Thursday, 7 October 2021

Missed Classic 99: Hurlements (1988)

 By Morpheus Kitami

Ah, Halloween, my second favorite time of the year. The temperature is just right after months of boiling hot weather, the trees are multi-colored spectacles, and there's a convenient excuse to watch films centered around skinny-dipping camp counselors getting murdered in horrible ways. I guess you only get one of those if you live in the southern hemisphere, but you're probably used to smug northerners talk about their weather anyway. Whether it's hot or cold, it's time to talk about horror video games.

Last...December, I played Zombi, an unlicensed adaptation of Dawn of the Dead, published by Ubi Soft. That was, oh, what's the word I'm looking for? Awful, but with potential. Dawn of the Dead is an interesting film from a sequel perspective. There's Day of the Dead, which is questionable, and I don't know how you'd make a good video game out of it. There are earlier scripts which are different than the finished product, but I don't know if they were available back then, but they could make good adventure games. There are a million films that are sequels to Dawn simply because some distributor owned both films. In short, there's a lot of places you could go. You could even make Emanuelle Meets the Living Dead, which isn't as insane as it sounds.

Sunday, 26 September 2021

Missed Classic: Alice in Wonderland - Won and Final Rating

 By Morpheus Kitami

It could be said very easily that I don't care for this game. This is true. But as I finished the game, that apathy turned into hatred. Remember that gryphon I mentioned, then went past? I thought I exhausted my dialog options and he did nothing. No, turns out the gryphon has a cricket bat he wants to give me. I feel like I have to take such extensive notes the game ceases to be any fun just to have a chance of winning. The three M objects I was supposed give one of Alice's many, many clones? Yeah, one of them is just supposed to be a mushroom. The game straight-up lied to me there.

Alice jumps in a well

Saturday, 18 September 2021

Missed Classic: Alice in Wonderland - Turning into Malice

 Written by Morpheus Kitami

It's been a while. I mean, this wasn't exactly a long hiatus, especially for this blog at this point...but it wasn't a worthy one. I have no real excuse. It's one thing if the game was bad, but it's not really. I could handle a bad adventure game, I don't have a problem with that, outside of extraordinary player hatred on the game's part. I just can't motivate myself to play a mediocre adventure game attached to a bad platformer. Mediocre platformers aren't my cup of tea, especially ones where the only challenge is around jumping. I like my platformers with big guns and big guns. Unfortunately I do not think that this will continue my trend of playing the rare adventure games involving machine guns and dumdum bullets.

I think that's the answer to any question regarding this game

To the game, I didn't figure out that riddle. If it's important, it's important, if it isn't, it isn't. Continuing right, I meet the Cheshire Cat again. Nothing new, but he does tell me I can use a whisker to save a baby. That's...informative and very subtle foreshadowing. The next room over has Alice's doppelganger, the secretary, say I need to enter a building to save a baby from jumping. The baby? The duchess that tries to find morals in every tale. Nothing seems to do anything with her. Maybe, I can't access a specific area since I have no way of reaching it. I do find an ancient muffin. This isn't as random as it sounds.

What's in the box? I think you know the answer to that question!

Outside I don't find much more, but I would like to point out that swimming is just so slow. Water causes basically a dead stop. The right eventually comes to a dead end by a town hall. I do get a memo by arguing with a card, a bureaucracy joke. Which raises questions if this actually is for children. It's possible, but boring adult topics just bore children. The answer to where to go next is in a fireplace. I missed it because I have to jump, walking goes below it. This is a one-way path, because a flying bug is blocking a vital path. I'm glad I'm not making a map anymore, because this is just a mess of bizarre one-way pathways. Writing down what time characters appear is only relevant if you tick a character off.

Thursday, 16 September 2021

Space Quest V - Final Rating

Written by Joe Pranevich

For some players, Space Quest IV was the “true” end of the Space Quest saga. With an amazing time-travel plot to hint at Roger’s future exploits, it could have served as a capstone on the series. Roger ended that game knowing that someday he would have a family and be regarded as a hero. Not long after, Mark Crowe and Scott Murphy (“The Two Guys From Andromeda”) had a falling out. With their partnership disbanded, the series could (and perhaps should) have ended there. Instead, the following years brought us two further adventures: Space Quest V (1993), by Mark Crowe and David Selle, and Space Quest 6 (1995), by Josh Mandel and Scott Murphy. With only half the creative team on each, would these sequels be able to live up to their predecessors? 

When I started playing this one, my first question was about what would be missing; what did Scott Murphy bring to the party and would I be able to detect the absence of his charm? Would a game with 50% less “Andromeda” even feel like Space Quest? I’m not sure that it does, but I’m also pleased by how successful this attempt has been in its own right. Crowe and Selle pulled together a game that had much of what made Space Quest great, while layering on a “Next Generation” of humor and parody. I had a lot of fun and I hope you did too.

Now comes the difficult part where I have to put scores to my thoughts. Is this better or worse than Space Quest IV? Will our tie for 10th place expand to five titles? Let’s get to work.

Monday, 6 September 2021

Space Quest V - Won!

Written by Joe Pranevich

We’ve just about made it to the end of Space Quest V. Roger Wilco’s games have never been known for high stakes, but this game ups the ante. The future mother of our children, Beatrice, has been saved and is resting comfortably. Our crew has not only survived, but thrived despite the low station of the garbage scow that we pilot. And now, we are the galaxy’s last hope against an invasion of mutated goo-monsters, led by the handsome-but-narcissistic Captain Quirk. I’m going to be sad to see this one go: the Star Trek-style jokes and structure has breathed new life into the “road movie” style of the previous Space Quest games. I respect that it might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I have enjoyed this more than I expected.

All Good Messes...

Captain’s Log, Stardate: Sunday, Sunday, Sunday! It’s the throwdown of the century as the Eureka and Roger Wilco try to save the Goliath and all of civilization from the horrid goo-zombies! All we need to do now is board the ship, use the transporter trick we stole from a Star Trek: The Next Generation episode to cure the crew, and prevent the destruction of StarCon. Can we do it? I have no idea. 

Sunday, 22 August 2021

Veil of Darkness - The Story Begins

Written by Zenic Reverie
Honestly, it'd probably take about 8 months to fully recover from a plane crash.
Apologies for the delay. When last we left Engatz, he had just crashed outside a small forgotten town somewhere in Eastern Europe. Pulled to safety, he roused in an unfamiliar house some undetermined time later. Dierdra was watching over us, and what a sight to wake to. She instructed us to find her father down the hall. Of course, this meant we'd take the long way and explore the whole house first. As I left Dierdra's room (more than likely a guest room, but it's where Dierdra is found) I confirmed full combat difficulty. The game offered some tutorial screens as I made my way through the corridors of my benefactor's mansion. The first described doors that are inconsequential to the story with "There is nothing important behind this door." At least half of them had this message.

Tuesday, 27 July 2021

Missed Classic 98: Adventure Alpha (1984)

Written by Joe Pranevich

In 1984, Dr. William H. Kraus was a rare breed: one part game designer, one part Doctor of Philosophy in Mathematics Education. Up to this point, the games he had designed were simple, one-trick teaching tools for students in K-5. That was related in part to his academic bent: unlike most designers, he was concerned about quantifying and documenting the improvements his students saw while playing educational games. As he was sitting down to write what would be the first of three adventure games to break that mold, he made a prediction:

“In the not too distant future, it is likely that at least one microcomputer will be found in most elementary school classrooms and that teachers will wonder how they ever got along without them.” - “The Computer as a Learning Center.” Computers in Mathematics Education: 1984 Yearbook, edited by the National Council of the Teachers of Mathematics. 

Kraus never became a famous game designer. Perhaps his games were too stuffy and academic. Perhaps his evidence-based approach to teaching fun didn’t quite translate for enough students. Or perhaps, he just enjoyed doing the research that would benefit future teachers and educational game designers. Whatever the reason, his short design history has left us with only three adventure games: 1984’s Adventure Alpha and The Islands of Beta, and 1985’s The Lantern of D’Gamma. I looked at the second of these games five years ago, but now that archivists have discovered the missing original, I wanted to revisit these happy memories of my childhood again. 

You may have been expecting a Space Quest V post this week. Unfortunately, due to a computer emergency (and the discovery that I cannot write a blog post without the use of the letter “R”), my laptop has been shipped away for repairs. My write-up of Adventure Alpha has been sitting in the “draft” bin since the start of the COVID epidemic. With a borrowed computer and browser-based emulation, I was able to put in the time to finish the write-up. I hope you enjoy this diversion from our regularly scheduled content.

Thursday, 22 July 2021

Missed Classic - Alice in Wonderland - Let Them Eat Cake

By Morpheus Kitami

Who could have possibly foreseen this course of events?

The area I left off in is definitely unpassable. Alice can't jump onto ropes, nor can Alice float onto a nearby platform. The doors definitely link back on each other, no trickery like last time. The only doors, which don't really look like small doors, but we'll go with that, are ones Alice is too big to fit into. What can Alice do? What can Alice do? She won't starve to death yet, since she has cakes. Its probably been 24 hours at this point, so she's probably hungry anyway...

Monday, 12 July 2021

Dare To Dream – In A Darkened Room

Written by Will Moczarski

We’re back in little Tyler’s dreamland! I’ve decided to play one hour at a time in order to remember everything important for this write-up. Also, I need some kind of structure. Thirdly, I’m not bent on going crazy because of all the pixel-hunting. And let me tell you, it has already been quite the test.

Each chapter represents one hour of gameplay, accordingly. The first chapter is very short. Let’s hope it won’t always be like that…

Tuesday, 6 July 2021

Space Quest V - Requiem for the Brundlefly

Written by Joe Pranevich

As we start this week, I’m of two minds. On one hand, Space Quest V has exceeded my recollections and expectations. The plot, the whimsy, and even the Star Trek references are hitting just right. The presence of a central ship and crew sets it apart from the other games in this series, fleshing out Roger’s world more than the “road movie”-style events of the previous games. On the other hand, I’m just about ready for the game to be over. Maybe it still has surprises in store, but it would be nice to come to the end this week or next.

As the title suggests, this week’s events borrow heavily from 1986’s The Fly starring Jeff Goldblum. As discussed in the comments on a previous post, I deal very badly with horror (and especially “body horror”) films, so I know it only by reputation. I encourage commenters to point out anything that I might have missed, but I suspect they borrowed little more than the idea that a transporter accident with a fly could cause wacky hijinks. This week also brings us the usual collection of Star Trek jokes, plus a pinch of Star Wars and a dash of Lassie. If I missed any references (anything from 2001?), let me know. 

Requiem for the Brundlefly

Captain’s Log, Stardate: Saturday morning and I’m missing my cartoons! Beatrice has been saved! Well, sort of. After responding to the Goliath’s distress call, we found only a single escape pod on the planet. After much heroics on my part (and absolutely not losing my pants in front of my future wife), I rescued the ambassador just as the mutants that used to be the Goliath’s crew attacked. Alas, the Ambassador was infected by the mutants before beaming up and we had to place her on ice. Now we wait. Can my little garbage scow stand up to one of the most powerful ships in the fleet? 

Saturday, 3 July 2021

Missed Classic: Alice in Wonderland - Time and Place

Written by Morpheus Kitami

I do not often make maps. Most of the time, I am capable of orienting myself in a video game perfectly well. My memory is all that I need. Perhaps years of playing '90s FPS games and classic survival horror titles have given me that talent or it was one I was born with, the world will never know. Usually if I need a map I just hope one is online. Having to make a map is something I don't consider a mark in the game's favor, perhaps that's why I've never committed to playing Dungeon Master or any other map-needed game titles. I've only made one map before, and that was for Isle of the Dead, and I won't spoil the reason for that since it has yet to be played on this blog. 

But I decided to do a map for this game based on one reasoning, the game expects me to write down the times and locations of characters. There's a chart that comes with the game, where you're expected to do just that. Because I don't do this often, I'm not using some fancy software or anything. I'm just using my usual graphical software, adding various marks where something is, and writing down the characters schedules.

I don't have a choice here

Monday, 21 June 2021

Space Quest V - Worst of Both Worlds (Parts I and II)

Written by Joe Pranevich

Welcome back! It sounds odd to say while writing about a Space Quest, but one of my favorite Sierra games is Quest for Glory IV. That game hardly needs an introduction, but one of my favorite things about it is the development of relationships between our Hero and the townsfolk. In previous Quest for Glory games, the Hero had a supporting cast of Katta innkeepers, a Saurian or two, and a sword-wielding lion. In the fourth title, he finds himself an unpopular and unwelcome visitor. Tolerated but not supported, the early hours of the game feel lonely as every pair of eyes look at you with suspicion. Gradually (and sometimes not so gradually), the townsfolk come to appreciate our heroic actions. One by one, their stoic exteriors are broken by the actions of our Hero. It may seem like such a small thing, but so much of my love for that game can be summarized by the feeling that you are making a difference. Space Quest V, finally and perhaps surprisingly, has progressed down the same path. After breaking Cliffy out of jail (and blowing up the evidence), Roger has built bridges to Flo and Droole. The latter is just impressed, but Flo appears to want to engage in some unprofessional activity. Everyone on the ship sees Roger as “one of them” and I love it. It’s a nice pivot and gets us ready for the darkness that is almost certainly coming.

This post was originally going to be divided into two parts, but I’m already struggling enough with the schedule so better to push it all out now. It comes together better that way anyway. We have a broader mix of inspirations this time out from Star Wars to Night of the Living Dead, plus more than a little Toxic Avenger for good measure. We’re still playing it all through a Trek lens, but the other inspirations are clearly there. Let’s sit down in the command chair and start our adventure of the week!

Worst of Both Worlds (Part I)

Captain’s Log, Stardate: Friday, I think. It’s all blurring together. Back to work! Moments after the mysterious and completely unexplained explosion that destroyed the Spacebar, we have been given another assignment: a trash pickup! Again! As we zoom off to collect the waste of Klorox II, we stand proud knowing that my crew and I are truly cleaning up the galaxy to make it a better place and not, by way of example, blowing up any space stations. 

Thursday, 17 June 2021

Missed Classic 97: Alice in Wonderland (1985) - Introduction

Written by Morpheus Kitami

A long time ago, Trickster did the opening game on this blog, Below the Root. It was an interesting experiment at a time when graphic adventure games were finding their feet. Some time later, Kenny McCormick did another little known game called The Scoop, this one more mundane in style. What do those and today's title have in common? They were all made by the same company, Dale Disharoon, inc., after the head honcho, Dale Disharoon. (Its a French name) This all comes to a head with today's game, the middle child of Disharoon's PC adventure games, Alice in Wonderland.

If you were to make a list of the top 10 most influential works of English literature, Alice in Wonderland would be one of those works. If you had a wheelbarrow worth of Papiermarks for each reference that has been made, you'd have enough to buy a house on Mars. Its been interpreted, retold, reimagined so many times that I'm sure anything I could say would be unintentionally parroting someone. And I also can't really say I'm that much of an expert on the subject, I'm just an enthusiast. I just like the aesthetic.

So, instead let me tell you about John Tenniel, the illustrator for both original books. Tenniel originally worked as a political cartoonist for the magazine Punch, where he developed his signature grotesque style. A sort of precursor to the surrealists who would appear a few decades after his death. His work consists of the very real projected onto the not so real, i.e., human faces on animal heads. In comparison to those who would come after him, Tenniel had a very good eye for detail, which makes this much more effective than a lot of people who do similar styles. Further, I don't feel like I'm reading the work of a serial killer like in modern political cartoons. If you can find them, his cartoons provide a very interesting look back at 19th century politics.

Thursday, 10 June 2021

Missed Classic: Knight Orc - Deconstructing Fantasy Tropes

By Ilmari

A clear trend in the final few Level 9 games has been an attempt to twist the tropes of their earlier games and give them a cynical new look. This trend began with the last game in the Silicon Dreams -trilogy, Worm in Paradise, where instead of fighting against a totalitarian government, the player character just climbed the social ladder to its governing class. A second example was The Price of Magik, which turned its predecessor, Red Moon, on its head and suggested in one of its two endings that the PC was not a powerful magician, but an inmate in an asylum.

Knight Orc continues the trend by making fun of Level 9’s previous Middle Earth games. The premise is already twisted, because the PC is not a brave hero or even a treasure seeking adventurer, but the usual baddie, an orc. Fantasy tropes are deconstructed even more later in the game. Before getting to that, let’s see how I got through the first part of the game.

Getting to know the ropes
My first quest was to gather pieces of rope and connect them into a one long rope that would help orc Grindleguts get to his home. Couple of the ropes were simply lying about:
  • Fastened to a gibbet (apparently a synonym for gallows), I found a noose made of hempen rope
  • Fastened to a goat, I found a tether
  • Inside an oak, I found a washing line
  • Fastened to a flagpole, I found a silk cord used as a halyard
Tying these ropes together made them magically combine into one seamless piece of rope. Still, it wasn’t enough and I had to do some proper puzzles to get more ropes. Finding myself near a well, I saw that it had no rope, but there was something glimmering at its bottom. I tied my piece of rope to the well roller and climbed down, where I found a green-slimed hessian hawser and a leather bucket containing gold brick. Later on, I noticed that the bucket could be used as a safe container for carrying items, since the roving adventures did not grab anything from it.
Middle Earth would sorely need an Orc Lives Matter movement

Saturday, 5 June 2021

Game 122: Dare To Dream (1993) – Introduction

Written by Will Moczarski
It’s main game time! After two games set in the “palace of deceit”, Cliff Bleszinski decided to take a different approach for his third game. Conceived as a shareware game in three parts and written for Epic MegaGames, Dare To Dream is more polished, more immersive and generally more advanced than its predecessors. It is still a shareware game and probably shouldn’t be made to compete with mainstream classics like Day of the Tentacle or Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers, which were released the same year. But all things considered, it looks, plays and feels much more like a professional product than the two high-school outings I’ve previously played through for this blog.

Tuesday, 1 June 2021

Missed Classic 96: Knight Orc (1987) - Introduction

By Ilmari

The time of early computer gaming industry seems a lot more romantic than what came afterwards. There’s still a wonder of a new frontier, where lone coders or small family companies could strike gold or at least make a living with their creations, without the constant fear of some huge corporate business swallowing up the majority of the game market.
When Bill Gates, Michael Cera and Harry Potter went in a bar...
...ahhh, no, it's Pete, Mike and Nick Austin

Friday, 28 May 2021

Space Quest V - The Trouble with Space Monkeys

Written by Joe Pranevich

Welcome back! It’s been a few weeks, but last time we saw Roger Wilco, he had just defeated (recruited?) an android intent on his destruction. With a stressful situation firmly in the rear-view mirror, Roger and his crew decided that they needed a little post-mission rest and relaxation at the Space Bar. If anything, last time’s post reinforced the Star Trek pastiche as we played through our first “away mission” on a surprisingly Earth-like planet. As you can guess from the title this week, we’re not going to escape the Star Trek references any time soon.

The Trouble with Space Monkeys

Captain’s Log, Stardate: Thursday and it’s a 5 o’clock world when that whistle blows; no one gets a piece of my time. My crew and I are beaming down to the Space Bar for some well-deserved shore leave after our recent exploits on Kiz Urazgubi. I am certain that no death and destruction awaits us because shore leave episodes are peaceful ones. If I get chased by any giant bunnies that are “late”, I will be certain to shoot first and ask questions later. With luck, we’ll get the “oversexed natives with a secret” sort of shore leave and I won’t mind if we never discover their secret...

Saturday, 22 May 2021

Missed Classic 95 (1992) - Weird Island

Written by Morpheus Kitami

Weird, as following the I before E rule

There are some games, that you can tell what they're going to be about just by looking at the title. Weird Island or Wierd Island. Maybe it takes place on a plane, that'd be weird. The readme, before talking about the story, mentions an original 'point and click' interface, eradicating the need for typing complex sentences. Perhaps I'm showing my age, but I can't remember typing any complex sentences into a game, and I have the benefit of living in an age where you could easily program a response to this entire paragraph, in a game. 

Anyway, story: 
[Leafing through the newspaper one morning you come across a notice requesting your presence at 'HUGH, PUGH and BARNEY-MAGREW Solicitors to Elizabeth Taylor.' Puzzled (and who wouldn't be), the next day you visit the solicitors where you are told that you have come into possession of a remote island paradise. The island was apparently claimed by five galley slaves many, many years ago; one of whom was your ancestor (its nice to know who your descended from). 

Ownership of the island passes between the families of the founders every 100 years and your family is next in line to do with the island what you wish. You were supposed to be told this by the previous owner of the island but he seems to have conveniently disappeared. Anyway, the solicitors suggest you go out to the island to see for yourself. Strangely, you feel happy to oblige...] 

I see several problems with this. Firstly, while I can believe this agreement can withstand modern times, I'm not clear on how a bunch of slaves were able to keep hold of an island during Roman times, or the Dark Ages. They were galley slaves, you want to tell me that all the Edmunds that were kings in those times were okay with that? Could have just written that I won a contest, dude. I'm American, for one, I'm not going over to jolly old England without being told why without a paid-for ticket. Secondly, I am not an orphan descended from orphans, why do I specifically get this island? Thirdly, what if I don't browse the personal ads?

Thursday, 13 May 2021

Missed Classic: The Palace of Deceit: The Dragon’s Plight – WON! and Final Rating

Written by Will Moczarski
To my enormous relief, the second Palace of Deceit game turned out to be winnable. It took a lot of pixel hunting to get there but finally we were able to save the day. A short recap is probably in order: We play a blue dragon called Nightshade who was imprisoned by the evil wizard Garth who hates dragons and wants to kill all of them. Why we are still alive, I don’t know, and game logic is not strong with this one but it was still a rewarding experience.

Thursday, 6 May 2021

Missed Classic: The Nine Lives of Secret Agent Katt - Won and Final Rating

 Written by Morpheus Kitami

Previously, I had almost solved my problems, but was forced to restart the game thanks to an admittedly generous time limit. I do believe it's linked to your actual actions as opposed to in-game time, given the game's speed issues, is a pretty good bit of foresight, all things considered. I mean, someone with foresight would also not force the player through duct work or a crappy action sequence...but I get ahead of myself.

Does that mean we won't be able to sell it?

So, the key, this opens a room with another jewel. It's some stupid name, but it's the jewel that opens the scanner. So this means I can take the final jewel, the one I really need. It occurs to me this is just key busywork, but with another name. Upon using the jewel, the door opens really slowly. As can be expected.

That's awfully blue for a black jewel...

...and I've found the jewel...and no money. I can take it, but the alarm is tripped. I have no empty soda can to change it with. The only thing I can think of that I'm missing is the guard in the bathroom. Leaving my squad somewhere safe, I return to the bathroom. Nothing. I go back to the furnace, crank it up, and return. Nothing. Maybe he's doing a number 2? I try opening the door. It works. I wasn't expecting that.

So what happens if someone needs to take a no. 2?

Aha, the scuba gear. That means the scuba section. I was wondering when that would happen. What wonders await?

Monday, 26 April 2021

Missed Classic 94: The Palace of Deceit: The Dragon’s Plight (1992) – Introduction

 Written by Will Moczarski

Here we go again! According to Wikipedia, The Palace of Deceit was “remade for Windows 3.x and subtitled The Dragon’s Plight as a graphical point-and-click adventure game with an entirely new plot and graphics”. Call me old-fashioned but how is this a remake and not a sequel? You actually play a dragon in this one, so it must at least be a spin-off. However, the designer was still Cliff Bleszinski and according to a portrait of the man written by a guy called Joe Funk (seriously!) in Hot Jobs in Video Games (2010) his inspirations were the ICOM games like Déjà Vu and Uninvited. I’ve already pointed out the similarities to Shadowgate when playing the first iteration of the game, so this doesn’t actually come as a shock.

Friday, 23 April 2021

Missed Classic: The Nine Lives of Secret Agent Katt - Too Many Numbers

 Written by Morpheus Kitami

Secret Agent Katt is a weird game. I don't mean weird in the usual sense. There's nothing I could take out of context and say, what is this crap? Nothing like Inca or Melvin Freebush, or whatever Japanese obscurities there are. Secret Agent Katt is entirely mundane in that regard. Too mundane. In Secret Agent Katt, the most obvious answer is seemingly the right answer. Door's locked? Find a key. Nothing does anything? Well, its already open you fool.

In the mythical women's bathroom

Meanwhile, in a gas station bathroom...

I had done something, that was certain, but what did I do? The lounge area offered me nothing but a guard. It had two bathrooms, the woman's one was clean and the men's was dirty. Get it? Because women are prim and proper, while men pull a Jackie Chan on the ceiling to take a dump. Nothing here. Not even opening the faucet does anything. I should explain, in Last Half, if you messed with one, they turned on and the sink overflowed. Neat touch. I'm not seeing that here. At some point coming back here, I saw a guard, but I ran away afterward, uneager to waste ammo. We'll find out if that's right later.


Nearby there was a vending machine...which was unplugged for some reason. I didn't do that. I plug it in. There are some names on the wall, but is that for a puzzle or just something clever? I have no money. You'd think unidentified US black ops agency would give their agents a few Lira before dumping them somewhere in Italy.

Wednesday, 21 April 2021

Space Quest V - Arena of Freedom

Written by Joe Pranevich

Welcome back! Last time out, Roger Wilco had his first adventure at the helm of the garbage scow, SCS Eureka. We met our crew, collected three sets of garbage, and rescued a poor face-hugger with a case of indigestion. Thus far, I am loving the Star Trek pastiche. The whole game has been note-perfect with just the right amount of love for the franchise while still ripping apart its conventions. We’ll see whether we can keep it up. After our third pickup, we were assaulted by an android assassin that wants Roger dead. For most people, having a killer robot try to kill you would be a pretty big deal, For Roger, it’s just Wednesday.

Let’s get on with the game!

Arena of Freedom

Captain’s Log, Stardate: Wednesday morning, after my first cup of coffee but before my second. No sooner than my brave crew and I finish our appointed rounds, but we are assaulted by a mechadroid. My dark past has caught up to me and I’m forced to face an assassin on my own or risk the lives of my crew. Will my mistakes doom us all? I’m beaming down. If I don’t return, bring back my overdue library books. 

Monday, 19 April 2021

Missed Classic: The Palace of Deceit: The Secret of Castle Lockemoer – WON!-ish and Final Rating

Written by Will Moczarski
Thou shalt not pass.
First of all let me say: what a fantastic community we have here at The Adventure Gamer. I had five people respond to my request for assistance with great advice – alas, it was not to be: The Palace of Deceipt indeed appears to be a game of deceipt, it is unwinnable in its present state and I’ve boldly gone as far as I could have gone in playing through it. However, the good news is that the remaining text bits of the game are somewhat readable as parts of the main .exe file, so I will try my best to provide you with a second-hand account of what the other parts might have played like.

Let’s resume our story, and go back to the armoury where I found a shield with my family crest on it. When I try to take the shield, I hear a deep rumbling from within the suit of armour next to it. The suit comes to life and proceeds to attack me with a sharp sword. If I try to kill the knight, the game informs me that I left the knife (you know, the cutz-o-matic one) with the carcass – however, there’s still a sleeping lion next door, right? I open the door and...the lion springs at the knight and knocks him over. He proceeds to tear him to pieces, and then turns to me. There appear to be multiple solutions for what happens next: holding up the shield either results in the lion shredding it to pieces of metal but then blacking out because there “must have been something in the meat”, or the lion’s head “clangs off the shield, and he drops to the ground, knocked out, several of his teeth scattered around the room. […] There are now 19 knights here, a knocked out lion, shreds of metal, lion's teeth, and a frustrated adventurer (you).” A frustrated adventurer? You can say that again. It’s strangely meta to read this parser output after THE CRASH.

Friday, 16 April 2021

Missed Classic 93: The Nine Lives of Secret Agent Katt (1992) - Introduction

 Written by Morpheus Kitami

What do you do when everyone is wrong about a game? I don't mean in a subjective sense, like you think Citizen Kane is worse than Plan 9 From Outer Space; I mean objectively, like Citizen Kane is a space opera/nunsploitation film starring Jackie Chan, Vincent Price, and Gloria Swanson. Today, that's what I bring you, the game the internet calls a RPG, The Nine Lives of Secret Agent Katt, hereafter referred to as Secret Agent Katt; Until I need to inflate my word count that is. If you submit to the collective wisdom of the internet, its a RPG. Even one Russian site, who are usually good about this, and shall remain nameless, mention RPG elements in the description. I know the CRPG Addict briefly played this game before rejecting it. Why wouldn't he? After all, everyone says it is a RPG, and everyone is wrong. But first, a little backstory...

Mobygames lists this as 1991? Another lie?

Secret Agent Katt is the second or third game by American developer Softlab Laboratories, later WRF Studios, and consists of William R. Fisher III and whoever he works with at the time. He is known for two things, a series of horror adventure games known as The Last Half of Darkness, six sequels, three remakes, and a series of vampire RPG games called Bloodlust. The Last Half of Darkness was little Morpheus's first horror experience, something that haunted him for years. I guess they're second fiddle to the Hugo series, in the sense that anything is second fiddle to the Hugo series, shareware adventure games never hit it big like action games.

Monday, 12 April 2021

Space Quest V - Encounter At Gangularis

Written by Joe Pranevich

Welcome back! Where we last left Space Quest V, I had just passed our Starcon exam and was granted my first ship: the SCS Eureka, a garbage scow. Still, everyone has to start somewhere and I’m sure that I will be working my way up the command ladder to be commanding a mighty starship in no time. Even if it’s small, we have a ship and a crew! 

Now, how should I begin? I know! We’ll have some jaunty theme music followed by one of those “Captain’s Log” things that provide exposition without forcing characters to tell each other things that they already know. Since this isn’t 1990s web design, you’ll have to click here for the soundtrack. The score is credited to Timothy Clarke and Christopher Stevens. We listened to the latter’s work in our previous Dynamix adventures including Willy Beamish, Rise of the Dragon, and Heart of China. It’s a fun score that riffs nicely both the earlier Space Quest games as well as Star Trek. I am completely unqualified to talk about music, so let’s jump straight into:

Encounter at Gangularis

Captain’s Log, Stardate: Tuesday afternoon, just after lunch. Having been granted my first command, I am eager to explore strange new worlds and collect trash where no one has gone before. Not everyone is up for such an important task, but I have the soul of a janitor. Litterbugs beware! My first task will be to get my ship out of spacedock and out into open space. After that, it’ll be the second star to the right and straight on until morning.

Saturday, 10 April 2021

Missed Classic: The Palace of Deceit: The Secret of Castle Lockemoer – Half-WON! with REQUEST FOR ASSISTANCE

Written by Will Moczarski
This, my friends, is only a half-won, a won-ish, a sort-of won post which must be a first for the blog. What does this mean, you ask, and how did this come about? Have a little faith and a little patience and I shell tell you all how I succeeded at playing through The Palace of Deceit: The Secret of Castle Lockemoer after a massive amount of parser-wrangling, cursing, keyboard-smashing and wailing – and yet I did not succeed. I will thus start my post with a request for (software) assistance, unusually, because maybe if not all is won at this point, maybe not all is lost either.

Request for (software) assistance

Basically I am looking for someone who can explain and (ideally) fix this error message:

Illegal function call in module PALOFDEC at address 01A2:1470

I assume that either the code is broken here OR this is as far as the shareware version takes us. However, I haven’t found any registered versions on the internet, so if the latter assumption turns out to be true, I will be unable to finish the game. Ironically, I have done what this situation would have required back in 1991, and tried to contact the author of the game, Cliff Bleszinski. Unfortunately, I was unsuccessful as of yet.

If nobody is able to help me, I will post an as-if walkthrough of the remainder of the game because all of the text is right there in the open when you open the main executable file, and attach it to the PISSED rating. That would be somewhat unsatisfactory but I’d be out of other ideas, as it is.

Friday, 2 April 2021

Missed Classic: Bureaucracy - Devoured By Llamas (Deleted Scenes & Extras)

Written by Joe Pranevich

I didn’t like Bureaucracy. As we saw last time out, it scored the lowest of the Infocom games so far. I expect this disappointed some of you-- if Jimmy Maher ever reads this blog, that post may have been his last-- but it’s my honest assessment. Bureaucracy was developed over several years and rotated designers more frequently than some people change pants. This led to a disjointed product that didn’t quite live up to its premise or its pedigree. We have no idea which designers came up with each of the game’s elements, but thanks to the Infocom source code leak we have an amazing view into some of what was cut or retained, as well-- possibly for the first time-- to see the founding vision for the game. 

Unlike some of the other games I looked at, we can glean a veritable treasure trove of information from the code leak. Not only do we have several puzzle design documents and a circa-1985 game pitch, but also semi-complete alternate versions of three of the sections: “airport”, “jet”, and “maze”. The airplane portion alone went through five versions that we know of before the developers found a set of scenarios and they liked. Covering all of that may be tricky. My plan will be to first look at the original design document then iterate through each area in sequence, paying special attention to alternate versions and commented-out code to identify as many discarded sequences as I can.  

Will we discover that I like the cut content more than the real thing? Only one way to find out!

Saturday, 27 March 2021

Lost Secrets of the Rainforest - Final Rating

Written by Reiko

I am more ambivalent about Lost Secrets of the Rainforest than any other game I've written about on the blog here. Most of the games I asked to write about were ones that I knew something about before I started, and this one is no exception, since it is the sequel to the cheerful Ecoquest. You might think that making a sequel would be easier, since some ideas or characters or settings get carried over from the original game. Yet I find that a sequel nearly always struggles to live up to the bar set by its original. What carries over tends to constrain the sequel rather than letting it be its own thing.

I could expand that into a thesis with examples, but we're here to look at Lost Secrets, so I'll focus on why translating Ecoquest into a rainforest setting didn't result in a similarly charming experience as the original underwater game. I wanted to like it, and some things I did like, but others I didn't.

Puzzles and Solvability

Most of the puzzles were reasonably straightforward; like Ecoquest, the story is pitched around middle-school age, so nothing is deliberately tricky, and there are no dead ends as far as I know. However, I really struggled with several puzzles that felt arbitrary. There was nothing in the first game that was tightly timed, so the sequence in the camp where the goon would catch you if you were in the wrong place too long was rather jarring. I spent the most time on that sequence, having to restart over and over to test where I could go and when in order to get things done. It was tedious at best.
I saw this screen way too much.

Thursday, 18 March 2021

What's Your Story: Sabrina LaFey

Answers: Sabrina LaFey
Introduction and captions: Ilmari 

Our community of adventure game aficionados has received a new member. Let us all give a warm welcome to Sabrine LaFey!

Saturday, 13 March 2021

Space Quest V - Spring Daze at StarCon-U

Written by Joe Pranevich

Welcome back to Space Quest V where Roger Wilco is just getting started down his road to Star Trek-style heroism. The previous post closed out the game’s introductory movie where Roger fantasized that he was the captain of a starship exploring the galaxy, only to be revealed as nothing more than a simulator. Star Trek geeks might wonder if this is the Space Quest version of the “Kobayashi Maru”, the test that all young cadets must go on to learn if they have the capacity to lose in a no-win situation. Roger doesn’t need that kind of training; he’s perfectly good at being a loser even in winnable situations!

I hope you placed your score bets. I am excited to get into this game, if for no other reason than to find out if it can match up to the previous games in the series despite having only a single “Guy From Andromeda”. Will the new blood help or hinder creativity? There is only one way to find out. 

Tuesday, 23 February 2021

Missed Classic: Bureaucracy - Won! And Final Rating

Written by Joe Pranevich

I would love to tell you that Bureaucracy is a beautiful throwback to a bygone era of games where one screwup at the beginning would, hours later, make it impossible to win. That would be a lie. Playing as we are in gaming history, this was still considered (somehow) good game design. Add to it that Bureaucracy is essentially gamified frustration and it’s inevitable that we’d have some walking dead scenarios. Regretfully, I hit one. 

At the start of the game, we have a Boysenberry computer in our house. This is 1987 when laptops might fit in a backpack if you are lucky and tablet computers were a trope of science fiction. This is two years before the Gameboy! My assumption is that this is a standard desktop computer for the era. At one point, I noticed that I could pick it up, carry it around, and even use it without it being plugged in. This felt like a bug where the developers (who can be forgiven for not knowing what computers were like) forgot that they needed to be plugged in and so didn’t code in that logic. Perhaps because of that, or because I simply made an error, I left my Boysenberry computer at my house when I headed off to the airport. Big mistake.

I fought my way through the airport crowds, defeated the evil llama stew, and jumped into a cannibal-infested jungle before discovering that I lose immediately if I parachute in without the computer. While the game hints that the natives we are captured by like computers, it doesn’t explicitly say that we needed to bring one with us; a player would be left with a dead end and no obvious way to advance if it had not been for the hint book. I wasn’t pleased. I am committed to solving this game and so played through the previous sections again. It’s not that they were tremendously difficult or time-consuming, but when I am struggling to enjoy a game, playing it again doesn’t make it more endearing. On the bright side, I’m wrapping up the game today. Let’s get this over with. 

Tuesday, 16 February 2021

Game 119: Space Quest V: Roger Wilco - The Next Mutation - Introduction (1993)

Written by Joe Pranevich

Five years ago (can you believe that?), I wanted to blog about Space Quest IV. While it wasn’t the first game that I played here, it was the first that I really wanted to play and the game that got me excited to write about adventure games. 65 main-line games later and we’ve finally made it to the sequel: Roger Wilco: The Next Mutation. But while this might look like a straight sequel, behind the scenes drama ensured that this would be a very different game from its predecessors. Instead of “Two Guys from Andromeda”, we were left with only one. Can one guy recapture the lighting and create a great sequel all on his own? That’s what I am looking forward to finding out.

I say “finding out” although I played this game and its sequel when they first came out. I remember very little about either of them and there is a good chance that plot elements I half-recall could be from the other game. If I had to stretch my brain, I’d say that I think I remember that Roger Wilco became a captain at the end of this game and I was annoyed that he was demoted back to janitor again at the beginning of the next, but I could be off-base. Let’s find out together!

Saturday, 6 February 2021

Missed Classic: Bureaucracy - An Unnecessary Essay on Cannibalism

Written by Joe Pranevich

I really want to like Bureaucracy. It’s partly written by one of my favorite authors, it is one of Infocom’s few truly collaborative efforts, and it has some great ideas. But, I don’t like it. At least at first, I assumed it was because of the moment that we are all living through-- the COVID epidemic, the fight for racial justice in the United States, and a contested election. Playing a game designed to annoy you isn’t fun when the world is already more stressful than it’s ever been. And yet, here we are in 2021 with vaccines coming (my wife gets her first dose next week!), the election behind us, and the sun just starting to peek out from behind the clouds. I thought that if I took a break and came back to the game now, I would feel better… but no, not really. Bureaucracy still pisses me off. 

To hopefully ensure a bit more consistent posting as we wrap this up, I have now beaten the game. I’m expecting to close this series out in three posts before moving on to Space Quest V, a game that I hope to enjoy playing a bit more. I will finish the airplane section this week, claim victory next time, and finally close out with a look at how the game changed from early design notes to the finished product. 

Before jumping into this session’s misadventures, I need to pause for a moment, take a deep breath, and talk about the elephant that will very shortly be in the room: the Zalagasans. Roughly the next third of the game features them in ways that meet somewhere at the intersection of humorous, troubling, and racist. I am positive that Douglas Adams, Michael Bywater, and the Infocom crew did not mean any offense, but playing the game in 2021 feels different somehow than playing it in 1987. As ill-equipped as I am to write in detail about the systematic stereotyping of non-white peoples in American and European media, I would be remiss if I didn’t comment on it. 

Saturday, 23 January 2021

Lost Secret of the Rainforest - Homeward Bound (Won!)

Written by Reiko

Adam’s Journal #8: "What a ride! I’ve finally made it to the City of Gold, but I never dreamed I would be flown there by a giant eagle! At first I thought I was going to be the eagle’s dinner, but then she turned out to be really nice. Now we’re so close to finding Forest Heart’s seedling. I can’t wait!"

We've made it to the heart of the City of Gold, a small stone room at the top of the maze. Inside, the far wall displays a curious grid of nine squares carved with some shapes that look rather jumbled. Another panel on the wall nearby crudely depicts a king and a serpent, guarding the way. On the grid, I can press any of the squares to change which of three choices is displayed. One choice is blank with a solid red border, another has part of an image with a double orange border, and the third has part of a different image with a red zigzag border. The center square doesn't have a border, but one choice is clearly blank, so it's easy to match the other two in the same order to complete each image.
The orange image, complete. A king playing the flute?
The red zigzag image, complete. A king wearing gold dust?

Sunday, 17 January 2021

Lost Secret of the Rainforest - Golden City

Written by Reiko

Adam’s Journal #7: "I knew a lot of kinds of bats existed, but before recently, I had never seen so many different kinds in one place before! I’m glad I could help them a little, but now I have to help Paquita too. The Fountain of Youth is the only thing that can heal her. Good thing it’s supposed to be in the City of Gold where I was going anyway."

Last time I was all set to board another boat to take us down the polluted river to travel toward the City of Gold. There we can find the seedling for Forest Heart and the Fountain of Youth to cure Paquita. Of course, it's not going to be quite that simple.

Poor Paquita.

Tuesday, 5 January 2021

Missed Classic: Zombi - Summary and Rating

Written by Morpheus Kitami

After last time, I slowly but surely uncovered more of the game with each playthrough. With each playthrough it became clear why nobody brings this up these days. Zombi just doesn't respect your time, and to be honest this was the wrong month to play a game that doesn't respect my time. But I'm getting ahead of myself...

Sunday, 3 January 2021

Fatty Bear’s Birthday Surprise - Final Rating

By Ilmari

When I reviewed Putt Putt Joins the Parade, I was a bit anxious whether I could rate a children’s game fairly. With one Humongous game already under my belt, I think I have a better grasp on what works and what doesn’t in these games. Let’s see if teddy power beats an automobile!
It had to make a cameo