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.