Monday 25 December 2023

Missed Classic 126 & 127: A Double Dose of “A Special Christmas Adventure” (1986 & 1987)

Written by Joe Pranevich

Merry Christmas! Another year has come and gone, but we’re still playing games here at “The Adventurer’s Guild”. I hope that you and your family are enjoying the holiday, taking some time off, and perhaps playing a classic adventure game or two. While I am off battling Christmas Tree Monsters in Beyond Zork (as of this writing, I still don’t know how to defeat them), it is our tradition to play and discuss a truly holiday themed adventure game for Christmas. This year, I am breaking that tradition by playing not one but TWO Christmas-themed text adventures for the ZX Spectrum. They happen to share the same name, but we’ll cross that holiday-themed bridge when we come to it. 

I don’t want to set expectations too high, but this is how my holiday posts tend to work:

  1. I find an obscure Christmas-related title, often that few have ever heard of, and play it. 
  2. Using my decade of contacts and detective skills, I track down the original authors. They are amazed and mystified that anyone cares about their old game and are glad to discuss it with me. 
  3. I compose a half-decent story about that adventure game.
  4. Somehow, despite being a title that you never heard of or cared about before, you enjoy the story and stick with us for another year of adventuring! (Also, Santa has personally threatened to cancel the blog if I ever stop doing this. Seriously.)

This year didn’t quite go to plan. Not only because I’m looking at two games at once, but also because I haven’t been able to track down the author or even be sure who they are. We do have some fun history and detective work… and possibly even a murder. I’m generally not a fan of murder, especially over the holidays. 

Onward then to A Special Christmas Adventure! Both of them. 

Sunday 17 December 2023

Missed Classic: Beyond Zork - Everybody Wants to Tour the World

Written by Joe Pranevich

Welcome back to Beyond Zork! It has been longer than I intended since last time, but to recap: Magic is going crazy! It’s mere days before a certain Guildmaster (from Spellbreaker) is going to destroy magic for good. It’s up to us to locate the Coconut of Quendor which will somehow preserve magic for future generations. As this is a cRPG and not just a text adventure, we are playing a custom character: a Zorkian version of Lady Dimsford from Plundered Hearts. While “we” the player know about the imminent demise of magic, our character does not. Thus far, we have discovered the first town, completed a small fetch quest in the basement beneath the Rusty Lantern Inn, and set off into the wilderness. Presumably, we’ll learn about the plot officially soon enough.

My plan this time is to explore and map, solving what puzzles that I can that are obvious, but mostly just trying to get a lay of the land and notate everything that I will have to solve or defeat later. This is my usual pattern with adventure games, but Beyond Zork is not “just” an adventure and the RPG aspects may make this more difficult than I expect. I am especially worried about combat: I had to save-scum to defeat the rat-ants in the basement and I am concerned that my character is not well-suited for direct combat, at least not yet. I don’t think you can create a character that isn’t “winnable”, but I really have no idea.

Wednesday 13 December 2023

Game 139: Sam & Max Hit the Road — Introduction (1993)

By Michael
The box cover art gives us subtle clues to our future destinations.
In the spirit of the holidays, we are about to head out on a buddy road trip game. These stories are always the best when the partners are equally matched, such as in this Thanksgiving favorite, this cop-car classic, or this other Thanksgiving favorite... actually, that last one is significant, because the two actors would later become police detective buddies in a TV series 10 years later. And here we are, about to discuss another police game of sorts.

Wait, why do I hear knocking at my door?
“Ahem, I heard there was a police game being played, and... wait! You’re not Alex!”

Saturday 9 December 2023

Homeworld - Into the Black

By Reiko

Previously, we escaped the Phoenix Sect using an automated Heechee escape pod, which crashed on a remote ice planet populated by strange crystalline creatures. Now we've got to find a way to get out of here. There's nothing to eat, at any rate, and our behavior so far has certainly not conformed to any standards of finding shelter and resources in a survival situation. I briefly thought that we'd be able to escape using another similar pod buried in a glacier, but it also crashed and is unusable. Whether its occupant died before or after the crash is uncertain, but I was able to retrieve (loot?) its special identity pod, which will surely be important later.
Those tentacles could grab me just as easily as a Kord.
Now I need to find a way of dealing with the crystal tentacle creature that guards the rock cleft to the north. It's clearly dangerous, and I can't do very much with it with what I have. Finally, I go back to the village to see if I can do anything else there. I notice there are some more sculptures I haven't used. I pick up a large gem and go show it to the artist, who first seems afraid of it, and then shows me another story [10]:

Two Kords are exploring a cliff face that is riddled with caves. They peer into many of the darkened caves, and eventually enter one that is half-hidden by great spikes of ice. 
They slide through a long cavern. The light from the outside becomes dimmer as they progress. Just as it seems that they are going to turn back because of the darkness, they spot a red glimmer coming from the innermost depths of the cave. They press on and come upon a lit area.

Thursday 7 December 2023

Missed Classic: Urotsukidoji (うろつき童子) - The Wanderer

 By Morpheus Kitami

The diamond patterns on the wall are certainly weird-looking.

To the gynasium, where the movie began and where a basketball game is happening. I should be able to find Nogumu and Ozaki (the basketball player) here. One of which is dunking basketballs and the other is pulling Leisure Suit Larry stuff, I'll leave the question of which one is which to the player. The music track here's weird, something that sounds like a midi adaptation of an anime theme which is an adaptation of an ancient folk song. After looking around a bit, Jaku can play basketball for a bit to be able to talk to Ozaki.

If I'm reading it right, Jaku is not a great basketball player and Ozaki pulls him aside. Actually, talk is a strong word, because the only option I'm given is to smell him. Jaku thinks that this is the Chojin. It's looking at him that starts the conversation, in which Jaku asks what he knows about the new religion. Ozaki's heard it since he transferred schools, and it's quite tedious. There's not actually a lot for our conversation to be about. I move away...

Saturday 2 December 2023

Leisure Suit Larry 6: Shape Up or Slip Out!: Ultimate Wisdom

by Alex

The Preamble

And so, all good things come to an end. All stupid things, too. Things like Leisure Suit Larry 6: Shape Up or Slip Out! I was stuck after my last post, unable to figure out how to fix the hose on the cellulite drainage machine, so I put out a call to the community and commentor arcanetrivia, nee Lisa H., helped me out with a great clue:
“You have missed a takeable item that might have looked like just an amusing detail the first time you saw it.”
She also clued me in that the game’s various women are all named for wines: Burgundy and Charlotte Donnay (Char Donnay 🡪 chardonnay, get it?) were the only ones I got, but others should’ve been obvious: Shamara Payne/Sham Payne 🡪 champagne, Gammie Boysulay 🡪 gamay Beaujolais, Merrily Lowe/Merr Lowe 🡪 merlot, Rose 🡪 rosé, Shablee 🡪 Chablis, and Thunderbird 🡪 a cheap kind of wine. Only Cavaricchi Vuarnet doesn’t follow this theme, being named for a totally rad line of sunglasses that were really big in the 1980s. I remember all of the older, and therefore totally hot, teenage girls back in the day wearing t-shirts and whatnot with the Vuarnet logo plastered all over them. Whether their sunglasses were actually Vuarnet was beyond me, since I was like seven at the time.
It literally doesn’t get any cooler.
But enough about fashion, let’s get back to arcanetrivia. Such wisdom, such insight, such foresight, such . . . such . . . wis-sight? Anyway, much like Shamara Payne in the game itself, arcanetrivia is also on a quest for inner wisdom, the path of ascension, the ability to transcend this material world and do more than just sit and stare at the ocean all day. Or maybe I am Shamara and she is Larry, providing me with wisdom. As another brilliant sage/juvenile pervert once said, through the voice of Mary in his 1979 rock opera Joe’s Garage:

[I]information is not knowledge
knowledge is not wisdom
wisdom is not truth
truth is not beauty
beauty is not love
love is not music
music is the best!
Wisdom is the domain of the Wizz (which is extinct).
Beauty is a French phonetic corruption of a short cloth neck ornament currently in resurgence.

What this means is: beats the hell out of me. I will just use any excuse to toss a Frank Zappa reference into one of my posts. This preamble has gone on long enough. On with the game!

Wednesday 15 November 2023

Homeworld - Ice and Fire

By Reiko
Part III - Rescue: the start of the second half of the game.
Last time we escaped the clutches of the Phoenix Sect for a third time by triggering a Heechee escape pod on the Artifact, sending us off to who knows where! We've got a new world to explore. I hope I'm wearing something warm enough, because this world looks very cold. The ground is covered with ice, and the ship has crash-landed, softly enough that I don't seem to be injured, but hard enough to have damaged its systems.
Our first look at the new world.

Thursday 9 November 2023

Leisure Suit Larry 6 - Cracking the Code

by Alex
I’ve done it. After this play session, which had me thinking about ways to inadvertently upset The Adventurers Guild’s moderators and readership how to solve an adventure game’s puzzles long after my sessions ended, I finally understood what Leisure Suit Larry 6 is all about—this:

Sunday 5 November 2023

Beverly Hillbillies - The Final Rating

By Ilmari
That’s $74.44 in today’s money. The image here is the courtesy of our old friend Trickster, who has been slowly collecting ads, previews, reviews and other stuff of adventure games from his considerable collection of game magazines of the time. You can find all the material here
Despite the low expectations, I’ve had surprisingly enjoyable time with Beverly Hillbillies. The game has had its low points, which I will penalise accordingly, but on the whole it was not as painful an experience as I had imagined. Let’s see how far that will go with ratings.

Tuesday 31 October 2023

Missed Classic 125: Urotsukidoji (うろつき童子) (1990) - Introduction

 Written by Morpheus Kitami

For the third annual TAG Halloween movie game, we have the first time the game might just be better than the movie! First we had one of the greatest films of all time, then a pretty good one, and then flawed, but mostly intriguing one. I am not optimistic about this one.

Urotsukidoji is the kind of anime that should need no introduction. It is the film that many parents across American got for their kids, because, hey, all cartoons are for children, then torn from the screens just as surely as the naked bodies on-screen are torn apart by demons. Then return it and loudly complain that the adults only video that clearly says adults only on it is in fact adults only. Turning Japan into the land of the pervert cartoons, because who cares about that one super serious lawyer anime?

Background, Urotsukidoji, better known as Legend of the Overfiend and some assorted thousand other titles, was a 1985 manga from prolific Japanese artist Toshio Maeda, who is basically the original author of any anime that got parents screaming in the '90s. One might as well call him the Ozamu Tezuka of adult manga. It was a modest success, enough to get an original video animation (basically direct to video), 3 episodes of some 30 minutes, which was edited into the film I'll be watching. As with the titles, there are a thousand different versions of this, so I'm just going to talk about the one I actually watched. It is clear that all adaptions miss something from the original manga.

I'm actually going to break from my usual format here and intersperse the game with what's happening at the same rough point in the movie. Sorry, I didn't have the time to watch nearly 2 hours of demons with tentacles who cause women to explode in-between just watching people getting horrifically murdered in one sitting. I'd prefer to get this game over with as soon as possible because the logic now and forever, for these kinds of games is the shorter it is, the better it is.

I'm very, very sad about it

Saturday 28 October 2023

Veil of Darkness - A Quagmire of Relief

 By Zenic Reverie

Closest thing I could find to a lightbulb moment.

I’ve been stuck. Restarting, reaching the same point each time with no further insight. It’s difficult to consider options when they’ve virtually been exhausted. Thanks to the comments that alluded to a game mechanic as the key to progress, I believed I was on the right track in my last post. A hidden keyword was the only mechanic that made sense to trigger the plot, as I ruled out combat and items already. I reviewed the manual again front to back and back to front (skipping over the prologue story) to confirm. Breaking free of this cycle required me to review all the dialogue screenshots, and note down even the most mundane word that might act as a hidden word to trigger further dialogue. I tried each on a random NPC and cut ones that didn’t have the pause of a recognized keyword.

Saturday 21 October 2023

The Beverly Hillbillies - Won!

By Ilmari

Diary of Jed Clampett 3: Weeelll, doggies! I like-to-of freed granny, but I liked some thangs: roas’n’ears, dried flare, pole cat worter, a skift of sugar… I don’t care to go fixing to buy ‘em, but first I ort to get my money from that bank feller who is tighter’n Dick’s hatband!”

Special thanks to this blog for helping me get my hillbilly vocabulary more authentic. I know, it’s Appalachian, not Ozark English, but it’s close enough for my purposes.
No, have you seen the sheep in the library?

Tuesday 17 October 2023

The Beverly Hillbillies - Save the Granny!

 By Ilmari

Diary of Jed Clampett 2: “Weeelll, doggies! We were havin’ a mite hoedown, ‘n it was finer’n frog hair, when ever’thang went catawampus and somethang harble and turble happened. Som rullick took granny! I ain’t bein’ prung down by all these common people in this town. I am fixing to bo’ahl a drank that ort to save her.”

After an excruciating road trip, I had finally found the Clampett mansion. I still couldn’t get inside the house, since the front door was locked. Checking the premises, I could go to the backyard, with a nice pool. Continuing around the pool, I arrived at the house of Milburn Drysdale, the manager of the bank holding the Clampett fortune.
The “humour” is killing me

Saturday 14 October 2023

Leisure Suit Larry 6 - Risqué Business, or (Forced) Sex on the Beach

by Alex

As you can likely tell from the opening image, this post is going to get decidedly non-family friendly. You’ve been warned.

Thursday 12 October 2023

Missed Classic 124: Beyond Zork: The Coconut of Quendor - Introduction (1987)

Written by Joe Pranevich

If Infocom is remembered for one thing, it is the Zork series. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the sales data: from Infocom’s first day until they were purchased by Activision, Zork-series games accounted for 44% of every game sold. And yet, the company seemed almost desperate to be known for just about anything else. After the third game was released, Dave Lebling and Marc Blank decided to launch its followup, Enchanter, without Zork IV branding, a choice that may have had something to do with that game’s 50% revenue drop. Infocom continued to push against their Zork heritage even after it became clear that they would never again have a series that inspired so much love… and sales. By 1987 however, desperate times called for desperate measures and the long-standing superstition against calling another game “Zork” had to come to an end. With Marc Blank having (mostly) left the company, Lebling working on The Lurking Horror, and Meretzky on Stationfall, the responsibility for continuing the Zork saga was left to Brian Moriarty. 

And so it was, five years (and twenty-seven games!) since the last Zork-named title, Moriarty released Beyond Zork in November of 1987. It could not have come at a more desperate moment: the year-long experiment in faster-developed games across more genres was nearly over and none of the new games were sticking. Plundered Hearts, despite being an amazing game that everyone should try, stumbled out of the gate to become their second-worst selling game to date. Moriarty did not however want to just cash in on the Zork name for a quick buck; he was intent on making a newer and better game than any that Infocom had seen before. To that end, he would craft Infocom’s first true RPG, design a new interface for text adventures (including automap!), and bring back the whimsy of an early Zork adventure game. It wasn’t just Zork, it was… Beyond Zork! (Cheesy, I know.) 

Monday 9 October 2023

The Beverly Hillbillies - From Rags to Riches

By Ilmari

Diary of Jed Clampett 1: “Weeelll, doggies!  I was fixin’ to get me some dinner, when oh’ahl started to share from the ground. A billion dollar they paid for it, ‘n y’all know ‘at’s a right smart of money, so I might could buy me ‘n my kinsfolk a house in Beverly Hills. If I just knowed whur it was. Way over yonder, I thank.”
Let’s begin this
Darnation! It crashed already
Wait a minute…
What’s she doing with that?
Seems I am not the only one asking it

Friday 6 October 2023

Missed Classic 123 - Dismal Passages (1992) - Introduction

Written by Morpheus Kitami

A thousand moons ago, the CRPG Addict played a game called Shapeshifter, an unremarkable game by all means. A RPG centered around one character changing form. But the author of the game was one I knew. Jeff Kintz, a longtime shareware developer. Mr. Kintz is an interesting figure from a certain point of view. Having just plucked away at making shareware titles throughout the '90s to little success. His big title, in as much as anything of his can be called a big title, is a Hugo-clone by the name of Darkest Convergence, released in 1993. I don't think I can cover that yet, while Joe covered a 1993 game, he's been around the longest or almost longest, and he can do that. If I do that, Ilmari is probably going to break into my house and complain loudly about my decor. My ninjitsu is not strong enough to stop him.

As I'm rapidly becoming that guy who plays games rejected from the Addict's blog and games masquerading as adventure games, its only natural that I should desire to play one that fits in both categories, Dismal Passages. To be clear this is the Dismal Passages credited as being Dismal Passages on Mobygames. As opposed to the one credited as being Dismal Passages 1. (which is unambiguously an adventure game) There is no Dismal Passages 2 in either case. Mr. Kintz apparently never made them. We know this because multiple people have asked for his games and he's sent them to them. (including an unreleased game) This didn't stop him from advertising a part 2. And something called Beyond 2. Do they really exist, and they were just lost? The world will never know.

Monday 2 October 2023

Missed Classic 122 - The Last Half of Darkness II (1992)

Written by Morpheus Kitami

It's October again, or close enough as makes no difference, and you know what that means. Horror games.

Come, let us stare inquisitively at skeletons

We've got a suitably creepy selection of games this year, starting off with continuing the saga of The Last Half of Darkness. William R. Fisher's long-running series of horror adventure games, which at this point had had been sort of abandoned for two years while he did Nine Lives of Secret Agent Katt. This, incidentally, marks the last time he would release an EGA game, making these three games fit together more thematically than his later titles.

Thursday 28 September 2023

Homeworld - Scorpions and Spiders

Written by Reiko

Welcome back to Gateway II. Apologies for the long wait through the summer. Back to your regularly scheduled coverage now. Previously, we were sent to be an ambassador to a giant alien artifact that was suddenly detected in the solar system. When we approached, it sucked us in and now we're stuck, unable to leave, just like everyone else that had accidentally jumped to it from Gateway. We met the last one of these, injured by a vicious spider robot run by a hostile AI. Now we're making our way through several alien zoo areas in an attempt to bypass the robot and get to the control center of the artifact.
This is the guy we had to impress.

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!