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.)