Saturday 31 August 2019

Game 112: Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective Vol. II - Introduction (1992)

Written by Joe Pranevich

The blurb on the back of the box tells us, "What they said about Sherlock I, you'll say about Sherlock II." I am fairly certain that there have never been truer words in advertising because that is exactly how I feel opening up Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective Vol. II. It’s cliche to say that everything old is new again, but it seems especially true in this case as we are introduced to three new cases for Mr. Holmes and his trusty companions to solve, all taken from the original tabletop game.

In the history of video games, this seems fairly rare. Most sequels-- but certainly not all-- adjust something in the follow ups. The Ultima games were famous for never re-using an engine in their main numbered games. In the adventure space, Sierra and LucasArts reused their engines, but rarely had sequels that used exactly the same engine. Even when they did, they made significant changes in the gameplay. (I’m tempted to say that King’s Quest II may be an exception.) The early Wizardry sequels were more like expansion packs than new games and maybe that is the right way to think about this one. It is “Volume II” rather than “II”, after all. Is that such a bad thing? We’ll just have to see.

Monday 26 August 2019

Inca - Final Rating

By Ilmari

Sometimes we beat games, sometimes games beat us. Inca definitely did that for me. At first it forced me to lose my dignity and rely on cheat codes to get even started. Then, after this irreparable error of dishonest gaming, I didn’t even manage to get to the end of it.

Look at it gloat!
I could undoubtedly use my reviewer powers and punish Inca with bad scores, but I want to leave all enmity behind and give a fair rating.

Sunday 25 August 2019

Ringworld - Five Aliens and a Stasis Box

Written by Reiko

Quinn’s Journal #2: "I've managed to escape with Chmeee's son in the prototype ship, but now the Puppeteers want us to go retrieve some ancient technology in stasis boxes on Ringworld. How are we ever going to catch up with the Destroyer? These boxes are not exactly easy to get to, either. Seeker is confident as always, but he's taking the worst of the danger during these retrieval missions."

Landing at Ringworld's spaceport

Tuesday 20 August 2019

Inca - Demolished

By Ilmari

Fifteen seconds later all the space conquistadors passed out from a lack of oxygen

Any theories how this contraption flies?

In modern terms: romance gives you more energy than booze

Thursday 15 August 2019

Ringworld - Three Stuns and Five Wires

Written by Reiko

Quinn’s Journal #1: "What a strange business this is. First, my old friend Louis Wu disappeared, and managed to see it coming soon enough to alert me, and then I found that his contact Chmeee had also disappeared under unusual circumstances. I had very little time to wonder about this, though, because as soon as I made contact with Chmeee's son, we were attacked and had to make a run for it."

Quinn's main companion introduces himself.

Monday 12 August 2019

Nippon Safes Inc. - Final rating

Written by Torch

What were my expectations when I started playing this? Well, maybe more safes... Honestly, my familiarity with the game only goes as far as remembering to have seen some screenshots in a magazine some time in 1992. I guess it was a review, but I can’t recall what the reviewer thought about it. The reason I remembered it is probably due to the colorful and cartoony graphics, that must’ve struck a note with me at the time.

Since then I’ve not heard anything about it, with adventure game classics like the Sierra Quest-series or anything made by LucasArts claiming all the spotlight, so I wasn’t sure if it wasn’t actually an adventure game, or if it just wasn’t very good. It certainly didn’t propel the creators Dynabyte to stardom. They made only two more games, one of them, Big Red Adventure seems to be a sequel to Nippon. I’d never even heard of that game before I researched this, but that could be me.

Famous or not, the game has both entertained me and frustrated me, so as I ponder how to go about evaluating it against the mighty PISSED, I’m still not sure how it will all play out in the end. But let’s start with the first category, and see how it goes

Friday 9 August 2019

Inca - Devastated

By Ilmari

I wonder how a Shoot’Em’Up Addict could retain the interest of readers through couple of posts? “And then another orc came running from the left. And I shot it! Another one followed it. I shot that one, too! And yet another, blast, good riddance to orc number 45! I was almost ready to move to the next level, when I left my guard down and a stray bullet hit me. I tried loading, but then I remembered I had forgotten the whole saving business. Next thing you know, I had changed into my skeet gear and imagined I was shooting the game disks into small pieces.”

Wednesday 7 August 2019

Game 111: Ringworld: Revenge of the Patriarch (1992) - Introduction

Written by Reiko

The last game I played through for the blog was Dune (let’s pretend Rome never happened), which was more or less based on the famous science fiction novel, and before that was Gateway. Up next, I have the opportunity to present another game based on a famous science fiction novel: Ringworld, by Larry Niven. I’m seeing a theme here.

Front cover of the original release.

Friday 2 August 2019

Batman Returns - Final Rating

Written by Joe Pranevich

Christmas in July August!

There comes a time in everyone’s life where they need to put away their toys and provide a numerical rating for a tie-in adventure game written in 1992. More than once, in my case. But before we get into the all-important rating, let’s recap:

Batman Returns is the final game by Bill Kunkel’s Subway Software. Unlike the majority of the games that we play, we have Mr. Kunkel’s own words on the development process in a series of editorials as the “Game Doctor”. We can appreciate his joy at being able to work with the Batman mythos followed by his horror as he realized he was not making the game that he dreamed of. Instead of producing a Batman game that he could be proud of, he had to shoehorn in an adventure game on top of a movie that he did not like, with studio interference telling him what he could and could not include, with a development house that seemed ill-equipped to build the game that he designed. It is perhaps no wonder that this was his final game with Subway, although that may have been as much due to his changing fortunes in the magazine world as frustration with the game design one. Reading his words, I could not help but to root for the game to be better than its reputation. It also saddens me to no end that Mr. Kunkel is no longer with us; he feels approachable and would have been an amazing person to interview. I failed to mention it earlier, but we have also lost Joyce Katz (née Worley), the third member of the Kunkel/Katz/Worley trifecta. Of the three original developers and business partners, only Arnie Katz appears to still be with us, but I have been unable to locate him in time for this post.

Rather than dwell on that, let’s consider what we have: the first ever Batman adventure game and the first game to focus on his abilities as a detective. We successfully pieced the clues together to locate Penguin’s lair and prevent him from becoming mayor of Gotham. We stopped an army of marching penguins with rocket launchers. While we failed to bring Catwoman into the light, I’m going to imagine that there’s a world in the DC multiverse where Burton’s Batman and Catwoman managed to eventually get together and find a good therapist. They both could use one. Batman drove off into a snowy sunset and we can at least be thankful that no one thought to create a game based on Batman Forever.