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!