Friday, 4 October 2019

Game 113: Ween : The Prophecy (1993) - Introduction

[Admin note: Since there's still so much left of the last game of 1992, Consulting Detective 2, we've decided to already start playing the first game of 1993. Enjoy!]

Written by Alfred n’ the Fettuc

So here we are, the first game on our list for 1993, and another French adventure game made by Coktel Vision to boot! Just to remind a few of our beloved readers out there, The Adventure Gamer website has had a tumultuous relationship with French adventure games in the past. With a few exceptions (the most notable one being K.G.B which, despite being a French game, sits proudly in our Top rated games list) a lot of the games originating from my country were given low, or even abysmal, PISSED ratings. Will Ween : The Prophecy (or simply The Prophecy as it’s known in the US) be one of the games that redeem French adventure gaming or will it add another stone in the bucket? I asked myself the same question with Bargon Attack a while ago and… well it didn’t turn out very well.


Very nice cover, though, courtesy of Thierry Segur, French comic book and storyboard artist.
My previous experience with this game was at a friend’s house when I was around 12-years old and I remember very vividly the music and strange ambiance from this game. I also remember that we weren’t able to go very far. In fact, I’m not even sure we managed to get pass the few first starting screens before weird puzzles and obscure game design quickly sent us back to killing nazis in Wolfenstein 3D. However the overall feeling of the game always made me want to come back and try to complete it. After all these years, now is my chance! (or my curse, we’ll see about that…)


I’m going to WEEN the Prophecy (sorry about this one, I couldn’t resist)

The story so far (as told in the manual and in the pretty nice intro movie, done by mixing real actors and computer graphics) is that I am WEEN and I have been mandated by the wizard OHKRAM to find three grains of sand to put in the REVUSS, some kind of magical hourglass, in order to seal once again the evil warlock KRAAL. Yes, all these names are always told in all caps, so I’ll keep with this tradition.


Anyone familiar with the Père Fouras of the Fort Boyard French game show?

For that I have to complete three steps in three days :
  1. I must open the stele which seals the entrance to the cave where the Temple stands. 
  2. I must vanquish the Dragon with a hundred faces. 
  3. I must convince the guardian to open the Sanctuary.
Ugliest dragon ever.


Now that’s more like it!

The three days time limit is kinda worrying. Does the game run on some kind of timer? I can only hope it’s an artificial one and that my actions will make the clock go forward instead of real time.

The game serves as a kind-of-but-not-really sequel to the game Legend of Djel that was reviewed by Ilmari in 2016. This game introduced the wizard Hokram, which I guess is the same guy despite the different spelling, and his son Djel. Considering the manual tells me that OHKRAM is my grandfather, I think this makes WEEN the son of Djel, even if the latter is not mentioned anywhere in Ween: The Prophecy. It seems we’ll have another returning character in the person of PETROY, a gnome friend of OHKRAM. Interestingly enough, it doesn’t seem that Muriel Tramis, our favorite french game developer, was involved in the making of this game despite the fact she worked on Legend of Djel. She was probably working on Gobliiins at this time.


Three years were really a long time for graphical improvements in the nineties.

After the introduction, I’m thrusted into OHKRAM’s house, which is supposed to hold a secret entrance to the temple of the REVUSS. I’m supposed to find it myself and I can’t help but think that OHKRAM could have given me a few more pointers as to where in his house can be found the secret entrance. Maybe he forgot about it due to some kind of senile dementia.


The first screen of the game. I spent a LOT of time here as a kid...

Reviews from 1992 were pretty good even if the puzzles were considered great by some magazines and completely illogical by others. The graphics were considered really appealing. As it’s often the case, retro reviews nowadays are much harsher, with notably adventuregamers.com giving the game 2 out of 5 stars, considering the game as nothing more than a collection of inventory puzzles wrapped in a fantasy package. Well, I like myself a good collection of inventory puzzles so it still looks interesting to me!

It’s time to guess the PISSED rating! As a pointer, I’ve gathered all the Coktel Vision games we’ve played through on the blog (10 of them, which is quite a lot for a single company!) and I was surprised to see that there’s quite a few of them that fared pretty well on our scale (note that they also produced Emmanuelle which remains one of our worst rated games to this day), so let’s hope Ween will find itself on the high end of this scale!

Mewilo - 48
Freedom : Rebels in the Darkness - 28
Asterix : Operation Getafix - 22
Emmanuelle - 15
Legend of Djel (of which Ween is a sequel of sort) - 43
Geisha - 36
Fascination - 42
Bargon Attack - 34
Gobliiins - 48
Inca - 40

26 comments:

  1. Guess the reference: Alfredo or ... Alfred n the fettuc ? Yeah, fettuc, you never heard of fettuc ?

    My guess is 37

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    1. I was going through a AVGN binge watching phase when I had to choose for a nickname!

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    2. Interestingly, there's a dos game called Alfred and the fettucini, its probably a reference to that

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  2. Ween! I have a soft spot for this game, since it is one of the very few games in the early 90s that was available also in Italian.

    And since it is at least 20 years that I don't play this game, I guess that I will play along and provide my commentary as well, if it's alright with you, Alfred!

    Oh, and for the score let's guess 49 because I am feeling mildly optimistic.

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    1. You're very welcome to join me and I'm looking forward to your commentary as well! I'm glad a few people seem to look back very fondly to this game, after Enchantia, I'd love to play something good for a change!

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  3. I'm actually looking forward to this although I don't have high hopes for a good PISSED rating. I'll guess a (realistic?) score of 45.

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  4. Ween is personally one of my favorite adventure games of all-time. Between this, The Lost in... series and the Gobliiins series I've always been confused by the low attitude towards Coktel Vision. This game's just such a neat package. I honestly don't think I've seen a more gorgeous 2d game in my life. And the puzzles, maybe its just me, but I never really went "That doesn't make any sense" at any point, even if I had to look it up. Its always felt like a nice, logical fantasy adventure game to me. So, with my highly inflated sense of the game I vote for 75. I should probably play Legend of Djel, which will make sense of a few references later in the game.
    There's no strict time limit in the game, take your time. I think I'll be playing along. Its not like its such a big burden. I already played this like six times, what's one more?

    However, I will also bet that you can't beat this without requesting assistance...Fcrpvsvpnyyl, gur gvzre chmmyr ng gur raq. Gur bar jurer lbh unir gb chfu nyy gur yriref va beqre gb fybj qbja gur gvzre rabhtu gb or noyr gb qb gur bgure chmmyr. Url, V fnvq V yvxrq vg, abg gung vg jnf serr bs ohyyfuvg.

    I'd also like to say, not as a bet, but as an insult to your skills at playing adventure games...Gurer ner gjb frpgvbaf va gur tnzr jurer gur cngu oenapurf. Gur svefg vf rneyl ba naq erdhverf na vgrz gb cnff V'ir arire sbhaq jvgubhg erfbegvat gb n jnyxguebhtu, naq gur frpbaq vf vaperqvoyl boivbhf. Url, V fnvq gurfr znqr frafr, abg gung gur tnzr arprffnevyl gryyf lbh nobhg vg.

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    1. Oh, also, I feel like us Americans got shafted when it comes to the title. I mean, come on, The Prophecy? Could you make a more generic title? I guess they thought the name Ween wasn't manly enough for us manly Americans. Like we're not going to figure that out when we play the game...
      (and rot13 for the above in case it isn't obvious)

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    2. I think the title change has more to do with the band Ween than anything else.

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    3. I honestly doubt this game will break the 70s barrier but then again, we might be in for a good surprise. Welcome aboard as well to play along!

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  5. I think I'm shooting too high, but I'll say 47 because I always bet on the optimistic / high side! :D

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  6. This one is not a bad one, but also not a good one. It is pretty meh. From Coktel Vision, i prefer Lost in Time (the best in my opinion) or Fascination (except that awful awful puzzle with the piano and the zodiac signs), so i will go with a modest 46

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    1. I have good memories about Lost in Time as well... looking forward for that too.

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  7. I'll be very optimistic and guess 53!

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  8. Will this be the Cocktel Vision game to break the 50 point barrier?

    I say YES to that - a straight 50 from me.

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  9. As 44-50 is booked full I will go for 51, that's what I get for being late to the party

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  10. As am I late to the party as well, the dilemma... 43 or 52? 52 it is.

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  11. I guess that leaves me with 43?

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  12. I'll guess 49 also. Not sure it can break the 50 level because it's still a Coktel game, but it could maybe be better than Gobliins.

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  13. Looks interesting, another one I never got to play back in the day. Going with 47.

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  14. 42. This is a game I love although I have no idea why... I had to brute force just about every puzzle in it :D

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  15. Okay, here comes my controversial opinion:
    - Adventure games should have a rating based 75% on puzzles and 25% on the rest (graphics, music, dialogs...).
    Games are NOT movies. They are just games.
    Coktel Vision games are usually more fun than most adventure games outside Lucas and Sierra because they spare us having to watch the character walk slowly across the screen, they don't have too many locations at once and they don't have mazes.
    And I repeat, we should be playing games for the gameplay, not for the story. That's the main reason we play retro games, right? Take a look at The Secret of Monkey Island, Tomb Raider and many other classic games. Do you play those for the voice acting?

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    1. We are kind of stuck with the rating system we have, unless we want to do a complete reorganisation of all we've done before. Personally, I'd consider the rating part of the blog the least important and on my perspective it's most essential contribution is to engage the commenters with the score guessing, so making large renovations to the scoring system seem like a lot of fuss over nothing (others might disagree).

      As for why people play old adventure games, I guess different people have different reasons. At least when replaying them, the experience is a lot different from replaying Tomb Raider - or Lemmings, or Civilization, or Falcon, or Pool of Radiance etc. - in that if the replayers know the game by heart, there usually isn't any great gaming challenge to play it through again (the case is somewhat different with hybrids, but let's stick to pure adventure games here). Why are the replayers revisiting such a game? Maybe it's not for the voice acting, but there could be other good reasons - an engaging plot, an interesting world, silly jokes etc.

      I'll gladly admit that in playing adventure games, we all have our different preferences. Some might think puzzles are the core of the game and couldn't care less about other things, but others, like myself, appreciate puzzles more as vehicles for other things - plot, text in general, dialogue, characters, game world etc. Why do I remember fondly a certain puzzle involving George Washington and an apple tree? Because it is well grounded in the setting and the plot of the game and nods respectfully to actual historical events. Why do I prefer Infocom games to lot of its early peers? Because their games tend to have, in comparison, a rich setting and plot and they are not just doing puzzles for puzzles sake.

      Having now experienced a lot of Coktel Vision games, I'd say their games have a lot of variance, and I appreciate they had the guts to try different things and not get stuck in one formula. They do excel in peripherals like graphics and music and often the failings in their games fall into the gameplay elements. Just to take few examples: Mewilo I appreciated for its plot and setting, but for a puzzle player it is probably a disappointment; Geisha was a collection of mostly forgettable minigames with only the barest adventure game frame to connect them; Inca was more of a flight simulator and had lot of boring maze sequences; Gobliiins was almost a classic, but had annoying interface issues, like lack of a save feature and energy meter of the goblins. Still, I do have strong hopes that some of their future games will be a delight to play from all perspectives, since the company does have a lot of experience and expertise in doing these games.

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    2. How much a category should be weighed is indeed subjective. If you're interested in the score of a specific PISSED category, you can go to the full games list and sort by the one you want. (However, you can only sort by one at a time - if you want reweighed scores you have to make them by yourself.)

      Games typically contain cutscenes. Are those not kind of movies? Games themselves may not be movies, but sure can contain them.

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