Wednesday 30 December 2020

Fatty Bear’s Birthday Surprise - Do Teddy Bears Dream of Stuffed Bees?

By Ilmari

Even with the risk of a righteous commenter, hidden behind the heroic disguise of anonymity naming me a social justice warrior, I declare that representation in computer games is an important issue.
And frankly, wouldn’t Social Justice Warrior be just a great name for a superhero

Monday 28 December 2020

Game 123: Fatty Bear’s Birthday Surprise (1993) - Introduction

By Ilmari

My four-year old kid had a revelatory moment the other day:
“You know dad, teddies are not really bears.”
“Of course they are! Why would you think otherwise?”, I answered.
“Teddies are nice and friendly, but bears growl and eat people.”
A teddy: smiles, mostly harmless, comes in many colours, likes to cuddle
By Source, Fair use,
A bear: grumpy, ferocious beast, somewhere on the scale
black-brown-white, does not like to cuddle

By MathKnight - Own work, based on:, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Friday 25 December 2020

Missed Classic 91: Sanity Clause (1991)

Written by Joe Pranevich

Merry Christmas! I know I speak for many of us when I say that this has been a difficult year. While some of us found solace in the games that we played, others found themselves with little time or energy to relax as pandemic lockdowns and fear stretched over months. Our hearts reach out to those of you that have been affected by the virus in large or small ways. Christmas is a time for joy and reflection, plus to look forward to the year ahead. My Christmas started earlier this year as I have had the privilege to be playing Sanity Clause for you during what free time I could scrounge up these past several weeks. Playing this game, a little bundle of Christmas spirit from 1991, has been a relief to me and far less stressful than some other text adventures I could mention. I am glad that we have been able to continue our annual Christmas tradition this year and I hope that you enjoy reading about this game as much as I enjoyed playing it or, better still, playing Sanity Clause for yourself. Perhaps it will be a balm for your soul as well. 

Our longtime readers know that we made a deal with Satan Santa that this blog would continue running if and only if we played a Christmas classic each year. This is our seventh annual Christmas game (can you believe that?) and I know of at least one or two more English-language games for future years. Despite the hardships that the pandemic has brought, I am confident that we have many more great years of adventuring ahead of us!

While other Christmas games have been written as technical demos, adware, or “traditional” adventure games with a thin veneer of yuletide, Sanity Clause was written by a man who truly seems to love Christmas. Long after this game was a distant memory, Mike McCauley, the author, has even performed as the Jolly Old Elf himself. The game is well-researched, well-written, and you’ll just have to see what kind of nuttiness Santa was up to on this fateful Christmas in the early 1990s. 

Wednesday 23 December 2020

Missed Classic: Bureaucracy - Working Undercover for the Man

 Written by Joe Pranevich

Welcome back! I know it’s been nearly a month since my last Bureaucracy post and I am sorry for keeping you on the edge of your seat. How will we escape the madman that has us trapped in his basement? Will we ever find our missing money order and be able to afford a cab to the airport? Why exactly does the suburban United States have so many llama farms? With luck, we’ll answer all of those questions in this post. I admit again that a combination of stressful politics and an extremely busy work schedule has made playing games difficult. Exams are graded, the Electoral College voted, and (for now at least) the slowest and least effective attempted coup is remaining firmly in the “attempted” column. As Christmas is almost here-- only the second Christmas in my life that I didn’t go home to be with my folks-- I’m glad I snuck enough time to be able to play and write again. Fingers crossed that I can keep it up. 

We ended our previous post trapped in a madman’s basement, even though we answered all of his copy protection questions. Prior to that, we explored my small town, fed a llama, and tried to undo a mess caused by a shoddy American postal system. Somewhere nearby is a money order with my name on it, worth enough that I will be able to cash it and take a taxi to the airport. My flight to Paris awaits! I still find the tone challenging as the game feels like a distinctly “foreign” idea of what suburban America circa the 1980s felt like. I’m having fun with it, but the experience feels off. We’ll see if I feel that way once I get to the end.

Monday 21 December 2020

Game 120: Veil of Darkness (1993) - Introduction

Written by Zenic Reverie

Why is it always vampires?

Judging by its cover I wouldn’t have given it a chance. I’m not really a fan of horror, and Veil of Darkness suggests it’ll fall in that vein (not my pun). That is, until I saw the SSI logo at the bottom. Knowing them most favorably from their gold box series; I’d probably overlook that it was merely published by them and given the back of the box a look. Of course, I’m ignoring the fact that in 1993 I’d have been deeply engrossed in my growing SNES library. 

Sunday 20 December 2020

Lost Secret of the Rainforest - Flight

Written by Reiko

Adam’s Journal #6: "I wish Paquita had hands! She’s comforting to have around, but she can’t really help me except for freeing me every time the goon ties me up again. But I’ve managed to find my stuff in the cabin, so now I just need to cause a distraction to get the goon out of the way. I’ve got to get out of here!"

First, an apology: I'm sorry for taking so long to get this next post out to you all. I haven't gotten sick or anything like that. There are two factors: one is that this section of the game is much trickier, with some timing puzzles, and also kind of depressing, which I'll discuss as I come to it. It was very demotivating to even open, honestly. I am hopeful that once I get past this sticking point, I'll be able to finish the rest of the game without so much difficulty.

Another factor is that the current US election has been taking up a lot of my attention in the past few weeks. This isn't a blog for politics and my personal political opinions have nothing to do with games we're playing here. So that's all I'm going to say about that except that if you are a US citizen, and you haven't been paying attention, you owe it to yourself to take a close look at what's really going on with the election.

Adam watches the goon pull vegetables to cook for his Bat Stew recipe.

Now back to your regularly scheduled programming. Adam is still captured by the goon in the shady surveyor's camp, and we must find a way to sneak away and get to the City of Gold to find Forest Heart's seedling. Last time, I had managed to retrieve all the items I'd had before, plus a few more, and I had also tried to get to a tower outside the cabin, but wasn't able to do anything there before being recaptured. As my little bat friend Paquita suggested, I need to do something to create an issue for the goon that he has to deal with so that I have a chance to get away.

Thanks to Ilmari, who gave me a nudge to get me going again, I discovered that, again, there is another whole screen that I hadn't even seen, off to the right from the cabin. I think this game really needs a much more obvious way to signal exits: the only way to know that an exit exists is to mouse over the edges of the screen with the walk cursor, which changes to an arrow for exits. Any other cursor does not change. There are other games with essentially the same functionality, but perhaps the artistic design here is particularly unclear or something, or maybe they change the cursor shape regardless of cursor mode. At any rate, this is at least the second time I have initially failed to find an exit and found myself stuck as a result. The other time was right at the beginning, when I didn't find the dock screen for a while. You might say that it should have been obvious, because the goon walks off-screen, and in retrospect it is. I just didn't realize I could also go that direction when walking behind the cabin.

Oops, I guess I can't just walk up and unlock the cage.

Wednesday 16 December 2020

Missed Classic 90 - Zombi (1986) - Introduction

 Written by Morpheus Kitami

Yuletide greetings readers, it is I, your faithful Christmas reviewer, Morpheus. This is most definitely a review of a Christmas game and you have nothing to be afraid of. Would I lie to you? Have I been known to lie to you? Does this picture of noted Christmas film actor Vincent Price not put you into the Christmas spirit? When have you ever known such a face to be a precursor to violence and lies? You can trust me. I would never lie to you. Let me tell you a story of what happened one Christmas in 1978...and again in 1986...1988...1990...and now 2020.

Behold, ordinary Christmas shoppers. There's nothing suspicious about these shoppers. So they look a little stiff, like you've never looked like that when you were shopping. And groaned. Tried to bite other shoppers. Haven't we all been there? Just wouldn't go down without a bullet to the brain. Wait a minute, those aren't Christmas shoppers, they're zombies. Don't you hate it when you make that mistake? Mind you, its the kind of mistake you only make once. Because you'll be dead. If you're lucky, and death is not something you want to be the lucky part.

 Look, Christmas, Dawn of the Dead is a Christmas film

In case you don't own a copy of a surprisingly popular out of print film, this is Dawn of the Dead. A film about four people trapped in a mall during a zombie apocalypse. Not to be confused with the remake, in which a group of people decide to flee a zombie apocalypse in taking a boat to Chicago or something. So, why is this a Christmas film? Well, the word Christmas appears in the film. Its like Nightmare Before Christmas or Black Christmas. Good, clean family friendly fare. In seriousness, I was going to do this around Halloween. Because I like spooky things. I didn't get spooky things. I don't want to talk about why that didn't happen. Christmas is about getting what you want, when you think about it.

Also having my big think, Night of the Living Dead takes place on the day that daylight savings time ends. That means the zombie apocalypse went over two months before society collapsed. They had Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's going on while the hordes gradually grew larger. You know, assuming Night actually takes place in the same universe as Dawn. I am like Socrates, I know that I know nothing. And like Socrates, I'm not going to find out.

Wednesday 2 December 2020

Legacy - Final Rating

 Written by Morpheus Kitami

German Ad, "The Nightmare Has Begun", as opposed to the American ad, Home is where the heart stops...why did no one buy this again?

At the beginning of this game, back in the comments, because Voltgloss did the introduction, I said this was the best of a certain selection of horror games featured in one issue of Game Informer. Now, I don't remember precisely what those games were, but the ones I do remember are D, Sweet Home*, Alone in the Dark, Phantasmagoria*, Blood, and Splatterhouse. Of those, I haven't played D and the ones with an asterisk for five minutes. All of those games are better than Legacy - Realm of Terror. I'm going to go out on a limb and say when I do finish those two games, I'm going to find them better. Now I could be wrong, it feels like I've been playing this since the day I was born and now my opinion has sharply declined.

Another German ad. That tagline is also trash, so I didn't bother with the rest

But at the end of it, I see a good game buried here. Behind the pre-rendered walls and the feeling that I'm going to break this game somehow, I can see a situation that would have made this game genuinely amazing. You know, an adventure portion that's fun, and not just incredibly obvious puzzles peppered with timing puzzles and bizarre red herrings. There's a whole bunch of conflicting design choices like that. They don't really work together. The RPG elements drag down the adventure elements, because you get hurt clicking on items you don't know are bad to click on. Don't really know why clicking on toilets is a bad thing, but a random worm that just pops out really makes me enjoy figuring out what I did wrong. Then there's the obvious Poe connection, but really, it feels like a really bad adaptation of a third-rate Lovecraftian writer. Someone like Clark Ashton Smith or August Derleth, or at least, my experience with them.

Wednesday 25 November 2020

Legacy - Won!

 Written by Morpheus Kitami

It won't be long now before Alberoth is defeated, but first I have a few loose ends. Throughout most of the game two unreachable rooms have confounded me. Well, I'm not supposed to be able to enter them, but I shall phase through the walls of reality to see what lies in them. Don't try to imitate what I do, this is something for masters of reality like myself. The walls into nothingness are very subtle and hard to spot.

Why bother fixing things in here when nobody's coming in?

The room on the 1st basement, the one that throws noise on the screen, tells me there's a scream and teleports me away...has nothing. It is a bit sloppy though, but nothing too terribly interesting.

It's Marcel Marceau's autobiography!

That wasn't surprising, but what was going to be interesting to me was the other room, on the 2nd basement. This one had a book in it. Given that no one would ever see it without hacking, surely the developers would throw in some kind of joke? Maybe hurl vile insults at me for my vile acts against the walls of reality? The answer is rather boring, the book's there, but it has nothing in it. You can't read it. Seems lazy, rather fitting.

Another sight no one has seen

Now, since I was phasing through the walls of reality anyway, I thought I'd see what happened if I phased into a wall or beyond the playing field. I already accidentally crashed the game with my item trick, but I was looking forward to what chaos I would cause here. The answer is more interesting than it sounds. See, because I'm phasing into a place no one should be, it's clear that they didn't prerender any specific graphics for this area, or any area. This is interesting, because it means they didn't just render the parts they needed, they just rendered each "block" of the map in a bunch of different ways depending on where it is in relation to the player and other blocks. I'd do more of this, because this is fun, but I have an elder god to kill first.

Monday 23 November 2020

Missed Classic 89: Bureaucracy (1987) - Introduction

Written by Joe Pranevich

The 1984 release of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy game was a shot in the arm to a flailing Infocom. Immediately rocketing up the charts, it nearly single-handedly saved the company. Even better, Infocom had negotiated the rights to five sequels. If those sold even a fraction as well as the first, Infocom would have a solid revenue line for years to come. There’s a parallel universe out there where all that came to pass, but that’s not the world that we live in as Infocom failed to capitalize on their hottest new brand. As 1984 rolled into ‘85, then ‘86, Infocom released zero of the anticipated sequels. Even after Activision acquired the company, their goldmine remained stubbornly unexploited. The holdup was Douglas Adams: while Infocom had the right to make sequels without his assistance, doing so could have soured a relationship critical to the future success of the company. Instead, they were forced to humor his different idea of a game: one based on a poor experience he (supposedly) had changing his address at a bank. Seeing no way forward without indulging the whim of its celebrity sponsor, Infocom reluctantly agreed to invest in this new title. Bureaucracy was born. 

I’ll have more to say about the history of this game in a moment, but let me start by admitting that I am playing this game at exactly the wrong time. This is a game that parodies frustrating and repetitive tasks, usually by forcing you to do frustrating and repetitive tasks. Even the parser hates you: every typo or incorrect verb causes your “blood pressure” to increase, hastening your demise. I started writing this post just prior to the 2020 United States election, completed it in the heady days of slow counts in Pennsylvania and Georgia, and then edited it while our departing President refuses to agree to leave. It’s an incredibly stressful time for those of us in the United States and playing a game that thrives on stress is too much at times. I will do my best to look at this game with a clear head, but this is almost certainly the worst possible time to play a game that includes blood pressure as a key game mechanic. 

Friday 20 November 2020

Legacy - Definition of Insanity (Request for Assistance)

 Written by Morpheus Kitami

When I began writing what was going to be the original entry, it was not a hopeful one. It would have ended with a request for assistance...a different request for assistance. Something changed between then and now. Because I'm looking to wrap things up, I was looking up old reviews for this game, you know, to provide contrasting opinions with my own. This all went smoothly, until I read the Polish magazine Top Secret's review. It had the answer right in my face, a map. What was in that map? I'll tell you in a moment. To tell you how much of a roadblock this tiny bit was, almost as soon as I had reached that area, I had realized what almost every single item I had did. And then another, entirely different roadblock happened.

The observatory

We start on the 3rd floor, where I had put the Hand of Glory and the Horned Skull on their pedestals. I leave the Horned Skull, but take the Hand; The Horned Skull does nothing useful. It does stop you from using magic, which is nice. It's a long trip, I have to go down to the second basement for the Astrolabe, then back up to the temple. Here, after putting a few points into Key of the Shadow Lord, I open the door to the observatory. Firstly, putting points into Key is very useful for two reasons, one, it is literally impossible to open this door without it, and two, I'm going to need it for the rest of what I'm going to do.

The observatory is...well it sees the stars. There's also a summoning ring that if you left click on damages you. Very nice, but whatever. With the Astrolabe, you can see the stars have aligned in a way that Alberoth is gone.

 The crystal flute, how many times it's damaged my hearing

Behind the other door I thought was impossible to unlock, there's a mummy, a set of batteries, and most importantly, a crystal flute. The flute plays a very annoying sound. Which is very nice when you're desperately running around trying to solve anything at all that might help you win. I have used that many, many times. At this point, I tried to use the Ghettoblaster, in my hand, playing to avoid taking damage from the mummy. Didn't work, but I got the flute anyway.

Sunday 15 November 2020

Legacy - God in an Alcove

Written by Morpheus Kitami

Well, I'm glad I got the help I, anyway. Apparently I missed something in what I called the dismembered zombie room. Its also a teleport room. A dismembered zombie teleport room. There's a sentence in the English language.

There's a lot of opening doors in the log.

This beam is reachable now. Forgive me for not thinking that, when pressing forward multiple times did nothing but hurt me. You have to wait until the chains go out of the way. It teleports another room exactly the same down to the location of the severed zombie. Really? You have very few chances to impress me game, and you keep disappointing.

The only reason I haven't had to shoot a girl coming out of a TV set is that its 1992

Egyptian-themed...well, we've gone into horror kitchen sink, haven't we? Demons, evil gods, zombies, evil sorcerers, ghosts, serial killers and now mummies. Jesus, at least Elvira was slightly tongue-in-cheek about things...I'm getting off track. Hey, its Carl again...for some reason...

Oh, no, how horrible

This time Carl isn't interested in talking, no, he's just interested in fighting. Against someone with body armor and a M-16. Its a long and tough battle, in which he takes around half a magazine from me and stabs me once. It takes 24 hours, but the end was glorious. He doesn't drop anything, but he is guarding another kind of robe for some reason. I feel cheated.

Horned skull...sure did a good job there boys

Wednesday 11 November 2020

Legacy - Going Insane (Request for Assistance)

 Written by Morpheus Kitami

However screwed it may look like I am, I have options. I have some points, I can put them into dimensional rift and disappear. Maybe Alberoth's afraid of his own reflection. Maybe I can put a squid on my head and pretend to be a cultist of Melchior.

Plot went wrong...cultists suspect everything

I can't do a dimensional rift because I didn't bring the rune stone with me...because I was planning on finding the other person on the Ethereal Realm...and Alberoth is not afraid of his own reflection. I don't know why I'd think that. That must be for the beam of light in the 1st basement. I just have The Last Man on Earth (1964) on the brain, and that trick worked there. Look, that's related to the gothic horror films I assume this game takes inspiration from.

Free fire zone with my M-16

So I'm screwing around, and briefly considering putting in a request for assistance. Because there's no obvious way to advance. The tentacle wizards are invulnerable, Alberoth is invulnerable, and I'm very vulnerable. I'm bobbing around on the gong in the third basement, because I'm dead certain there's another one. The gong summons enemies, but I was hoping it opened a door. It did, but not the actual doors, a secret door. See, what I didn't notice last time was that two wizards appeared when the gong was rung. I see one and think, I'm getting out of here. This is only a good idea because I have no other choice. Its tricky running around here, because there's three more wizards, and its a tad inconvenient to grab the notes I'm seeing.

But then, like the heavens opening up, the M-16, on the ground, next to a mag. Even if for a brief moment, I could consider my problems over. If I can keep cool, and don't run out of ammo, and actually hit them, then just like in Dawn of the Dead (1978), I've got free reign in the candy store.

Sunday 8 November 2020

Legacy - This Will Never End

 Written by Morpheus Kitami

You know, for an adventure game, I don't feel like I'm actually playing an adventure game. I feel like I've mentioned that before, but its not really something I'm going back and checking. That's probably why this feels so long to me at this point. At this point I'm still technically at the stage where another reviewer's debut game is longer, Reiko and Timequest. But checking places where people say how long it took them to beat, I'm seeing 35 hours. To give an idea of what that means, ho ho ho.

I don't understand the need to specify when it's in the house...

Wednesday 4 November 2020

Legacy - Beast from the East (Coast)

 Written by Morpheus Kitami

I realize things are getting a bit long in the tooth, but I'm feeling confident. The end is in sight. There can't be much left to do. Its a matter of picking a few locks on the 3rd, a mausoleum, and the second basement. Might be a 4th, some set of caves, but we're in the home stretch. Now, off-screen I've been moving around some stuff around, mostly health items, but the important thing is I can solve all the problems I've had on this floor.

You can see how I might think that would work

First, the mysterious door that won't let me in. I have brought down from the asylum Ellen's straitjacket and...yeah, no, that doesn't work. I'm not going to get into this room am I? Eh, if I am, there's going to be a note about it somewhere.

She can get around old nosey, can she?

Repairing the fusebox down here does nothing for me...technically. I've already seen everything this area has to offer, no hidden items or anything. But as I'm checking each room again, and re-reading a note from Ellen, saying how she got past Alberoth. Next to a pit. Know what I'm thinking, right idea, wrong floor. MUAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH! But first, I should make sure the path is completely clear of ghouls.

Sunday 1 November 2020

Lost Secret of the Rainforest - Escape

Written by Reiko

Adam’s Journal #5: "I’ve been kidnapped! This nasty goon tied me up in a hut in the middle of nowhere, and that awful surveyor is going to be back later to deal with me. I’ve got to get out of here! I’m glad I’ve made friends with that little bat, Paquita. I’m sure together we can figure something out."

Last time, the tribe came together in a ceremony to remember their origins and that of Forest Heart so that Adam could go there to find a new seedling. But then someone connected with the shady surveyor set fire to the great tree and captured both Adam and his new bat friend, Paquita. Now we're unbound but need to find a way out of the camp so we can continue the quest.
Unexpectedly garish.

Friday 30 October 2020

Legacy - Dismal Clouds

 Written by Morpheus Kitami

Before I continue, I thought I'd take the opportunity to talk about the house and the family tree of Winthrop. I decided to check the manual for once. Its funny, because I usually do that and this is one game I've never read the manual on before. There's a point sort of in favor that this game plays so well without a manual. Funnily, it basically confirms that my playing style, because whenever combat comes up, running is suggested, only "if the odds are on my side" should I fight. On the other hand, it also says that I should extensively check everything, implying that some items are hidden. We'll see if that happens for once, because I've had to find more hidden objects in shooters. Also, its Agatta's Iron Fist, not Agatha. I'm assuming that was misspelled on the spellbook otherwise I have much worse reading comprehension than I thought.

The mansion, supposedly

There are two problems with this map. First, and you probably already figured this out, is that every floor is roughly a square. It might not be a perfect square, but the entire possible map space is used. This map could not actually depict the house as it is unless I've been exclusively moving through the bit rebuilt after the fire. Its not vertical either, the stuff at the bottom is the front of the house. Some of the images included in the manual show that, and that there are six floors. Two of them are just the tips of towers though. Second, in-game documents describe north as the top portion of the map, I'm not just using that conventionally. North in the right. I realize that time passes between the writing of a manual and the finalization of a game, but that much, really?

Wednesday 28 October 2020

Freddy Pharkas, Frontier Pharmacist: WON with Final Rating

By Alex
There I was, ready for Freddy to start dispensing some justice in Coarsegold . . . justice in the form of hot lead . . .

. . . when my laptop died.

Friday 23 October 2020

Legacy: Doors & Demons

Written by Morpheus Kitami

It's been a little while since I last opened up Legacy, let's see what's...

Yep, this is a comic from an alternate universe, I believe issue #19 of Superman's Pal, Jane Olson

All right, this is going to get sadder and sadder until at the last minute, where I miraculously manage to win. Still sounds like a Superman comic. I take a sad stroll to the places I've already been, curious as to how I'm going to accomplish that without a hex editor or Cheat Engine. As I walk, I discover that quite a few places with a monster inside have nothing inside of them. Except the places where the eldritch squirrels are guarding the doors on, those I'm not touching.

I have no reason to show you this, I just think this is funny in-hand

As I walk past a familiar dropping of items, including the M10, ha, like I'm touching that again, I notice once again the straitjacket. I haven't used that before now. Could it deal with the "no firearms" sign? Whatever, it'll solve something, I'll be bewildered, we'll move on.

Monday 19 October 2020

Legacy - Are We in Hell?

 Written by Morpheus Kitami

I'm not going to even bother mentioning the fire beasts as long as I have a functioning fire extinguisher. I quickly find a note. Its from Ellen. Remember Ellen, my distant cousin by marriage whom I brutally killed in self-defense with several dozen bullets and stabs?  Eh, its okay, I'm Superman's friend, I'll get out of jail just fine. It mentions that Elias is in his temple, two floors up, the 5th or 6th floor, as I've forgotten how this game is functioning. Also quotes "though the gate behind his face", "Robert said the gates can take you anywhere.", "...death and madness..." To sum up, Ellen probably shouldn't have imagined my face as a tree and I have probably already reached the temple. Remember way back when I found the weird chain room with the dismembered zombie? I don't know where the hell that led me. Its just as valid as any other explanation. There hasn't exactly been anything approaching the extreme south-west of the mansion. The very edge of the map. That'd be incredibly boring if its right.

 True terror is subtle in this game

I find a staircase near the note. I think to myself, hey, why not, after all, I might find some sweet loot there. The ensuing ten seconds are perhaps the most terrifying I have experienced in the game. I'm not joking. After the customary waiting period, I am greeted by two slimes. I stop for a moment. Oh, no, I think to myself in more vulgar terms. I press S, to go back down the stairs. "You fail to dodge past your attacker". Who is that? I quickly turn around. Its another slime. I back away from the door. He walks away, I slap W twice, and breathe a sigh of relief. Unfortunately, I don't think that's going to be the last we'll see of these slimes. Probably because its early on that floor yet.

Friday 16 October 2020

Missed Classic: Labyrinth - Won! And Final Rating

Written by Joe Pranevich

There is a special place in my heart for licensed games. They are often pretty terrible, but five out of our “Top 10” (really top thirteen) games are licensed properties. Our #1 game as of this writing is Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, a game that LucasArts will develop only six years after this one. Even when they aren’t good, I take perverse joy in seeing how these properties are adapted. Labyrinth is no exception and while I cannot say that the game is as good as I was hoping, I am glad that I detoured to experience it.

When we left off last week, I was so close to completing the game that I could taste it. I stood outside Jareth’s castle but was unable to open the gate. Even when I found an alternate underground passage, I remained trapped at a closed door with no way to open it. I gave up and learned from a walkthrough that I missed an item (a bracelet) several hours earlier. Worse, there was no way back to retrieve it. To beat the game, I will have to restore an old save game from when I explored the Hedge Maze the first time, but this time locate the missing bracelet before I move on. While reading through the hints, I also realized that there are optional areas and puzzles that I missed; I’ll discuss those at the end.

Without further delay, let’s rewind time. Can I defeat the game now, or will I get trapped in another deadend?

Thursday 15 October 2020

Legacy - The Heart Collector

Written by Morpheus Kitami

You know, its been a while since something killed me and I never did find out what was in the second basement.

I didn't anticipate the deadliest enemy being a slug with too many eyes

The answer. Sheer terror. I'm so afraid. This thing's guarding the way past the staircase. He doesn't seem to take any damage and he does dish it out. Who is this, Agatha? Wait a minute...This is Alberoth. Old Nosey. Even the game acknowledges that this guy looks like a joke. Is the final boss going to look like a brown, lumpy sausage then? I can't get past him, I think this is a puzzle. Remember those? After all, this is supposed to be an adventure game I'm playing. Rock salt? Eh, I hope not. Flamethrower? Hmm...this could be interesting, but chances are the answer is incredibly boring.

Judging by the standards set by Alberoth, he should have the consistency of a pancake

Reloading from back upstairs, I reenter the asylum. Ah...I really don't want to wander around this place. I wonder if Mr. Teeth-thing will let me through. Unlike a bland looking Outer God, this guy lets me go. Ah, sweet freedom. Eh, knowing my luck, I come back, nearly dead and he rips my face off.

Friday 9 October 2020

Legacy - Way-oh Way-oh

Written by Morpheus Kitami

Despite my relative success on this new floor I feel as though unfinished business on the 1st floor is a bad thing to have. The only question is, where is that damn painting? As I walk back to the stairs, I notice that the mouth-thing I assumed was an elderitch squirrel is actually guarding the stairs up. Hopefully something will be able to blanket kill all these things.

Feeling old yet? All the people on this tape are dead now

So I desperately comb over the parts of the 1st floor I haven't already checked. At this point I'm just savescumming. Forcing a door hurts me. I've got an axe, apparently that doesn't work. Who knew that the leading cause of death among firefighters is killing themselves breaking open a door. One thing good does come of this, as I trap a daemon inside an empty room. A locked empty room. I hurt myself on that door for nothing. This means...dun dun dun...I can see the VHS tape. Except there's still another daemon there, but by the time I notice him I'm already inside...again. Also the tentacle float is angry at me, but its too late to savescum again.

So, finally seeing this tape reveals that Ellen killed the rest of her family. Robert is also surprisingly calm and collected for someone who's killed a TON of people. But there's more to this than that. Think about this for a second, Ellen stopped recording the tape, took the tape out, put it in a safe on the ground floor, locked said safe, put the key on the other side of the floor. Further, Ellen has been inside this mansion for months, a year, and nobody noticed. These furniture movers never noticed her, which makes my jokes about the quality of their services even more poignant.

You know, I keep mocking the estate agent and the furniture movers, but apparently I misread that, the PC is supposed to have suggested auctioning off furniture. I'm clearly as smart as the PC.

Wednesday 7 October 2020

Missed Classic: Labyrinth - And I Walk Along Darkened Corridors

Written by Joe Pranevich

If you love old genre TV shows such as Doctor Who or Star Trek, you have a pretty good idea what a gravel quarry looks like. These shows are often equally famous for their corridor scenes, short segments of hallway that can be tweaked to look like whatever part of the ship they need to show. Using and reusing set pieces like these helped ensure that episodes could be shot quickly at a minimum of cost. While Labyrinth the film takes great pains to make every scene unique, Labyrinth the game seems to have been made with this type of cost-cutting in mind. Over and over again, I had to explore long segments of nearly-identical corridors to make sure I wasn’t missing an item or an event. (Spoiler: I missed one.) While the environments became more dynamic as I neared the end, the vast majority of the playtime in this game is just running down halls and checking doors, mentally marking off distances and landmarks to distinguish one near-identical segment from the other. While computer games do not have to pay for sets, it costs money to design interesting environments. It’s a shame this game didn’t make that investment. To augment the somewhat boring screenshots, I will augment my coverage this time out with pictures from the film. Labyrinth is beautiful and beyond what the 8-bit graphics of the Commodore 64 could manage.

Last time, we started our exploration by solving a simple text adventure before getting sucked into the “movie”. We have only thirteen hours to find the center of the maze before we become David Bowie’s slave forever. I can think of worse things than being circa-1986 David Bowie’s personal slave, but the game takes it as a given that it is a Bad Thing. Once in the labyrinth, we discovered (but did nothing with) Hoggle the dwarf and solved the first puzzle by walking through graffiti spelling out the word “door”. What type of mysteries will the game throw at us today? Let’s play!

Monday 5 October 2020

Lost Secret of the Rainforest - Determined

Written by Reiko

Adam’s Journal #4: "I’m not going to be able to meet the shaman until I’ve helped everyone, am I? But the shaman is the only one who can help me. So I still have to get this poultice made for the poor baby, and then Sinchi wants a butterfly. I hope I can do everything. I’ve got to keep trying!"

I totally didn't notice this pool initially.

Last time, I had ended up quite stuck, but thanks to Leo Velles, I was able to get back on track. Apparently I had completely overlooked the existence of a pool inside the tree where I'd found the bark cup. I had no idea there was anything else useful in the tree, since I had acquired one object each time I had entered one of the three entrances. This pool contained sap, which I could use to fill the cup [5]. Then when I took the cup back over to the shaman's hut and placed it on the bench [1], Sinchi says he'll ask the shaman to make the poultice, since that's everything that's needed for it.

Saturday 3 October 2020

Legacy - Is That You, Ellen?

Written by Morpheus Kitami

By now it was clear that wherever the painting was, looking in the south was now completely impossible. At least for my current abilities. That left most of north, and a bit of east. So, I go down one of the big hallways I haven't gone down yet.
Now this is what I call a media room

The hallways surrounded one room, drawing attention to it. Inside, a room worth pre-rendering, because this one actually is full of interesting furniture. Screw your shafts of light, give me a room that has stuff I can screw around with a little. I immediately know what to do with this room. I just have to go downstairs and grab that VHS...

Thursday 1 October 2020

Discussion Point: Inventories

We are NOT talking about warehousing

If you’ve been reading comments for Freddy Pharkas, you might have noticed discussion about inventories. And inventories are worthy of serious discussion, since they seem so essential part of adventure gaming experience. Could a game without even inventory even be a true adventure game?

Monday 28 September 2020

The Legacy - A Dangerous Meeting

Written by Morpheus Kitami

After escaping the basement, it was clear that I needed to lighten my travelling load. I need some place to put all these magical artifacts and doodads. Unless this M16 "clip" is a cruel trick, there's probably an M16 lying around, and if I'm lucky, maybe a M60 or M67. Regardless, I needed to drag up some of the items from the basement. Unfortunately, this means going back in the basement. Whether or not I'll need to put it lower down is irrelevant, the ground floor is now effectively safe. Fortunately, I have more options now than I did before. I enter from the south, picking clean anything that looks useful.
"Document wallet", and here I just called them document holders...

Clearing out anything useful, I take my approach through the southeast, the darkened hallway from earlier. A doorway, wedged innocently enough just outside that hallway, contains another gargoyle and another fusebox. I so hope it isn't going to go out. Especially since the doorway isn't that far from where I ended up dragging the other gargoyle, on the eastern VHS-shaped hallway. Now, that note...

Saturday 26 September 2020

Freddy Pharkas, Frontier Pharmacist: How Freddy Got His Groove (and Ear) Back

By Alex

This was a tough session, I’m not going to lie. It was hindered by the fact that play time is severely limited lately, and while I’m having fun with this game, I think this is a good time to discuss its puzzle design, and puzzle design in adventure games generally.

There are a few broad categories I thought about that I can put adventure games that I have played into, give their general characteristics, and cite examples of games that fall into each category. I fully expect many of you to disagree with my taxonomy, but that’s what makes the Internet interesting, right?

That, and the personal insults over any difference of opinion.

Anyway, here is Alex’s Adventure Game Puzzle Style Breakdown:
  • Player-Driven: These are games where several puzzles are presented to the player for them to solve right out of the gate, and the solutions to these puzzles are by-and-large there from the outset. While there may be some event-driven (to be discussed later on in this list), for the most part the player is given a fairly expansive world to explore, characters to interact with, inventory items to gather, and carte blanche to solve most of the puzzles in any order, at any time, barring any event-driven instances, in order to solve an over-arching goal (usually made relatively clear near the game’s beginning). In a player-driven adventure game, most of the events occur after the player solves certain other puzzles. This may open up other items to use as solutions, but not always—sometimes, the player uses things they’ve already picked up to solve these new puzzles, or combines a new item with an old one in different ways. Examples of this style include Quest for Glory I and IV, The Secret of Monkey Island, Leisure Suit Larry I, Leisure Suit Larry III, and, to a degree, most King’s Quest games, and Lure of the Temptress (though the less said about that game, the better).
  • Event-Driven: These are games where, while the player may have a fairly expansive world to explore and inventory items to collect, but a more limited set of puzzles. There may or may not be an overarching goal that is clear to the player from the moment the fire up the game, but on the whole event-driven games manage to avoid that “on-rails” feeling by giving the player a lot of time to do stuff before being moved to the next part of the game. Examples of this style include Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Father, Leisure Suit Larry II, Quest for Glory II, III, and V, Police Quest II and III, and pretty much all of the Space Quest series.
  • Plot-Driven: I debated calling this category “designer-driven,” but I like “plot-driven” better. In games like this, the player performs little vignettes that form a part of a broad story. In games like this, each vignette—if well-designed—avoids any of the dreaded “walking dead” scenarios. All of the inventory items the player needs will be in each vignette, and while the player may be able to acquire some early, it is typically not necessary to do so. Examples of this style include King’s Quest VII and Freddy Pharkas: Frontier Pharmacist, Leisure Suit Larry V, Conquests of the Long Bow: The Legend of Robin Hood, and L.A. Law.
Wait, just kidding about that last one. L.A. Law is in a separate category called “pure garbage.”

Now, obviously there are hybrids here, and plot-driven games can work, but I find that FPFP doesn’t do the best job of this, at least not to my tastes. I don’t feel all that great a sense of accomplishment or discovery when the way to solve puzzles is just revisiting each screen of the relatively small game world upon the start of each chapter, talking to everyone and clicking every inventory item on everyone and everything, and picking up the items that I just so happen to need when they magically appear for the sake of pure expediency. There is limited creativity needed on the part of the player, and most solutions can be brute-forced.

Yes, “clicking every object on everything” is a cliché about adventure games, and a cliché for a reason, but I never felt like this, say, playing Space Quest V or The Curse of Monkey Island or any of the Quest for Glory games. I feel it all the time in Freddy Pharkas.

With that background, let’s go through Chapter Three.

Thursday 24 September 2020

Missed Classic: Asylum II – Got Behind the Mule! (WON! and Final Rating)

Written by Will Moczarski

Eight more hours in the asylum, and I’m done. And done. What a slog! First of all, apologies for the five-month gap between the third and fourth Asylum II posts. You can probably guess the reason for it as it’s currently affecting the whole world. I went through some tough and exhausting times, too, although I’m grateful to have remained healthy (so far), and none of my loved ones have suffered from the Corona virus too much. Work life, however, became very different following the initial lockdown, so there has been zero time for fun and games in a very long while.

With such a long gap, a short recap seems inevitable: To wit, I had five unsolved puzzles and not a clue. My goal was to find (and vanquish) the elusive “master mystic” in order to escape the titular asylum. The five puzzles were: (a) a programmer with the same name as the actual programmer of Asylum II, William Denman; (b) a terrorist who wouldn’t let me use his vending machine; (c) an electric catapult that I couldn’t figure out; (d) Emmett/Emmit the fix-it man who was very unhelpful for a fixer, and (e) McCoy (of Star Trek fame) who kicked me out of his room every single time.

Vetinari helpfully provided some clues in Rot13 (again thank you very much!) but I decide to give it another try without resorting to them just yet, so I go through every room again to get back into the game. And man, I had forgotten how tedious it is to move around those mazes!

After a short while, I don’t know anymore what’s what, and even worse: due to the inventory limit I had picked several places where I could store my stash. However, it’s been months, and I don’t find any of them anymore. Should have marked them on my map.

Tuesday 22 September 2020

The Legacy - One-Way Wonder

Written by Morpheus Kitami

With the mausoleum protected by someone with more shotgun shells than brain cells and the "1st floor" presumably flooded with spirits who likely hate my guts...that leaves the basement. Seeing as my supply of food consists of a vague meal contained inside a tin foil pouch, possibly spoiled, it seems the wise choice.

Pictured: Not the wise choice

Unfortunately, Roberts of Boston failed to drop a letter mentioning these things. They look a bit like gargoyles, so that's what I'll call them for now, never mind that gargoyles are winged fellows. I'll probably need some kind of sledgehammer or explosive device to deal with these things. The poker doesn't do a lot of damage and one J. Olson meets the sweet embrace of death once again. But death is fairly cheap.

Tuesday 15 September 2020

The Legacy: Death Awaits

 Written by Morpheus Kitami

I have to wonder what possesses someone to make a horror game, go to all the trouble of building a macabre atmosphere and enemies capable of killing the player quite quickly...then have the death sequence just be the player as a skeleton. No transition, no nothing, the player model is normal one frame and a skeleton the next. But I'm getting ahead of myself...

If I could be bothered to take gifs, I'd show you Mr. Zappa here dancing, instead you'll have to imagine it yourself

Clearing up where I left off, I obtained three more items, a poker, another speedloader of small calibre ammunition and a spell, Agatha's Iron Fist. Which by the description, leads me to think it increases melee damage. The spell was inside a hidden room was very obvious because the map freaking told me. Its too confusing for the zombie to understand, so instead he's shuffling back and forth in front of the secret wall.

Friday 11 September 2020

The Legacy - Restless Dead

Written by Morpheus Kitami

As you can probably guess, Voltgloss was unable to play this game. The rumors of his grotesque demise at the hands of the undead or outer gods are greatly exaggerated. I'm sure Nyarlathotep gave him a quick smile and sent him on his way. No, he managed to escape the mansion, don't worry about that. In his stead I shall be handling the exorcising of whatever infests this mansion. I have a good deal of experience with spooky mansions, and indeed a little here. So forgive me if the first floor or so is handled stupidly, I don't want to come off like the scrub I am when I remember something.

As you all voted, I shall be picking one J. Olson, a very, very subtle reference on the team's part. If you get it, well, hopefully you'll get some of the jokes I'm going to be making. To recap, she's a journalist, and she plans on uncovering the secrets of the mansion. As an investigative journalist, she's well balanced. I suspect her usual skillset will not be very useful in a haunted mansion. But it seems she's dodged her fair share of bodyguards, so that's a plus.

Tuesday 8 September 2020

Freddy Pharkas, Frontier Pharmacist: Strange Indigestion

By Alex

This game . . . lets you eat horse poop.

I wish I was kidding. I’m not.

I also wish I didn’t decide to click the horse poop on Freddy. But I did. Make of this what you will.