Sunday 31 December 2017

Missed Classic: Return to Eden - Gonna Live Like a King on Whatever I Find

By Ilmari

The dream of Trump was finally true - no living being could get behind the wall

Last time I had just managed to break through the fence surrounding Enoch, robot built city in the planet of Eden. Unfortunately, the fence wasn’t the only defense, and I was quickly obliterated by a minefield. The solution was luckily near. I had picked up a fruit that looked like a pineapple, but was actually a cherry bomb (hey producers, Piers Anthony used that pun way before you). All I had to do was to use my catapult made out rubber band and y-shaped bone to hurl the bomb to the mine field.

I still couldn’t just walk to the city, since it was surrounded by a huge wall. The animals and plants of Eden tried constantly to attack the wall, but were promptly lasered to death. I had to find another way.

Friday 29 December 2017

Missed Classic: Return to Eden - I Don’t Know How To Do It, But It’s Got To Be Done

By Ilmari

In my previous post I had just started Return to Eden with a bang. Kim Kimberley’s stratoglider had crashed on Eden and the sleeper ship Snowball nuked the remnants, because the crew thought wrongly that Kim was a terrorist trying to destroy the ship. Kim managed to survive by burying herself underground. My aim now was to survive the deadly forests of Eden and get to the safety of the robot-made city Enoch.


Thursday 28 December 2017

Missed Classic 49: Return to Eden - Introduction (1984)

By Ilmari

It's time for our annual change of the year game, played through the final week of 2017 until New Year. This time, I shall take a look at Return to Eden, a sequel to Snowball by British text adventure company Level 9. Since Snowball has been the most intriguing game of the company, I have high expectations of this one. Sure, the previous Level 9 game I played, Lords of Time, wasn’t really my cup of tea, but I’m blaming the rookie game developer. Now, the Austin brothers, who founded Level 9, are back in charge and hopefully will beat their previous high score of 31.

Is that a futuristic guitar? If so, is he a space hippy?

 Like here

Tuesday 26 December 2017

Missed Classic: Cyborg - Feeding the Machine

Written by Voltgloss

Apologies to all for the delay in continuing our Cyborgian adventures. Rather than dwell on the issues driving those delays, let’s dive back in where we left off:

Our map from last time.

With light source (matches) in hand, we head off to our clearest lead: that dark area in the northwest corner of the map. This brings us to a “detoxification chamber,” where a sign informs us to “press the touchplate” in order to “cycle detoxification procedure.” But trying to do so has no effect; our computer half suggests we are lacking “the proper ID.” There’s also a partition to the north, but we can’t seem to walk through it or open it. And then when we go to leave, apparently our match went out without my noticing and we unceremoniously die in the dark. Well, that’s an auspicious start.

Sunday 24 December 2017

Missed Classic 48: Elves ‘87 (aka The Elf’s Christmas Adventure) (1987)

Written by Joe Pranevich

Merry Christmas! Can you believe this is our fourth Christmas since the relaunch? It’s also our fourth look at classic Christmas adventure games. Thus far we have looked at 1984’s Merry Christmas from Melbourne House and A Spell of Christmas Ice, plus 1986’s Crisis at Christmas. Holiday games are a special bunch; except Merry Christmas, they have all been produced by smaller developers. They have also been a global bunch, having been produced in Australia, England, and Scotland. Our next game will continue both of those traditions: Elves ‘87 (subtitled God Bless Frosty the Snowman!), a fantastic Christmas tale written in Nova Scotia by independent software designers Bruce MacKay and Marlene Abriel and distributed on their short-lived Atari ST BBS, “Burned Out Adventurers!” (or “BOA!” for short).

This is also a game with a unique history, pulled along by the friendly competition between adventure authoring systems. Although Bruce and Marlene did not intend the game to be commercial (instead a springboard to subsequent game ideas that they were brewing), it was unofficially ported and re-released as an advertisement (and sample code) for David Malmberg’s “Adventure Game Toolkit”, a rival development system. That release, retitled The Elf’s Christmas Adventure, is the one that I suspect most players are familiar with.

This Christmas marks the 30th anniversary of Elves ‘87 and I can think of no more fitting time to dig in and explore this piece of holiday cheer. So, spike some eggnog and pull up a chair by the fire, it’s time for a Christmas adventure!

Friday 22 December 2017

The Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes - The Secret of the Old Smock

Written by Joe Pranevich

Welcome back! I ended last week stuck: I confirmed that Ms. Carroway’s “secret admirer” wasn’t directly connected to the murder, although it is still suspicious that he and the murderer hung out at the same pub. The tavern keeper at the Moongate pointed me in the direction of the man I believe to be the real killer, a taxidermist named Blackwood, but he didn’t know where the man’s office was and there appears to be no 19th century equivalent of the Yellow Pages that we can search. (Kids, ask your parents.) My only lead was a single taxidermied head hanging in the local tobacco shop.

I’ll spare you all of the random wandering as I found the solution right where I expected it to be. I had been imagining something overly-complicated like mounting a mirror on a stick, but the solution was actually just to move some packing crates across the room and stand on them. Obvious, right? It was not quite that easy because the store clerk initially refused to let us, but Holmes is very persistent and we talk him into it eventually. That doesn’t quite get me what I wanted since the plaque just says that the head was given to John Bradley, the store owner, in 1885. It was a let down, but not a permanent one as we can use the “move” command to look behind the head and find a label on the back of the mount: Oxford Taxidermy, 188 Oxford St. We have a new map location!

Tuesday 19 December 2017

Quest For Glory I - Practice Makes Perfect

I played a lot in this section but have surprisingly little to show for it puzzle-solving wise. I do have a lot to show for it statistic wise though, so let's see what I've been up to while trying to increase my characters' attributes.

Trevor the Thief Journal Entry #3: I found the thieves guild, where I bought a license in order to be able to steal in town without the sheriff being tipped off. Is now a good time to tell the guild master I've already stolen everything there is to steal in town? Can I get my license fee back now that I don't need it? Oh well. I'm still not sure how to make my way to the bandits using my special skills but I'm sure I'll either come up with something or temporarily become a fighter if I have to. I hope I won't have to become a fighter...

It's been a while since we've seen what our thief has been up to, so here's the list of quests I had to complete last time we met him,

  • Find thieves' guild password (perhaps in cemetery)
  • Get Fairy Dust from mushroom ring without dancing to death
  • Get flying water (after buying an empty flask from the provisioner)
  • Get mandrake root (after buying Undead potion from healer)
  • Do something about the antwerp – it's not bothering anyone, but I hate that it exists and want it dead!
  • Get better at fighting/thieving
and when I add to them other quests I'll need to complete...
  • Deal with troll cave
  • Deal with Ogre/Bear/Kobold cave
  • Deal with Bandits

Having done much of this with the other characters, we know we'll be able to get the fairy dust, flying water and mandrake root easily – and something I didn't know at the time but now do, is that after using the undead potion at the cemetery in order to get the mandrake, we'll have an empty flask in our inventory, so don't need to buy one – it's easily affordable, but if I can get one for free I'm sure as hell not paying for one.

Let's start at the beginning and try to get the thieves' guild password.

Friday 15 December 2017

The Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes - Fer-de-Fléchette

Written by Joe Pranevich

Grab your magnifying glass, it’s finally time to get back to The Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes. Last time around, I ended on a down note: I was stuck after tracking down the name of Sarah Carroway’s, our murder victim’s, boyfriend “James”. Even with that, I wasn’t able to figure out which James he was on a rugby team that seems to have been filled with them. I also discovered that her sister, Anne, was a famous opera singer and may have gone missing or worse. I had many leads to follow, but none that the game particularly wanted me to follow and I was stuck. After failing to get anywhere, I asked for help and a few faithful commenters set me on the right path. I didn’t even need to look at their rot13-clues, it was enough to know that I needed to focus on the flowers from Sarah’s “secret admirer”.

My breakthrough came when I tried to study the flowers in Holmes’s private lab: we discovered, to no surprise at all, that the flowers were artificially dyed. However Mr. Holmes was also able to identify that they were dyed using an industrial cleaner with an iodine base. Armed with that analysis, we were able to ask Wiggins to focus in on flower-sellers that used that technique around the theater where Sarah worked. In almost no time at all (just had to leave the screen and come back!), he located the florist in question and we have a new destination on our map. Will this let me track down the “secret admirer”? Let’s find out!

Monday 11 December 2017

Quest for Glory I - Smokey and the Bandits

Written by TBD.

Once again I spent most of my playtime as one character. Last time it was as Martak the Magic-User. This time it was Frodo the Fighter. There's a lot to get to, so let's get to it...

Frodo the Fighter Journal Entry #3: As they say, "we've a long way to go and a short time to get there." I've become a much better fighter since I last wrote in this journal. I was able to dispatch many goblins in a row, a large number of bandits and even a cheetaur or two. I'm also rich and have upgraded my armor! Things are certainly looking up for my adventuring career.

The first 'quest' I wanted to solve in this section, was getting into the hermit's cottage next to the waterfall. I'd been there as the magic-user by casting my 'Open' spell. My thief had gotten there by using his 'Climbing' skill, but I had neither of those as a fighter. I do have some 'Throwing' skill though. I thought I'd try throwing rocks at his door to see if that gets his attention.

What light from yonder window breaks?

It is the east, and 'Enry the 'Ermit is the sun.

Saturday 9 December 2017

What's Your Story - Limbeck

Answers: Limbeck
Introduction and captions: TBD

Limbeck has recently begun commenting and following our blog in real-time, joining us with Joe Pranevich's playthrough of The Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes. I'm sure I speak for all of us when I give a whole hearted WELCOME! It's always good to hear that new people are coming here and reading our blog.

Among other things, limbeck is an archaic term for an alembic - which is in itself rather archaic

And now, over to Limbeck...

Hello there,

I have been slowly catching up with the posts in this blog, but I noticed that there are some games I really enjoy in a row, so I have broken away from my OCD and read those posts. Therefore, I don't think I have much to lose by sending you my story.

Tuesday 5 December 2017

Quest For Glory I - Baba the Hutt

Written by TBD.

Okay. Time to see what I've been up to lately in the land of Spielburg...

Martak the Magic-User Journal Entry #3: I finally met a wizard whose skills rivalled my own, and beat him at his own game on only my second attempt (as far as he knows). I also made a deal with a Frost Giant and a witch, who I now have a plan for dealing with permanently. I just need to deal with those pesky bandits...

I left off last week with a to do list for each character. One of the things my magic-user needed to do was get a spirea seed, which I thought I'd need a Fetch spell for. I still couldn't afford a Fetch spell, having avoided fights with my mage, but trying my rarely useable Open spell on that screen told me I didn't need the Fetch spell for this puzzle.

Much more satisfying than the usual response of “The spell has no effect.”

One thing I haven't yet mentioned is that, apart from the skills for attributes and abilities, my magic-user also has skill levels with each spell, that increases each time I use the spell. I checked my Open spell skill, which was 19.

Rather than practice the spell until I ran out of spell points, sleep and repeat (which I tried but got killed in my sleep) I decided to pay a visit to the castle instead. Being faced with a closed portcullis I found the perfect opportunity to practice using my Open spell


Sunday 3 December 2017

The Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes - The No. 1 Gentlemen’s Detective Agency

Written by Joe Pranevich

Returning to the scene of the crime.

Welcome back! Last week, we continued our exploration of Sarah Carroway’s alleyway murder, eventually navigating the crippling bureaucracy of Scotland Yard to secure the release of a key that she was holding when she died. Holmes seems to think that this is an important clue as it will let us back into the theater where she was murdered, to explore unhindered and to see if the key that she had hidden at her flat goes to anything there. As of right now, I feel as if we are in the early days of the investigation. We do not have a motive other than robbery, nor do we have anything that leads up anywhere near the suspect. All we can do is further investigate Sarah’s life and look for connections. I would like to apologize for this post being a bit late. Truth is, that I am stuck on the game and while it’s not “Request for Assistance”-level yet, I had hoped to make a bit more progress before sharing the next post. Nonetheless, here we are and I hope I manage to make some headway on the case soon.

I return to the scene of the crime, hardly pausing to notice the chalk outline or the pool of the blood that remains on the ground as I headed for the door. Our new key works and I can get into the theatre! Why we keep insisting on entering via the stage door, I have no idea, but in a few moments we are back to the dressing room. I expected to find it empty and explore in peace, but that was not to be.

Sunday 26 November 2017

Happy Anniversary!

By Ilmari

The complete history of The Adventure Gamer - now available in your local bookstores
Exactly six years ago, Trickster published his first post for TAG. I wasn’t yet there to read it and probably most of you weren’t either. It wasn’t until couple of months later, when I heard about Trickster’s project on CRPG Addict’s place, that I became aware of the new blog. I had been lurking around Addict’s for quite a while, but since I hadn’t really played that many CRPGs I never really had the need to comment on anything. With adventure games it was different, and when I felt Trickster hadn’t been fair to Black Cauldron, I tried to show that the game hadn’t been that bad Trickster had said it was. Ever the gentleman, Trickster took my criticism with dignity and invited me to comment more on the blog. And comment I did.

Thursday 23 November 2017

The Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes - “P” is for Pixel Hunting

Written by Joe Pranevich

Last week, we started into this “Lost File” of Sherlock Holmes, investigating a murder possibly committed by the infamous Jack the Ripper. We searched the crime scene and interviewed the witness, discovering a complex (and richly detailed) case involving an attack by a man wielding a serrated scalpel, a broken-into dressing room, a secret admirer, and an actress that stood to gain by the death of her partner. We also found oily black hair samples on the doorframe. There are so many clues to sift through and sort, I hardly know where to begin but Holmes (with our help) is piecing it together. Already, he is pretty sure this isn’t a “Ripper” case, rather something much more interesting. We shall see!

After ending last time, I replayed the whole first section again just to make sure I didn’t miss anything. This game is a bit of a pixel-hunt and I managed to find and pick up some white powder residue from the corpse that I missed before, as well as some cigarette butts. The game suggests that Holmes might be able to analyze the sample back at his flat so we take off, not to the dead woman’s home as I intended to last time, but back to where we started.

Monday 20 November 2017

Quest for Glory I - That Which Doesn't Kill Me Makes Me Weaker

Written by TBD.

Firstly, apologies for taking so long to get this second post out to you all. Thankfully Joe and Voltgloss have been keeping us all entertained with Sorcerer, Sherlock Holmes and Cyborg posts.

I did lots of exploring this time, so rather than babble on more at the start, let's get to it. We'll start with where we left off last time - with the thief.


Trevor the Thief Journal Entry #2: After my night-time exploits in town that gave me a lot of coin, I did a lot of exploring outside of town. I didn't find much to steal, but I found a lot of things that wanted me dead.

After being jumped by a panther and taken to jail last time I tried to steal the old cat lady's stuff, I reloaded and stole her stuff but avoided walking too close to the cat before leaving. It was simple, it worked, and I escaped with my ill-gotten booty. A good night's work for a thief.

Despite now being rich, I decided the thief wouldn't want to pay for accomodations, so I went to sleep inside the town gates and woke up in the morning.

Why pay for a bed when I can rest here for free!

Saturday 18 November 2017

Missed Classic 47: Cyborg - Introduction (1981)

Written by Voltgloss

Time to return to the worlds created by Michael Berlyn! As discussed back when we explored Oo-Topos, Mr. Berlyn had published two text adventures through Sentient Software: that game, and Cyborg. With an Apple II emulator up and running well, I’m ready to dive into the shoes of a half-human, half-machine.

Monday 13 November 2017

The Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes - “Murder,” He Wrote

Written by Joe Pranevich

It’s very strange coming back to graphical adventures after playing so many text ones, but it is time to take a look at my next main-line game: The Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes. Based on your score guesses, this is a fairly well-regarded game and I am curious how my experiences will stack up to yours. Mythos Software is such a “young” team in 1992 without any major game credits; if they could have come out of nowhere to have a top ten game, I will be very impressed! Last week, we watched as a young woman was assaulted behind a theatre by an unknown assailant. Scotland Yard is investigating her murder, but they have requested the assistance of Sherlock Holmes to help crack the case. That is where we come in! As the game begins, Holmes and Watson are in their flat on Baker Street ready to head off into the world and explore.

Before I run out, I spend some time familiarizing myself with the interface. The game is clearly Lucas Arts-inspired with a small set of clickable verbs on the bottom of the screen. Names of objects appear as we mouse over them, which is a nice touch, but even just poking around the flat I can already tell that some things will be a pixel-hunt. My starting inventory consists of a stack of Sherlock Holmes business cards and the letter from Scotland Yard requesting help. The most unique feature that I see so far is the “Journal”, but I’ll have to explore it more later. As best I can tell immediately, it logs conversations and events that Holmes has in the game, plus it is searchable and printable. Since the only thing in there is the introduction, I will have to come back to it in a few hours to see what it looks like when it has more stuff in it. I’m awfully impressed by it, but let’s play the game!

Tuesday 7 November 2017

Missed Classic: Sorcerer - Won! And Final Rating

Written by Joe Pranevich

Hola, sailor! We’re back to close out the adventure that is Sorcerer, the fifth official Zork game. Last time out, we successfully navigated a glass maze and a wickedly cool time travel puzzle in a coal mine to emerge, mostly empty-handed, on the shore of a lagoon. All we have left is a spell book and a “smelly” scroll. My anti-hunger potion is finally wearing off and I have no idea where I am relative to the remainder of the game. This week, I’ll start by exploring the lagoon and we’ll see where that takes us. I just hope I do not starve before I get to the end of the game. I can replay to do the rest of the game faster, but it would be an annoyance that I would rather avoid.

While I am working through this game, I admit that I have become extremely curious about our upcoming Implementer, Jim Lawrence. He’ll be joining Stu Galley for Seastalker, but he was already a forty-year veteran of young-adult literature, comics, and even radio dramas. I am trying to assemble a complete list of his works, made all the more complicated by the fact that he didn’t write most of them under his own name. (Plus, there are two other “Jim Lawrences” that write or work in comics so it is far too easy to confuse his work with theirs.) I have put together an increasingly-correct list on my blog and I hope that you will take a look and provide any thoughts or corrections. I’d like to get all of my biography details straight before I cover his first game and your help is appreciated. I do not think anyone has sat down to try to build a complete list of his output before. Enough of that, let’s play!

Thursday 2 November 2017

Missed Classic: Sorcerer - Bootstrap Paradox

Written by Joe Pranevich

Welcome back! Last time around, we descended into the Great Underground Empire to locate our lost guildmaster, Belboz. Or, at least, that’s what I think I am doing because the game seems to have largely forgotten its plot, instead opening up into a Zork-style dungeon crawl. It’s been a lot of fun, although some of the sense of urgency has evaporated. Because we used a teleport scroll, we know Belboz is around here somewhere, but exactly where is a mystery. Thus far, we have explored an amusement park, dried up a river to discover a “bat cave”, and defeated a bunch of mimics through the copious application of bat poop. I also have a “yonk” scroll which will supercharge one spell, but I have been saving it carefully so as to avoid a walking-dead situation. As I ended last time, we had just discovered a large glass maze and I fell to my death by walking into a section with no floor.

I had expected to beat the game this week-- four posts is quite enough for a Missed Classic-- but for reasons that will become apparent, I wanted to let the puzzles breathe a bit. I haven’t had this much fun for a while. I have to hurry and finish documenting this game, but rushing through Sorcerer feels wrong somehow. There is also no new “Road to Seastalker” bonus post this week; I am thoroughly enjoying Tom Swift and His Atomic Earth Blaster, but I need more time to finish it.

Monday 30 October 2017

Quest for Glory I - The Hero of Information Dump Central

Written by TBD.

The 'who will I play as' poll is complete. And you voted to have me play as all three characters in the game. So be it. I wouldn't go to the extra effort for just anyone, but for you Adventure Gamer Blog Readers, I'll do it!

Final results:
THIEF – 23%
Deep breath - okay. I'm ready to be all that I can be!

I'll play it similarly to how I played three characters in Leather Goddesses of Phobos 2. I'll start a post as one character, then play the same section with the others and note the differences. But as the Quest for Glory characters have no pre-defined personality I decided to give them rudimentary RPG-style personalities. Is this a waste of my time? Most likely, but it helps me keep them separate in my mind rather than just being 'me solving puzzles slightly differently'.

We'll start by meeting our three protagonists in a future adventure I like to call “Stuck In A Dungeon”

Thursday 26 October 2017

Game 92: The Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes - Introduction (1992)

Written by Joe Pranevich

Greetings, friends! It’s time for me to brush off my mouse skills and play a game that requires clicking: The Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes. Despite being released at the height of my youthful game playing, this one is completely unknown to me. I really was a Sierra-snob growing up, but I got better. I reviewed the first game in the Consulting Detective series almost a year ago and I am looking forward to seeing another approach to adapting the characters.

Like so many of these licensed games, the developers do not have a strong adventure game pedigree. This is the first adventure to be developed by Mythos Software, a studio only two years old and thus far dedicated to arcade-style games. It was founded in Arizona by James Ferguson in 1990. James’s team was joined by Electronic Arts team members R. J. Berg and Eric Lindstrom, for game design and story respectively. Mr. Berg and Mr. Lindstrom were both new to their careers with their highest profile work in narrative games being documentation for FairyTale Adventure and Keef the Thief. One potentially shining light on the team was Christopher Erhardt, the producer. We haven’t come across him yet, but he was a former Infocom employee who was brought in to help the company adapt to graphical games. He also produced the Infocom release of Quarterstaff. It’s a new team, but I have high hopes!

Tuesday 24 October 2017

Lure of the Temptress: Final Rating

by Alex

Strap yourselves in, ladies and gentlemen, and prepare for a tale of squandered opportunity. Deep down, I think that Lure of the Temptress and its game engine had the potential to be great. Not just good, but fantastic. Sadly, a case of the first-time yips might have gotten ahold of the developers at Revolution Software, and what we ended up with was a group of guys that didn’t yet know quite what to do with the shiny new toy they had created.

I LOVE that Diermot getting punched was used on the back of the game box.
If you’ve been reading my posts, you’d think I absolutely hated this game. I did not. I was more disappointed than anything because it showed flashes of brilliance. I will say that certain aspects of the puzzle design made it very cumbersome to play at times, which certainly diminished my enjoyment.

According to Adventure Gamer comments, Revolution’s later game, Beneath a Steel Sky, is fantastic and is regarded as a classic for a reason. I’m glad to hear that. Obviously, Revolution had great success going forward for a reason—hell, the studio still exists—but it’s heartening to know that its later games lived up to the wasted potential of Lure of the Temptress. I mean, they also produced the insanely popular Broken Sword series.

With that said, let’s get PISSED!

Saturday 21 October 2017

Game 90: Quest for Glory I: So You Want To Be A Hero (VGA Remake, 1992) - Introduction

Written by TBD.

Quest for Glory I: So You Want To Be A Hero is a remake of the 1989 game Hero's Quest: So You Want To Be A Hero. If you want to know why the name was changed to Quest for Glory, check out The Trickster's introduction post for the original Hero's Quest.


Unlike many fans of old Adventure Games, I'm not a fan of the Quest for Glory series. Don't get me wrong, I'm not NOT a fan either. I've just never actually played them. I own them since I bought them a few years ago, but haven't yet given them a go. I originally thought I'd tried this game once, but seeing as Steam's telling me I've played a total of 18 minutes of the series, and that was after I loaded it up to take some screenshots for this Introduction and download the manual, I was probably mistaken.

I likely first heard about the series once I got access to the internet in the mid-late 90s and I know I heard good things, but I was in the mindset of not going out of my way to find Sierra games, having played some of them and not thinking them any better than 'okay games'. If digital distribution were around then, I might have given them a go earlier, but here we are now – a Quest for Glory newbie wading into the waters with the VGA remake of the first Quest For Glory – it seems appropriate, or interesting, or apt, or... something.

Thursday 19 October 2017

Missed Classic: Sorcerer - Going Underground

Written by Joe Pranevich

Last week, we made our first real trip back into the Great Underground Empire with Sorcerer. After learning that the demon Jeearr had taken control of the guildmaster, it was up to me to teleport to his location and rescue him… because everyone else went on a picnic. Using a handy Infotator that we nicked from the guildmaster’s room (and included in the game packaging), we cracked the code to a trunk in the guild basement which contained an “aimfiz” scroll, a teleporter. Moments later, we were halfway around the world and near the entrance to the sprawling Great Underground Empire. In a few minutes of exploring, I managed to find an underground amusement park and a quick death at the bottom of a chasm. It’s time to explore.

I want to pause before we get started because, as some of you know, Seastalker is the next game in the series. Written by Stu Galley and Jim Lawrence, it is Infocom’s first juvenile adventure game. Mr. Lawrence was an accomplished master of juvenile fiction, having written more than fifty books before the 1980s, not to mention comics and radio plays. He loved to write adventure fiction and contributed books to Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Tom Swift, James Bond, Buck Rogers, and other series… none of which I read as a kid. To help me get into the spirit of his work before starting into Seastalker, I am reading a few of those books, starting with 1957’s The Ghost of Skeleton Rock, a Hardy Boys adventure. I have put up a bonus post including my thoughts on that book and may do one or two more depending on timing and my ability to juggle the interactive and traditional varieties of fiction.

I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself. There’s a Great Underground Empire to explore, after all.

Tuesday 17 October 2017

The Dagger of Amon Ra - Final Rating

By Deimar

Re-reading my previous posts about this game, it might seem like I loathe it. You could see me bitching about it from the introduction until the end of my second playthrough. But the truth is not so one-sided. I can say that I have actually enjoyed my trip even in spite of the multiple problems this game has. The game possesses some charm, although it kicks in later in the game, with the first two opening acts being too slow in my opinion. Even on my second playthrough I was delighted when discovering new things. Speaking of which, although my first and longer playthrough was on ScummVM, it is only fair to judge the DosBox version. Let’s begin.

Knowing what you are in for, I wouldn’t be so optimistic

Saturday 14 October 2017

Lure of the Temptress: Won!

by Alex

Well, I’ve done it. I’ve come to the ignominious end of an ignominious game. Upon getting Diermot smuggled into the castle, it didn’t take long to finish Lure of the Temptress, mainly because there just wasn’t much to do.

Thursday 12 October 2017

Missed Classic: Sorcerer - Just Getting Started

Written by Joe Pranevich

Last week, we started Sorcerer, the fifth canonical Zork game. After a particularly vivid nightmare sequence where I was killed by hellhounds, snakes, locusts, and lightning, I awoke to find the guildhall empty and the Guild Master, Belboz, missing. Thanks to some security nymphs, I cannot leave by the front door to rescue him. Time is passing very quickly and if I fall asleep, I am captured by a demon and subjected to a fate worse than death. They say that even the longest journey begins with a single step; I’m not even making it that far.

Today’s post will be a bit shorter than usual. Several “real life” events conspired to prevent me from writing as much as I had hoped. I have made it farther in the game than I document here and I want to make sure that I’m taking the time to properly discuss the puzzles that I found, rather than rush through them to cover more ground with this post. On the bright side, this is a game worth savoring.

Tuesday 10 October 2017

The Dagger of Amon Ra - Won!

By Deimar

If you have kept up to date with this playthrough, I have played The Dagger of Amon Ra to completion but failed miserably to answer the coroner’s questions. As I played the version of the game sold by GoG which uses ScummVM, I thought it a good time to replay the game using DosBox to try and beat the game and see the differences between the two versions. In that regard, there are not that many.

The first and most obvious one is, as Laukku pointed out, that there is no option to have both sound and text during the game. You have to choose one of them. Given that the quality of the recordings is not that great, that is more of a feature than something you can really miss but it is an odd option to leave out of the game. In fact, this time I played with only text to shorten the experience and because I don’t really think you are missing that much without the voices. I didn’t notice any other major differences but for a myriad of bugs, but I am not even sure this affects only the DosBox version. But I will get to them while recounting the game.

My plan for this second playthrough was to try and discover what I had missed by being a bit more thoughtful and persistent and not simply accepting time jumps as they come. Also, I just went ahead and read Illmari’s clues and a walkthrough after considering being “done” with every time slot so I don’t have to replay the whole game if I miss something crucial. Let’s see.

Like I missed commenting on this awesome piece of music

Saturday 7 October 2017

Lure of the Temptress: Nothing Means Anything: A Treatise on Adventure Game Protagonists Disguised as a Gameplay Post

by Alex

Lure of the Temptress is like a food that you want to like, but every time you eat it, you get indigestion. Or a song you know should be up your alley, but in the middle of what should be a good part an obnoxious squealing sound ruins everything. Or that person you date time and time again, only for them to completely ruin the moment with an inappropriate comment or some ill-timed flatulence.

You get the idea.

Thursday 5 October 2017

Missed Classic 46: Sorcerer - Introduction (1984)

Written by Joe Pranevich

Infocom’s 1984 started off with a bang: Sorcerer, the fifth canonical Zork title and the second in the Enchanter trilogy, was the first game of the year. This is also the first Zork title not to be written by Lebling and Blank. Instead, it is helmed by the mastermind behind the Planetfall game as well as the Zork gamebooks that we looked at recently, Steve Meretzky. He is my favorite “implementor” of the gang so far and I am looking forward to playing this game immensely. I hope he sticks the landing after the disappointment that was Mike Berlyn’s Infidel.

But that does raise a question: why was Sorcerer released so soon after Enchanter? Each of the Zork games to this point had a fall release (November for the first two, then September). By releasing Sorcerer in March, that left only a five-month gap between releases. Was it intended to capitalize on the marketing of the Zork books? If so, why was the fourth and final gamebook released in the “usual” timeslot in October? It’s almost as if the fourth book was timed to be released when Sorcerer would have come out… If there is a story here, I do not know it and I welcome anyone that can shed some light on the subject. Whatever the reason, Spellbreaker took the usual fall release spot and players had a 17-month delay after this game before the finale.

The first sign I see that Mr. Meretzky is in charge of this game comes immediately after opening the manual: the new game is not shy at all to be connected to the previous Zork titles. I’m excited!

Tuesday 3 October 2017

The Dagger of Amon Ra - Lost?

By Deimar

Laura Journal Entry #4 "Ok, ok. I have to get out of this museum. People are dropping like flies. First Dr. Carter, and then everyone else. I am starting to believe I am the murderer as I seem to be the only living soul around here. But I will soldier on and see the end of these murderers or I am not called Laura Bow!”

Who would have thought? It really seems like Yvette cared for Ernie. We start this chapter at her office trying to comfort her. She repeats the bit about Ernie being chased by Icepick, a loan shark, but that’s something we already knew. What surprised me in that conversation is that Laura reprimands Yvette for spending too much time with her Steve. I mean, we have seen her with Ernie, O’Riley, Tut, Najeer… basically the entire male cast but for Steve. I really must have missed something along the way…

And immediately after leaving her to her woes, we find the thought but sensitive stevedore-by-day artist-by-night Steve at The Thinker, talking with Dr. Myklos. He comments that the paintings in the gallery are all fake, but Laura doesn’t want to have any of it and presses on about all the women he has been with tonight. And just when Laura is about to get really mad at him, Yvette comes rushing to cry on his shoulder, taking him inside. That’s a short mourning period. Obviously, I couldn’t let the french blonde to get away with our Steve, so I used the old glass on the door trick™ to listen to them. Well…

Mon dieu! Let’s shout some more easily misinterpreted things so we can provoke a hilarious situation!

Curiously, that IS the same face she used when looking at a dead corpse. Maybe we will find Steve’s soon and we will be pretty sure of who did that

Yes, I will leave you alone so you can keep grasping her neck with your hands. It is not as if there have been several murders this night and Steve hasn’t been seen in a while...

Saturday 30 September 2017

Lure of the Temptress - Twist Away the Gates of Steel

by Alex

So I got the Weregate open.

I’ll bet you’re wondering, “How did this happen?” Well, today’s your lucky day. We’ll get to that. But first, in order to understand the process and what to make of it in the grand Adventure Gamer tradition, let’s go back to my last post on Lure of the Temptress. Remember when I said that I enjoyed the game’s approach to puzzles?

. . . I actually find myself enjoying Lure of the Temptress’ approach to puzzles. My earlier complaints notwithstanding (and it looks like I’m not the only one experiencing pathfinding issues, though this seems to be more of an issue related to the ScummVM emulator), now that I have more time with the game under my belt, understand the interface and what the developers were trying to do . . . I kind of like it.”

I need to qualify this statement: While I enjoy the game’s approach to puzzles, I cannot say I particularly enjoy the puzzles themselves.

Let me explain.

Thursday 28 September 2017

The Dagger of Amon Ra - The Thirteenth Hour

By Deimar

Laura Journal Entry #3 " What a day. After just arriving and getting a job I have managed to see the lows and highs of this city in a single day. I have even managed to get into a high class fundraiser party in a fancy museum. Sadly, the party ended when I discovered the corpse of the main guest inside a sarcophagus. Well, sadly and lucky for me, as I have a feeling this story will sell a lot of newspapers and there doesn’t seem to be another reporter here. The only caveat to that plan is that somehow I am now trapped with the other guests in the museum and I think I am starting to smell blood in the air”

I didn’t remember it when changing from chapter 1 to chapter 2, but when starting chapter 3 I got a message telling me “Excellent work. Your father would be proud of you”. That is an encouraging message, as I have previously doubted having gathered all the necessary information. I might not be going that bad (although Ilmari has pointed out some things I missed in chapter I). My only question is if that message is always the same or depends upon a hidden score.

Doing the interrogation with everyone listening surely produces wonderful results

Tuesday 26 September 2017

Missed Classic: Adventure - Won!

Written by Joe Pranevich

You are standing at the end of a road before a small brick building.

After the “fun” that was Infidel, I needed a palate-cleanser. I’ve started looking at Sorcerer already-- and if all goes well, you’ll have the Intro post to that game next week-- but I needed a break. So I hope you will not mind that I use the occasion of my birthday to talk about an important game in my life: Adventure. Ilmari already did a fantastic review of this game (as Missed Classic #2 back in 2014), but he didn’t win in his playthrough. That provides me the flimsiest of excuse to talk about it again, but I’m going to take that excuse!

This story started for me at a different birthday 31 years ago: my mother had given me a copy of Software Country’s Golden Oldies collection for the Commodore 64. Included in that, plus other public domain masterpieces such as Pong and Eliza, was the original 380-point version of Adventure. It may or may not have been the first adventure game I played, but it was certainly the first adventure that I owned legally. I didn’t beat it then-- I still remember my babysitter telling me that no one ever had-- but it remained on my mind. For years, I would pick up the game and play a bit of it. Three years ago, I made a concerted effort to win… but failed. It was time to change that.

Monday 25 September 2017

Zork Marathon: 1983 Books & Yearly Wrap-Up

Written by Joe Pranevich

It’s been twelve months since we started this increasingly misnamed “Zork Marathon” and I thought it was worth a few minutes to pause and look back on the games we played and look forward on the games ahead. This year, we’ve more or less taken the story of Infocom from the exploration phase at MIT with Dungeon/mainframe Zork, through the formation of the company, up through the first ten games-- five years worth of history. Behind the scenes, the cancer that would eventually destroy Infocom was already growing: Cornerstone, the business product that some hoped would bring them respectability was well underway. We have plenty of time and a few more games before we get to that grim milestone.

Before we can look back, we have one more detail in 1983 to close out on: the first three Zork books. Since almost the beginning, Infocom had been creative with its marketing and its packaging. Most of the games had “feelies” and custom boxes-- Starcross literally rolled off the shelves due to its flying saucer-shaped boxes. But as Enchanter was launching, someone on the team thought that doing a gamebook tie-in would be a good idea. This would allow them to market the new game while also indirectly promoting the still-hot previous Zork titles. They could have gone to an established writer (as they would later), but instead they reached out to jack-of-all-traces Steve Meretzky, fresh from launching Planetfall. The results are somewhat surprising...

Thursday 21 September 2017

Missed Classic: Infidel - Won! (Lost!?) and Final Rating

Written by Joe Pranevich

A few days ago, I took my first deep dive into Infidel’s hidden pyramid. Powered by a flaming torch and a sense of narcissistic optimism, I discovered a long-buried burial barge, a hidden underground temple containing two chalices, a cube maze with a hidden door, and an Indiana Jones-style weight puzzle to recover four gem clusters. Thus far, after a disappointing start, I am coming to enjoy the game. Mike Berlyn has a good handle on puzzles and has managed to keep the game grounded in a sense of realism. The hieroglyphics have been fun to puzzle through, though a bit inscrutable. More importantly, they have been just understandable enough, with effort, that I could advance through a puzzle or two.

I am reluctant to admit this, but the solution to my “plaster wall” problem was embarrassingly simple: I just had to destroy the wall with my axe. I had avoided this solution in large part because no real archeologist would deliberately destroy priceless artifacts like that, but it appears to be the only way to advance. At least in my mind, I could imagine myself cataloging each of the rooms as I came to them, carefully labeling where I found this treasure or that. But take an ace to a wall? Not really how I’d approach it. It was bad enough that we broke the statue last time, but at least that was an accident...

Tuesday 19 September 2017

Missed Classic: Infidel - Walk Like an Egyptian

Written by Joe Pranevich

It’s our special Zork Marathon Anniversary Week! We’re giving the regular reviewers the week off so that we can quickly sprint to the end of Infocom’s 1983. I had a dim hope that I might be able to start Sorcerer too, but that will likely be a bit much. With luck, we’ll get Infidel defeated before doing a special 1983 wrap-up and then a bonus post. It should be fun and I’ll just hope there are no unexpected distractions that blow-up the schedule.

Last week, I started Infidel and crossed the first major hurdle by discovering the location of a long lost pyramid. This was after my character pissed off his work crew so much that they left him for dead in the desert heat, but let’s put that in the past. Immediately after entering the pyramid, I fell to my death down a set of particularly steep stairs. We’re just getting started and I am looking forward to seeing how the game progresses. Since I died last time going north, I start this week by igniting my torch and heading east.

Thursday 14 September 2017

The Dagger of Amon Ra - Night at the Museum

By Deimar

Laura’s Journal Entry #2: "So my boss has asked me to investigate the burglary of the dagger of Amon Ra from the Leyendecker museum by attending to a fundraising party there tonight, masquerading as a social events reporter. To be honest, I think I would have gotten a really good article about the upper class shenanigans with plenty of shady deals, femme fatales, impersonators and more. However, this whole thing about a murder has focused me again in the problem at hand, discovering where is the dagger of Amon Ra.”

Act 2 begins with Laura at night in front of the museum, which is now open and guarded by a German who is one svastika away of ending this walkthrough by means of Godwin’s law. He is apparently the chief of security but right now there is not much that can be extracted from him. We just have to give him our press pass (which he keeps for some strange reason) and he lets us in. This makes a clock appear in the upper left corner of the screen signaling that it is 7PM. Oh my god, I just got shivers from thinking about Colonel’s Bequest. I really hope I won’t miss key information due to simply walking into a room and making the clock advance.

I am going to be very sad if after so many stereotypes there is not a bullfighter somewhere in the game...

The real party starts inside the museum. As we enter we can see a big bust of Rameses II and several tables with refreshments. There is a group of men surrounding a blonde woman which seem interesting. Specially because our friend Ziggy is there. What is a crook doing in an upper class party? And who is all these people? Time to socialize!! The woman introduces herself as Yvette Delacroix.

Tuesday 12 September 2017

Missed Classic 45: Infidel - Introduction (1983)

Written by Joe Pranevich

Although I had originally planned to play only the Zork games, I somehow find myself eleven games into playing the entire Infocom canon. I still doubt I’ll be able to finish all of them before we get to Return to Zork, but I hope I will have at least hit the high points. And that’s why I’m sitting down to play Infidel, the first game on the list that I was completely unaware of. Every other game so far I’ve at least started and abandoned twenty or more years ago. This one, and many of the games that are coming up, are completely unknown to me. That is exciting but also a bit intimidating as I do not know what to expect or whether Infocom will continue to retain a high level of quality as we get closer to their inevitable decline and shut down.

I also want to take this time to announce that next week (the week of the 19th) will be a special “Zork Marathon Anniversary” week! Time flies but I’ve been playing Infocom (and pre-Infocom) games for an entire year now. To celebrate, we’ll try to finish Infidel and end with a 1983 wrap-up, including the first three Zork books, plus a special non-Zork bonus post. It’ll be fun and hopefully put me in the right mindset for Sorcerer and Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes.

Infidel is Mike Berlyn’s fourth adventure game overall and his second with Infocom after Suspended. This is also Mr. Berlyn’s first game created entirely while at Infocom; according to some design notes that were shared with me by Jason Scott (of Get Lamp fame), he had sketched out much of that game prior to joining the crew from Wheeler St. I do not have to much more to add about this part of Mr. Berlyn’s career at Infocom, but we will continue to track him through Cutthroats (1984) and potentially a brief look at non-adventure Fooblitzky (1985). I am excited to see how Mike’s science fiction / dystopian writing chops will translate to a game that seems quite far from his strengths.

Sunday 10 September 2017

Missed Classic: Oo-Topos - Won! (And Final Rating)

Written by Voltgloss

When we left off last time in our attempt to escape Oo-Topos, we still needed to find 3 missing ship parts; the special seeds to save Earth; and 56.9 frod worth of treasure for lunch, gas, and tolls. Sounds like a lot, right?

Turns out we were only two puzzles away from accomplishing all of that.
Of course, they were the two puzzles that took me the longest to figure out.

My sentiments exactly.

The first puzzle: how to deal with the “collector robot” that was blocking access to the shield unit. Not only do we need that for our ship, but it also promises to be the answer to get us through the forcefield at the pyramid and catwalk areas. But the robot won’t let us take it - or anything else we try to offer to or throw at it; it just snatches whatever it is up and adds to its stash. Lasers do nothing. What’s the answer here? It’s… actually one of the more satisfying solutions in the whole game, in my opinion.

The second puzzle: turns out there’s a treasure item in one of the locations I’d visited (and screenshotted in one of my previous posts). How’d I miss it? Because the game pulls a trick here that it pulls nowhere else in the game: finding that treasure involves investigating a room element that is only in the picture - it is NOT in the room’s textual description. Making this my least favorite conundrum in the game.

Everything needed to solve these puzzles has been shown in my second post. In case you, the reader, want to pause and consider what those solutions might be before I reveal them, here’s some spoiler space.

Friday 8 September 2017

Lure of the Temptress: Talking To People: The Game

by Alex

Whew, lads.

Lure of the Temptress is one of those games, those kind of games that makes mapping fun by using all sorts of tricks to distort the laws of physics and good game design.

See that screenshot up top? In a game like, say Quest for Glory, walking off screen to the right would move the player to another screen, approaching from the left. This would not only make mental navigation easier, but would also help the player make a paper map that makes sense.

Not so in Lure of the Temptress.

Wednesday 6 September 2017

The Dagger of Amon Ra - Thoroughly Modern Millie

By Deimar

Laura’s Journal Entry #1: "I just haven’t started off on my right foot in the Big Apple. I have been mugged, robbed and almost killed by a car. But I am not going to let that stop the daughter of John Bow. No, sir. This New Orleans girl is going to crack an important case, the theft of the dagger of Amon Ra from the Leyendecker museum, and impress Mr. Augustini, my new boss at the New York Tribune."

The introduction video shows us a murder taking place in a ship. An unknown man is sleeping in his room when a shadowy figure emerges, strangles him and proceeds to store his corpse in a trunk. Next we are presented with the arrival of a ship, presumably the same, to the docks of New York and see some of the passengers get off the ship.

Sweet dreams, my beautiful prince

First, we attend to a discussion between a fez-wearing Egyptian-looking guy and another fellow. If I had to tell from the voice acting I would say it is a conversation between Apu, the Quickie-Mart owner in The Simpsons and Snooby McSnob, the most pompous Englishman this side of the Atlantic. Really, you should play this game just to hear these two discuss about the dagger of Amon Ra. Because you see, the English prick (honorary title) just came back from discovering the dagger and taking it from its home land to his pocket. That doesn’t suit the Egyptian guy who insists the dagger should be in Egypt. The conversation gets heated to the point where the Englishman threatens the life of the Egyptian so he drops the subject.