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!