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.

Tuesday 8 January 2019

Putt-Putt Joins the Parade - Won!

By Ilmari

What keeps those eyebrows linked to the car?

Daddy of the Teletubbies Sun?

That yawn is just plain creepy

And there are teeth. He even washes them

Sunday 6 January 2019

Island of Dr. Brain - Won!

Written by Reiko

Easy if you can read a treble clef.

In the far corner of the room, I find a piano, which launches the music puzzle. This has three stages. "Lesson 1" is Sight Reading: clicking the correct note on the piano that matches each note on the staff. Lesson 2 is Placing Notes: clicking the correct place on the staff that matches each note played on the piano, which is just the inverse of sight reading.

The given melody.

Friday 4 January 2019

Waxworks - Final Rating

By Deimar

We come to the end of HorrorSoft. And it is a pity that it seems so rushed and a bit unfinished because I really liked both Elviras. The good things in them easily overcome their flaws, at least if you are interested in an horror themed adventure. However, in this game there are simply too many design mistakes, too much repetitiveness, too many dead ends… And even though I ended up the game with the mine, which is the most elaborated level, mostly well designed and interesting, it came after three sections ranging from meh to borderline infuriating. In the end, it didn’t left a good taste, neither as an adventure game nor as an RPG. Let’s check its flavour in our PISSED rating.