Monday 30 March 2020

Game 118: Eric the Unready (1993) - Introduction

Written by TBD

Eric the Unready is the next graphic adventure game from Legend Entertainment, and the highest rated adventure game ever, according to Computer Game Review.

A quick glance at a screenshot shows that it uses essentially the same interactive fiction (with graphics) engine as Legend's other games, Spellcasting 101, Spellcasting 201, Timequest, Gateway and Spellcasting 301.

This is their penultimate[1] game using that engine, with the final game Gateway II: Homeworld, coming later in 1993. Their other game in 1993 is Companions of Xanth, which is a more standard 1990s graphic adventure.

Tuesday 24 March 2020

Shadow of the Comet – Won!

Written by limbeck

And so we arrive at the final showdown. The town itself is cleansed from the four families that were working to bring their evil plans to fruition, but all is not yet clear in the skies over Illsmouth. NARACKAMUS is still alive and the comet's passing is tonight. I have a lot of work still ahead of me and not enough time.

In the end of the previous post, Dr COBBLE gave me a message and a warning. The message was from Mr UNDERHOUSE, who was requesting my help. The warning was about Sgt. BRAGGS, who considered me responsible for last night's carnage (and with good reasons I will add). So, I need to go to the post office without running into BRAGGS.

Or Miss PICOTT, but that seems impossible.

Wednesday 18 March 2020

Shadow of the Comet – Social calls

Written by limbeck

It took me several sessions to finish Shadow of the comet and you will probably understand it from this post (Edit: and the next one. I had to split the post in two). This last part of the game was much more action-adventurey than I could take, so some pauses to calm down were required. Despite that, the game reached an adequate conclusion, featuring quite a few of the Cthulhu Mythos regulars. But on to the story.

I had left the previous session at the start of the catacombs in JONAS HAMBLETON's tomb. The catacombs turned out to be an obstacle course maze. And it is not a small one. For its first part I have to collect two skulls and place them on top of two pillars to open a gate to the inner chambers. Meanwhile, I have to dodge rats and bats, avoid pits that I don't even know they exist and step around quicksand.

And enjoy grotesque statues that play no role whatsoever

Monday 16 March 2020

Missed Classic: Trinity - When Soviet Time-Traveling Robot Armadillos Attack

Written by Joe Pranevich

In Trinity, we traveled to the dawn of the nuclear age and attempted to change history. We failed and became trapped in a time loop with our mischievous roadrunner friend. I suppose there are worse ways to go. In the words of one famous time traveler, “Great Scott!”

But what if the game didn’t end that way? Unlike most of the games we played, this is not just a rhetorical question. Infocom has always had a special place in the hearts of digital archeologists and a level of attention that arguably exceeds their real contribution to computer game history. This is in part thanks to Infocom’s own newsletters, but also the preservation of memos and documents from the company itself. That gives us a view on just about everything from sales performance to standings within the local softball leagues. As recently as 2019, source code was placed online for most of the classic Infocom games. This would be fun all by itself, but in Trinity’s case we are fortunate to have preserved notes on three separate versions of the game, starting from something akin to “Time Police” and ending with the version that we explored together. I had hoped to include this material with the Final Rating, but that post was long enough. Let’s close out our coverage of Trinity with a look at three versions of the game that might have been.

Thursday 12 March 2020

Missed Classic 83: Asylum II (1982) – Introduction

Written by Will Moczarski

Asylum must have been a major success for Med Systems Software, as the team of company president William F. Denman jr. and Frank L. Corr jr. teamed up once more about one year later to program its sequel, simply called Asylum II. The original version of this game seems to have been written – once more – for the TRS-80, and the game marks several forks in the road for Med Systems Software: It was the last game by both Denman and Corr as well as the last adventure game they developed in-house. They published three more games by Jyym Pearson but apart from that, the following years saw only re-releases and re-packagings, mostly of their short-lived Asylum brand. Asylum II, in particular, was confusingly re-released as simply Asylum for the Commodore 64 and the Atari computers in 1986. This was the game that made me first encounter Screenplay, the company formerly known as Med Systems Software, and the desire to go back and play through it gave me the idea for this whole marathon.

Asylum II has the same graphics and the same plot as its predecessor – once again, you are a mental patient who needs to escape from the asylum before he goes “insane.” Both the asylum and the game’s concept of “insanity” have a b-movie feel and don’t even make an effort to come across as realistic. If you haven’t read my other three playthroughs of Med Systems’ trademark “Continuum” games (Deathmaze 5000, Labyrinth, Asylum), you may be surprised at the wireframe 3D graphics that apparently challenged Sierra’s claim to have released the first graphic adventure with Mystery House in 1980. However, these games evolved from a different tradition – that of 3D maze games, a viable mainframe genre that first came into contact with the yet-undeveloped genre of the adventure game in the famous Hunt the Wumpus and its many clones. The “Continuum” games thus progressively qualify more and more as adventure games – while the plot of this latest iteration is not very complex, there are some notable NPC encounters as well as actual puzzles apart from geographical ones. I have very mixed feelings about this game as I kind of enjoyed Asylum but it took me a very, very long time to solve it and I had to resort to a hint sheet in the end. As my memory of the game’s Commodore 64 port is more than hazy, I don’t really know what to expect. Sometimes that’s a good sign, though, innit?

Tuesday 10 March 2020

Shadow of the Comet – Flight of Icarus

By limbeck

Things have progressed more smoothly in this session, with a bit of excitement and a lot more exposition. I finished the previous one after getting a quest from Mr UNDERHOUSE to get a diary from the Mayor's safe and with Miss PICOTT vehemently refusing to give me her Bible. I need the Bible to find the aforementioned safe's combination.

No amount of talk seems to change Miss PICOTT's mind, so I leave her and do some more walking around. My wanderings bring me to MYER's shop again. He obviously does not mention WILBUR or keys casually left on counters, but he gets to what he knows best: business. He tells me he received a lot of nice new goodies overnight, such as a cheap locket, an even cheaper brooch and more photosensitive plates. I buy the lot, because I still have access to Mr GRIFFITH's funds. I feel quite satisfied with my purchase, but as soon as I get out of the store, the pin falls off the brooch.

I have been scammed!

Saturday 7 March 2020

Journeyman Project - Final Rating

Written by Reiko

All the way back on gameplay post 1, one of our intrepid commenters managed to neatly summarize my final sense of the game. Ross said, "This is one of my favorite series of games, but man is this first one clunky." That's exactly it. It was a cool ride, but...clunky. Like a budget rollercoaster that clanks and bumps around every turn, and its top speed never quite manages to feel fast. And then there's the place where you'll hit your head if you don't remember to duck.

I am actually thinking of a particular kiddie rollercoaster I've ridden with my young son. Yes, it was clanky and bumpy, fast enough to be fun but not fast enough to feel fast for long. No, I never actually bumped my head, but there's one point where the track dives below an overhead loop that you reach later in the ride. I'm very short, but as an adult on a kids' ride, it felt like a near miss every time I went through that part, to the point where I would usually duck a bit even though I didn't have to.

Puzzles and Solvability

Most of the puzzles were very solvable, but rather on the obvious side. Use the oxygen mask to breathe while in the depressurized tunnels. Disarm the bomb before taking it. Use the right biochip in the right situation. It's really not a hard game. There were only two tricky timing puzzles, and one was only tricky because of the interface (the silo deactivation minigame with the awkward cursor), and the other was the ore crusher. Some of the puzzles were very derivative, like the stunted Mastermind variation. And there was a real maze, which fortunately was rendered rather trivial with the Mapping biochip. There are also no alternate solutions except for the final choice of how to deal with each robot, whether "peacefully" or not.

How many chips can I grab from the robot before it self-destructs?

Thursday 5 March 2020

Missed Classic: Trinity - Won! (And Final Rating)

Written by Joe Pranevich

We finally made it to the end of Trinity, but the ending was a lot longer than I expected. The trip through New Mexico is the longest sequence in the game and it’s a lot of fun, even if I bit off more than I could chew for one week. As such, this post is more-than-double-length but even that seems insufficient: this game rewards exploration and introspection in a way that few games have. A few years ago, I stumbled on the term “first-person thinker (in contrast with “third-person shooter”) to describe adventure games. That label doesn’t fit many games as well as it fits Trinity; I have spent many sleepless nights recently thinking about this game and what it means. That is high praise!

I am getting ahead of myself. Where we left off last time, I explored six of the seven mushroom realms spread across our sundial “wabe”. This included an amazing magnet-assisted trip through space in a soap bubble, as well as a less-than-spectacular bout of trial and error where I killed a lizard in a number of incorrect ways. Last week ended with my discovery that the two gems (the ruby from the beginning of the game and an emerald from the end) could be used to create a pair of magical speed boots. With those, I am finally able to explore the Trinity site in the desert, the last of the seven realms at the dawn of the nuclear age. Something has caused the “primitive” first atom bomb to vaporize New Mexico. I need to find out what it is.

Monday 2 March 2020

Game 117: The Legacy: Realm of Terror (1993) – Introduction

By Voltgloss

In 1992, Infogrames released Alone in the Dark, which put the player in the role of an unsuspecting investigator who experiences the horrors of the mansion of an eccentric magnate, after said eccentric magnate committed suicide. The player tries to escape from the mansion, the unspeakable lurking fears that haunt it in the dark and from the raving madness that the secrets of the mansion could deliver. It is exciting, deadly and … why do I suddenly have this overwhelming sense of déjà vu?

All the pictures into the mind/There’s a flashing in my eyes
(Image still from here)