Thursday, 9 June 2022

Return of the Phantom - Won and Final Summary

 Written by Morpheus Kitami

With the switches Will came to my rescue. I checked the first two hints, and it seems like it's the alphabet puzzle I was told to expect. So, that means I need to find a four letter word to type that might actually open the door. Daae is the right length, but I don't think I can press the same letter twice...? No. My next guess was Erik, which is a crappy password, but requires one parse what this door actually is. I don't think I would ever guess that, but my normal patience has long since been depleted.

A real man would take this spider web and use it to solve a puzzle, 5 CAPs if you get that reference

Next puzzle...a spider-web. I assume this is just a test to make sure you picked up that sword in the last room. After the fact anyway, I assumed Raoul was going to break the sword on it knowing his track record. Suddenly, in a blinding flash, the phantom jumps out and Raoul impales him with his sword. Triumph!

No, I'm screwing with you, there's just more maze. I feel like I can encapsulate this game's puzzle design exclusively with the word maze. Its a curious design choice.

Thankfully, this section quickly deposits me in front of what I hope is the phantom's lair...and the door is locked? One is, the other is open.

Here's a little something for our lady readers

...and a sliding block puzzle? On a time limit? It's one of those...I don't know if there's an actual name for it, but you press each tile and it changes, you have to find a shape that way. Meh, the only problem is that the game doesn't tell you what you need to put it. What is it? I don't know, and even though I thought I figured it out with a violin shape, Raoul burned to death. Quite comically, first he takes off his jacket, then he bursts into flames like someone shot him with a flamethrower.

I miscalculated how much of an egotist the Phantom is

The real answer, is to make his mask out of the tiles. This opens the trap door in the upper right, which I can use the grappling hook on. Better be quick on your feet too, the flames don't stop. Glad I noticed that hook earlier.

Is it just me, or does this feel Giger-esque?

This deposits me in the Phantom's...throne room...? And apparently Raoul has the tread of a bull in a china shop, because Christine noticed me. Christine is in the door on the right.

These all feel like incredibly stupid things to say, apparently I was right to play him as an ass earlier

Okay, I guess if my choices are be stupid or leave someone to get murdered by a madman I'm going to be les incomparable un foole. Oh, no, its a musical lock. Only, I have to figure out what to play from four pieces. I don't have do anything. Phew. Honestly, if it weren't for the fact that I spent 4 hours of nothing getting here I would really enjoy this room.

The four pieces are four different Bach tunes, of which have long names. Select the wrong one and Raoul goes up in a magnificant blaze. I think that would put a damper on it's effectiveness as an organ, something a musician should care about. It is surprisingly not Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, that piece you definitely know, but rather my last choice, Little Fugue in G Minor. I guess I should have recognized what he played sometime earlier, assuming that's what it was. Crap, it's been so long I don't remember that.

Again, very nice, but it feels wasted

I...wait...what in the...? Oh...this is very familiar, but I guess technically this is the first time such a thing has ever been seen. Christine, who is in a weird Giger-esque pod can't get out. The room is very nice, very creepy, feels like it's been taken from an entirely different game.

It takes me a moment to figure out how to solve this puzzle. I need to unlock the pod (which is also the Phantom's bed). In the skull on the right I have to use my key to unlock it, then press one of the skulls to cause it to open. Also, its hydraulic. I roughly know where this is going at this point, but perhaps you don't.

After freeing her, Christine tells me how Erik put her into a trance and left her here, to get more food. Even gave her a ring and declared her his bride. She gives it to me, because she doesn't want it.

Finally, she managed to take off his mask while he played the organ. This caused Erik to believe she would never love him. Apparently he has the face of a corpse. So, she tricked him. This is how she reappeared earlier, and why she got kidnapped during the performance. Now we can run away.

Oh, no, who could have foreseen this happening?

Hey, we haven't actually talked to him, have we?

Now it is time for two great men to duel. After declaring that Christine shall be his bride forevermore, he starts pelting Raoul with fireballs. So...Erik is a fire mage? How does that relate to time travel? Just because I know what the plot is, doesn't mean I know the details. I use my sword on him and we briefly clash before Erik gets thrust unto the throne and disappears. I sat on it earlier and all I got was a message that someone was watching me.

Christine tells me to grab the score off the organ, possibly because she figures if Erik can't play his little tune he'll burn up. I dunno. It's Don Juan Triumphant, so I guess that isn't a concern. My concern is that I might have to go to the maze with her.

This is the best thing that could have possibly happened here

Oh, there's an oar here. Does that mean I can take a boat back? The game had several signs of that throughout the maze, and Christine said she was taken here by boat.

Because she barely escaped from the Phantom

Yes, there is a boat. And we get exposition. Christine wants Raoul to run away with her, but Raoul tries to tell her he's from the future. She doesn't want to listen, she just wants to hear the silence. The trip back is otherwise uneventful.

And he's back!

This course of events couldn't end happily, of course, and the Phantom grabs Christine as I get out of the secret shaft. Which way? Up? Yes! To the rafters again. Aha, I think I know where this is going, I have to get him on that damn chandelier and then cut it free. Or he's on the chandelier. Huh...where is this going? Its even frayed too.

I sense no way this could go wrong, as the chandelier makes the same sound as in the start of the game

The Phantom makes his short threat, Christine disappears and we duel again. He knocks the sword out of Raoul's hand, Raoul grabs his cane and we start tussling on the ground of the chandelier.

Not the most flattering angle

This takes away my items and actions, and now all I get are ways of interacting with the scenery, as it were. Push cane, and Raoul reverses the situation and starts pummeling the Phantom. Now I can take off his mask.


The chandelier falls, and with a triumphant sound, we are both dead.


At some point there was an option for Raoul to be a dick, because of course there is

This returns me to the present. Where Christine Florent is the Christine...and she's alive...I thought she died. What happened?

Nothing...none of this happened. Raoul fell from the catwalk and wasn't pushed. Raoul tries to tell these people what happened, but nothing did. Christine goes to fetch a doctor and Raoul, determined that something has happened, goes to check Madame Giry's book.

So time has changed...

He is, unless someone decides to make a fan sequel

And then we get some random quote. I got 248 out of 250. Probably because I missed the yellow color thing.

This Session: 30 minutes
Final time: 4 h 20 m

I said during the first entry that there should be more games based on The Phantom of the Opera. That is no longer my opinion. Indeed, I fully understand, there's just nothing you can do with it. Certainly this game hasn't done much with it. Apparently Erik is some sort of fire mage/chronomancer/hypnotist with alien technology but can't be bothered to deal with some random dude properly. What? What happened? You just made this crap up because it looked cool? That would have worked if the whole game was like that, but this just feels like someone put a couple of H.R. Giger paintings in at the last minute.

Since I can't accurately explain my complaints of the game's plot, and since the game is based around music, my musical critique of the game's plot.

But the other elephant in the room. Let me just start by saying an incredibly controversial opinion, I hate mazes. I used to like them, but now I just see them for what they are; A method of padding. Text adventures had a reason at first. Your twisty turny mazes, or drop items all along this maze to be able to know where you've been. I'm missing many, because I hate them now. Then it was inertia, something we just accepted as standard. This isn't even that, it isn't a copy of something good, its just a confusing, hateful mess. For that reason alone one should never, ever play this game. If I played this when it was new, I would have written letters, to Microprose, to the gaming magazines, this is just awful.

One thing I am interested in talking about is the claim that this title was the future. In a shocking twist of fate, I am not about to say that was wrong. There are indeed ways that this game's style has indeed taken over modern games, and ways that it is a complete failure. Some of these weren't obvious when the game was first sold.

Taken from an archived version of Allgame

So, let's take the obvious point, the visual spectacle. While it might be true that Myst couldn't be predicted, the general trend towards 3D could. We are talking about a company that was founded based on 3D simulations of reality after all. The simple act of everything being in an open 3D environment, even pre-rendered, completely demolishes what this was attempting. I specifically cite the Puzz-3D games because those titles were recreations of actual places. They achieved what this game set out to do. Now this is something that never would have happened for Phantom of the Opera, because those titles didn't do too well...and there isn't a Puzz-3D of the Opera House.

But in a different sense this game was the future. This is the game that would be what a thousand attempts at a revival would accidentally imitate, not even consciously. Modern adventure games tend to go less on the puzzles and more on atmosphere, story, plot. Which is not a bad thing if you can provide it. I would not go as far as to slander everyone by comparison to this game, but this just represents an extreme on the low end of these titles.

This is not to say that Phantom is complete garbage. There are good points, it's easy to find virtue in this game. But the negatives completely destroy any reason to play this game. Until that maze I was even going to say that Return of the Phantom would be a good title to introduce someone to the genre, but even on easy that maze is far too tedious. (This seems to be the primary change between difficulty settings). For instance, the game does a good job of explaining technical details that might be unfamiliar, as opera terminology is not common knowledge amongst plebs like myself. And being able to see where a door goes by examining it is something I have never seen before, and strikes me as something that would greatly improve many games in the genre.

While working on the summary and checking reviews I discovered that the game has a sort of fast travel option on some screens that can be done by pressing spacebar while moving. I say sort of because it only skips you ahead a little, which means you have to hold it down. Not really that useful on most screens.

Puzzles and Solvability

Let's take aside the maze for this category, because that does something special to this game. What other puzzles were there really? Some pixel-hunting? A few simple inventory puzzles? I feel like its a very bad sign for an adventure game to make me ask what puzzles it had. The Kristal may have been a dumpster fire, but at least it tried. This didn't. This feels like it has puzzles because that's something an adventure game has, not because anyone had any interest in making them. Solve a rotating block puzzle, use grappling hook on something just out of reach. This feels like child's play.


Interface and Inventory

Once on easy mode, this is your standard Lucasarts-style interface. I am annoyed that F1 activates the menu and the score is buried deep within that menu, but the controls and interface are fine otherwise. However there are two subtler issues. Raoul walks slowly, in a game that expects you to walk a lot. Up and down stairs, through a maze, across a wide opera house. Secondly, you could have quite easily subtracted almost all these commands down. Throw, put, give and close were never used, and the big item interface was also pretty useless, since you almost always do one thing with an item.


Story and Setting

I am offended by this story. That is all for now.

You know, now that I think of it, for a game that sells itself on its doesn't really feel like that much of an accomplishment. It doesn't feel like a grand opera house, it feels like I haven't begin to see a fraction of what these halls contain. Is this truly the grand opera hall? Or is it just some rundown theater? I feel like there should have been so many more rooms in the opera house, and not, you know, the sewers.


Sound and Graphics

You'd think it would ace this category, what with me using the MT-32 sound, but it's really not that impressive. The background music is...well, there. Various bigger musical stings are just that, stings. The only sound itself I can remember is that of the chandelier shaking, which was quite clever.

I don't feel strongly towards the way it looks one way or another. Its not bad, and I didn't really have to suffer much in pixel-hunting, but it's not interesting. It's at that awkward point where they're trying to make things realistic but they don't really have the resolution for that. That said, characters sprites were nice and very well-animated.


Environment and Atmosphere

There is an absolute ton of writing in this game relating to theater terms. This, I feel, is the game's strongest aspect. The game has almost as much writing here as on its story. In this regard the game has an edutainment quality to it, and I could see the game sold as that. Learn about the details of opera and the theater while solving a fun mystery, please provide own mystery.

That said this aspect of the game is somewhat dampened by the extreme length of some sections. It doesn't really feel that atmospheric to watch Raoul walk up a set of stairs, it feels like I'm watching a man walk up a set of stairs. And of course, the decline of the maze. Hard to get engrossed in a game when you feel the need to listen to something else in the background.


Dialogue and Acting

This feels like it was written by an American who wanted to sound French, but the only way he knew how to do that was to pepper in some basic French words. The voice-acting doesn't improve upon this. Speaking of which, that's very shodily done, at least in the quality department. It's clear and understandable, it just doesn't feel very well recorded. I am undecided on the voices themselves. They are amateurs, but almost all of them do a pretty good job emoting. I feel as though in a proper recording environment I would mind them not at all. There is no pretense of them sounding like the French, they are all solidly American.


1+5+3+5+7+5=26/0.6=43.3 or 43.

Special consideration, -2 for the maze. Just, no. So 41.

Vetinari, who also mentioned the maze, got the closest with 43. He even would have gotten it right if it weren't for the maze, except that was why he voted that way. This feels like one of those philosophical questions that isn't about the right answer, but how you think.

Anyway, period reviews...I didn't see this when I was checking the previews, but ASM has an ad for various games you can buy under their preview. Apparently for 149.90 Deutschmarks you can buy The 7th Guest, Inca or Jutland, a WWI naval sim. Checking my computer's calculator, and finding the latest currency exchange with the Euro, that's $82. Hmm...Oh, in their review while they don't have anything in the rating summary of gameplay, they do give it an 11 out of 12. I'm not translating this, whoever wrote this review was easily impressed.

Computer Gaming World's review is somewhat questionable, describing the story as unique, but does tell me some things I didn't know. For instance I probably should have checked what Rex Nebular played like before starting this game, but apparently I gave this the same score on interface as TBD did. Maybe I'm not just cynical towards games, I really am getting the creme de la toilette. Their reviewer also tells me that there's a sort of fast travel function that can be done by holding down the space bar. I don't think this would have improved much. Keyboard commands for the actions is something he wanted, but I don't get it. He optimistically rates the game length at 12 hours and doesn't mention the maze nearly enough.

Compute, which was the only other English review I have, is less a review and more an advertisement. You won't mind the slow walking speed, yeah, sure. All the non-English magazines are around the 70-80 range, which just goes to show how hard people fell for this thing's graphical appeal. It doesn't look that special to me. Am I wrong? I feel like that doesn't matter considering the game has an absolutely horrendeous maze.

CAP Distribution:

150 CAPs to Morpheus Kitami

  • Regret Award - 100 CAPs for playing through Return of the Phantom
  • Axeman Award - 50 CAPs for playing through Twin Kingdom Valley

50 CAPs to Mariano Falzone

  • Monk Award - 50 CAPs for playing through La Abadía del Crimen

20 CAPs to Laukku

  • Assistant Monk Award - 10 CAPs for guessing the closest score to La Abadia del Crimen
  • Forest King Award - 10 CAPs for guessing the closest score to Twin Kingdom Valley

20 CAPs to Vetinari

  • A-Mazing Guess Award - 10 CAPs for guessing the closest score to Return of the Phantom
  • Why Isn't There An Elevator Award - 10 CAPs for giving the best answer to my floor question, and giving more thought to it than anyone at Microprose...actually just anyone.

2 CAPs to Lisa H

  • Generous Comparison Award - 2 CAPs for a rather generous comparison between Twin Kingdom Valley and Lucifer's Realm


  1. the way most reviews worked in the 80s and early 90s tell me a story on how gaming was still in the prehistoric era. I grew up with a C64, and then PC with DOS, and most gaming magazines we got here never complained about game design in general. If the game had a horrible maze, that was part of the challenge. I remember a review of Kyrandia 1, making a review around its maze, that maze was the main dish of the game. Only the most adventurous and intrepid gamers could solve its difficulties and not die. Something along those words.

    As you all know, that maze is a nightmare, filled with spamming save/load, permanently lost items, death on every wrong screen, and speedrunning through it takes at least 10 minutes. But reviewers just thought that was fresh, interesting, and people had time to spend a month stuck in it, trying to enjoy it.

    That's my take on those weird reviews of horrible games. Good job with this game, I beat it around 10 years ago for the first time, and apart from the maze, I remember the game felt short and very generic. They didn't really tried anything new, feels like they took the LucasArts interface, they based their graphics and feel on Lost files of Sherlock Holmes, and call it a day.

    1. The tolerance for a player to map out a maze has definitely plummeted since the 80s. It's funny reading this and also seeing the discussions about mazes on the CRPG Addict blog re: Wizardry 4.

      The instant death nature of the Kyrandia 1 cave maze was a particular annoyance, but the general idea I thought was pretty good. Larger mazes with just endless copy and paste rooms are just boring though, and too many adventure games are guilty of including one.

      I am struggling to think of an adventure game maze that felt like it really was a good part of the game and served the story? I kinda feel like you could remove them all and it would be OK.

    2. I don't remember them ever feeling good, but possibly it would've felt even worse to have paid the equivalent of $200 for a game that was only fifteen minutes long without the maze.

      One thing I struggle to remember is just how different the entire pace of LIFE was back then - without the internet, email, the 24-hour-news-cycle, on-demand television and just the general social collapse of work-life-social boundaries, a hobby that you could spend hours on was more normal and less of a luxury. When I game today, I have close to zero tolerance for anything which requires me to commit time without seeing very immediate feedback, just because with two children and a well-paying full-time job, time is literally the most precious commodity I have. In the '80s, I could only afford one or two games in a year but I had hours to play them every day. I can buy a dozen games on a whim now, but I have to schedule every half-hour of play-time a month in advance to avoid conflicting with work, school, after-school activities, my wife's hobbies, housekeeping, meals, exercise, therapy, art class, and the seventeen different Star Trek series that are somehow running concurrently.

    3. Mazes without a puzzle or trick to them are worthless. Otherwise they're about mindlessly exhausting all possible options, busywork without the mental leap that actual puzzles have. Even though it becomes a chore once you figure it out, Kyrandia's maze has the item management aspect redeeming it.

      Thinking about it, from an atmospheric point I kinda like the idea of Kyrandia's longish section where you're lost mostly alone in darkness, contrasting the brighter, more populated sections. Makes more for an epic journey feel in that game, with more differentiated emotional highs and lows (there are even brief moments of brightness within the maze itself, e.g. the emerald room, that are like sparks of hope), and it's genuinely satisfying once you reach sunlight on the other side. There is this context I perceive elevating it above your generic "annoying section of the game", even if by a bit. Compare with Return of the Phantom here where there isn't as much catharsis to it, with the gloominess just continuing by throwing you into the villain's lair at end of the maze (although there is an archetypal element of associating mazes with unfamiliar territory where the villain resides; see also Monkey Island 1 and 2, and King's Quest V). Kyrandia's maze is still understandably annoying in practice though, and if you analyze it purely the level of technical plot you can write it off as filler.

      >adventure game maze that felt like it really was a
      >good part of the game and served the story?

      YU-NO, which is about time travelling, and the in-game visualisation of the branching plot is positively labyrinthine. The maze is the story an the story is the maze; navigating the timelines with the limitations you're given is a grand puzzle by itself, a process which I found uniquely engaging. And somewhat like Kyrandia there is a pacing element of "relief of reaching the end of the maze", which I think is ruined for all those players passively following a walkthrough, scared by the game's overblown reputation of difficulty.

    4. The thing about that is that between Computer Gaming World, the German magazines and Pelit, I was expecting someone to be all, "yo, this game has a horrible maze in it, don't buy, 42/100". These are magazines I expected to have something of an informed take on the matter, and they all failed it. I mean, I would expect someone like Roe Adams III to enjoy this, but us mortal folk would be better served with even a mediocre game that doesn't have a huge goddamn maze in it.
      (we're not going to talk about anything other than that, are we?)
      That said, I feel like RPG mazes are a different story, while I haven't played a Wizardry game, I have played a few dungeon crawlers, proper ones, Dungeon Master and an obscure Japanese one, along with a few titles vaguely connected to the genre. Thing is, in the mazes in those games, there is actually a reason for them to exist, because they at least try to make them interesting. There's stuff in them; There's hidden stuff in the walls and you have to figure out where; The act of making the map itself is part of the game, and from a first-person perspective is more interesting than adventure game perspective.
      That said the general concept of mazes like the ones in ADVENT or Myst were clever, just not something every single game needs to have. Mazes like this one, and a lot of the ones that are in games Jason Dyer covers just go out of the tier of being padding and just come off as sick. And as Ross mentions, in an era where ten thousand other things demand your attention, that's something that just isn't going to please anyone. I stand by my statement that I wouldn't have finished this game if I weren't blogging about it.

    5. It depends a lot on HOW they're designed. Wizardry 4, which got mentioned, is absurdly difficult by design, but it's also very cleverly designed and very fun to map and work your way through if you can handle the extreme difficulty. The maze in Zork? Eeeehhh I don't think the game would be worse if it got removed.

      One interesting anecdote I remember regarding difficulty and design comes from Peter Harrap, creator of the iconic(in Britain)/obscure(everywhere else) Monty Mole, a puzzle-adventure-platformer series where the first game is somewhat infamous for forcing you to walk under a series of crushers that will randomly come down and kill you without any observable pattern. Kind of annoying when you don't have a whole lot of lives and get sent back to the start of the game when you run out.
      Why are they in the game? To make it harder. The game just randomly kills you regularly without you being able to do anything about it to make it harder for you to beat it. Harrap considered this perfectly fine design. And he still does, here's a quote from a 2011 interview: "There are some things I've still got a great fondness for. I know some people didn't like the crushers coming down randomly and hitting them. I still like that; I like a bit of a shock on people."

      As much as I enjoy a good challenge, that's a pretty fine example of design philosophy marching on right there.

    6. Imagine paying $200 and getting freaking Inca! A game that scored even worse than Phantom, again due to arduous filler sections.

      We must also remember that a LOT of adventure games had some kind of filler, probably because they could not think up/program/fit enough puzzles to make the games anything near long enough. But some games managed to make them at least interesting, while others just copied a bunch of rooms.

      And we do live in an age where filler is not enough, and sometimes I don't think it is a bad thing. Even if I had enough time now I still wouldn't play half the games I did in my youth, where a lot of them were terribly grind intensive, simply because I had learned there are better ways to spend the my time. TV is also a good example of this, look at the shows we watched when we were young, and a lot of the time you'll clearly see the creators struggling desperately to fill the time (looking at YOU dragon ball series!).

    7. Eh, regarding that last point, the creators of the weekly Dragonball TV show were adapting the weekly Dragonball comic, which meant they had to put the plot of 14 pages of comics into 20 minutes of television. If those 14 pages involved a lot of fast-paced action, big panels and not all that much talking, you have to make up a lot of new and unnecessary material to fill the gaps between the maybe 5 minutes of content you got out of that chapter.
      This is pretty standard for those long running adaptations of ongoing weekly comics where they catch up to the current chapters and need to go at a "one-chapter-per-episode" schedule out of pure necessity.

    8. I'd say the maze in ADVENT at least counts as a puzzle: you need to figure out that it becomes mappable if you drop items in each room. By now, everybody knows that; but back when the game was released, that strikes me as rather clever, and an unexpected use of existing game commands.

    9. Dragonball is a masterclass in how time works differently in print media from video, that at a fundamental level, the percentage of your content that an event takes up in video is coupled to how long the event actually takes in linear time in a way it just isn't in print.

    10. Even in the manga, Namek took way too long to explode... ;)

      Ironically, the Tournament of Power in Super is the opposite problem. Like 40 episodes of fighting for a battle ostensibly only a few minutes long. The manga pacing was much better.

    11. @Andy_Panthro10

      "I'm strugling to think of an adventure game maze that felt like it really was a good part of the game and served the story?"

      I liked the maze in Infocom's "Enchanter". It was just nine rooms, with no twists or turns, and you found a map describing it. The puzzle was that nybatfvqr gur znc, lbh sbhaq n zntvp crapvy naq renfre. Ol qenjvat be renfvat yvarf ba gur znc, lbh jbhyq punatr gur ynlbhg bs gur znmr. Gur znmr jnf n genc sbe na "napvrag greebe", naq lbh unq gb yher vg bhg bs vgf ebbz gb genc vg va nabgure cneg bs gur znmr.

      I also liked the glass maze in its sequel, Sorcerer, but that one pretty much required you to draw a map. But again, that was more of a puzzle since it was pretty easy once you had figured out how to map it and go through it safely. (Lbh unq gb ghea lbhefrys vagb n ong fb lbh pbhyq "frr" gur jnyyf, naq abg snyy va ebbzf jvgu ab sybbe.)

      But I think mazes generally worked a lot better in text adventures than in graphical adventures. Ok, so early eighties home computers weren't exactly fast, but going between rooms would hopefully be faster than watching your character slowly walk across the screen to the next room.

      And even then people were at least trying to come up with something more creative than just a "maze of twisty passages, all alike".

    12. And even then people were at least trying to come up with something more creative than just a "maze of twisty passages, all alike".

      And then we had the people making expanded versions of Adventure whose idea of creative mazes often was "what if the maze of twisty passages all alike was THREE times as big!!!". Fun times.

  2. I wonder if we'd all be suffering through these mazes today if ADVENT hadn't been based on Mammoth Cave.

    Apparently for 149.90 Deutschmarks you can buy The 7th Guest, Inca or Jutland, a WWI naval sim. Checking my computer's calculator, and finding the latest currency exchange with the Euro, that's $82.

    Going from what data I could find for 1993 DM -> USD I got about $90, but we're in the same ballpark. But that's 1993 dollars. This is like $175-180 in 2022 dollars. Yumpin' Yiminy.

    1. Thinking about it, did the developers of Myst ever mention having played ADVENT? Because there are two games that are obviously not related to ADVENT's use of it that are coming to my mind, (both adventure games) Myst and Yume Nikki. We'd never really know if Yume Nikki's developer ever played any classic adventure games though.

      Dunno about Jutland, but that's some serious cash for a game that's really not going to last that long. And the prices of those games don't bear that out these days, since you could probably pick up all three for the pre-inflation price, CIB.

    2. I think back in the day, playing these games as kids, the thing was that we've got all the time in the world, so we were more forgiving of mazes and design horrors like that. I remember playing Kyrandia 1 on my Amiga 500, and every time i change screens the loading time was for about two minutes.
      My all time favourite game is Maniac Mansion. I`ve spent hours and hours playing it on my Commodore 64 when i was 12 years old. Besides the long loading times between screens, i`ve played that one with a joystick, so moving the cursor to the verb box, then to something on the screen, then to another thing in my inventory.....Today, i won`t stand all the wasted time it takes to do a simple action, but back then, i loved the game.
      Now our patience rate time is minimal, like with everything else in life. Also, the designers of the time had to wrestle with such small megabytes (or even kbytes) capacity that i can`t judge them so harshly for doing rooms that looks all alike in a mazes....having said that, yeah, mazes suck. I remember the ones in Zak McKracken and chills runs through my spine....

  3. Congrats on finishing the game. Maze or no maze I knew this wasn't very good (apart from the graphics).

    I said it before and I will say it again: the only MPS adventure worth playing is Dragonsphere, but at least that one is a gem.

    1. Just MPS Labs, right? I believe that, then again, I don't particularly think I want to find out. Otherwise, I think the Star Trek: The Next Generation adventure game involved someone at Microprose, and the revival one is publishing a few adventure games.

  4. I mentioned it in ROT13 in an earlier post, but the "or is it" ending is a final piece of bad, cliché writing that leaves a bad taste after an already bad, cliché plot. One of the things I most clearly remember about this game.

    1. There is just so much wrong with the writing in this and I can't really talk about why since if I did, I would technically be ruining a future game, because the reason why this strikes me as being just incredibly awful ties into that future game. Which adds a great deal of frustration to the whole thing!

  5. Can someone please finish "Stationfall"?

    1. Me too! The next post should be next week at the latest. It's about 90% drafted. (And from there, just one more post to the end.)

  6. Mazes have been popular for most of human history. Theseus had to solve a diabolically difficult maze to slay the Minotaur, then make it out again. He needed a "cheat code" - a ball of yarn that Ariadne gave him - to track his path.

    Versailles and other palaces had huge garden mazes formed from hedges. People enjoyed exploring the mazes to find the center, and eventually the exit. There's a garden maze like that in the city of Boralus in World of Warcraft (The Battle for Azeroth expansion). It's very challenging, and actually has two useful "solutions" - one leads to a cellar, and the other to the center of the maze, each useful for a different puzzle.

    I loved solving - and creating - paper mazes when I was a kid. I think my brother taught me about the infamous "double spiral" - It looks as though you're following a spiral that will dead-end, but in the center it comes back out in a parallel spiral, possibly leading to the exit.

    It was natural for video game developers to include mazes in their games. The prototype was the "maze of twisty passages, all alike" in Colossal Cave Adventure, and the follow-up maze in which the descriptions of sections act as hints to the solution. "You are in a twisty maze of little passages, all different." "You are in a twisty little maze of passages, all different." Etc.

    RPG's such as Wizardry and Dungeon Master were all about 3D mazes. They were inspired by random dungeon generators for D&D, which I and other DM's used to create our first dungeons, and DND and other games on PLATO, one of which Andrew Greenberg and Robert Woodhead commercialized as Wizardry.

    I, and other players, created detailed paper maps of each level of those dungeon games. It was part of the gameplay. I still have some of those maps. You were never expected to be able to navigate the mazes by dead reckoning.

    I was very proud of my innovation in Castle of Dr. Brain of a "true 3D" maze in which you had to go up and down as well as left and right to get to the exit. The mazes are very small, but some people still hate them. For me, it was more about, "Can we do this?" than "Should we do this?"

    Love them or hate them, mazes have a firm rule both in the history of gaming and in world history. People have used them to challenge and conceal since the beginning of recorded history.

    1. Thank you for Castle of Dr. Brain! I couldn't play it back in 1991 when I was 11, but I finished it some years ago and it was quite fun. The mazes were not the most fun part of it, but they were well done and entertaining.

    2. A very impassioned defense of mazes. I think its very appropriate that there's a reference to a mythological tragedy and the excesses of French royalty, two things that also provoke a love or hate response. Don't really have anything else to say there that I haven't already said, but I can't say I remember that maze, not a bad thing, since lasting impressions tend to be bad in the maze department. I do remember the mazes in IQ Adventure and Time Warp, which of course you didn't have a hand in and might not have even been aware of before I mentioned it.

    3. your 3d maze in castle is fun, mostly because of the speed you can try a new path, and the small size of them. The last one, with the space walls was particulary misleading with so many ups and downs, but still fun.

      I've been to 2 real life size hedge mazes recently, spent 3 hours in one being completely lost, and solved the other one in 15 minutes. Can tell you that the experience was great, because contrary to these games where each screen is just a copy and paste, the mazes had very small features, or even my own tracks in the dirt as cues of what was going on.

  7. "firm rule" --> "firm role" of course

  8. Congratulations on finishing it! And I feel your pain about mazes, having endured the Abbey of Crime's frustrating one recently.

    Also, thank you, Adventurers, for the Monk Award! :)

    1. I sincerely hope that neither of us have to deal with another maze anytime soon!

  9. I hope you do play Dragonsphere. As bad as this game is, that one is great. I'd be interested in reading your reaction to that.

    1. That's an interesting way of looking at it, and something I didn't consider. (though one might also say the same of the Are You Afraid of the Dark game that'll be released next year) Regardless, I suspect that depends on how things go whenever we reach the year ahead post for 1994.