games that we love, by playing some of the classic games that inspired them. We can better understand trends, follow the career path of prominent designers, and tell the story of how our great games became great. I feel so much more prepared to talk about a game like Cruise for a Corpse or Sherlock Holmes (coming soon!) because we’ve looked at games like Mystery House, Witness, and The Colonel’s Bequest. I also have a vaguely OCD-need to be a completist, but at least (I hope!) it’s an interesting trip.

That brings us to today’s Missed Classic: 1982’s Dragon’s Keep, best remembered for being Al Lowe’s very first game. We’ve already looked at two of his later children’s games (Winnie the Pooh and The Black Cauldron), but we need to rewind much further. Before embarking on his game design career, Al Lowe was a 36-year old public school teacher and musician who wanted to teach himself programming. As an educator, it may have been a natural choice for him to make his first halting steps as a designer by sticking to what he knew: building fun and educational activities for kids. The outcome of his programming experiments were two games, Dragon’s Keep and Troll’s Tale, as well as a new career.

Tuesday 12 July 2016

Elvira II - Won!

Written by Deimar

Dirk Gentley Journal Entry #6 "Finally, after way too much bait and switch, I have managed to rescue Elvira. And I only had to kill a real vampire, although a bit old-fashioned; re-animate and de-animate a monster made of human parts; resurrect a dead priest; bring some magic mumbo jumbo to the crazy Indian janitor; and kill one of the major demons in hell. And all of that in the span of a night. Go me? I certainly hope Elvira’s reward is worth all the personal nightmares I am going to have from now on."

Finally, after many hours of dungeon crawling, I see the light at the end of the tunnel. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, as the game still has one last curveball to throw in my way. But first a recap. Last time we had cleared both the catacombs and the spider nest, having “rescued” two Elviras. I was still lacking the one in the haunted mansion. The only rooms I had not cleared there were the attic with the vampire and the basement with the Frankenstein’s monster, which had a door behind it.

From my previous playthroughs and the hints in the library I knew I had to re-create the Frankenstein experiment, but for the life of me I couldn’t remember how to defeat the vampire to set the experiment in motion. And I tried everything. Every spell which could remotely be related, every weapon and several deaths trying to desperately click on things in the room. I even faced dead-ending myself by taking a stake in the catacombs behind a destroy magic spell and nothing worked. The library was of no help, and it only noted that primal vampires have very few weaknesses. I was starting to fear I had missed or used an item I should not have, but after my initial RfA in my first post my fears were dissipated. I’ll try my best here for a clickbait title: You won’t believe what happened after.

Monday 4 July 2016

New Poll: Choose the best Missed Classic of all times

By TAG team

We’ve had a poll for games in our main list, but never one for Missed Classics, so this time you’ll get to decide which of them you liked best. We’ve included only Missed Classics we have completed so far in the poll.

Since you might not remember all of the Missed Classics we have covered, here’s a quick rundown. Our very first Missed Classic was Mystery House, the first in Sierra’s Hi-Res Adventure -series. Other parts of that series covered on our blog have been Wizard and the Princess and Mission: Asteroid, and Joe Pranevich has promised we’ll see the rest of them on the blog some day. In addition, we’ve also reviewed Sierra’s only all-text adventure, Softporn.

Where it all began

Saturday 2 July 2016

Elvira II - Arachnophobia

Written by Deimar

Dirk Gentley Journal Entry #5 "Dust on my boots, on my cap, on my jacket… Even in parts where the sun doesn’t shine. And not the good kind of dust. The one that reminds you of the journey you have left behind. No, bone dust from killing an army of undeads. And avoiding ghosts. And travelling through a dungeon of traps. And even convincing a powerful necromancer that his food had made me sick. And here I thought I had finally rescued Elvira, it was just another spawn of hell. I went to the earth’s core and I only got a lousy Indian holy lance. Well, I guess it is time to stop complaining and go back to work."

After all the work done to get to the lance, the dungeon still had a surprise for me. Just after going back to the church, an evil force prevented me from moving and something that looked like an skeletal angel with a scythe killed me. So much for finishing the catacombs. Reading the library entry for this monster, it is an angel of death that can kill with just one touch. Apparently I really pissed someone off down there because it is supposed to be one of the most dangerous evil entities. As there was no information regarding how to kill it or protect me from it, I took a look at the spell book just to discover the Unholy Barrier spell, that protects you from these eventualities. The price? A simple prayer book. I took good care of not using the one dedicated to the deceased father Callahan but the one I found in the mansion.

Not so intimidating now, are you?