Tuesday, 26 September 2023

Leisure Suit Larry 6: Marking My Territory

by Alex
I just can’t get away from Jim Walls, no matter how I try.

For some reason, while playing through Leisure Suit Larry 6, I decided to read up on Trickster’s old entries on Sierra’s Jim Walls-designed 1989 classic, Codename: ICEMAN.

Ha ha, “classic.” Calling a frustrating, hateful mess of a game “classic” is just my special brand of sarcastic humor designed to make you laugh by calling something the clear opposite of what it is. Classic me!
Ha ha! Dropping in a new game mechanic that punishes the player for using the game’s save and restore function without any sort of warning, thereby preventing them from getting a key item that will help later on. Classic Jim Walls!

Saturday, 23 September 2023

Lost in Time — Jokers, Alternate Version, and Final Rating

Written by Michael
Let’s travel the world and time for a special police force to catch a criminal!
I won’t lie. Lost in Time was not my favorite game ever, but it wasn’t the worst, either. But we’ll get to that. During the gameplay, I never checked out the hint system, so that needs attention. Also, I want to check out the CD version that came out the next year.

But first, I need to discuss a theft. Not of valuable treasure, and not protected by wizard slaves like Yoruba. No, it’s puzzles.

Throughout this playthrough, I've been comparing this game to some others. See, it seems that nearly this entire game was stolen from the Leisure Suit Larry series, past and future to this game’s release. That makes sense, of course, since this game has the technology of time travel.

In no particular order, here’s some of the theft I discovered. Al Lowe, I believe you have grounds for a lawsuit.

Monday, 18 September 2023

Lost in Time — Won!

Written by Michael
I said, hey, what’s going on?
With this post, we will finish our playthrough of this game. Should we be afraid, when the world’s biggest fan of this game, commenter SpanishCoktelVisionFanClub, comments that the “last section in the island [...] feels like a different game meaning a game that comes with the cereals?”

They aren’t wrong. The last section of this game feels completely different, in both good and bad ways. For example, they finally found a music composer! The theme for the beach sounds like it was inspired by the Caribbean-themed music from Monkey Island, and I mean nothing bad about that -- it was the first bit of background music I not only noticed, but rather enjoyed. And there are varied music tracks in most of the different rooms in this session.

Friday, 15 September 2023

Missed Classic - Gram Cats (グラムキャッツ) - Won and Summary

Written by Morpheus Kitami

Despite this joke, I did not get plastered during the playing or writing of this review, though I probably should have.

Right, let's get this over with. Apologies for the delays, half of that is down to an awful Japanese game I played on my own blog, which, funnily enough uses more complex language than this adult game, and half is...well, you'll see.

Monday, 11 September 2023

Missed Classic: Plundered Hearts - Alternate Endings, Cut Content, and Final Rating

Written by Joe Pranevich

Last time out, we completed Plundered Hearts. Lady Dimsford was reunited with her father and (presumably) her soon-to-be stepmother, escaped the island with her pirate beau, and settled for a domestic existence somewhere in North America. Plundered Hearts is a swashbuckling adventure that feels at home next to A Princess Bride– which is amazing as both the game and movie came out in September 1987. Fans of romantic pirate adventures truly hit the jackpot that month! (The Princess Bride film was based on the 1973 novel of the same name; Briggs could equally have been inspired by the original work.) The game includes four “good” endings and I already found the “best” of those. I’ll look at the alternate paths briefly before locking in the score.

Plundered Hearts was also a game built under difficult constraints: a text-heavy game in the style of late Infocom but built using the original Z-machine. To even come close to fitting in those constraints, Briggs had to cut a lot from her original vision. In an interview conducted for the Get Lamp documentary, she admitted that, “Because it was my first game, they gave me nine months to write it… and I finished it in six. I spent the next three just cutting stuff out. It was way way too big to fit, because I was the last game to fit on a Commodore 64. There was all that great stuff to cut, so I did a lot of cutting.” 

We don’t have all of the “great stuff” that she alluded to, but we do have traces of her ideas left behind in the Infocom source code leak. Was the game better because of its editing? Or was there a better game that had to be cut down to size? I look forward to finding out. 

Friday, 1 September 2023

Lost in Time - One, Two, Three Lock Box

Written by Michael
This game could use a good food fight scene.
A pre-med (or was it pre-law) student once told me, “Don’t get mad, get even!” So, I’m not getting mad at this game. I’m plotting against it, secretly in my head, just biding my time.

This is going to be a longer post -- my goal is to finish the game in the next post. This has gone on long enough, and we need to save valuable kilobits on the Blogger server for much more important games on the schedule... oh, wait, never mind.

I know that two commenters who are big fans of the game feel I might be a little harsh in my criticisms of the game along the way, and I’d like to remind them that there are good things as well, but it’s a disservice to the community if I hold in the bad. I’m trying to keep the negativity at bay, to keep this a fun read, and make fun of the game when it crosses the line.

At the close of the last session, I had recently returned from a flashback session in the present time to the past, where I am now. (Sadly, I have no contact with my high school English teachers, so I cannot think of a better way to formulate that sentence.) Some goals and unsolved puzzles include untying Melkior and unlocking Yoruba. Yoruba was useful, he gave me a knife, so that seems like a good plan. Melkior is a whiny little [*bleep*], so I’m a little more reluctant about that goal.

Wednesday, 23 August 2023

Lost in Time - So Long, Astoria

Written by Michael
So far, this game hasn’t reached the level of childish and stupid, like school is.
My apologies for a long absence. Since my last post, I was rather sick for a week, and then had trouble regrouping and building momentum to keep going with this. Add to that the comment on the last post from SpanishCoktelVisionFanClub, “If I (and MorpheusKitami) recall correctly, you're now set for the last puzzle on the house, which is a bit hard, so buckle up! I'm curious about how you will describe the thing.”

Hard isn’t the right word for it, perhaps. At least one of the puzzles is pure moon logic, which makes sense because we gain a crescent-shaped item from it. But we’ll get there eventually.

Saturday, 19 August 2023

Missed Classic: Plundered Hearts - Won!

Written by Joe Pranevich

Welcome back to Plundered Hearts and epic pirate romance! You read that title correctly and didn’t miss any posts: I won already! Even if it feels a bit shorter than most of the Infocom canon, it has been a ton of fun to play through. I’m not going to claim to have a new appreciation for romance fiction and I am not yet eager to buy books with Fabio on the cover, but I am glad that I experienced it. The game leans into Brigg’s fantastic “romance novel” prose and so I’ll do my best to share a bit more of that than usual in this post, to give you a better feel for what this adventure is like.  We will also have one more post after this for missed scenes, cut content, and the final rating.

Where we left off, we (the Lady Dimsford) had just escaped our pirate friends/captors on the Helena Louise and floated to shore in a barrel. We are now on the island of St. Sinistre with an invitation to a ball but nothing to wear. I’m expecting to explore the island to find Lafond’s mansion, buy a dress in a shop with the money we were given, and go and rescue my pirate boyfriend. I wasn’t completely wrong.

Saturday, 12 August 2023

Leisure Suit Larry 6: Shape Up or Slip Out! (1993): Introduction

by Alex
Al Lowe.

Jim Walls.

Jim Walls.

Al Lowe.

Al Lowe

Jim Walls

Al Walls.

Jim . . . Lowe?

These two men and their games loom large in my time here as a blogger for The Adventurers Guild. Of the 11 titles I’ve reviewed since 2015— Leisure Suit Larry 1: Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards (VGA Remake), Leisure Suit Larry 5: Passionate Patty Does A Little Undercover Work, Police Quest III: The Kindred, Conquests of the Longbow: The Legend of Robin Hood, Robin of Sherwood: The Touchstones of Rhiannon, Police Quest: In Pursuit of the Death Angel (VGA Remake), Lure of the Temptress, L.A. Law: The Computer Game, Quest for Glory III: Wages of War, Freddy Pharkas: Frontier Pharmacist, and Blue Force—a whopping six, or 55 percent, have been designed by either Al Lowe (Larry 1, Larry 5, Freddy Pharkas) or Jim Walls (Police Quest 1, Police Quest 3, Blue Force). If my math is correct (dubious), that’s over half. Of the remaining five, two have been about Robin Hood, one has been a Quest for Glory game, and two have been garbage. Ah well. They can’t all be winners.

(I did get to interview Conquests of the Longbow designer and all-around legend Christy Marx, which was really cool, but interviews don’t count as reviews.)

The point is, with Larry 6, my total of Al Lowe or Jim Walls games reviewed for this site is up to 7 out of 12, bringing that total up to 58 percent. I swear, when I signed up for this blog, I did not expect to play cop games or immature sex games. It just . . . sort of happened.

Wednesday, 2 August 2023

Lost in Time - Well, I’m on the Downeaster Alexa

Written by Michael
Parker is our suave but oddly-dressed game heroine, Jerry is our MacGuyver, and Mikey, well, all Mikes are cool to have around.
Synchronize swatches! We’re back home from a fancy meal and now it’s time to tackle some more puzzles in this game. I wonder, will we finally experience some of the danger from the man who “plotted to kill us before we were born?” Well, cheaters could skip down to the end of this post, but I hope you’ll stick along for the ride.

When last we wrote, I had just uncorked some cider in celebration of me finding the right items to click on the right other items. Let me step out of that basement crypt to the real world. Wait, if that’s a crypt, then how come all that’s in there is a treasure chest and some bottles of cider? It feels more like a messy garage than a place T. Charles Kingman would be in charge of.

Monday, 31 July 2023

Missed Classic: Gram Cats - Go Mad Yourself!

 Written by Morpheus Kitami

Apparently this agency isn't as secret as I thought if they have the logo outside their HQ...

Last time, our heroine with ESP, Sayaka had just been sent to a school full of aliens by Eagle, Earth's defense organization of questionable morality. Why? Because the aliens eat people, males, mostly, so we're sending a woman in, alone, because, well, she probably isn't going to be brutally murdered. Granted, with this kind of game it's less probable that she's going to be murdered. First anyway.

Anyway, new commands I've gotten since I've arrived are take, give, strike and enter. What Sayaka is going to hit, well, I doubt the usefulness of that command. Sayaka can change clothes here, to some kind of...very '80s shirt, and not back to her uniform. Apparently that's one of the selling points, clothing changes. Frankly, it looks worse than Sierra and Lucasarts, but what do I know?

What adventure games have been missing is the ability to explore a dungeon.

And much like Eagle HQ, the school is a dungeon, only less chance to wander around. Advance, return, those are the first two commands. As I'm on the third floor of the dormatory, there's not much point in wandering around. Nobody's going to answer Sayaka if she tries walking into random rooms.

Friday, 21 July 2023

Lost in Time - Pondering Prunelier in Pursuit of Power, Plumbing, and Probate

Written by Michael

I have written and rewritten the introduction to this post, because I can’t seem to make any sense in my writing. You see, I noticed in the last session that I was ignoring the plot of the game, and instead just going pure adventure gamer and simply looking to pick up everything not nailed down, and to solve any puzzles I could find, without any regard to the game or plot.
So the plot, as I understand it so far, and what’s been revealed to me: I’ve awoken, somewhat dazed, in what appears to be the cargo hold of a ship, in 1840. I’ve found a slave named Yoruba being held down here, and we are both down here because of a man named Jarlath de la Pruneliere. Playing around with inventory items lets me explore a further level of the ship, and I encounter an officer in the Space-Time Patrol, who prompts me to tell him about the events that led me here. It seems my memory is back, so I start to tell a tale about inheriting a house in 1992. I was trying to get into my house at the end of the last post. We haven’t really gotten to anything listed on the back of the box yet.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not necessarily saying this is a bad thing. In this session, there’s more problem solving, and less 15-screen dialog sessions, so all in all, I felt this was a lot more enjoyable to me.

Monday, 17 July 2023

Missed Classic 121: Plundered Hearts - Introduction (1987)

Written by Joe Pranevich

In the words of an “Amazing” series of movies, “Alright, let’s do this one last time…”

In 1987, Infocom was in serious trouble. Despite creative high-points (Stationfall) and some sales successes (Leather Goddesses of Phobos), the text adventure market was collapsing. Infocom had only been recently purchased by Activision, and the new management was not rising to the changing industry conditions. Activision demanded that sales increase; if not by selling more copies, then by selling more titles. Infocom would eventually launch eight games in 1987, more than any other year and double their haul from 1986. We’ve made it to the sixth of those games now.

Despite these challenges– or perhaps because of them– Infocom embarked on one of their most creative periods. Over just a few months Infocom launched their first horror game, puzzle game, romance, spy thriller, and RPG. Plundered Hearts was not just their first “romance” title, but also the first game by Infocom to be solely written by a woman (Amy Briggs) and the first to have only a female protagonist. Infocom’s risk-taking did not ultimately save them, but their embrace of new ideas is one of the things I have come to love about late-era Infocom. I missed nearly all of these games as a kid, but I am so happy to be playing them now.

I am excited! Can you tell?

Thursday, 13 July 2023

Lost in Time - I Went to the Villa by the Horse With No Name

By Michael

It seems appropriate that I’m starting this playthrough session just after the Fourth of July, as I’m working to gain independence from this ship for Yoruba and myself.
Wait, we’re traveling through time and space, not outer space. Wrong Independence Day.
For those of you who aren’t American, you can play along by having a barbecued hamburger, some potato salad, a cold, frosty can of lager, and wait until dark to disturb the sleep of all the cute, adorable puppies out there.

To recap the story so far: I’ve awoken, somewhat dazed, in what appears to be the cargo hold of a ship. It is likely we are in the past, which is odd, since the last time I remember, it was 1992. After exploring around, I’ve found a slave named Yoruba being held down here with me, who, in telling of his story, prods at some memories I still have. We are both down here because of a man named Jarlath de la Pruneliere, who, although she doesn’t mention it, shares the same last name as her (with an altered spelling, the final ‘e’ was removed over time). Yoruba has managed to find himself a knife, and even though he has a family legacy to protect a treasure that’s also likely in the hold of this ship, he plans to instead use the knife to commit suicide. I convince him to let me use the knife first, as I try to figure things out.

Monday, 10 July 2023

Homeworld - From Ooze to Apes

Written by Reiko

Last time we finished talking to all the digitized people, including a girl named Miki, who had the code to get into the zoo areas. We have to go that way to get around the dangerous spider robot that's protecting the main corridor leading to the computer control room.
Heechee numbers on the obelisk
Miki's code works as advertised on the zoo door, and it slides open, revealing another blue tunnel [20]. I walk through the tunnel and end up in an "Obelisk Room" containing a blue obelisk with Heechee numbers scratched on the side, a red force field portal, and a glowing red sphere.

Friday, 7 July 2023

Lost in Time - My Heart Will Go On

By Michael

Now that introductions and wagers are out of the way, let’s talk game history.

Just one year before Lost in Time was released, a brand new software company named id Software revolutionized first-person games, with the shareware publication of Wolfenstein 3D through Apogee Software. The next year, Coktel Vision would make an adventure game in the same perspective, but without the smooth motion animation or, I guess, enemy soldiers running to shoot you while shouting “spy!” in German.
Spion! Spion!
So far, I’m not impressed from a technical standpoint, when a shareware game released on a single 3.5” floppy felt more powerful than this game. Wolfenstein included even a few spoken words, which wasn’t that revolutionary -- a 1991 adventure game did the same thing on floppy disks as well.

Tuesday, 4 July 2023

Missed Classic 120: Gram Cats - Introduction (1989)

 Written by Morpheus Kitami

That title is unreadable, but don't worry, that's just this game's text

It's been a while, and I don't really bring tidings of a great new game for you all to sink your teeth into. I bring you today the first in what will be a large number of Japanese adult anime games. Can I call it that? I get the feeling if I mention what this actually is there would be consequences. Now, of course, the first question you have is, Morpheus, why?

Friday, 30 June 2023

Game 135: Lost in Time - Introduction (1993)

By Michael
That tagline could be referring to so many people in our government, past or present.
The last time we met, I had just finished plundering a castle for some loot. Amazingly, no one told me that the artifacts really belonged in a museum, so I continued my life of crime, and, finally released from Shawshank, I am back here with you.

That said, I’m glad to be back, and we’ll be playing Lost in Time, a first-person adventure game released by Coktel Vision just after they were swallowed up by Sierra On-Line. In 1993, the original floppy disk version was released overseas in two parts, but here stateside, it was released just as one game. Later CD releases with enhancements came the next year, but holding with blog tradition, I’ll be playing the version that came out in 1993.

Tuesday, 27 June 2023

Dracula Unleashed - Missed Scenes, Cut Content, and Final Rating

Written by Joe Pranevich

We made it to the end of Dracula Unleashed! Usually, these final posts are about rating the game and moving on. I am eager to move on (and have already started Plundered Hearts), but I cannot give a complete rating of the game without first looking at the scenes and endings that I missed. There were not that many of them, but I would hate to rate the game without the full picture. 

Dracula Unleashed is also the rare example of a non-Infocom game where we can discuss some of the discarded material, thanks both to the extras on the DVD edition as well as the information supplied in the hint book. None of the cut material will be considered for the rating, but I enjoyed working through the sources to see what might have been.

Dracula may rule the night, but he’s never faced a PISSED rating before. Let’s see how he does!

Saturday, 10 June 2023

Blue Force – Final Rating

by Alex
I am a slow writer. S-l-o-w. For a playthrough that began on October 25, 2022, I’m just getting to the Final Rating. I am as slow as Jake Ryan walking across Carter’s Marina for the 9,473rd time and there’s no way to adjust the speed, both in-game and in real-life. Yes, I’m that slow.

Now that you’ve accepted my apology, let’s get to the PISSED rating for Blue Force.

Thursday, 8 June 2023

Homeworld - Ghost in the Machine

Written by Reiko

We've just been collected by a huge alien artifact as we attempt to fulfill our diplomatic mission. No way out at this point except to explore the artifact and try to figure out its purpose. But before that, I can gather some supplies from the ship.
We're well-stocked on medical supplies.

Sunday, 4 June 2023

Dracula Unleashed - Won!

Written by Joe Pranevich

Welcome back to this somewhat delayed finale of Dracula Unleashed. I won! I actually won some time ago, began drafting this post, became bogged down because the post became too long, and then was swamped by real life events including a bout with COVID that left me exhausted for weeks. Most veteran writers here can attest that you must get your thoughts down quickly before everything slips away and I had long since passed that point. Too many things conspired together to make it difficult for me to get to the finish line and wrap this up for you. I am sorry. 

The good news is that we’ve made it to the end! Last time out, Alexander fell asleep while guarding Juliet and Anisette. Dracula chose that moment to attack, killing Juliet and leaving Anisette with a gaping neck wound and an immediate need for a blood transfusion. Professor van Helsing chased us out of the apartment while he and Dr. Seward raced to save her life. As I was uncertain if this was a plot death or due to my mistakes, I played the third day’s events over and over again to try to save her. That failed. I am starting this post on the morning of the fourth day: It’s December 31 and we’re only a few hours from the scene in the introduction when Alexander will sit in a graveyard pondering his Bowie knife. Soon, we will have to find a way to bring an end to Dracula’s curse.

What should we do first on such an auspicious day? Buy a newspaper. Read on for more. 

Friday, 19 May 2023

BloodNet – Grant's Tomb

Written by Will Moczarski

Finally I did it. I survived the fixed encounter in Grant’s Tomb and am free to explore the colourful world of BloodNet once more. Because it took me about 6.5 hours of pure game time (not counting thinking up new tactics, buying new weapons, recruiting new party members and generally bumbling about to find out if it's possible to skip the encounter altogether) just to win this one encounter you might rightfully say I’m pretty bad at RPGs. Still the spike in difficulty was unprecedented and quite surprising. None of the combat in the game up to this point had even been challenging. It just didn’t seem to matter where I placed my guys and which weapons I used as long as I used the expensive ones. Also, I had very good armour going into Grant’s Tomb, a rested party of six, freshly bonded and blessed soul blades, and some of the best recruits you can add to your party altogether. 

Saturday, 13 May 2023

Homeworld - Two Birds, One Stone

Written by Reiko

Last time we triggered the auto-launch sequence for the Aquila, which is supposed to take the Ambassador to the mysterious artifact that showed up in the solar system recently. We escaped a hit squad at our apartment and arrived at the military base where the Aquila is ready to launch, only to find ourselves in the middle of a full-scale terrorist attack. How do we get out of here?
Mission Aquila is GO.

Sunday, 7 May 2023

Homeworld - Out of the Frying Pan, Into the Fire

Written by Reiko

The game opened in our penthouse apartment in San Francisco, but almost immediately we are thrust into danger and intrigue as we receive two calls, one rather more mysterious than the other. The company that runs the Gateway station and its prospecting missions wants us to come right away to talk to their alternate ambassador to the mysterious Artifact that recently appeared in the solar system. But then I was warned by an anonymous undercover FBI agent that the fanatical Phoenix Sect, who killed the original ambassador, apparently has us in our sights as well. We have to escape!

A mysterious anonymous agent warns us that things are going to get hot.

Amid that tension, there are a few interesting things in the apartment. The TV (er, "PV console") has a description that includes this: "It is an old 2-D flatscreen model, devoid of the 3-D tank and the full Virtual Reality hook-ups that are common among the more sophisticated consoles. You specified the older model when you were having the place outfitted - you didn't want anything to do with full immersion VR after your last mission as a Gateway prospector." The whole endgame of the first Gateway was a lengthy puzzle to repeatedly break the Assassin AI's VR simulation, including a rather detailed simulation of hell, so I can understand the PC's aversion.

The bed is also described as "old fashioned" and "You never did get used to the new fangled, high-tech sleep cocoons that are considered standard in the year 2112." I don't think we ever get a visual of what those are supposed to look like, though. The reading light is even described as an anachronism. I guess that's an easy way to display an apartment that looks pretty normal to our eyes while painting a verbal picture of a culture with more advanced technology.

Monday, 17 April 2023

Game 134: Gateway II: Homeworld (1993) - Introduction

Written by Reiko
The second game in the Heechee saga, Gateway II: Homeworld is of course the sequel to Frederik Pohl's Gateway, which I played back in 2016-2017. As I mentioned then, Gateway II was one of my favorite childhood games, so I'm very glad we've finally made it here. In fact, I still have the physical game that I've kept all these years. (I'm not sure where the box went, but at least I have the game itself!) It's been six years since I played Gateway, and far longer than that for Gateway II, so I will be rediscovering the game as I play, although I do remember bits and pieces.

The Gateway games are loosely based on the science fiction novel by Frederik Pohl; the main character, Robinette Broadhead, is ostensibly the same in the games, although compared to a game protagonist, the personality is far stronger in the book. The setting is that of a sort of science fiction gold rush to exploit alien technology found in a space station located between the orbits of Mercury and Venus. Built by the Heechee millennia ago, the space station is filled with automated ships with FTL drives set to go random places in the galaxy. Some locations might be interesting, while others might be dangerous, or even deadly.

In the first game, the main character has won a lottery ticket that will take him to the station, where he can then try his luck with the ships, to see if he can find any useful technology to bring back and sell. The first part of the game involves exploring the station, going on some basic missions, finding a few Heechee artifacts, and working our way up to get more lucrative and interesting location codes.
Successfully completing a mission.
The second part of the game is where the stakes are raised, as we have to visit four more worlds on a top-secret mission to save the galaxy. Another alien race that the Heechee just called the Assassins destroy all other civilizations once they reach a certain threshold of technology by sensing artificial radiation using a station called the Watchtower. Presumably we're going to reach that level very soon. Fortunately, the Heechee already built a cloaking device to protect their part of the galaxy, but for some reason they never activated it. That's where we come in.

Each of the four shield generator planets has its own set of puzzles, some of which require objects from the station. The fourth planet also has a notable and friendly NPC: Rolf Becker, who was a prospector lost years ago on his third mission. An optional sub-puzzle is to learn how to be kind to Rolf so that he'll want to come back to the station with you. After we activate all four generators, we learn that there's a fifth piece that must be activated at a location in the same system as the Watchtower. We have to go into enemy territory, basically, and after we get there, we find ourselves caught in a VR trap set up by the Assassin AI. We have to use techniques learned earlier in the game to break the VR programming, escape the trap, defeat the AI, and get the shielding system fully activated.
This guy really grows on you.
Completing all that and saving humanity to boot makes our plucky protagonist one rich Robinette. My official station balance at the end of the first game was over $47 million! Now he can return to Earth and retire a rich man if he likes. But the stage is set for a sequel, because the Watchtower was only an outpost for the Assassins, and one of the Heechee artifacts indicated that the Heechee themselves are still out there somewhere as well. This isn't the end of the story, of course.

Thursday, 6 April 2023

Blue Force – WON!

by Alex
Adventure games, as with any sort of storytelling, consist of a series of promises. In a narrative that at least attempts to be coherent, you have a setup, whereby you promise your readers/viewers/players that something will happen, and then you have a payoff, where you keep that promise. This is a reduction of storytelling into two broad parts, but the setup/payoff combination comes into play many times during the course of a given narrative.

Generally speaking, audiences are forgiving up to a point. Fool them once, okay that can slide. But anything more than that and you’re in dangerous territory where you will leave the player, as the case may be with Blue Force, with a serious case of blue balls expectations.

In the first comment to my last Blue Force post, which was published last year, esteemed adventure game designer and all-around cool guy Corey Cole began by stating “This is actually starting to sound like a complex, multi-layered story . . .”

Monday, 3 April 2023

Missed Classic 119: Refixion (1991)

 Written by Morpheus Kitami

Well, anything is going to be a bit of a downgrade after one of the greatest adventure games of all time, and going in I already knew this wasn't going to be any kind of challenge. It's something I wanted to cover for a while, and one of the very first (pre-rendered) 3D adventure games. Actual early 3D, not the Playstation era.

Let's be very accurate here. Adventure "game". This is something akin to an interactive music video. There were a fair number of these things back in the '90s. Queensryche, Prince, The Rolling Stones and Devo, among many others. Some of these have more legitimate claims to being games than others. Its something we've all sort of forgotten since most people are only vaguely interested in music and superfans don't have any money because they spend so much on concert tickets.

I'm going to continue to call it game, without quotation marks, simply because that's easier for me to keep track of.

Saturday, 1 April 2023

Simon the Sorcerer - Final(ly) Rating


By Will Moczarski

Here goes nothing! It took me six months to rate this game which must be a record for the blog. What happened to me? Laukku put it very nicely: “Still distracted by BloodNet, he claimed not to have forgotten Simon the Sorcerer's final rating in that game's introduction post.” 

Sorry about the long wait, I was (and still am) busy playing BloodNet among other things. To refresh my memory I reread all of my posts and played through the whole game once more. There will be two more Simon posts in the near future (about the talkie version and about the contemporary reviews) but finally the score will be revealed. And what can I say? It sums up my opinion of the game quite well.

Tuesday, 28 March 2023

Summer Daze: Tilly’s Tale Review

Written by Joe Pranevich

Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption was one of the rarities of the “legacy kickstarter” era. It was a fantastic game with good production values, and it reflected well on both its source material and its development duo, Lori and Corey Cole. Development spanned an agonizing six years from its first successful kickstarter ($400k) in 2012, through a second kickstarter ($100k) in 2015, and finally to its completion in 2018, with patches and ports (even a Nintendo Switch version!) continuing into 2021. The final game included roughly as much content as the first four Quest for Glory games combined, despite featuring only a single playable class. The road to Hero-U was an arduous one that is more than worth a deeper look, but let’s just say that the pair had to mortgage their house to get it done. The planned sequel was intended to be Hero-U: Wizard’s Way, starring a new female wizard protagonist. Even with a working game engine and the “growing pains” that underscored the first several years of Hero-U development out of the way, the Coles had no path to fund the development of a second game on the same scale. 

In 2019, they took a different approach: instead of a puzzle-centric adventure/RPG, they would create their next Gloriana game as a “visual novel”. The Summer Daze at Hero-U kickstarter was a success ($100k), promising two new chapters in the Hero-U story. The first of these, Summer Daze: Tilly’s Tale, has been released to backers and will be live on Steam and other marketplaces by the end of March. We promoted this kickstarter (with a special Corey Cole interview!) back in 2019 and we are excited to see the project cross the finish line.

Here at “The Adventurer’s Guild”, we don’t normally cover new games, but we have a soft spot for our favorite creators who keep the memories of our beloved 80s and 90s adventures alive. Unlike our normal reviews, this one will be light on spoilers, although I will post a few screenshots (mostly from the opening minutes of the game) and discuss some of the things that I like and dislike about the game. If you want to avoid spoilers entirely, just know that I enjoyed the game because it’s an adorable side-quest. Otherwise, read on for more.

Late breaking addition: The Coles have volunteered to do another short interview with us as part of their launch. Comment below if there is a question you have been dying to ask about the growing Hero-U series, Quest for Glory, or any of their other gaming projects. We will pass along those questions to the pair for an upcoming post. 

Saturday, 11 March 2023

Day of the Tentacle - Final Rating

 Written by Morpheus Kitami

What can I say about Day of the Tentacle that hasn't probably been said by someone else? I don't know. That's sort of the reason I prefer playing and picking out the more obscure options, whatever I say hasn't been said before. I'm sure the sentiment that while this game is good, it isn't the greatest adventure game of all time is shared by many people. It's not necessarily everyone's favorite, but it is high enough on everyone's lists that its reasonable to put it at the number one spot. I'm not sure I would put it in my own top ten though.

Now of course, since this is me, someone who has mixed feelings on comedy adventure games in the past, one might point out that this is just my own bias against that. I think not, I enjoyed the comedy, most of it anyway, I find myself having issues with other aspects of it. For instance, I have mixed feelings on the same house throughout time concept. It keeps things focused and it's neat seeing roughly the same house over the centuries. It takes away all sense of exploration, because even if you haven't seen where you need to go, you already know where you need to go. There's never any sense of adventure and the game never does anything to fill that absence. In that sense, it's a pure puzzle and comedy game, everything else doesn't really matter.

Monday, 6 March 2023

Dracula Unleashed - She’s Still Dead

Written by Joe Pranevich

Welcome back to Dracula Unleashed! Last time out, I survived the third night at great cost. Juliet was murdered in her sleep and Anisette was nearly so. Alexander was thrown out of Anisette’s house so that Professor van Helsing and Dr. Seward could try to save her with an emergency blood transfusion. I’m not satisfied with that answer. With even our journal telling us what a colossal mistake we’ve made, I must assume that there is a way to keep Juliet alive. I thus restored to the beginning of the day and prepared to go through it all again and again to find things that I missed. 

Unfortunately, narrating this is challenging. I spend the next couple hours progressing randomly, trying things that usually fail, and occasionally finding something that doesn’t. When I’m playing text adventures, I think of this work as the gaps between the paragraphs and I fear I come off as being particularly clever instead of just skipping over the boring “throw everything against the wall” portions. That will be the way here too as I provide you the eureka-filled view of what had been hours of fun but frustrating play.

Wednesday, 1 March 2023

Dracula Unleashed - Three Murders and a Funeral

Written by Joe Pranevich

Welcome back to Dracula Unleashed! Last time out, Alexander survived the second day and finally broke the silence among the friends who fought Dracula in the original novel. The focus of the game has changed: our murder investigation is over, but now we have to find out what is happening with Anisette, Juliet, and the rash of decapitation murders around the city. We ended our previous evening by breaking into Mr. Horner’s bookshop and discovering his trove of blood vials and a book written in an unknown language. Is that going to be the key to unlocking who the Women in White are and how to defeat them? We know from the prologue that we have a date with Dracula in less than two days and it’s going to be interesting to see how we progress from here to there. This is exciting, but the clock is ticking. 

As before, this post will mostly follow a single trip through the day. As you will shortly see, I make it to the end, but not without casualties. I'll work hard over the next week to see if I can do better. 

Sunday, 26 February 2023

What's Your Story: El Despertando

 Intro and captions by Ilmari

Stop the press, a new commenter is on town! Judging by the name, El Despertando is probably an Andalusian or perhaps Mexican, so bring out your piñatas for celebration.

We don't have a photo of El Despertando, but this might be what he looked like as a child

Tuesday, 21 February 2023

Missed Classic - Oseung gwa Haneum - Lost

 Written by Morpheus Kitami

In the time since I lasted talked about the game, I've been looking into the titular duo. They are real, they're just...hard to find information in English on. That surprised me, considering how many people are supposed to be obsessed with Korea. Even if its just South Korea, does the extent of our desire to deal with this country's culture just live and die with K-pop and TV? I know a lot of weebs are shallow, but there are some interested in the history of the country.

Both Oseung and Haneum are pen names, but because of the weird way Korean seems to be transliterated, what their names are in English varies. Both have the last name Yi, but Oseung's real name is Hangbok while Haneum's is Tokhyong. Tok Hyong? Hang Bok? Your guess is as good as mine. A book I found, which barely mentioned the poor guys, says Tokhyong went to Ming China during an invasion by Japan to ask for help and was a sijo poet. Hangbok was the 16th century version of a prime minister and wrote the tale of Yu Yon. I don't know who Yu Yon is and at this point I am terrified to ask.

I note that at several times they're described as friends rather than brothers, something that carried on into adulthood. That's all I got I'm afraid.

This is basically the best choice of video. It seems like the screens I've seen so far tend to be of events people playing this in their native land would roughly know. Sort of akin to making a Gobliiins knockoff of King Arthur or Robin Hood. Something with lots of little events that can obviously be turned into short one screen puzzles.

Thursday, 16 February 2023

Dracula Unleashed - Interview with the Vampire Hunter

Written by Joe Pranevich

Welcome back to Dracula Unleashed! Last week, we continued the second day of Alexander’s renewed investigation into his brother’s death, but it did not go well. After listening to Holmwood lie to us, beating our head against a university that never seems to be open, watching Goldacre get drunk on the expensive booze, and eventually being killed in the street by a different “Bloofer Lady”, I am eager to move on. This game has a lot of plot to unpack, but I’m happy with it so far. We have enough characters (both new and created by Bram Stoker) that we can keep track of them, while still enough variety in the acting and direction that the scenes aren’t boring. It’s probably not among the best games ever played here, but I am enjoying it more than I expected to. 

My strategy for this session will be to replay the second day, try harder to find scenes that I might have missed, and survive the night. It was only minutes after I stopped playing last time that I realized what I forgot to try at the university (and it was a dumb omission, too!), so that’s where I’ll start this week. It’s a credit to this game that I keep thinking about the characters and the “puzzles” after I put it down.

Sunday, 12 February 2023

Day of the Tentacle - Won!

 Written by Morpheus Kitami

As has been custom for a while, I was wandering around the mansion. Trying the hammer on anything...not really sure about the mouse toy or the funnel. What can I do about Edna? What can I do about Edna. I can't do anything to the statue...and I try pushing her. You know pushing as an action is something I've really ignored.

Is Edna an old lady?

Success! Finally! PROGRESS! She's gone forever! Now I just have to use the VHS tape in the slot.

That solves another problem

This is an interesting puzzle, albeit a basic one. I just have to figure out how to record Fred. The round button is the one that records...and it quit. Either VHS players in the early '90s were vastly different, or none of the people involved in this game ever had one. It's always been a red round button for record, and then a square for stop. There's some sort of international body that ensures these things all follow a specified code, not just for us Americans, but so people all over the world know that pressing a square STOPS it.

After recording Dr. Fred rotating the dial, the IRS come in, saying they want to talk to him. Not quite how the IRS work, they prefer to send letters, but I'm just happy I don't have to worry about him. It takes me a few cycles, not helped by how the game doesn't want to let you skip over the tape, but you have to switch the tape from EP to SP mode. I'm no VHS expert, but does that work?

Wednesday, 8 February 2023

Dracula Unleashed - London on One Gold Piece a Day

Written by Joe Pranevich

Welcome back to Dracula Unleashed! Last time out, we successfully survived the first night! Thanks to some “brute force” tactics on my part to find some difficult-to-find scenes, plus a realization how items really worked in the game, we were able to prevent Anisette from succumbing to whatever was transforming her into the Woman in White. Of course, Alexander is blissfully ignorant of all of this; we the player know there are vampires running around and that “bloofer ladies” are real, but he does not, and we start the second day with him still in the dark as to the cause of his brother’s death.

Before I get going, let’s discuss strategy. For this post, I plan to play the second day straight. I will follow plot threads where they lead me, notate everything that emerges organically from play, and tell you all about it. If I die early or quickly, I’ll restore, but my goal will be to make it to the end of the second day in as “normal” a way as possible. Depending on whether this post ends with me sleeping soundly or dead, I’ll figure out what comes next. If I need to spend the next entry brute forcing to find things that I missed, I’ll do it then. 

I am having a ton of fun with this game and enjoying it more than I thought I would. It doesn’t play like a typical adventure and I expect that many players could have been turned off by that (especially the need to save/restore to try different items), but once you know it and understand it, it works. This feels like a new adventure genre (to me) and a different kind of fun from most of the other games I play here.

Sunday, 5 February 2023

Day of the Tentacle - Obvious Solutions and Waiting Around

 Written by Morpheus Kitami

Right, the future. The grand philosophical musings of Tim Schaffer and Dave Grossman on the direction our country will take in the future if we elect a tentacle president. Can't help but feel like that's a silly thing to base your musings on. People are pets of the tentacles...and not in the direction some of us were expecting. People performing in silly talent shows with bizarre criteria for victory. And Elvis museums. Eh, not the worst the future could be.

Also befitting the future, I've switched back to the MT-32. I was already done with the last entry by the time I was convinced to change my mind. I'm going to get a better idea of the sound of this game than anyone back in the day did.

You ever get the feeling that someone's run out of good ideas?

I guess my first course of action after attempting to murder everyone and everything is to talk to my compatriots in jail. The old man is Zed Edison and because Laverne confused him for Dr. Fred, he helpfully tells us that Fred is not a very beloved man today. In the future, man is the servant and pet of the tentacles, and people are stuck in degrading talent competitions where they're put in ugly costumes and perform ridiculous talent acts. Yeah, what a dark and depressing future which bares absolutely no resemblance to anything you could watch on TV today. No siree...

Wednesday, 1 February 2023

Missed Classic: Nord and Bert - Won! (With Final Rating & Cut Scenes)

Written by Joe Pranevich

It always feels good to make it to the end of one of these games. Sometimes, it feels like a great accomplishment, a challenge defeated! Sometimes, it feels like a great relief, like we can finally move on with our lives. Often, it is a mixture of the two. This is something like my 65th review on “The Adventurer’s Guild” and I can confidently say that I have completed far (far!) worse games than Nord and Bert but this is the first one (except for Batman Returns?) where I have felt this frustrated by what could have been. This could have been a fantastic game and I am told that it inspired some games that are among the best in interactive fiction, but it wasn’t and I am glad that this is the last post. 

Where we left off last time, I had completed the seven main chapters of the game ranging from acting in a 1950s-style sitcom to saving a farm from the horrors of farming idioms. I battled Mr. Clean in his night job as the giant from Jack and the Beanstalk. I even sipped a pleasant cup of tea in the most charming cafe I ever saw, one I wish (truly wish!) existed in real life. All that is left for me is the finale where we “Meet the Mayor” and can finally put to right the pernicious problems that plague the people of Punster. Will the ending soar or belly-flop? There is only one way to find out.

Read on for more.

Sunday, 29 January 2023

Day of the Tentacle - Mixed Up American History

 Written by Morpheus Kitami

The past, colonial times. Alas, I am not the best student of American history and there are probably elements here I've missed, but I think I remember most of the common myths and ideas we'll be seeing here.

Ah, scenic 18th century America...

Hoagie has a can opener for some reason. Two boring facts, can openers first started being used long after the invention of the can, something which I suspect may be the purpose of it. Something I did not know is that the can did exist during the 18th century, but apparently the cans were of the type that would not work very well with our modern openers. Something about being thick. Meanwhile, did you ever hear about safety can openers? Instead of cutting open the top, they cut open the side in such a way to not create sharp edges.

I just feel like pointing that out since apparently a lot of people still use regular can openers, and there's just not any reason to. Although I admittedly don't know how the device compares to electric can openers and magnetic ones. I just know that you don't have to suffer.

Anyway, this is the The Adventurers Guild, not The Kitchen Guild. Hoagie can't enter bathrooms yet. They're locked. Guess people in the 18th century have people smoking opium in bathrooms much like people shoot up heroin in our time. Or something. So something I didn't realize ahead of time, each era is set at the same location. I'm surprised they went that way. A lot of time travel media forgets that it doesn't move across space too. It takes a cartoon to deal with that. I mean, if it was entirely realistic we'd see their bodies floating around in outer space...