Friday, 17 May 2019

Curse of Enchantia - WON!!

Written by Alfred n the Fettuc

That’s it! I conquered Curse of Enchantia! I slayed the beast! Victory! Free at last!

I have mixed feelings about it. One part of me is very proud to have done this without a walkthrough (even if the temptation was very strong a few times) and the other part is astonished by the vacuity of the whole thing. I think my soul has died a little by playing this game to completion. Good thing it was for the blog, if it helps at least one person to stay away from this game in the future, maybe my sacrifice wasn’t for nothing.

But for now, let’s all go back in the enchanted land of Enchantia one last time in order to help Brad get rid of the evil sorceress once and for all! Yay!

Don’t worry, Brad. It’ll all be over real soon.

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Missed Classic: Ballyhoo - Circus Minimus

Written by Joe Pranevich

Welcome back! Last time out, we started into Infocom’s fourth mystery game, Ballyhoo. Unlike our previous mysteries, this one is not (yet!) a murder. Instead, we have a kidnapping… at a circus! We will have to use all of our investigative skills to find out who kidnapped the owner’s daughter and why, even though the owner doesn’t know we are helping and probably wouldn’t be that thrilled to find out that some random patron was snooping around his circus after closing time. Why are we doing this again? Because we secretly dream of the Big Top ourselves! And of being a detective, apparently. Actually, I have no idea why we’re doing this but someone has to save the girl and so it might as well be us.

I apologize for the small delay in getting this out. We’ve had “plague house” here at the local Infocom Marathon Headquarters and so much of my time has been spent either being sick, cleaning up after others being sick, or both at the same time. It doesn’t make for the best head-space for writing about a fun-filled circus holiday. To compensate, I’ve made this entry a bit longer than usual. As they say, send in the clowns!

Monday, 13 May 2019

Game 108: Nippon Safes, Inc. (1992) - Introduction

Written by Torch

Doesn’t look very safe to me

Two years after my first ever playthrough for The Adventure Gamer, I’m finally up for another. Quite the gap, but - surprise! - we’re still doing games from 1992! We sure are taking our time here, or perhaps 1992 was just a particularly bountiful year. Either way, the next game up is Nippon Safes, Inc. This game was developed by Dynabyte software, an Italian game creator. I couldn’t find a lot of information about this company, but running a couple of Italian wikis through Google translate helped a little.

Dynabyte. I’m gonna go out on a limb and guess that it’s a portmanteau of dynamite and byte

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

Rome: Pathway to Power - LOST!

Written by TBD

Hector’s Journal #4: "The Emperor considers me a threat to his power. I'll show him a threat. I'll curry Cleopatra's favour and see if she can help me oust the Emperor. I'm sure I'd be at least as good an Emperor - I can eat grapes and raise taxes all day with the best of them... and I rarely argue with shrubbery..."

When last we looked in on Hector the slave owner, invader, pillager, briber and attempted assassin-hirer, he'd just been made a Consul and sent to Egypt to protect Cleopatra.

It seems Cleopatra's throne is being threatened by her brother, Ptolemy XXIV. Now, I looked up Ptolemy XXIV and couldn't find him, but Google pointed me to the Wikipedia page of Ptolemy VIII instead.

I'm sure if I look up all royal families in history I'll find something weirder than this, but when your niece, stepdaughter and wife are all the same person perhaps it's time to stop trying to pick up women at family reunions.

Friday, 3 May 2019

Curse of Enchantia - In the Nose of Madness

Written by Alfred n the Fettuc

Just when I thought this game couldn’t get any weirder, it throws you a curveball and creates the most mindf..king world I’ve seen in a long time. Let’s just say this part of the game would make the island of fairy tales in King’s Quest VI look like a perfectly normal office bullpen. But first things first, I had to reach the next part, which is easier said than done when you’re back in the same town area without any change and no idea on how to progress in the game…

Rejoice citizens! Your savior is back!

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Missed Classic 67: Ballyhoo (1986) - Introduction

Written by Joe Pranevich

Infocom careened into 1986 on the backs of two contradictory pieces of information. Sales had been up in 1985 for an all-time high of $11.5 million, and yet the company was falling apart. The Cornerstone flop was a distant memory, but the winter layoffs that followed were not. Marc Blank, founder and co-developer of the Zork series, Deadline, and Enchanter was out. So was Al Vezza, the CEO. Mike Berlyn had left even before Fooblitzky had been released with the graphics team as one of the layoff casualties. Infocom was in active negotiations with Activision for a buyout, although how much of this was known during the development of Ballyhoo is unclear. What is clear is that the announcement of Activision’s intent to merge came out within days of Ballyhoo’s release. This would be the last game ever released by an independent Infocom.

Into this maelstrom entered Jeff O’Neill, a first time Implementor. Originally from California, he came to Infocom with a background in journalism and a smidge of computer science. He put those skills to use doing QA on Wishbringer, Hitchhiker’s Guide, and likely other games. He also subbed in as a writer for the The New Zork Times, the company newsletter. Unlike many of the other Imps, Jeff has kept his privacy post-Infocom and so we know less about him than other team members. We’ll see his touch here and in Nord and Bert (1987), plus he was one of the contributors to Bureaucracy (also 1987). I look forward to getting to know him through his games.

Saturday, 27 April 2019

Rome: Pathway to Power - The Political Machine

Written by TBD

Hector’s Journal #3: "I've been a Senator for 15 minutes and I've already been given the opportunity to become a Consul, a position of power second only to the Emperor himself. So how do I get the populace to vote for me? Sensible and affordable policies? Tax breaks for low income families? Screw all that. I figure the most effective way of getting this promotion is by bribing as many citizens as I can! It's times like these I'm wondering if I should have spent more time earlier in the game stealing money..."

I hate Rome! Each chapter of the game has involved me restarting it over and over again until I get it right. And these sections have gotten progressively harder. To top it all off, while each section is a self-contained level, the amount of gold I have is carried over, so when I've only just passed an earlier section with minimal extra funds, I make each subsequent section harder. Can I make it too hard to finish? I certainly hope not. I actually enjoy the repetition the first few times I have to restart, as I see different things, but after a few goes I see nothing new and just have to plod through hoping the luck of the dice turn my way. I thought the reloading of saved games was tedious in the previous chapter, but this chapter leaves Britain for dead in the 'you failed - start again' stakes. Sigh. Oh well, Let's continue playing and see how I go.

When last we looked in on Hector the slave owner, invader and pillager, he'd just been made a Senator by leading an army into killing a lot of Britons. Being a responsible slave owner, I enquire about Barbarus' health.

Good, because I'll probably be having you fight until you die at the arena later today.

Thursday, 25 April 2019

Curse of Enchantia - Ice Rage: The Meltdown

Written by Alfred n the Fettuc

We should really make a list of the seven cardinal sins of adventure game design someday (even if the list would probably be closer to seventy) but I’m pretty sure two sins would make the list pretty easily.
  1. You should never make a puzzle so obscure the only way to solve it is to stumble upon the solution by sheer luck or while trying something completely different.
  2. When you know the solution to a puzzle, you should be able to solve it without having to spend one hour trying to make the game understand what you’re trying to do.
What is interesting is that these two problems are directly related to the interface of the game. While the former is bound to happen again and again with the interface getting simpler with every game (for example I want to climb on a stool but my character ends up pushing it), the latter is bound to disappear for exactly the same reason. In ye olde text adventures you have to discover exactly the way the developer wants you to interact with the game, but with a one-click interface, you don’t have to figure out the logic, you just have to click on the item and see what happens.

What’s really great with Curse of Enchantia is that you have these two sins combined, which is something of a rarity. Add the fact maybe that “having only one music track for a ten-hour long game” might be one of the sins and you’re in for an unforgettable experience.

After a nice long chat with my friend the yeti, it’s time to get back to it…

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

Missed Classic 66: The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾ (1985)

By Ilmari
"I have decided to be a poet. My father said that there isn’t a suitable career structure for poets and no pensions and other boring things, but I am quite decided. He tried to interest me in becoming a computer operator, but I said, ‘I need to put my soul into my work and it is well known that computers haven’t got a soul’. My father said,’ The Americans are working on it’. But I can’t wait that long."
"My mother has found a job. She collects money from Space Invader machines. She started today in response to an urgent phone call from the job agency that she is registered with. She said that the fullest machines are those in unrespectable cafes and university common rooms. I think my mother is betraying her principles. She is pandering to an obsession of weak minds."
- Adrian Mole, would-be-intellectual -

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Missed Classic: Spellbreaker - Won! And Final Rating

Written by Joe Pranevich

Spellbreaker started as a chase, then it became a hunt for macguffin cubes, now we are finally closing out through some of the most devious puzzles every created for adventure games. We’ve just about reached the end the last original “Zork” game. This has been a game that I have in turn loved and hated. It’s the longest Infocom game so far. Despite my previous misgivings, I am enjoying it more as it cruises to the finale.

Last week, I continued my quest for cubes. I found one deep in the sea, discovered when I transformed myself into a clone of a particularly annoying fish. I found a second after racing a roc to its nest, and a third after helping a green-eyed boulder play a game of bumper cars with her brown-eyed friend. This game likely makes no sense to anyone not actively playing it, but there have been a few great puzzles recently. With that cube retrieved, I can teleport point to a new cube room: Dark. That has two exits, but as usual only one that I can pass through. I descend into a strange dark cave-- let’s go find some grues!

Saturday, 13 April 2019

Curse of Enchantia - Cliffbanger

Written by Alfred n the Fettuc

Hello folks, glad to see you back here! Last week in this fantastic adventure game, we finally exited the long cave network and saw the light of day for the first time since… wow, actually it’s the first time we have an exterior location in the whole game. Enjoy the sunlight, it might not last…

We find our friend Brad, lost deep in thoughts contemplating
a statue that represents the futility of his existence

Thursday, 11 April 2019

Rome: Pathway of Power - The Woad Warrior

Written by TBD

Hector’s Journal #2: "You've heard the story before. The slave who became a general... or was it the other way around? Either way, I keep improving my station through means having nothing to do with my skills. Let's see if I can keep this going – if I do, I could even be Emperor one day!"

When last we looked in on Hector the slave owner, he'd failed multiple times at having his slave win a gladiatorial battle. So without having any better ideas, I kept trying...

Reloading after not having played the game for a few days, I'd forgotten I'd saved the game after already owning a slave so accidentally bought a different slave.

Let's take a look at my inventory...

Slaves are like Pringles - you can't stop at one.

Well, I've now got two slaves and 25 sesterces. I still owe the moneylender 60 sesterces and need some amount more than 40 to bribe my way into the Palace. So let's see if we can win a fight at the arena now. Maybe Billius and Barbarus can be the first ever tag-team.

Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Missed Classic: Spellbreaker - The Chase

Written by Joe Pranevich

You’ve heard the classic story: boy meets girl, girl meets boy, boy and girl happen to be levitating rocks on a Tron-esque grid? It’s classic. If I have to say one thing about Spellbreaker, it is not afraid to have interesting and difficult puzzles. And despite the number of times that I have been stuck in this game, I’ve nearly always managed to get myself unstuck by looking at the problem in a different way. As we approach the end of the game, the overall picture is coming into focus. Connections are forming between the areas that the cubes take us, but I wish I did not have to spend the first half of the game feeling like I was playing a text-adventure version of Quantum Leap. Oh boy…

One other thing: this game is long. I’m ending this post at just over 18 hours in, making it the longest Infocom game by far and that does not include any of my time replaying from scratch last entry. The only longer game in this marathon is mainframe Zork which clocked in at roughly double where I am now. No actual Infocom release has taken me more than twelve hours to win. If they had planned to make this the “grand finale” of Zork, I think they succeeded under that metric at least.

Let’s play!

Friday, 5 April 2019

Curse of Enchantia - Cave Story Minus

Written by Alfred n the Fettuc

Last week we left our dashing protagonist, Brad, alone in a damp cave with only a paperclip to his name. Now is the time to explore a fantastic cave network with I imagine what can only be a deliciously clever suite of interconnected puzzles…

Fantastic adventures await!

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Rome: Pathway to Power - The Emperor's New Woes

Written by TBD

And so, after almost two months, we continue our playthrough of Rome: Pathway to Power.

It's been a while, so if you want to catch up you can read Reiko's Introduction (here) and first post (here).

For a quick summary, here's what happened so far.


Hector, a slave living in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius, and the character we play, was sent by his master to give a letter to Fellonius the Consul.

After asking a local plumber for directions, Hector finds Fellonius.

Actual fact: The word 'plumber' originated in the Roman Empire, as the Romans used lead pipes and the Latin word for lead is plumbum.
Possibly actual fact: In more modern times, a lead pipe was also used by Professor Plum in the Conservatory.

Friday, 29 March 2019

Curse of Enchantia - 20000 Leagues Under Quality Game Design

Written by Alfred n the Fettuc

One of the greatest things about The Adventure Gamer blog is that we have the opportunity to find out exactly how good the games we didn’t play back in the day actually are. Sure, it’s always great to read more about Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis or Monkey Island, but it’s the unknown games that really get my attention. Sometimes you can find a diamond in the rough, some unknown great game. For example, it’s thanks to this game that I finally got around to play Gateway and I don’t regret one second of it, it was a great game! Sometimes, time has just forgotten excellent games that you never took the time to actually play.

And sometimes not. Sometimes games are forgotten because they are utterly horrible garbage.

Please tell me you’ve come to release me of my misery

Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Gobliiins - Final Rating

By Ilmari

Gobliiins is one of those games, which definitely have flaws, but still manage to be, on the whole, charming and fun to play. It will be interesting to see whether the good parts will manage to outweigh the weaknesses or not.

There’s something immensely enjoyable in scenes like this

Sunday, 24 March 2019

Game 107: Curse of Enchantia - Introduction

Written by Alfred n’ the Fettuc

The English game development studio Core Design is first and foremost known for the Tomb Raider series, being the creator of one of the biggest franchises in video game history (and solely responsible for the rise of Eidos Interactive, their parent company, that would still be active as far as 2009, where it was purchased and absorbed by Square Enix). However their story begins much earlier than that with another cult classic: Rick Dangerous. This Indiana Jones inspired platformer was one huge hit during the Amiga golden days (and one game I really loved despite being utterly incapable of going past the fifth screen or so). Also responsible for other (less cult) classics such as Impossamole, Heimdall and Chuck Rock, the studio saw the rise of adventure games as an opportunity, and basically decided to get their shot at the genre that was printing money for Lucasarts and Sierra in the 90s.

Art by Rolf Mohr, who would become the concept
artist for the Telltale
Batman series, among other things.

Thursday, 21 March 2019

Missed Classic: Spellbreaker - The Incredible Shrinking Man

Written by Joe Pranevich

Welcome back! Last week, I was able to puzzle my way past a splash-down with a hungry fish, bring a statue to life just long enough to steal something from its mouth, shrink a snake, and insult The Phantom Menace. As I have mentioned before, the game seems very random with sequences of puzzle vignettes that are connected through teleportation rather than a contiguous world. In all of this, I was able to snag my fourth cube and I am approximately 1/4th of the way through the game. I will have to pick up the pace or you will be reading about Spellbreaker forever, but it is a hard game to rush. Besides, if this is the final “original” Zork game, I want to savor the experience… or at least to give it the best possible shake.

I know I was a bit down on this game when I started, although it may have had as much to do with my own mental place while playing as anything else. I’ve taken a pause and a reset and am approaching the game with refreshed eyes. I’ve replayed the entire game up to this point and can better see the connective tissue. We’ll see how it plays out as I approach the finish.

Sunday, 17 March 2019

Gobliiins - Into the Fire

By Ilmari

Statue of Serenity - made by Joss Whedon?

Or maybe it is a statue OF him?

Thursday, 14 March 2019

Missed Classic: Spellbreaker - Romancing the Stone

Written by Joe Pranevich

A few years back, I spent some time studying Shakespeare. I’m not going to claim some amazing insight into the bard, but as I read each play I was always struck by a moment of realization when I saw what he was up to. It’s not fair to compare Infocom with one of the seminal writers of the English language, but most of their games has similarly featured a moment of realization when you discover exactly what kind of game you are playing. For Spellbreaker, I think I hit that point in the last post. Here’s my prediction: we’re going to spend the game visiting largely disconnected regions and solving puzzles. In each area or so, we’ll find a white cube which will propel the narrative forward to another area. I don’t quite see the endgame yet, but some magic will allow us to access the blocked exits in each of the cubes to solve a final puzzle which will end the series. Let’s see how off the mark I am.

Honestly, I’ve already been off the mark once in this game. I expected it to be more of a chase as we constantly nipped at the heels of the orange-smoke assailant, exploring regions and solving puzzles as a means to get closer and closer to him. That hasn’t turned out to be the case, but I suppose there is still plenty of time to catch up to him.

Last week, we ended as I snagged a second white cube off of a hermit who lived on top of an avalanche. I climbed the rockfall by pausing time at just the right moment and scaling the boulders in flight. I magically fixed his hut and was rewarded with the cube. That led me to a “Soft Room” which is where I will start today. Let’s go!

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Gobliiins: Underneath a Carrot Patch

By Ilmari

I had managed to get in wizard’s house, but then I had no idea what I was expected to achieve. Time for plan B, that is, random clicking around. What I soon found out was that the big skeleton was very ticklish and dropped a skeleton key, if I used a feather on him. I couldn’t take the key right away, because the skeleton was guarding it.

And he was mightily pissed

Monday, 11 March 2019

Rex Nebular - Final Rating

Written by TBD

It seems weird to make a big deal about your manual being written by an award winning game designer when he had nothing to do with the game itself.

So let's get to rating Rex Nebular and the Cosmic Gender Bender. I'll start with some general thoughts. I was really surprised (and rather pleased) that the game didn't contain a whole heap of sex-based jokes. That type of humour can very quickly become repetitive and boring so well done.

Having said that, I enjoyed the game a lot more at the beginning. I was wondering if it was just that the humour got stale after a while, but I really think it's more because much more effort was put into the beginning of the game than the late game. More items seem to have unique and detailed descriptions earlier whereas later in the game there are a lot more generic or shorter responses.

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Missed Classic: Spellbreaker - Avalanche!

Written by Joe Pranevich

Wow! It’s been a while. How have you been? Family good? Any of you have children who grew up, went to college, started a family, and then had children of their own still waiting for a Spellbreaker update? I am sorry about that, but life has been a bit extra challenging these last few weeks and writing needed to take a back seat. The other issue is that this game isn’t really “singing” to me. It’s good and all, but I’m not really getting drawn to the story or the puzzles in the usual way for Infocom. I’ll discuss that more in a bit and in upcoming posts, but the end result is that not having enough time, plus having to force myself to play and write when I did have the time, made for a longer than usual time between posts. I’ll try to do better with the remainder of the series now that real life has settled a bit. I apologize for my tardiness.

Where we left off last time, I had just survived (somehow) an attack where all of the elders of all of the magical guilds in the world were all turned into frogs. Why was I not affected? That remains a core mystery. I chased after the assailant, but he teleported away in a cloud of orange smoke, leaving me only with a white cube left in the middle of the street and a new spell in my spellbook. When I cast that new spell on the cube, I was transported away into a dark room. That’s all we’ve done so far, so let’s see what happens next!

Sunday, 3 March 2019

Gobliiins - Collecting Reagents

By Ilmari

Happened last time: the goblins were asked to collect three magical reagents - Airain’s Mushroom, Arachnide’s Elixir and Bald Plant - which the wizard needed for curing the goblin king.

I hope his ears are waxless

In this level the obvious goal was to get past the Igor wannabe. The basic solution was pretty simple.

No, it did not involve the monster mask lying on the path

Friday, 1 March 2019

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Rex Nebular - Won!

Written by TBD.

Rex Nebular's Log: Stardate – Ides of March, 44 BC: I was just sitting down in the Senate before work when all the senators came in. After my good friend Brutus hugged me I felt a sharp pain in my bac... ... Sorry, wrong log... ... I won. I've completed my mission and escaped the evil women with help from an inexplicably homeless person. Let me tell you how I did it...

Well, I left off last time having gotten a bad ending and being stuck and asking for help. I received help from gboukensha, Charles and Leo Velles. Thank you all.

I looked at gboukensha's hints first.
1. You need to distract the dog
Well, I already knew that and if I wasn't somewhat impatient I would have tried a few more things before looking at the second clue. But that clue could easily mean I needed an item I didn't yet have and I was already impatient, so...
2. You should use the bones to do that
Okay. I had the bones and I'd tried throwing the bones to the dog one at a time and he just ate them up until I ran out.

So I go back to the auto shop and start throwing bones around willy-nilly. After a few aborted attempts to throw (There's really no need to throw the bones at the manhole...) the action line changes from Throw bones at item to...

Aha. When I point at the fence AT gets replaced with OVER

Saturday, 23 February 2019

Game 106: Gobliiins (1992) - Introduction

By Ilmari

Best thing about democracies is that you won't have to worry too long about raving rulers

You probably expected another Rome-post from Reiko, but unfortunately she has had to take a break from playing the game. Rome is now on hiatus, and we'll return to it later, when we've found a new reviewer for it. In the meantime, let's check on Gobliiins!

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Rex Nebular - LOST! (Request for Assistance)

Written by TBD.

Rex Nebular's Log: Stardate - 13th b'ak'tun.1: I finally found my way off this planet, but it quickly became clear that it wasn't exactly how I wanted to go out - can I try again?...

I'm hopelessly stuck. Last time I reported in, I'd done some exploring in the underground men's section of the planet, and had a few things I could try, one of which I was quite proud of and planned to do immediately.

My number one plan was to flood the city by blowing up the underground sea window. But that didn't work.

Aw, I was really proud of that idea too...

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Rex Nebular - It's A Man's World

Written by TBD

Rex Nebular's Log: Stardate - 27th of Last Seed.7: I've explored the abandoned underground land of men. I have a few more items, but none of them are getting me closer to getting the vase that I'd almost forgotten about or escaping the planet. I've found some locked doors so I know I'll at least need a few more keys. And I've just had a crazy idea that I'll try soon...

When we'd last left our hero, he'd just come out of the gender bender with his original gender back in order to explore the subterranean land of men by way of gender-locked vehicle.

The vehicle gives us nine possible locations. So let's explore them in the order of... well, in the order I explored them. At each location I'll finish with a short list of what I think needs to be done there. I have no illusions that all of my suppositions will be correct, but it's what I was thinking when I left the location.

The driving requires no input from me beyond selecting my destination. On choosing the location, the car drives there for a few seconds while Rex casually taps his fingers on the console.

Driving in Rex Nebular – much less tedious than Mean Streets or Police Quest

Saturday, 9 February 2019

Missed Classic 65: Spellbreaker (1985) - Introduction

Written by Joe Pranevich

From the earliest days of the company, Infocom had one tradition: a new Zork title released every fall. After Zork III, the baton was passed to the Enchanter series which, as patient and dedicated readers know was just the second Zork trilogy. October of 1985 was no exception with the launch of Spellbreaker, the conclusion to the second Zork trilogy. But 1985 wasn’t like previous years at Infocom. Layoffs had begun to stem the bleeding from Cornerstone’s commercial flop. A Mind Forever Voyaging wasn’t a commercial success and Fooblitzky had sold only five hundred copies by mail-order. I cannot imagine what the feelings were around the Infocom offices. Could this be the end?

Of course, we know it wasn’t, but Spellbreaker does mark the end of one era. It is the last of the original six Zork games. Other than a 1997 marketing tie-in, it’s the last Zork to be written by the original collaborators, Marc Blank or Dave Lebling. It’s nearly (but not quite) the last game to be released by an independent Infocom. It’s also one of the games that I have most looked forward to playing in this marathon.

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Rome: Pathway to Power - Out of the Fire

Written by Reiko

Hector’s Journal #1: "Someone's going to want to know eventually how a simple slave managed to get so far. I am hardly a simple slave, at least now, but I'd like to think that I was never ordinary. Yet you could say that I just got lucky, at least at first. It all started on the worst and best day of my life up to that point. It was certainly the worst day of the lives of a lot of other people."

First, I'm probably going to want to complain about the controls a lot, so let's just get that out of the way first, and then we can concentrate on the plot. Hector wanders around, often even when I haven't told him where to go, and when I do, the pathfinding is very inconsistent. For a game with time limits, this is not helpful. One time I clicked on a square to have Hector walk in one direction along a wall, and instead he started going the other way, as if he was trying to go around the wall instead. The one mitigating factor is that the map is interactive: it's basically like a very zoomed-out version of the whole level, with the current locations of all the people (unlabeled, but you can see in general where people are) displayed in real time, and clicking zooms back in and starts Hector moving to the selected location. It's actually far easier to navigate using the map screen than the regular screen, just because the view is so narrow.

Also, I discovered that if I click on an NPC, Hector yells "Excuse me" or some such, and the person stops moving for a minute, which gives me a chance to do a "greet" or "inquire" action on them. Better than trying to talk to moving people when the people are so tiny. However, when there are multiple people in close proximity to each other, it's still difficult to click on a specific one.

Those little sprites are hardly distinguishable, so I hope this is the right guy.

Sunday, 3 February 2019

Rex Nebular - To Boldly Go Where No Man Has Gone Before

Written by TBD.

Rex Nebular's Log: Stardate - The Day The Music Died.3: I'd sometimes dreamed about what I'd do if I was a woman for a day. But in none of those dreams did I just wander around picking stuff up and solving puzzles. At least I feel a lot more welcome on this planet now. Now, let's find out where these teleporters go...

When we'd last left our hero, she'd just come out of the gender bender with a brand new gender. I'd found the gender scanner to the south, but first I continue following the carnage my friend had made on his way to the teleporter.

I find another dead guard, and her arm half a screen away. I also find a tape player. Having gotten a tape from a dead body back in the hospital, I do the obvious.

My attempts to put my tape in the tape player showed me one of the quirks with the game's interface.

Both of these are generic descriptions I get by clicking on random things.

Friday, 1 February 2019

Game 105: Rome: Pathway to Power - Introduction (1992)

Written by Reiko

Rome: Pathway to Power is a bit of an odd duck. It's a historical adventure set in Rome, of course, in AD 92, which was also its other sub-title. But its main screen uses an isometric perspective, and at least one level involves controlling whole armies rather than just one character. This quirkiness reminds me a bit of the Dune adventure game that I reviewed a year and a half ago, which was a hybrid adventure-strategy game. I hope Rome has as good a blend between the adventure and strategy aspects.

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Interview with Brian Cody, Co-Creator of Fooblitzky

By Joe Pranevich

From time to time, it has been our pleasure to not only play and explore the classic games, but to discuss them with their creators. We’ve spoken to game designers and game illustrators, but I am pleased to have been able to spend some virtual time with someone who was both: Brian Cody, the co-creator of Fooblitzky, Infocom’s first and last computer board game. If you missed our coverage of that game, you can find it here. Brian was not only responsible for much of the game design, he also developed the game’s unique graphical style.

The following interview has been assembled from a series of emails in January 2019 and edited together for your reading enjoyment.

Saturday, 26 January 2019

Rex Nebular - Meet Mr. Chainsaw

Rex Nebular's Log: Stardate - Later That Afternoon.3: I've been captured by a group of women. One of the woman keeps referring to me as scum - which is strange because usually people spend at least a few minutes with me before realising I'm scum. It seems the women want to use me as breeding stock. I'm in great peril and need to escape as soon as possible. Or maybe I should stay and have just a little bit of peril first.

When I last checked in, I'd just teleported to a facility and been met by two women, one of whom had a gun pointed at me.

The women take me on a small tour through their complex, or not so much a tour as a direct line to the prison.

My fellow prisoners.

Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Infocom Marathon: Fooblitzky (1985)

Written by Joe Pranevich

When it came to text adventures, Infocom appeared to have the golden touch. And yet, there were dark clouds looming if you knew where to look. The earliest “Zork” games still sold like hotcakes, regularly appearing on top sales charts, while newer releases packed a punch but faded just as quickly. From the beginning, the executives at Infocom wanted to diversify in order to have a robust business, one responsive to changing industry trends. Fads come and go, but Infocom was to be a company for the long term. That diversification reached a fever pitch in 1985 as the company failed to launch a new business products division. We already looked at the catastrophe that was Cornerstone. Less well-known is Infocom’s initial foray into graphical non-adventure games. That experiment also led only to a single launch, the computer board game Fooblitzky.

We cannot cover Fooblitzky in the usual way. Instead, we have been inspired by Infocom’s sense of experimentation by launching an experiment of our own. Instead of my playing the game by myself, I was joined by three of our collaborators: TBD, Reiko, and Voltgloss. Even better, we recorded the game as a video which you can watch below. Considering our wide-ranging timezones, this is likely the first ever game of Fooblitzky played around the world. I’ve also embraced the spirit of experimentation by recording and editing (and then paying someone to edit better…) a video introduction to the game. It’s the first time we’ve done anything like this; please let us know in the comments below whether you want to see more such experiments in the future. Let’s have some fun with this!

Friday, 18 January 2019

Island of Dr. Brain - Final Rating

Written by Reiko

Island of Dr. Brain was quite the puzzle-fest, and of course, for a puzzle-lover like me, it was fun to play. However, I suspect that the parts don't add up quite the same way they did for its predecessor. Let's see how the categories compare.

Puzzles and Solvability

Puzzles! Definitely! But, like Castle, they're all individual mental puzzles, several of them classic by this point, like Towers of Hanoi. Others include math puzzles, word searches and other word puzzles, jigsaws, programming, even music and art. They run the gamut of school subjects, in fact, and many of them are quite a bit more intellectual than the puzzles in Castle.

The hardest puzzle in the game.

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Rex Nebular - Bouncing Betty

Written by TBD.

Rex Nebular's Log: Stardate - Tuesday morning.4: After being shot out of space I've crash landed on a planet populated only by women. Am I dreaming? Or do the indigenous creatures who keep wanting to rip off my head make it a nightmare?

We join our hero just after the opening cutscene, during which his ship was shot down and sunk into the water near the coast.

After getting up, the first thing I do is look at the viewscreen. On it I see a topless woman coming out of the water before the screen shorts out, upsetting Rex immensely. Is a pixellated topless woman the extent of naughtiness we're going to see in this game? I expect so.

I quickly discover that the descriptions in this game are rather verbose and there's a lot of hotspots I can look at in the first few screens. So much so that before fully exploring the ship I just wanted to go outside despite my usual strategy of looking at absolutely everything.

The descriptions are also amusing, so reading them is fun, but again, after a while, I just wanted to move on.

As I said, verbose but funny

Thursday, 10 January 2019

Game 104: Rex Nebular and the Cosmic Gender Bender (1992) – Introduction

Written by TBD

Rex is regretting his third wish, which seemed like such a fun idea in theory.

Much like a previous game I've played, Leather Goddesses of Phobos, the title of this game has me forming an opinion on the type of experience I'll be having before I even start. I'm expecting, again like the previously mentioned title, a space comedy game with many jokes and situations somehow related to sex. Will I be right? I feel confident I'll be right.