Sunday, 21 October 2018

Missed Classic: Deathmaze 5000 - WON! and Final Rating

By Will Moczarski

Adventurer's Journal #3: I finally found a secret passage that got me out of my previous conundrum – I got to kill the monster eventually and even found a sword. When I thought that I was in for the home-run the monster's mother came out of the woodwork and taught me otherwise. I also did away with this beast, though, and poisoned a vampire bat on my way out only to be killed no less than four times in the most painful ways imaginable. My guardian angel (or rather guardian demon) kept on resurrecting me, however, and I finally got out of this mess. If there's one thing I've learned it's to cherish the safety of escape rooms...

The third day in the maze starts with a facepalm moment. While examining the perfect square I accidentally press the up button and reappear on the other side. Is this “puzzle” nothing more than an unconventional door? On the other side, I discover the usual essentials: a torch and food, as well as a ball of blue wool. Will there be a vicious cat to accompany the vicious dog from level 2? I have to drop some items, too, so I want to put everything that seems like a treasure – the ring, the ball, the paint brush – in the same square and head out to re-explore level four. Unfortunately, dropping more than one item in the same location results in the hallway being “too crowded”. I'll have to pick a whole corridor, accordingly. The next minutes are spent experimenting with all the items. I finally find out that I can play the flute for the snake and it rises out of the box. Moving towards it results in it biting me and me dying once more, though – not exactly breaking new ground here. Reading the usual message about the game again I suddenly know how to cross the pit in level 2 and get the magic staff! Maybe that is the item I am missing? I restore back and fart my way across the pit, thus avoiding the second vicious dog. Still, the staff doesn't have any effect on my remaining puzzles – not the wildest success I could have come up with in my dreams.

In-game graphics for the snake!

Saturday, 20 October 2018

Missed Classic: Deathmaze 5000 - Telephone for Van Gogh

By Will Moczarski

Adventurer's Journal #2: This maze really gets to me. I have been stuck in the strange trap for quite a while before getting my throat ripped out by a vicious dog, starving to death and getting mauled by a foul-smelling monster. Someone or something continues to resurrect me, though, and I have to live through all of these horrors again and again until I find my way through – at least I'm making progress...

Interestingly, the biblical passage that the Byrds borrowed for their hit “Turn, Turn, Turn” is from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, a number too similar to 317.2 to ignore. In Ecclesiastes 3, the 17th word is an „a“, and this „a“ is at the beginning of the second part. Furthermore, the second half of Ecclesiastes 3:7 (thus including 1-7.1 but excluding 1-7.2) is “a time to keep silence, and a time to speak”. This line is apparently not featured in the lyrics to the song by the Byrds – it's left out. Latin Jehovah begins with an “I”. In short, all of this got me nowhere – my cabbalistic approach was doomed to fail. Instead I put my tail between my legs and took a hint from the in-game hint system which told me to “invert and telephone”. What? The hint is just another puzzle? I appear to have been right by inverting the calculator but how do I use “2.LIE” on a telephone? At least this didn't take me too long but I was astonished just how cruel the game really was. In 1980, the letters L, I and E would have been on the same buttons as the numbers 5, 4 and 3 on a telephone. For example: If you wanted to call the LucasArts helpline from their adventures, it would be advertised as “1800-STAR WARS”, translating into “1800-7827 9277”. 5-4-3-2 was so clearly a sequence that I didn't believe in coincidence and indeed turning right five times, left four times and right three times set me free from my conundrum and I was able to leave with the calculator in hand. What a cruel, cruel puzzle! If there is anybody here who was able to solve this without the in-game hint system, please let me know in the comments – I'd be most interested in your train of thought.

Friday, 19 October 2018

Missed Classic: Deathmaze 5000 - Conference of the Byrds

By Will Moczarski

Adventurer's Journal #1: So I entered the five story building with the ominous name Deathmaze 5000 although everybody had warned me about it. I figured that escape rooms are for pansies and I'd need more of a challenge to get my righteous adrenaline fix. The maze was really something, though – I was perpetually beheaded by some invisible guillotine, found a lot of treasures but nothing edible so far and finally got stuck in a devious trap that seemed to be quoting either the Bible or the Byrds – not really sure which. I'm already longing for the safety of a conventional escape room although naturally I'd never admit that. Here goes nothing!

[From excerpt from a Med Systems catalog]

In-game manual and contact data for unbecoming insults...right?

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Missed Classic 59: Deathmaze 5000 (1980) - Introduction

Written by Will Moczarski

One of the creepiest gaming experiences of my childhood was called Asylum, a downright crazy text adventure with graphics scaring the hell out of me back then. As I never actually managed to complete the game it has kind of stuck with me over the years and hung over my head like an unfinished memory. To finally come to terms with it, I've decided to blog through the adventure games developed and published by Med Systems Software of which Asylum (confusingly aka Asylum II) is the last.

The rather unknown company was founded around the beginning of the 1980s and first released a series of simple maze adventure games called Rat's Revenge, Deathmaze 5000 and Labyrinth for the TRS-80. They cannot be found anywhere on MobyGames and the early history of Med Systems is generally in the dark but sometimes retro gaming calls for a little bit of digital archaeology, right?

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

What's Your Story - Will Moczarski

Answers: Will Moczarski
Introduction and captions: Ilmari

Due to various game, computer and work related problems both our main game line and Infocom Marathon are a bit stumped. In order to give our fine reviewers some time to get back on track, we've decided to conduct a Special Week, with a still secret Missed Classic as the topic - let's just say this game might be first title in another potential marathon of sorts. We'll start the Special Week proper tomorrow, but let us first introduce ourselves to the kind person who volunteered to write the review for us - Will Moczarski.

No, this is not Will, but he was the only Moczarski in Wikipedia we could find

Monday, 15 October 2018

Amazon - The Bridge of Reloading (Request for Assistance)

Jason Roberts Journal Entry #2: I've made it to Rio Blanco – it's taken a bit of effort – getting past one homicidal pilot and more than one deadly piranha. But for some reason I feel I need some cigarettes - and I don't even smoke! (Boy those things must really be addictive.) I have $1000 in my wallet - should I go to a shop and buy them like a normal person... nah, I have a better idea...

Flashback: Chapter 4

Well, after my last gameplay post, I was politely informed in encoded comments that I had dead-ended myself. Thanks to Voltgloss (and some confirmation from Alex Romanov) I was informed that I'd missed something important in Chapter 4. So I reloaded back to that chapter and tried to find what I'd missed.

First I tried other dialogue items with the ticket seller and barman and see if there was anything I could do with Alberto the Rayon salesman, but had no luck.

Then I furiously looked at every section of every item outside, and I found that the TRUCK and TRUCK DOOR were two separate items – it's a good time to note that this game has no mouseover tooltips or any way to differentiate which parts of items are separate without actually LOOKing at all parts.

Now that I knew the truck had a door, I opened the door, but there was nothing inside. Fortunately I was paying particular attention as I knew I'd missed something, and I noticed a white pixel that was somewhat out of place.

That while pixel below my feet wasn't there until I moved (opened) the truck door.

The white pixel turned out to be a pack of cigarettes. I've never been a fan of puzzles that make me take things that any normal person would buy at a store, and it's not like Jason had no money at this point, so I'm not a fan of this puzzle at all.

Anyway, that's it for our flashback. Let's get on with the next Chapter.

Thursday, 11 October 2018

Infocom Marathon: Cornerstone (1985)

Written by Joe Pranevich

One of the sad truths about our beloved genre is that nothing is forever. Some of the greatest names in adventure games-- Sierra, Adventure International, and even LucasArts-- saw their day in the sun only to fall leaving behind unfinished games and frustrated fans. By 1992, where we are in the main-line reviews, many of our big players are still in their heyday. But for the rollercoaster that is the “Zork Marathon” and Infocom, we are approaching the top of the hill. You can argue when the descent started, but there is no doubt that the story of Cornerstone is the story of the beginning of the end for Infocom. There are more games ahead of us than behind, but we cannot continue on to Wishbringer without looking at the product that would change everything.

This post is dedicated to the memory of Stu Galley who passed away in August. You can read his obituary here. Stu was many things to Infocom: one of the founders, designer of three games (The Witness, Seastalker, and Moonmist), and jack-of-all-trades around the office. Perhaps most importantly, he was the writer of the “Implementors Creed”, the mission statement that guided Infocom in its later years. I used to have a copy of this printed out on my desk. In his memory, let’s recount it in full:
I create fictional worlds. I create experiences. 
I am exploring a new medium for telling stories.

My readers should become immersed in the story and forget where they are. They should forget about the keyboard and the screen, forget everything but the experience. My goal is to make the computer invisible.

I want as many people as possible to share these experiences. I want a broad range of fictional worlds, and a broad range of "reading levels". I can categorize our past works and discover where the range needs filling in. I should also seek to expand the categories to reach every popular taste.

In each of my works, I share a vision with the reader. Only I know exactly what the vision is, so only I can make the final decisions about content and style. But I must seriously consider comments and suggestions from any source, in the hope that they will make the sharing better.

I know what an artist means by saying, "I hope I can finish this work before I ruin it." Each work-in-progress reaches a point of diminishing returns, where any change is as likely to make it worse as to make it better. My goal is to nurture each work to that point. And to make my best estimate of when it will reach that point.

I can't create quality work by myself. I rely on other implementors to help me both with technical wizardry and with overcoming the limitations of the medium. I rely on testers to tell me both how to communicate my vision better and where the rough edges of the work need polishing. I rely on marketers and salespeople to help me share my vision with more readers. I rely on others to handle administrative details so I can concentrate on the vision.

None of my goals is easy. But all are worth hard work. Let no one doubt my dedication to my art.
Stuart was one of the men at Infocom that I have most come to admire since starting this project. I had hoped to interview him someday and maybe even meet him-- he lived just one town over from me. Realizing that he is gone is a big blow. He will be missed. His family has asked for donations to be made in his name to Mass Audubon. I’ve made one already and I hope you will consider one as well.

I’ll have a lot more to say about Stu when I come to Moonmist in a few months. For now, let me wipe away the tear running down my cheek and get back to your regularly scheduled business software review.

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Amazon - Fight or Flight

Jason Roberts Journal Entry 1: My brother is missing so I've decided to trick my workmates in order to get what I need to follow him to the jungle. I've already deceived Darlene Fitch and Male Guard, and tricked Female Guard by proxy. Now I need to try to deceive the librarian - but first, I have to deal with a heavy metal monster.

Chapter 3

Despite Chapter 2's cliffhanger of the robot telling me I'll be terminated, at the start of this chapter the robot simply paces back and forth, not bothering Jason at all. Looking at B.O.B. Tells me that he's waiting for his replacement to arrive so he can finish his shift!

Sunday, 7 October 2018

Missed Classic: The Worm in Paradise - Won! (With Final Rating)

By Ilmari

The main problem throughout the whole game has been a lack of clear goals. I had to finally go to the well of the official clue sheet to get some idea what I was supposed to do here. It turned out there was a whole area of game, the existence of which I hadn’t been aware of. You see, my bed was usually hidden within the wall of my home, and with the command SAY BED I could make it appear. Now, if I lied on my bed and again used the command SAY BED, I was whisked away to somewhere else.

Where am I?

Friday, 5 October 2018

Spellcasting 301 - Wet T-Shirt Nite

By Deimar

Ernie Eaglebeak's Journal #4: This contest is never going to end. It is contest on contest on contest to battle for the right of coming to Fort Naughtytail for the next five years. Our opponents, the cow wizards from the GLY fraternity, are stronger, more handsome, and frankly better at all of the test, but they are not as keen as us on cheating. I mean, they are not as wise as we are. Or I am. It is not as if any of my brothers were doing anything to help. But here we are now, having beaten them at weight-lifting, partying, sand castle building, belly flop jumping, drinking contests, bull fighting and even on an improvised bar brawl. I am starting to feel like Hercules, being tasked with my own naughty version of the twelve tests.

Oh, almost forgot. I think I have made a new friend. The sheriff and I are becoming quite intimate and I think he is getting more and more fond of me. Only time will tell.

Last time I was complaining about finances when I was just about to tackle two contest, the belly flop and the drinking one. Spoiler: I’ve beaten them and two more contest.s However, some of the challenges ahead have been a pain in the ass. So allow me to tell you how much I hate casinos in adventure games or a not very intuitive puzzle.

Solving my financial crisis

After hitting my head against the wall for a while and realizing that I was going to be very money constrained or plan very well how I had to buy and sell every item available, I decided to read Ilmari’s suggestions about how to ease my financial problems. The clue that got me the solution was that I had to “uncrook” the casino. Oh boy did I feel stupid after reading that sentence. You can UPPSSY (spell of opposites) the casino from the plaza to make it straight. Simple. Efficient.

Perfectly balanced as all things should be

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Amazon – Deceiving My Workmates

Written by TBD


After the opening cutscene we went through in the introduction post, we start the game with Jason Roberts arriving at work. As always when starting a new game, I look at everything I can see.

Just what I wanted – a mundane description of each individual part of an everyday item.

Looking at the green (sorry, olive drab) car's trunk tells me it's locked. I make a mental note to try to steal the key from the owner (Darlene) at some point, as leaving anything locked just isn't done when playing an adventure game.

Monday, 1 October 2018

Zork Marathon: A Rush to Uniformity - 1984 Books & Wrap-up

Written by Joe Pranevich

Sixteen games! It’s been another year both in real-time and in Infocom-time as we have reached the end of 1984 in our misnamed “Zork Marathon”. I’m still having a ton of fun, but as I mentioned in my last post, we need a bit of a breather and catch-up before I want to start on Wishbringer. This year marked two more events in the history of Zork that I cannot pass up without mention: the completion of the Zork series of gamebooks by Steve Meretzky, and the expanded manuals and Zork material provided when Infocom transitioned into the “gray box” format for all of their games. We’ll kick off the 1985 coverage next time with Cornerstone, Infocom’s disastrous move towards the business computing market.

Before we begin, I have written a bonus post covering Suspect, the final game in the Sergeant Duffy mystery series. Ilmari already did an excellent official review of the game, but I couldn’t pass up playing it before moving on. It’s a great game and a good end to the year for Infocom and it is worth your time to (re-)read either of our reviews. I also have a strange kind of “Request for Assistance”. For the last four years, I have played a "classic" holiday-themed adventure game for our Christmas bonus post. There is only one more 1980s Christmas adventure that I know of left to play: A Christmas Adventure (1983) by Bitcards. This is a true rarity: a customizable game that you could give to your Apple II-owning loved ones as an electric holiday card. Unfortunately, the only copy I can find anywhere is 150 UKP (around $200). That’s a bit steep, but I’d like to see if we can collaborate to purchase and donate it to the Internet Archive. As an experiment, I have set up a GoFundMe page as a fundraiser and already coordinated with the good folk at the Internet Archive to import this game if we purchase it. (In fact, it will be shipped straight to them.) I’ll get to play it, but so will anyone else that wants to. Please take a look and donate if you would like to see me play this game this Christmas and for it to be saved by the Internet Archive. I hope no one is offended that I am asking for help; I just really want to play this game for posterity (and Christmas fun).

Saturday, 29 September 2018

Missed Classic: The Worm in Paradise - A Golden Handshake

By Ilmari

At the end of my last post I planned to try gathering enough money for the more expensive items. After that I noticed that the price of dagget (a mechanical dog) had come down in a couple of days - indeed, it appeared to have lost 100 creds of its price during each day.

Unfortunately we don’t see the dagget

...but I assume it looks something like this

Thursday, 27 September 2018

Alone in the Dark - Final Rating

By Andy Panthro

As I said in the introduction, this game not only brought 3D elements into game design in a new and interesting way, but also paved the way for what we now consider an entire genre. How well did it succeed? And how well does it perform as an “Adventure Game”? And most importantly, how will it score on a PISSED rating?

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Spellcasting 301 - Sand Castles in the Sand

By Deimar

Ernie Eaglebeak's Journal #3: Beating the GLYs is proving to be harder than we anticipated. Of course, we had already beat them at weight lifting and partying, but now we have to build a sand castle, belly flop and a drinking contest. And that’s not even the end of it. But we can’t stand down now. Afterall, we are fighting for our right to PAAAaaaaaaaaaartyyyyyyyy.

Will I find some of these chapter’s photos in Shutterstock?

Friday, 21 September 2018

Game 100: Amazon: Guardians of Eden (1992) - Introduction

Written by TBD

If not for the title, I wouldn't be sure if it was a jungle adventure game or a pirate game?

Continuing my self-appointed position as official “Access Software” player, despite the previous three Access Software games all being played by different reviewers, I’m playing through a game I hadn’t heard of until it came up in our Year Ahead post - Amazon: Guardians of Eden.

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Alone in the Dark - Tree’s A Crowd (Won!)

By Andy Panthro

We left off as I had guided the private detective Edward Carnby underneath Derceto, and into the tunnels and chambers beneath. This area was ancient and surely constructed long ago, perhaps by the pirate Eliah Pickford or perhaps some of these were here before he took up residence.

Ahead of me are a series of stone pillars, and newly in my action menu is the “jump” command. A flying bug is somewhat in the way, but a couple of shots from the rifle is enough to remove that obstacle. Now the only problem is a 3D jumping puzzle on a 2D background with a very fiddly control system and an unreliable camera positioning.

The jumping isn’t actually that hard, but gauging the distance is the tricky part. I actually fell more often due to jumping a little too far, but the fall doesn’t actually harm you. The water breaks your fall I suppose, although it ruins your rifle cartridges and extinguishes your lantern. There’s a shortcut back to the start from here (and to the rooms ahead), but I intend to finish this game fair and square.

Monday, 17 September 2018

Missed Classic 58: The Worm in Paradise (1985) - Introduction

By Ilmari

Joe Pranevich has just completed another year of gaming (1984) in his Infocom marathon, and before moving on to the challenges of 1985 games, he is planning to write a few additional articles on other interesting things Infocom was doing at that period. It is thus a good opportunity for me continue my own sideshow marathon and tackle another Level 9 game - The Worm in Paradise.

Robot beauty contest?

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Spellcasting 301 - The Party

By Deimar

Ernie Eaglebeak's Journal #2: This is not the spring break I had dreamt of. But it is getting close. I mean, I am getting to know very hot girls and even rekindle some old passions. However, there is this part about having to compete with the SWAM boys, the YUs, for the priviledge of coming to Fort Naughtytail for the next five years. And it seems like, as always, it all depends on me. I don’t even know why I am part of a fraternity anymore. Lucky for them, I managed to trick some bimbos into coming to our party because otherwise I am sure we would have lost the first game: getting the hottest girls to the Pharts party.

Seeing this screen I can’t avoid by thinking about this

Allow me to start this post by saying that advancing is veeeeery slow. As I predicted in my last one, I have had to replay the first two days several times until I was able of doing everything needed to win the first competition of the tournament, and even then I am still left with the feeling that I am missing something.

It doesn’t help that I am constantly fighting the interface. Specifically, the look verb. I am playing mostly using the keyboard because I didn’t find the verb and item menu all that useful. The problem is that when you “look” in a location you don’t always get the complete list of items there in the description. The game expects you to look at the graphics to learn more, which is fine. With the only problem being that objects are not always depicted in the picture, or are only painted from a perspective from where you can’t interact with them. Case in point, you can see a board and a calendar from your jail in the police station but you can’t interact with them until you get out of the jail. At that moment, you stop seeing them as they are next to the door and the perspective changes to seeing things from the office door, hiding them. In the end, this means that I am getting into the habit of typing “take all” in every single location to see the list of interactible items.

Now you see us

Now you don’t

Friday, 14 September 2018

Missed Classic: Hitchhiker’s Guide - Won! And Final Rating

Written by Joe Pranevich

I did it! With your help, I conquered The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy! This has been my fifteenth Infocom adventure and certainly one of the tougher ones, but thankfully Voltgloss and some Invisiclues were around to put me back on track. I leave this game feeling fairly satisfied, especially as I had made it quite near the end before I needed help. You’ll be reading all about that in just a moment.

For this week’s jaunt, I recommend that you get into the mood by a rendition of “Marvin, I Love You”, one of my favorite Hitchhiker’s-related novelty songs. Since this will likely be my last Hitchhiker’s post (unless I do a special one on the canceled sequel down the line), I couldn’t end this without making you listen to it at least once. I’ll have more chances for Douglas Adams love as we later get to Bureaucracy, and (perhaps someday) Starship Titanic. I discovered this tune through Dr. Demento as I doubt the original album was released in the US. The female vocalist on this track is Kimi Wong-O'Brien, better known as the then-wife of Richard O’Brien, the creator of Rocky Horror. There are more than a handful of Hitchhiker’s Guide-inspired songs released over the years. I’d love it if we got a good playlist of them in the comments!

Don’t Panic! It’s time to finally bring this adventure game to a close.

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Alone in the Dark - Going Underground

By Andy Panthro

Most of the house is now open to me, and I have explored a great deal of it. What remains is a couple of rooms, and to make my way down into whatever catacombs, caverns and caves lie beneath this cursed house. Last time, I had conquered the library and the Vagabond, found useful tools and information, and was ready to head back down and figure out how to beat the pirate in the front room.

One interesting passage in one of the books was from “The Sons of the Sun and the Shadows” by Lieutenant Lope de Vega. He tells of visiting the Aztecs, of human sacrifice and a statue of the water goddess Chalchihuitlicue. On this visit, they enter the temple and see the great statue, clad in gold and jewels, coming to life before their very eyes. Captain Cortez cried for them to attack, but they were stuck in place. Their armour seemed bolted to the temple floor, and only thanks to Cortez killing the priest with a well placed throw of his dagger, they were able to escape. The attached picture of the statue looks a lot like the heavy statue I picked up from that small dark bedroom.

Saturday, 8 September 2018

Spellcasting 301 - The Beach Boys

By Deimar

Ernie Eaglebeak's Journal #1
“I just can’t believe I am still friends with these guys… First, they got me to drive the carpet to our spring break destination, Fort Naughtytail, alone for hours on end while they slept. We arrived safe and sound, but then they blamed me for saving their lives by throwing away everything that was not them during our flight. Ungrateful pricks! They even had the courage to charge me twice the amount they paid for the hotel as a penalty! But when they get tangled against another fraternity in a tournament for the rights to come here on spring break for the next five years, who do you think they call?”

Hello people! I don’t know why I feel the need to greet you again after my rocking introduction post for this game but here I am again ready to continue!

Pictured here: Totally Voltgloss

What? Did you say I am not Voltgloss? How did you manage to see through my impeccable disguise? Sadly for you, Voltgloss had some issues that prevented him from finishing this game so you are stuck... with me!!. A non-native English speaker which has played as many as three (allegedly) parser-based adventures in his life and that hates time-based games because he likes exploring at his own pace. Clearly the only good choice to play this game.

Resuming the game from where Voltgloss left it, the prologue ends with Ernie in the main Plaza of Fort Naughtytail, just in front of the Hu Delta Phart’s hotel, the Royal Infesta. Our brothers are set on going to the rooms so that seems like the best course of action. Once inside, the group pays the fee, with Ernie paying twice the price for his room in punishment for throwing away all the HDP’s things during the flight.

Maybe you should know that Ernie’s room is the cheapest, with views to the dumpster and only costs 20 pieces...

Thursday, 6 September 2018

Alone in the Dark: History of the House of Hell

By Andy Panthro

Derceto, the house that cages me and kills me. Either by traps, wildlife or creatures from dimensions beyond ours, I face death at every turn, through every door, in every room. I knew the library held the key, if not literally then perhaps by means literary.

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Missed Classic: Hitchhiker’s Guide - Arthur Who? (Request for Assistance)

Written by Joe Pranevich

Let’s mix our time travel metaphors!

If you’ve ever seen Doctor Who, you know that the adventure of the Doctor and his companions are fairly random. They travel from world to world, from time to time, solving problems and having adventures. They also spend a great deal of time running. But during the period that Douglas Adams was a writer and script editor, this was taken to the extreme with the installation of the “Randomizer”. This device mostly prevented the Doctor from deciding where the TARDIS would go next, ensuring that neither he nor the evil Black Guardian (from whom he was fleeing) would know where he was going. Functionally, the show was exactly the same as before, but now there was some technobabble reason why they didn’t know where they were going rather than just the normal not knowing where they were going. Eventually, they dropped the premise and forgot that the Black Guardian was supposed to be chasing them anyway. That’s Doctor Who in a nutshell.

I have to wonder whether Douglas Adams was inspired by the Randomizer when he and Steve Meretzky were working on this segment of the Hitchhiker’s Guide game. That all we have: random mini-adventures in random order. I’m not sure how this is supposed to wrap up. It’s still fun, but they traded the linearity of the earlier part of the game with random side stories. It’s easier to narrate than explain, so read on! I should also mention that at the end, I have no idea what to do next. Suggestions are appreciated.

Saturday, 1 September 2018

King's Quest VI: Final Rating

Written by TBD.

It's time to rate the best King's Quest game, based on most opinions I've read. Will I agree? Spoiler alert: Yes, I will.

Before I start I'll quickly mention that I attempted to play the Amiga version for comparison purposes but couldn't get it working. I did find a comprehensive list of the differences online and seeing as the Amiga version largely just skipped some puzzles I'm happy to give up without trying too hard to get it working. I did end up playing the game using both the original and CD enhanced graphics, with my final perfect ending playthrough happening with the old/lower quality character portraits.

So let's get to it. On with the PISSED rating...

Puzzles and Solvability

The puzzles in King’s Quest VI are pretty good and have sensible solutions.

I just gave a milk bottle I took from a milkweed bush to a baby's tear to make the other baby's tears cry harder so I can collect their tears and use them to cast a spell that requires salt water - like I said, perfectly sensible solutions!

Sunday, 26 August 2018

Missed Classic: Hitchhiker’s Guide - Improbable Mission

Written by Joe Pranevich

Welcome back! Last week, I successfully defeated the Vogons, retrieved the elusive babel fish, and managed to secure an atomic vector plotter before being jettisoned out of an airlock. Not bad for a Thursday! This week, I will be picking up the thread just after passing out for lack of oxygen and very improbably being picked up by a passing spaceship: the Heart of Gold. Thus far, the Hitchhiker’s Guide game has been a lot of fun, if a bit linear. Contrary to my initial fears, Adams and Meretzky have managed to make the game funny without being inscrutable; there is a logic to the puzzles that makes them solvable and gives you a sense of pride for doing so.

I mentioned last week that I am stuck and I remain so, although I have some new things to try. I have decided to pause my own playing for another week or so until the writing catches up. I hope that my re-playing the events will inspire me to find the thing I missed. I think I realized something that I missed even while typing out this post, so I look forward to experimenting. Onward to the adventure!

Friday, 24 August 2018

King's Quest VI - WON! Thrice!

Written by TBD

When we last left Alexander, he was about to crash a wedding TWICE!

But before continuing the game, something has been bothering me about the events that preceded the start of the game.

The people of the Land of the Green Isles have told me that the old King and Queen had died of grief after Cassima went missing.

But when I met the royal couple's ghosts in the Land of the Dead they informed me that Alhazred had killed them with a dagger while they slept.

I thought long and hard about this contradiction, and I came to the only conclusion I could, that this is what must have happened...

Flashback... SEVEN MONTHS AGO...

Gruff: Captain Saladin. The King and Queen are dead – they have dagger-shaped wounds in their backs and there is blood all around the Royal Bedroom.

Saladin: Dagger-shaped wounds in their backs, eh. Hmmmm.

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Alone in the Dark - Bows, Books and Vagabonds

By Andy Panthro

I was a little lost last time, but progress has been made! I decided to leave the statue and the book where they are in the darkness, having no space to take them, and turned the corner towards the gallery. Jeremy Hartwood was a painter of some talent, and had a gallery made in his house to display those pieces that presumably meant something to him, or maybe just couldn’t be sold.

Sunday, 19 August 2018

Missed Classic: Hitchhiker’s Guide - I Got the Babelfish!

Written by Joe Pranevich

What is the most famous puzzle in adventure game history? Is it defeating the snake in Colossal Cave? Sneaking in the back of the white house in Zork? How about something from King’s Quest or Maniac Mansion? In 1984, one of the most famous puzzles (at least according to the marketing department at Infocom) was the babel fish from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The puzzle was so famous that successful players purchased a now-prized t-shirt advertising that fact: “I got the babel fish.” If I had lived in 1984 and played this game, I would definitely have bought the shirt. Why? Because, this week I got the babel fish. I confess that this puzzle probably isn’t that famous considering that I do not remember it from my original playthrough of this game more than twenty years ago, but it was still fun. I’ve received t-shirts for dumber reasons.

Before we begin today, I recommend setting the mood in with “Journey of the Sorcerer”, the theme song to the original series. In a burst of cosmic similarity, I’m going to cover in this post roughly the same ground as the first episode of the radio and television series. I doubt I’ll be able to keep that up as the game will diverge from the source material, but it’s as good as any place to begin.

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

King's Quest VI – Upstairs Downstairs

Written by TBD.

Now that I've used both methods to enter the castle, let's see how I fared in each case. The castle's puzzles are also different on the two potential paths, so let's split them up and see where we end up.

Let's start with the Land of the Dead playthrough.


When we left off after Alexander entered the castle by his magic painted door, he was perusing his options.

The first door to the right appears to be the dungeon I get thrown in whenever the guards capture me, so nothing special in there.

The second door is a similar dungeon, but this one contains a ghost. The ghost is a small boy crying for his mother. I assume it's Ali and give him the handkerchief his ghost mother gave me in the Land of the Dead. Before he joins her, I ask him if there's anything he can do to help me, as Alexander doesn't work for free.

So, a door behind Superman. Got it – thanks, kid.

Monday, 13 August 2018

Alone in the Dark: Kitchen Nightmares

By Andy Panthro

To my right, a suspicious suit of armour, holding a very sharp sword. Ahead, a pair of locked doors that closed as I arrived on this floor. So I choose to go to my left, towards the unknown. This direction leads me to a corridor and some stairs down. This would be a bit more complex and require a bit of exploration before I’d even know where to go and what to do.

The corridor’s first room was a small bedroom, with little of note except a notebook. This was the diary of Jeremy Hartwood’s final days in this house. A troubled artist, he had delved into the darkness that consumes this house and fell foul of its corrupting touch. In a series of dreams, he found stone pillars in a dark desert, a strange man whose look froze him dead with fear, and a sacrificial knife used for human sacrifice.

Thursday, 9 August 2018

Missed Classic 57: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1984)

Written by Joe Pranevich

Infocom may have been the masters of text adventures, but they aspired to more. They wanted to be “interactive fiction”, to have the recognition that gaming could be an art form on the same level of a good book. To this end, they pursued authors, most notably up to this point Mike Berlyn (Suspended, Infidel, and Cutthroats) and Jim Lawrence (Seastalker). Even Steve Meretzky, Infocom’s jack-of-all-trades was now a published author. But could they have scored a greater prize in 1984 than Douglas Adams, already admired as one of the all-time greats (and all time weirdest) writers of witty and absurd adventures? Mr. Adams had written and performed with Monty Python. He had produced some of the greatest episodes of Doctor Who to date. He had found seemingly overnight success with his Hitchhiker’s Guide series on radio, albums, television, and books. Now he was coming to work with Infocom to adapt his most famous work to gaming. It would be a tremendous challenge, but if they succeeded it could change the face of Infocom and gaming forever… or at least until someone decided to bet the farm on business productivity software.

This week, we’ll tell his story and start the game that he produced. Can Mr. Adams’s style of humor translate to a good game? Is it even possible to make a good game based on a comedy? I am very eager to find out.

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Alone in the Dark - Man in the Mirror

Written by Andy Panthro

This is a game that wants to kill the player character, and it begins from the start, even as you’re just getting used to your surroundings and used to the controls and user interface. I try to get my bearings in the attic, this large open space that is not nearly as full of clutter as you might expect. The game uses what are generally referred to as “tank” controls using the arrow keys on the keyboard. Up to move forwards, down to move backwards and the left and right keys to turn slowly in either direction.

Sunday, 5 August 2018

King's Quest VI – Knight of the Leaving Dead

Written by TBD

When we left off last time, Alexander had just entered the castle using Beauty's serving maid clothes and had gotten himself captured by attempting to enter the most obvious door.

Now, I played on for a little while and became stuck due to a dead-end that required me to reload to before entering the castle. I did reload, and did some extra exploring, and ended up finding the other way to enter the castle that the Oracle, Laukku and Michael had told me existed.

So let’s ignore my fruitless efforts in the castle for now, and deal with me finding a more circuitous route to the castle.


When I went back to town to swap my paintbrush for a nightingale (not having a nightingale was the dead-end I found in the castle) I saw a guy I hadn’t seen for quite a while.

You may look like a homeless Santa Claus with a paper boat for a hat, but I've missed you, man.

Friday, 3 August 2018

Game 99: Alone in the Dark (1992) - Introduction

Administrator's note:Due to a lack of time to write about Spellcasting 301 at the moment, we're pausing that game temporarily and getting on with the next game on our list. Over to Andy Panthro...

Written by Andy Panthro

How do we assign a genre, when something is breaking boundaries and creating something which at the time was quite unique? On the other hand, so many elements are previously known, is this evolution or revolution? With Alone in the Dark, we see both a game which moves Adventure into 3D (mostly), as well as being the inspiration for an entirely new category of games, although the originator is often forgotten.

Created by Infogrames in 1992 it borrows heavily from horror novels and films to create a creepy and atmospheric adventure, filled with puzzles, traps and monsters. The game uses both 2D backgrounds with 3D characters, and the CD-ROM version also has a magnificent orchestral soundtrack as well as voice-acting which sounded a lot better to me 25 years ago then it does today, but it was good for the time.

Sunday, 29 July 2018

King's Quest VI - Fantastic Breasts and Where to Find Them

Written by TBD

When we left off last time, Alexander had just entered the Minotaur's Labyrinth and fallen down a pit, with the game giving me a clue that the Cliffs of Logic aren't the only place on this island where I'd need to refer to the manual.

I check out the manual's “The Catacombs” section for clues. The manual tells me that “The Ancient Ones built death traps into the catacombs and filled it with dead-end paths, maze-like corridors, and rooms where secret knowledge is needed to pass.” Sounds intriguing.

Reloading to before I enter the catacombs, I quickly go back to the Isle of the Crown to make sure I've got the tinderbox before properly exploring the underground catacombs. While there I try to give some of my other items to the pawnbroker.

But... what if I told you it was a special life-saving brick?

I can't actually remember where I got that brick – I could go through my save games but screw that, let's just say I somehow have a brick in my inventory.

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Missed Classic 56: The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1981)

Written by Joe Pranevich

In the mid-1980s, Douglas Adams’s career was firing on all cylinders. A comic writer since college, best known for his collaborations with Graham Chapman and Monty Python’s Flying Circus, he was writing for classic Doctor Who at arguably its creative height and had just launched the juggernaut that was The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It was in this spirit that Mr. Adams, in conjunction with Steve Meretzky, created one of the finest and most famous of the Infocom adventures.

This is not that story.

This is the story of the other official Hitchhiker’s Guide game, the one scrubbed from store shelves to make room for the Infocom work. That game was written by Bob Chappell and published by Supersoft in 1981. I’ll be diving into the more famous game next week, but there is something tempting about playing a game that you aren’t supposed to be able to play and I just could not resist. I’ll give a basic introduction to the Hitchhiker’s Guide and Douglas Adams this week, focusing instead on the story of this “lost” adventure game; next week will have a proper introduction as part of the series on the Infocom game. Grab your towel and remember to “Don’t Panic”.

Saturday, 21 July 2018

King's Quest VI – The Cliffs of RTFM

Written by TBD

When we last left Alexander, he had just visited the edge of Chessboard Land, and was hanging out in the garden of pun-named flowers, being hugged to death by the clinging vines.

Reloading after being smothered by the clinging vines, I tried something I didn't try earlier for no reason other than I hadn't thought of it - I gave one of the baby's tears some milk. This just made the other babies cry harder (and louder.) I try to take the bottle back to share it around, but that doesn't work.

The baby has no teeth and no hands, this really shouldn't be that hard, Alexander.

I go back to milk bottle brush so I can give each baby some milk, but Alexander won't take more than one bottle of milk at a time and after returning to the garden with a new bottle, the milk bottle I'd given the baby earlier had disappeared.

After drowning in the swamp trying to get to an anthropomorphic stick, I thought it was time to try a different island.

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

TAG Banner Contest

By the TAG Team

Our Hero-U Month has come to its conclusion with the launch of Hero-U and the interview with Corey Cole, and so it is time to decide what to do with our official TAG banner. We could just return to our old Monkey Island banner, but since that would be a dull move, we've decided to hold a TAG Banner Contest!

We tried to hire Mark Ruffalo as the mascot of our Banner Contest, but when he heard he'd get only CAPs as his reward, he became angry and green and almost stomped on us