Saturday 31 December 2022

Missed Classic: Castle Adventure - Scenes From an Italian Restaurant Located Inside Castle Highclere

By Michael

Now that we’ve celebrated the holidays and again have an empty wine flask, I welcome you back to our visit to the unnamed castle. Welcome back to our visit to the unnamed castle. This is the reverse of a good murder mystery, because we know whodunnit. That would be me, with the sword, in the Castle Gardens, the Throne Room, and the Knights’ Hall.
I wonder if a candlestick, revolver, lead pipe, or a rope will be of use in this game?
I chose to go up. At the northernmost end of the first floor, there’s a staircase that goes up. It brings me to an identical looking “cooridor”.

Sunday 25 December 2022

Missed Classic 118: Santa and the Goblins (1983)

Written by Joe Pranevich

Merry Christmas! I have a distinct memory as a kid of sitting at my grandparents’ home a few nights before Christmas and coloring in a Christmas-themed coloring book. It wasn’t a special book or a Christmas tradition, just a happy memory at their kitchen table with a box of crayons. Thirty-nine years ago this month, a different pair of young boys sat at their kitchen table in their small town of Tenterden in Kent, England. They, too, were coloring: a stack of cassette tape inserts each with a picture of Santa and a goblin, drawn by their father. The family business was computer games and this Christmas marked the end of their first full year as game developers. I get such a warm feeling just imagining that family coming together with felt-tipped markers to put the finishing touches on something they made together. 

The story of Santa and the Goblins, indeed the entire history of Intrigue Software, comes down to one thing: family, and especially the relationship between a father and son. Like all good Christmas stories, it has a happy ending, but the path to get to that ending was not a smooth one. Feelings were hurt, relationships were shattered, and art was born from adversity. Unless you were buying TI99 software from a mail-order catalog in 1983, this is not likely a game that you have played before, but it’s a great story and I am delighted for the chance to share it with you.

You’ve heard of Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, and Vixen… but did you know Santa was a skilled hand at vanquishing goblins? Read on for more.

Wednesday 21 December 2022

Missed Classic 117: Oseong-gwa Haneum (1993) - Introduction

 Written by Morpheus Kitami

Advertisement, note the cost 33,000 SK Won, or $25 USD, for comparison, new games for the Sega Saturn would cost around 74,000 SK Won

Today is an interesting bit of history, its the 29th anniversary of Oseong-gwa Haneum, the title I'm about to play. Well, its being uploaded on the 29th anniversary of the game I'm about to play, parts of this were written in November.

As someone who spends time looking up Japanese media I sometimes find myself looking at titles made in other Asian countries. Those of you who are Jackie Chan fans might be aware that he starred in an adaptation of City Hunter, a manga about a Japanese private eye with a magnum revolver and a "magnum revolver". A Hong Kong film starring mostly Hong Kong actors against a product of distinctly Japanese origin. Others, with an eye more towards Asian "trash" cinema, might be aware of Japanese actress and martial artist Yukari Oshima, who starred in Hong Kong films Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky (itself another manga adaptation) as a pretty boy sadist and as an exceedingly cruel woman in Angels*. Before becoming what Wikipedia calls the "female Jackie Chan of the Philippines". In short, a lot of people and ideas bouncing around between the more open societies of eastern Asian. 

*AKA, Iron Angels, Fighting Madam, and Midnight Angels. Or Midnite Angels as my copy of the third film says. Yeah, there are three of them. Funny thing is, all these titles seem to be wrong, it should be called something along the lines of "Action Angels". All this for some stupid Hong Kong knockoff of Charlie's Angels.

Which brings us to Korea, a country I have never held much interest in compared to its neighbors, be it across land in China, or across the sea in Japan. I should clarify I'm always referring to South Korea, as North Korea has no real media to speak of beyond propaganda, some made by natives, some by those who have been kidnapped, and the rare nutjob who defected there...for some reason. This isn't because I necessarily view it is a right or just, both countries are nutty as hell, just that I'm lazy.

Nevertheless, Korea is an interesting country with many, many interesting things about it. Did you know that until recently, they used Chinese characters as their primary writing system? Their current writing system is actually one of the most modern alphabets on the planet, with it having been made in the 15th century and only used properly in the 20th. Its also the most logical of the Chinese-derived writing systems, as each character is made solely from the sounds the word should have, as opposed to how in Chinese you have things like "go" "cliff" "ten" "eye" that relate in no way to the finished character of circulation.

Sunday 18 December 2022

Blue Force – Some Days Are Just Like That

by Alex

Jake Ryan is about to have the worst day of his life on the force. That’s a pretty mean feat considering it’s only his second day on the force, but that’s how things roll on the mean streets of Jackson Beach. You saw what went down in the Tower District with our pals Frank and Tyrone, and the search for young Skip Dixon’s missing baseball card. White guys named Tyrone—what is this world coming to?

We’ll get to all of that, but first, I have a confession to make:
“I like Blue Force.”

Tuesday 13 December 2022

Dracula Unleashed - Alexander Morris, Consulting Detective

Written by Joe Pranevich

Happy Halloween! Er… Thanksgiving? Hanukkah? Christmas? New Years? What month is it? Whenever it is, welcome back to Dracula Unleashed. I hope you remembered to guess the score. 

Last time out, we watched the introductory movie. We are Alexander Morris, brother to Quincey Morris who died while facing off against Dracula in the original novel by Bram Stoker. Alexander has come to London to investigate his brother’s mysterious death ten years prior. The younger Mr. Morris’s primary character trait appears to be procrastination: not only did he delay ten years before coming to London to investigate his brother’s death, he was immediately side-tracked by meeting a woman, a beautiful young lady named Anisette. Now, several months later, Alexander has finally been inducted into the “Hades Club” on the night that Anisette’s father passed away. We ended the night with a request that we visit Anisette in the morning as her father’s doctor sedated her for her own health. That’s where we’ll start the plot today.

Sunday 11 December 2022

Missed Classic: Castle Adventure - B.J. Blazkowicz Goes Looking for Loot in Several Wrong Places

By Michael

In today’s review, we are playing a game where we direct a character who is locked in a castle, looks for loot and secrets, and picks up weapons he finds along the way to kill horrible creatures, in hopes of escaping.
This reminds me of a screensaver...
When last we left our intrepid, unnamed hero, he was killed by an ugly ogre. So, perhaps it’s time to start again.

Friday 9 December 2022

BloodNet – Elvis Lives!

Written by Will Moczarski


Before my next session of playing BloodNet I decided to consult the manual once more, originally to refine my combat skills. But then a chapter about “jury-rig components” which I had previously ignored caught my eye. It contained lists of items necessary to jury-rig certain weapons, armour but also electronic lockpicks and a cyborg. I learned that the tub, nozzle, and hose I got from that one kid in Central Park (I forget his name) will enable me to build a flame thrower. But the lockpicks and the cyborg were particularly interesting to me because they corresponded with two open quests of mine: the lockpicks may be vital in opening the locked door inside TransTech while the cyborg will probably enable me to finally download either Elvis or Charlie Flyer (or both of them). Two other sentences were also quite interesting to me: “If a jury-rig attempt fails, you stand a chance of breaking a component.” And: “One of your party members must have a tool kit for a jury-rig to be attempted.” Does one of my party members have a tool kit? I have to admit that I’m not sure.

For the cyborg I will need a cyborg body, a cyborg head, a cyber arm (only one!), a cyber leg (only one!), and a spark board. I never would have guessed the spark board had I not consulted the manual. The electronic lockpicks can be jury-rigged by carrying a lock dbase, a lockpick casing, and a diagnostic unit. Sounds doable, maybe I’ve picked them up already at some point. I also learn that the mysterious dermal filament is necessary for all sorts of suits – initial dispersion suit, refraction shield, electrolytic suit, inert rad suit, and arno suit. 

Another section about vampires in combat seemed pertinent as well but since I haven’t encountered any of them after the opening sequence (Sampson doesn’t count, right?) it may become important later on.

Wednesday 7 December 2022

What's Your Story? PsOmA

 Intro and pictures by Ilmari

We've again had an influx of new commenters and couple of What's Your Story -answers have been waiting for publication for a while. Here's the first one of them: let's all welcome the commenter with the moniker PsOmA!

It's a little big adventure for all of us

Sunday 4 December 2022

7th Guest - Final Rating

Written by Reiko

Having finished the 7th Guest and taken some time to consider the experience, I'm going to take it apart and consider what worked and what didn't. I'm glad I got to experience this classic game, but it really hasn't aged well. I wish I'd at least tried playing it back in the day so that nostalgia could have helped me out a bit.

Puzzles and Solvability

We've got a mixed bag here, for sure. Probably two-thirds of the game is solving puzzles, and the rest is trying to understand the ghostly scenes. The variety is good: we've got chess puzzles and tile puzzles and language puzzles and even a music puzzle, but the quality is uneven. Most of the puzzles are interesting to some extent, but honestly I'm struggling to think of puzzles that were truly fun.

I liked this clever twist on a maze

Now that I've finished, my favorites are still the mazes: the heart maze with the valves and the full-size maze depicted in the rug. The card and skull coin puzzles, where the goal is to find a connected path through all the objects, were also quite good: I liked making the realization that the path could jump over gaps and also previously flipped objects. The door path puzzles (the insects and the knives) were tricky but fair.

Tuesday 29 November 2022

Missed Classic 116: Castle Adventure - Introduction (1984)

Written by Michael

Many radio call-in shows had an oft-repeated, somewhat cliched line: "Hi! I'm a long-time listener, first-time caller." I suppose that describes me. I've been reading and commenting on the blog for a handful of years, and finally got around to writing my story and threatening planning to write a missed classic review about a memorable childhood game. The game I'll be talking about is somewhat special to me, because it was my first game of any form I played on a computer that I know of. I hadn't even played Lemonade Stand at school yet, it would be another year before they installed a row of Apple IIe systems in the elementary school library.

Around 1985, when I was about 7, my grandfather showed me this new toy he had. In the family room of his house, he had set up his new IBM Model 5160 computer (known as the PC/XT), complete with an amber monochrome screen and a daisy-wheel printer. It had the latest in cyber-security: that round key that would lock the keyboard. And along with some software programmed "borrowed" from the engineering firm he worked at, he also had some shareware and freeware programs, obtained from mail-order shareware vendors like PC-SIG.
The keyboard and printer were in a constant battle, over which one could make enough noise to drive my grandmother crazy.

Friday 25 November 2022

BloodNet – Netscape: Torment


I have to say that BloodNet shares some features with my favourite game of them all. Granted, it’s not on the same level of greatness – not at all, in fact – but maybe the similarities are part of the reason I’m enjoying this game so much. Or perhaps it will become a lot worse towards the end. I’ll save my judgment for later lest I'll have to swallow my words. 

Last time a woman named Lenora Major had invited me to her well in the cyberspace to upload my essence into the web. This seemed necessary to enter the headquarters of TransTech so it felt like a good move. I got caught by a Security ICE routine a couple more times and didn’t find out anything new about the web for now so I followed up on some other leads. 

First I decided to pay a visit to that bigmouth called Zeus who had challenged me to a duel in real life. After our cyber-standoff a new location was accessible, namely a NYU dormitory close to Washington Square. What happened next was a bit of a surprise.

Wednesday 23 November 2022

Blue Force – Not All There

by Alex

Here are some synonyms for “crazy” I looked up and found on

  • balmy
  • bananas
  • batty
  • bonkers
  • brainsick
  • cracked
  • cuckoo
  • daffy
  • daft
  • demented
  • deranged
  • dippy
  • disturbed
  • flaky
  • foolish
  • freaky
  • gaga
  • goofy
  • harebrained
  • idiotic
  • illogical
  • inane
  • irrational
  • kooky
  • laughable
  • loco
  • loony
  • ludicrous
  • mad
  • maniacal
  • mental
  • mentally ill
  • mentally incompetent
  • moonstruck
  • moronic
  • nonsensical
  • not all there
  • nuts
  • nutty
  • nutty as a fruitcake
  • odd
  • off one’s rocker
  • off the wall
  • out of one’s mind
  • out to lunch
  • potty
  • preposterous
  • psycho
  • screwy
  • sick
  • silly
  • stark raving mad
  • stupid
  • touched
  • unbalanced
  • unhinged
  • unreasonable
  • unsound
  • wacky
I’m listing these for your reference so you know what to call me when you learn that I, after another play session of Blue Force, still not only do not hate this game, but actively enjoy it.

Friday 18 November 2022

BloodNet – Raindrops on Roses and Dragon Soul Boxes

It probably takes a cyborg with a neural implant to process all the data this game throws at you. While after about seven hours BloodNet is consistently entertaining, engaging and challenging my notes do get a bit out of hand. Bear with me as I’m trying to break it all down for the blog – it is a tough ride.

One thing that really dominated my third session was the realisation that some of the locations consisted of two or more screens linked by a small green triangle I had previously neglected to click on. 

Tuesday 15 November 2022

Missed Classic: Nord and Bert - The One Where I Flipped My Lid

Written by Joe Pranevich

Welcome back to Nord and Bert! This is a strange game: last time out, we defeated Jack Frost to rescue a mermaid and conquered agricultural idioms to save a family farm. That’s three episodes completed with five more to go before Punster is saved and I can move on to Plundered Hearts and Beyond Zork. I respect Infocom and Jeff O’Neill for choosing to do something different and the individual episodes help by letting us play in small chunks, but they are not quite the types of puzzles that I enjoy solving.

Before I get into it, let me admit upfront that this post was a rough six hours of idioms and idiocy. The two episodes, “Eat Your Words” and “Act the Part”, were more difficult for me than the previous ones and I needed to take hints to put them to bed. Fortunately, Nord and Bert features a first-of-its-kind hint system! If you want to know what kind of devilish idioms tripped me up, you’ll just have to read on for more. 

Sunday 13 November 2022

7th Guest - Won! (An Abrupt and Confusing Ending)

Written by Reiko
Not sure why Burden would have been in here before or recognized it.
Last time I fell through a strange portal that appeared at the base of the stairs, right where I started the game. The new room I appear in is a large gallery room with what looks like another piano at the far end, and walls covered in a variety of paintings. Immediately a brief scene shows Burden, who recognizes the room, and Edward, who thinks the paintings are strange and sick. I start looking around and find I have to agree with him.
Creepy paintings.

Friday 11 November 2022

BloodNet – Undead Man Walking

By Will Moczarski

Ransom III.

And so it begins again. My next session of BloodNet should have lasted longer than two and a half hours but unfortunately I was sick in bed for much of the week. However, I noticed that it will be necessary to keep track of conversations, hints and locations very thoroughly. Furthermore, The CRPG Addict’s Opening Post on BloodNet made me realise two things: that his writing is a lot better and that I can go through my (in-game) contacts to find some pointers where to go and what to do. It’s not a quest log but still useful. 

I had visited most of the recommended locations in my first session anyway but the information about some of the NPCs was still welcome. In the starting location I noticed that I had overlooked an object that sort-of blended with the background. It turned out to be a radiation suit but I am unable to figure out how to equip it. The controls of the game are generally fine but the menus are really quite finicky. 

But back to the contacts file: I learned that the Houston Matrix Rovers have a series of illegal WELLs in the net. I’ll be sure to listen to Ransom’s conversations with their members more closely this time, maybe I can figure out a password. In another note, Ransom calls the Flux Riders his “old gang.” One of the Riders’ new members is one Oona Flyte. They met while both of them were out clubbing and Ransom appears to be vaguely interested in her. Could this be the love story some of the promotional materials were hinting at? In contrast to this a note about Monique St. Claire reminds Ransom to avoid “The Abyss” if he does not want to keep running into his ex-lover. Moreover, there’s a warning that something bad is happening in Central Park. “I’d better be ready for action there,” Ransom remarks. Sounds like the cemetery I got slaughtered in last session. 

Tuesday 8 November 2022

Blue Force – Violenza Domestica

by Alex
I have a confession to make. Are you sitting down? Good.

I . . . don’t hate Blue Force. In fact, so far, I am actually enjoying it.

Thursday 3 November 2022

Game 147: BloodNet (1993) – Introduction

Written by Will Moczarski

Well, hello again! I have neither forgotten you nor the blog nor the final rating post about Simon the Sorcerer BUT October was a pretty tough month for me and my loved ones so I had to involuntarily take a break. But that’s all over now and here’s BloodNet, “The Cyberpunk Vampire Adventure Game.” Time to get excited! I’ve heard a LOT of … well, miscellaneous things about this game and have been wanting to play it for quite some time. Some people seem to love it while others despise it, yet again others are left unmoved by the experience. A game with such an effect may be perfect for some simul-blogging, don’t you think? Oh yes, you do. Which is why I got in touch with “Chet” of The CRPG Addict fame when I saw that BloodNet was coming up on his master list. And because he would get there much earlier than us if we just stuck to our regular schedule we decided to play BloodNet earlier than intended (for our blog, that is) and thus present you with a thrilling CRPG Adventure Guild Addict double feature! Like I said: time to get excited!

Our introductory posts will be released simultaneously, after that we’ll be alternating posts about BloodNet on a weekly basis (every Thursday) so you sort of get to read two blogs for the price of one. 

Tuesday 1 November 2022

Missed Classic 115 - The Beyond (1985)

Written by Morpheus Kitami

I feel like the emphasis here should be on WILL, not you

Today I've got a very unusual treat for you, a trifecta of discussion points that have never been combined on this blog, haven't appeared on this blog before, and in all likeliness will never appear again. This is Lucio Fulci and Italian cinema, Dutch language games and text adventures. If you don't know who Fulci is, I'm going to explain in detail, but for now, he's an Italian horror director who's work filled banned and cut films lists throughout the 20th century. Unlike other directors, his films deserved it.

 Actually, I went to the trouble of doing this and then I didn't really need to do this

As such, you better believe this is the kind of entry you don't want to read while eating. I'm not going to show anything, don't worry about that, but I will in place of scenes I don't wish to show you or describe instead show you cursed images taken from games you've never heard of before. Or just some weird images. Gotta get a point across somehow.

Saturday 29 October 2022

Missed Classic 114 - Transylvania (1982)

 Written by Morpheus Kitami

Polarware/Penguin Software is a name we've seen on this blog before, but in a really roundabout way. Back when Voltgloss talked about Oo-Topos he was also reviewing the first Polarware game the blog has seen. I'm sticking with Polarware. Polarware was the brainchild of one Mark Pelczarski, who I suspect is Polish in some way. He started off creating some of the first color drawing programs on the Apple II. Somewhere around 1982, Pelczarski decided to publish some adventure games. So the story goes that the author of this game, one Antonio Antiochia, then a teenager, showed it to Pelczarski and he liked it so much he gave the lad his drawing program and said he'd publish the end result.

Actually, I say adventure games, but really, only one came out in 1982, everything else that year were generic and forgotten action games. The only interesting titles among those they published outside of the adventure genre was some of Damon Slye's early work. Its a funny thing in retrospect, how so many of these action titles from the '80s people worked hard on at the time, and now they are forgotten entirely in lieu of adventure games only enjoyed by a select few.

All of these games use Polarware's very own COMPREHEND Engine, and most use The Graphics Magician, their in-house graphics engine. The Graphics Magician got licensed out to companies, so I think this is the very first example of a engine part getting licensed out to other companies. Don't quote me on that, I haven't done any research. Ironically enough Oo-Topos was the last Polarware title to use The Graphics Magician, so you've already seen how this will end.

I'll be playing the Macintosh version. The game was released on most available western computers, along with some Japanese computers. There was also a rerelease, with presumably a newer engine and the ability to play it on an Amiga, but it doesn't look that impressive to me. One quirk here, the game disk ejects every time I quit the game. Which means sometimes when I quit I have to reinsert the disk.

Tuesday 25 October 2022

Blue Force (1993) – Introduction

by Alex
The email was innocent enough. Subject: “Blue Force and Larry 6.” Sender: The Adventure Gamer The Adventurers Guild’s very own Ilmari Jauhiainen. The message: “Hi Alex! I hope you are doing well. I just noticed that Blue Force - the last Jim Walls made adventure game - is coming up and there’s your name written on it. Do you think you can take up the challenge? Also, Larry 6, another game with your name on it, is coming up pretty soon after Blue Force. Do you think you can do two games so close to one another? All the best, Ilmari.”

My mind raced. Here I was, two years older and wiser . . . well, older, than the last time I played a game for this illustrious blog. Of course I wanted to do another one. Another two, in fact, but little did I know/remember I had already agreed to play these two. Apparently, I am a leading expert on games made by Jim Walls and Al Lowe.

Sweat began to coat my fevered brow. My heart skipped a beat, and then another! I debated calling a doctor, but then remembered that this is just a dramatic retelling and not real life. So gamely, I screwed my courage to the sticking place and sent a terse, very ominous, and very age-appropriate (I’m 41) reply:

“What’s up man?”

Monday 17 October 2022

Game 133: Dracula Unleashed - Introduction (1993)

Written by Joe Pranevich

In the 1980s, if you wanted a spine-chilling adventure game, ICOM Simulations was the place to go. For all that Infocom’s The Lurking Horror (1987) might cause you to sweat a bit and Lucasfilm’s Maniac Mansion (also 1987) knew how to chill you in a sort of Addams Family goofiness, ICOM Simulations brought true horror to adventure gaming with 1986’s The Uninvited and (to a lesser extent) the the following year’s Shadowgate. These games were works of art and their high-resolution black and white imagery (in their original Macintosh versions) made your skin crawl as you plumbed their adventuring depths. 

By the 1990s however, ICOM had left those horror roots behind. Their big hit series had become Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective, a delightfully well-lit exploration of 19th century London’s criminal underworld. But by 1993, David Marsh and Karl Roelofs would get two chances to bring ICOM back to their horror roots: Beyond Shadowgate and Dracula Unleashed. Beyond Shadowgate will need to wait for another time (it was a TurboGrafx-CD exclusive title and outside our scope), but Dracula Unleashed turned a dark mirror on the Sherlock Holmes series, taking the format and conventions that they developed for those happy little adventures and bringing them to a world of pain and blood. In other words, perfect Halloween fare!

I’ve been dying to play this game for years. Let’s get to it.

Monday 10 October 2022

Missed Classic: Nord and Bert - You Don’t Know Jack About Farming

Written by Joe Pranevich

Welcome back! We’ve been away from Nord and Bert longer than I expected, thanks first to our “amputated content” close-out for Lurking Horror and the Kevin Pope interview. Add to that some great progress on our mainline games and there wasn’t quite enough room to slot this in before now. And while I’m back to playing, please see a note at the bottom of this post for a scheduling option if you would like to see us accelerate one horror-related game to land in “spooky season” October. As Nord and Bert isn’t precisely an adventure game, I’m not sure the best way to write about it. I’ve decided to explain more of the wordplay as I go along as an aid to our readers who may not be as familiar with American expressions and English wordplay. I’ll do my best to find the right balance and if I’ve missed, please let me know in the comments below. 

Last time out, we started into the first “chapter” of the game as we solved a number of homophone and homonym-related challenges at Punster’s local grocery store. Once we finally found the cellar (“seller”) and purchased some on-sale (“sail”) food using a single cent (“scent”) that we found in a bouquet of flowers (“flour”), the chapter closed and we were able to select our next adventure. There doesn’t seem to be any required order yet (even though we were given a password for the endgame) so I’ll just proceed one by one. I’m planning to do two chapters per post for now, but if one is longer or shorter than the others, I will adjust.

Friday 7 October 2022

7th Guest - More Tiles, Less Death

Written by Reiko

To be honest, I stalled out for a long time on this section. Partly it was due to being busy, and partly it was too many puzzles that were more fiddly than fun, and finally it was a matter of not even being able to find the endgame areas for a long time. I think I must have missed triggering a scene that was required to be able to get to the next stage after finishing all the earlier puzzles, and I only found it after painstakingly rechecking every room multiple times.

I didn't remember to screenshot the map until I had already done the next puzzle, in the doll room on the left end of the corridor.

I look at the map to orient myself and see that it looks like there are four unsolved rooms left, plus the back stairs and the main upstairs hallway. There's the rectangular area off to the side on the main floor that looks disconnected from the rest of the house. There's the lab adjacent to the ornate room and the chapel, which I already know is the microscope puzzle. And there are two rooms down at the left end of the upstairs hallway.

Tuesday 4 October 2022

Simon the Sorcerer – WON!

Written by Will Moczarski

Last time I took a break having solved all of the puzzles and finished all of the fetch quests in the game's rather large overworld. I thought I might be ready for the endgame but didn’t think it would be that straightforward. Actually I thought I’d just try to enter the tower and get the lay of the land without taking screenshots or completing my map – and then it was all over in about 80 minutes. Thus I had to replay the whole section for this post but as it’s quite short that was not a problem.

First I had to figure out how to enter the tower. As you can see above there’s a fiery pit separating me from the entrance. I had just obtained the witch’s broom so it wasn’t much of a puzzle. Simon mounted it, winked at me and flew straight into the stone doors. But I had still made it in one piece. Now that I was closer Simon was able to discern that the doors were big, heavy, magically enchanted, and wouldn’t budge. I remembered that somebody in the game had told me how to enter the tower in the very beginning so I went over my notes and found one that said the druid might be able to help. I went back to the druid but he just said hello and offered no dialogue options, behaving as if I had no further business with him. I also stopped by the Drunken Druid (this game’s SCUMM bar) but the wizards wouldn’t talk to me anymore either. Finally the valkyries confirmed (although I’m quite sure that I had first heard it from the wizards) that the druid might be able to help if somebody wanted to enter the tower. I then realised how stupid I had been.

A few hours ago I picked up some frogsbane on Skull Island because the druid had asked me to. When I brought it back to him he gave me a green potion labelled “DRINK ME” in return. Now I understood I had to consume this if I wanted to enter the tower. The Alice reference didn’t end there. Simon shrank to the size of a mouse, lost all of his belongings in the process and entered the tower through a small crack. Inside I was reunited with my dog who just carried me to the next room which turned out to be...a giant garden. 

Saturday 1 October 2022

Missed Classic 113 - Last Half of Darkness (1989)

 Written by Morpheus Kitami

You ever get a sign that you should do something? Its not something I frequently see or even think of, but sometimes it feels like these things just...happen. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn't. In the lead-up to this month's Halloween a game name kept cropping up. The Last Half of Darkness, well, there's no the, is there? I was randomly seeing the game crop up. Sometimes even, that image. If you don't know what I mean you will soon enough. Considering that 3 out of the last 4 professional adventure games I've tried were crap, we might as well see what the more amateur side of adventure gaming.

Back when I was a small, impressive child with access to a shareware CD I played a lot of shareware adventure games, with mixed results. The Hugo series was...the Hugo series. Elves '87 I wasn't terribly interested in actually playing and instead tried to play it as a beat 'em up. Uh, Dare to Dream and Weird Island were later. Come to think of it this disc didn't even have Hugo 2. Not really sure why in retrospect. Standards didn't apply because there was crap worse than Hugo 2. Then there was this.

Oh, certainly, there were other adventure games on the disc I had, and indeed more still on other discs, but this was the one I played the most at the time. I'm not really sure why in retrospect. It's not very special. Though I guess that really just describes shareware adventure games outside of Dare to Dream and maybe Plague of the Moon. Well, in Plague's case I haven't played it, but I hope to be able to blog about it some day. I guess there was Isle of the Dead there too, but I never mustered up the courage to play it. It wouldn't have been much fun anyway.

Friday 23 September 2022

Simon the Sorcerer – Get Rich or Die Tryin’

Written by Will Moczarski

Three hours. Three...hours. Yes, you got that right. Three hours of walking all over the game world, trying to find a new hotspot or anything that relates to any of the fetch quests I still had to solve. That was when I noticed that I had revisited most of the screens but not all of them. I never thought about going back to Rapunzel’s tower because that puzzle felt all but solved. But there it was, a massive hotspot called “floorboards” taking up about a fifth of the screen. When I examined it Simon told me they were “solid looking wooden floorboards”. The rest was kind of easy. I did the obvious by dropping the woodworm and they chewed their way through the floor, causing me to land one floor below, then leaving behind another hole in front of me. Luckily I was carrying a ladder and thus the hole was not an obstacle. I emerged in a cave-like room with a tomb propped up against the left wall. When I opened it Simon remarked that the tomb was full of bandages but then he came face to face with a mummy carrying some sort of wand. I had some fairly humourous dialogue options but all of them just came out as “Aaargh!” (you know, like that time Guybrush first met Elaine on Monkey Island).

Tuesday 20 September 2022

Interview: A Few Words With Kevin Pope

Edited by Joe Pranevich

Last time, we began our coverage of Nord and Bert by looking at the first of eight included scenarios. I’ve already played the next two scenarios (I am stuck on the third) and a new gameplay post will be coming in a few days. Before we get there, I want first to share with you a conversation with one of the men most responsible for the distinctive look of the game: Kevin Pope. While it may seem strange to consider the “look” of a 1987 text adventure, Pope’s images– starting with the game’s cover art– seems an almost inseparable part of the experience today. Players pored over Pope’s included illustrations to reveal hints about each chapter’s distinctive style of puzzles. Although the illustrations are spartan, I have become a fan of Pope’s work. 

Kevin was an invaluable resource during the development of our introductory post. He was gracious enough to answer most of my questions, piling on stories and anecdotes beyond what could fit in our brief narrative. With his permission, I have edited our correspondence and assembled them into this mini-interview. Please enjoy, in his own words, a brief discussion with Infocom’s most famous illustrator. 

Saturday 17 September 2022

7th Guest - Cards and Tiles

Written by Reiko

Welcome back to the creepy puzzle-fest that is The 7th Guest. Apologies for the delay in getting through this. It's been a busy summer, but we're now back into the routine of the new school year and back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Last time I had solved every puzzle available at the time, culminating in the basement scene, which surely must allow more puzzles to be unlocked. In trying to find what's new, I look around the first floor a bit, and when I step back into the library, I get a new lengthy scene with all six of the main guests together again, Elinor sitting on the couch and Burden and Edward already standing together behind her. They talk about the creepy things they've heard and seen.
Temple seems like the most sensible one here, except we already saw him kill Edward...
When Heine suggests they should get some dinner, Edward suggests they should have had the soup. Temple suggests they all team up and play by some rules. But Edward insists that Stauf is watching them, and only Stauf knows the rules. This seems like a significant scene, enough that something else should have changed. Sure enough, when I check the map again, the rest of the second floor is all accessible now. I slip through the secret door in the fireplace and start with the room on the bottom right.

Tuesday 13 September 2022

Veil of Darkness - Unspoken Curses (Request for Assistance)

 By Zenic Reverie

Discussing the current events with Deirdre
Last we left, Engatz had returned a bloody hammer to Kirill, completing the first task in a prophecy. He responded to the name Kairn with disdain, informing me that was the name of the ancient vampire that lords over the valley. Deirdre offered a token, her scarf, to Engatz in hopes that he would continue to fulfil the prophecy, freeing the land of Kairn's shadowy influence. They exchnaged further pleasantries, hoping for a continued relationship far away once these events were far behind them both (potential foreshadowing detected). On the topic of celebrating, she mentioned how we could break open a rare vintage wine locked away in her father's cellar. Before I headed out, I asked Kirill about wine, but he made no mention of his stock, only pointing me to the local tavern.

Sunday 11 September 2022

What's your story? - Michael

Intro: Ilmari
The rest: Michael

It has been quite a long since we've received answers to our What's your story? -questions, but we were just contacted by a longtime commenter of the blog. He goes by the name Michael, but judging from his profile picture, I suspect this might just be another alias.

I knew I'd seen him somewhere!

Without further ado, Michael, the stage is yours!

Friday 9 September 2022

Missed Classic: Lurking Horror - Amputated Content

Written by Joe Pranevich

It has become something of a tradition for me to dig into the “what ifs” of each Infocom game as I finish it. Unlike most of what we play, we are fortunate that so much Infocom material has been saved (in some cases “leaked”) to allow us to study their work in a way that would not otherwise be possible. With Lurking Horror, we find a game that struggled against too much content, almost from the very beginning. Dave Lebling had big ideas, and the game’s code is sprinkled with comments lamenting the size restrictions of the original ZIP engine. 

Lebling spoke about his wish for more space in an interview with Brass Lantern in 2002:

Stephen Granade: If you had the chance to redo any of your Infocom games, which one would you change? What would you do differently, or would you avoid the game entirely?

Dave Lebling: [...] I'd have loved to have done "The Lurking Horror" as a larger-size game (it was almost the last of the "small" games which had to fit in 84k bytes of disk space). Some good scary stuff got cut out of it or never implemented due to the size restrictions.

So what is this “good scary stuff” do we still know about? Let’s dig in.

Tuesday 6 September 2022

Simon the Sorcerer: No Money Mo' Problems

By Will Moczarski

Obviously it has been some time since I last played Simon the Sorcerer so I decided to start over and make a proper map. I enjoy mapping a lot so it hasn’t been a big hassle and when I started mapping I wondered why I hadn’t done it before. The world seemed so much more coherent now. Also I had always been confused by the close proximity of the dwarf mine and the goblin jail so only then did I discover that they were completely separate environments at all, sharing but one common feature: they’re both situated underground. 

The 2 hours I spent retracing my previous steps were also well spent because I discovered a couple more items and things to do. First of all there’s a small rock on the screen called the “centre of the forest”. It’s not that small but it’s the same colour as its surroundings which is why I have missed it. This time I accidentally hovered above its hotspot with the cursor and thus was able to pick it up and discover the secret message underneath: “beer”. This didn’t help me at first but then I noticed – as mentioned above – that the dwarf mine is not the goblin jail. To be fair it would totally make sense geographically but I must have read the dialogue inside the dwarf mine in passing only because the guard clearly tells me that I’m not a dwarf. Reading my previous post (and some of my older notes) I actually wrote down that I should find a way to dress like a dwarf to enter the mine but somehow I still must have confused dwarves and goblins somehow. Amateur hour at the adventurers guild, right?

When you do read the dialogue more carefully the guard gives you another hint: dwarves have beards. I need to get (or grow) a beard somehow. It’s a good thing that I was already carrying a beard at this point. Why? Because I examined the “Drunken Druid” more closely, too, and figured out that there was a dwarf who was so drunk that he’d fallen asleep so I could cut off his beard with the scissors. Now I don’t mean to harp on it but...well, maybe I do. This is one more puzzle that reminds me a lot of another one from Monkey Island 2 (sawing off the wooden leg when one of the three pirates is asleep). When I cut off the beard I had no clue what I might need it for but after the conversation with the guard it all became clear. 

Saturday 3 September 2022

Missed Classic: Personal Nightmare - Won! (and Final Rating)

By Morpheus Kitami

Ah, metahumor is always great in a serious horror game...

You know, this all turned out a lot easier than I thought it would be. In the sense that this was some unfathomable tanglement of impossibility.

I can talk to Peter in his house, fat lot of good that'll do, and no, he isn't pointing a gun at me

Guess it's time to stake out people's houses. Susan stays at home until about 11:00, then heads over to the right. At midnight she enters/walks past Peter's house. Walking past is a glitch, because she won't appear on the next screen. Well, better go back to the Inn. I keep forgetting it's name of The Dog & the Duck, so much so that I'm not even sure that's right.

This is a pretty cool effect, though the death isn't terribly impressive

As I walk towards the inn, suddenly the scene changes and I can see two headlights. Clearly, whoever ran over Jimmy is now after me. The first time I just get run over, but pretty quickly it's clear that I can move around, with north and south dodging, west and east just resulting in him chasing me. For what purpose? I try to think about how I could possibly solve this.

Thursday 25 August 2022

Missed Classic 112: Nord and Bert Couldn’t Make Head or Tail of It - Introduction (1987)

Written by Joe Pranevich

Let’s state the obvious: Infocom wasn’t doing well. To offset declining sales, their new parent demanded twice as many games. This was working, in a way. The previous two games, Stationfall and Lurking Horror, taken together would just about made for decent sales… of a single game. Infocom needed to innovate, to open new markets, and to bring their brand of sophisticated (even literary) gaming to new audiences. They just weren’t very good at that kind of innovation.

That brings us to Nord and Bert Couldn’t Make Head or Tail of It, their 27th adventure. After failing at business products (Cornerstone) and graphical games (Fooblitzky), Infocom reached a period where they embraced diversity through genre. We have already seen The Lurking Horror, their first “horror” game, and we will shortly be looking at their first romance (Plundered Hearts) and RPG (Beyond Zork). Nord and Bert went in a different direction: a comedy game of wordplay and idioms, designed by Jeff O’Neill. Instead of a single narrative adventure, Nord and Bert would also be broken up into connected “Interactive Short Stories”. With a low barrier to entry and a completely new take on what an “adventure” game could be, Infocom hoped that they could “hit it out of the park”. 

Who doesn’t enjoy cliches, right?

Monday 22 August 2022

Missed Classic: Personal Nightmare - Mail Quest

Written by Morpheus Kitami

Once again I apologize for the delay between entries. There is a lot of tedium in this game. One might say this is the flaw in playing old games, but often whenever I end up playing modern games I'm not working past tedium to get to the good parts, the game itself is just tedious. So I often put a bit of breaks between...well, you can figure out why pretty quickly.

There was nothing special about the month, I just happened to accidentally start it the same month that it mentions.

So I decided to stake out some places, figure out when and where people arrive and leave their locations. With one house with an unknown occupant, I decided that would be where I began. As I walked out onto the street, I noticed a car driving by and had a better thought. Stake out the mechanic!

You can't really interact with people moving around,

Sunday 14 August 2022

Missed Classic: Lurking Horror - Won! And Final Rating

Written by Joe Pranevich

One of the tenets of the Cthulhu mythos (as I understand it) is that prolonged exposure causes insanity. It is perhaps for the best then that we have reached the end of our playthrough of The Lurking Horror. We here at “The Adventurers Guild” cannot be responsible for bouts of madness among our readers... although we’re all spending our evenings playing adventure games from thirty years ago, so how sane can we be? Please write your answers in the space below in the form of a limerick.

Last time out, I accomplished a lot: fought a bat-monster on the roof of a campus building, scared away a street urchin, and defeated an evil professor by accidentally letting him sacrifice himself to a dark nether god. As I have now found the (broken) computer that houses my lost term paper, I am not sure what I am supposed to be doing in this game. I assume that I’m supposed to be finding and defeating the evil that has invaded campus, but with the Professor of Alchemy gone, surely that is accomplished?

As I wandered the now-empty halls of G.U.E. Tech, I had no choice but to give up and take a hint to find out what I was missing. The answer: I’m missing something that I was supposed to do with the elevator.

Monday 8 August 2022

Missed Classic: Lurking Horror - Creepy and Kooky

Written by Joe Pranevich

It’s Halloween in August here at “The Adventurer’s Guild” as we play several horror-themed games in rapid succession: La Crypte des Maudits (1991), A Personal Nightmare (1989), and Lurking Horror (1987). I enjoy the spooky interplay between these titles, seeing how each approach the genre. It’s a coincidence, but it’s delightful. 

Last time out, I died again. Instead of a zombie janitor, this time I was sacrificed by an evil professor to a dark creature of the abyss. It had tentacles. The idea of a dottering old professor with a pentagram in his office is a fun one, but underscores that Lebling walked a fine line between horror and humor in this game and may have hit “funny” more than intended. Even compared to Stationfall, this game is not particularly scary. In that game, we always felt one step away from being killed by an appliance. This game has zombies that explode after slipping on floor wax.

Wednesday 3 August 2022

Missed Classic: Personal Nightmare - Shadow Thief

 Written by Morpheus Kitami

I just want to let those of you with a nervous disposition know that this is probably not the entry for you.

Now that I've seen the big opening event of Jimmy Rutherford getting run down, we can take a look at the whole village. Its a small place, really, just a confusing street that's about 10 screens wide with 2 sides of it. Navigation is confusing, since directions don't properly work the way the image is given, which is unfortunate since this is supposed to be a graphic adventure. Actually, this is quite crap as a graphic adventure, and you'll see why pretty quickly.

The most obvious destination is the church, the game really brings your attention to it. Since we need to come here anyway, we'll start here. I say this, but there's not really anything here that I can find yet. There's the pews, the office and a statue. I should note that modern storefronts all spoil what you're supposed to do here, which is say a prayer in here. If there's something else, I don't know. The game makes a point that my father doesn't have any religious books in his office. Curious. The desk in here is locked, of course.

Apparently the house is a ghost

Behind the church is the graveyard. Lots of gravestones, but outside of a large cross, seemingly nothing of note. There's a door to some house here, but the door is locked. So much for people in the countryside leaving their door open. And to complete the area, there's a mausoleum. I wonder what's in there?

Monday 1 August 2022

Missed Classic: Lurking Horror - The Department of Alchemy

Written by Joe Pranevich

Welcome back to Lurking Horror! I skipped last week to close out on Stationfall, but we’re back now for a second helping of Lovecraftian horror. Last time, I found myself in a computer lab during a snowstorm with only a “hacker” to keep me company. The term paper that I was desperate to finish was somehow swallowed by the “Department of Alchemy” and I must venture through the wintery G.U.E. Tech campus to locate and recover my paper before it is due in the morning. Along the way, I explored some tunnels between buildings and a famously long corridor before stumbling on a tentacled monster on the campus’s famous dome. I survived that, only to be killed by a zombie-janitor when I interrupted him waxing the floors. 

I’m confused by the game’s tone so far. Nothing seems particularly “horror” here, more like the campy horror movies that used to be on at midnight hosted by Elvira. We’ve encountered two monsters, but the mixture of the magical and the mundane makes for an interesting contrast. It’s difficult to be scared by a zombie that just wants to wax floors, even if he does kill you. And why are we hunting for this paper anyway? Is it worth my life to get a good grade in this class? And if the city is blanketed by this much snow, wouldn’t they cancel classes? I’ll try not to ponder those questions as I continue exploring.

Sunday 24 July 2022

Missed Classic: Stationfall - When Scientific Accuracy Attacks (Deleted Scenes & Alternate Puzzles)

Written by Joe Pranevich

Last time, I started into Lurking Horror (don’t forget to post your score guess!), but we still have a bit of business left with Stationfall. Infocom is a company that we have a unique level of understanding about thanks to leaked source code, developer interviews, and a veritable “cabinet” of internal documentation. I do not like digging in too deeply while playing so that I can approach the games as spoiler-free as possible, but now that we’re done I can dig in and report back what I find. Sometimes we find a lot (like all of the half-completed Moonmist variants!) and sometimes we find less. As Steven Meretzky is the source of much of the “leaked” documentation, we have a rare view at his development process all the way down to notes from individual testers. It is not a full view of the design of the game, but it provides a unique insight into how mature he had become in game design at this point and how little effort was wasted. 

Steve Meretzky was famous for keeping notebooks of game and design ideas that he would turn back to for inspiration. Our story starts out with a question: what game should he make next?