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...

Wednesday, 25 January 2023

Dracula Unleashed - Surviving the Night

Written by Joe Pranevich

Last time out, I died. Alexander Morris came to London to unravel the mystery of his brother’s death during the events of the Dracula novel. Despite months of wasting time, falling in love, and doing everything except investigating that death, the situation in London has become frightening. Grisly murders and beheadings are now a regular fixture of the city, including bodies drained of blood. Yesterday, the death of Anisette’s father triggered Alexander to resume his investigation. In one day, we met Jonathan and Mina Harker, visited a pub named for Jack the Ripper, somehow received a Bowie knife by telegram, and bonked an insane person on the head in a nearby asylum. At the end of the night, we discovered our fiancée wandering the streets dressed in white and acting “sexy”. Rather than heading back to her place for some undead special time, she killed us. Game over.

I’ll be starting from scratch again this week. Obviously, I missed something last time– some clue, some event, or some item that would either have prevented Anisette from becoming a vampire or protected me from her. The only problem is that I have no leads. How am I going to tackle this?

I need a plan. 

Sunday, 22 January 2023

Day of the Tentacle - Cow Tippers From Hell

 Written by Morpheus Kitami

So... now that I've actually played some of Day of the Tentacle, do I like it? Do I hate it?

...I'm not yet sure.

George apparently doesn't live in an area where people's basements get flooded

As you might know if you read through the mountain of comments from last entry, Laukku told me what I needed to press to get subtitles to appear. Ha, ha! Bernard thinks the tentacles are in the secret lab...and shouldn't you have told Laverne and Hoagie these? Eh, knowing them, they probably don't care. Now, what does Bernard have? A textbook. "The Chicago Manual of Thermodynamic Flux Design", a play on The Chicago Manual of Style, one of the closest things American English has to a regulatory body. (which is to say not really, but there is an ideal to strive to) He can read it out to people, who usually imply its very boring and/or a sleep aid.

There is a lot on this screen. Just...this screen feels pretty dense. So much stuff to interact with. Of note is a hardware store flyer, a bell which is supposed to be "neat", a payphone which I can get a dime from...isn't this supposed to be someone's house? Oh, it's a motel. I missed that. It's not clear until it suddenly gets in your face. Hmm. Followed by a cactus, gum on the floor stuck to a dime, a help wanted sign for a guinea pig...I mean lab assistant, a portrait from Ronnie Reagan (seems like a weird joke if it is) and then a grandfather clock. Which the game tells me there's something funny about it. So I open it...and it's a secret passage to the lab. Hmm, guess I didn't need the dime covered in gum.

This is interesting, because compared to most games I've written about, everything I see seems important somehow. Games that had as close as this many objects either did so more simply or just used them as obvious scenery.

Thursday, 19 January 2023

Missed Classic: Nord and Bert - Haunted Pre-Raphaelite Spoonerisms

Written by Joe Pranevich

Welcome back to Nord and Bert! One of the commenters mentioned recently how it is difficult to play and write about a game that you aren’t really enjoying. That’s pretty true, but sometimes you can find joy in the worst games. It’s not that they are “so bad they are good”, but you can see the love that goes into games like Santa and the Goblins, the pre-Infocom Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, or even the early works of Berlyn and Moriarty that were amateurish as best. Where I’m running into difficulty with Nord and Bert is that it feels at times unfinished, or last least rushed, and it’s not living up to even the bar set by its earlier chapters. It is not a terrible game by any stretch and will score better than the ones I cited above, but something about it makes it a slog to get through and to write about. 

But here we are! We’ve completed five of the eight scenarios of the game and will tackle two more today. Jeff O’Neill has made each scenario at least individualized, but we’ve had two based on homophones (the grocery story and the jacks), two on idioms (the teapot and the farm), and the strange one based on sitcom tropes. As I’m shortly to discover, the two today are very different– and also very strange. One of them seems to have been partly inspired by Frank Zappa’s 1982 song, “Valley Girl”, though regretfully not by forcing the player to play entirely using “Valley Girl” slang of the 1980s. That would have been cool, for sure, for sure.

Let’s get to it!

Monday, 16 January 2023

Missed Classic: Castle Adventure - Won! (With Final Rating)

By Michael

I’ve kept my blog-related New Year’s resolution! I stopped tinkering with my own blog long enough to finish the game in this final post. And the game kept its resolution as well. Castle Adventure is still hunkering along at 320x300 pixels.

When we last visited the castle, I had done some research in the library.
It would have been so easy to post another Buffy picture, but I’ll be impressed if anyone knows the TV show this is from.
We learned that, to open the gate, we need to wave the scepter. Which means, of course, we need to find a scepter. Details, details.

Monday, 9 January 2023

Game 131 - Maniac Mansion: Day of the Tentacle (1993) - Introduction

 Written by Morpheus Kitami

It's here. The game you've all been waiting for. The game you all think is going to be the highest rated game on this blog. Anybody feel one of those laser sights on their back?

Friday, 6 January 2023

BloodNet – Still Rattling My Soul Box

By Will Moczarski

Me after 15 hours of BloodNet

Let me start by saying that if this game was an actual adventure game I’d like it a lot. It is true that it doesn’t contain many puzzles in the traditional sense. Instead you constantly need to keep track of what all of the NPCs are telling you, making it more akin to detective games (such as Maupiti Island) than to traditional puzzle-based adventure games. And since I would argue that Simon the Sorcerer (which I played right before this one) didn’t have that many more puzzles it is actually the combat that makes BloodNet so cumbersome. After a while the random encounter rate with Shock Maraud’s goons is all but insane and even if most of the fights are winnable (so far) they usually aren’t enjoyable at all. Now I like a good RPG as much as the next addict but this is not a good RPG. It could be a decent adventure game but it’s really the combination of both that bogs it down.

However, I’ve made some progress and feel that I’m approaching the endgame. I have Melissa Van Helsing in my party now – yes, the Big Bad’s daughter! – and have got enough soul blades to clean up Central Park (possibly even the Hellfire Club). Van Helsing’s Apartment, looming large on my list of unexplored places (I got killed right away) from the very beginning, now feels likely as the site of the final confrontation. But before I get ahead of myself let us first relate how I got there. 

I started by checking out my list of open quests. My behaviour towards my quest log has slightly changed. When I was still madly in love with the game which is to say before combat became a more regular requirement my ambition was to solve each and every fetch quest lest something good be hidden at the end of it. Now that I have stumbled into various traps and was disappointed by some serious non-reactions of thankless NPCs I have set my sights higher. These days I try to find out what might be relevant to the main plot and prioritise that. If there’s a particularly interesting quest which seems unlikely to be relevant I shall try to solve it nevertheless. I really want to finish this game in the nearer future and get my life back, i.e. play something else for a change. Which is not to say that I don’t enjoy the game anymore full stop. It’s still a good game. But the honeymoon is over if you know what I mean. 

Wednesday, 4 January 2023

What's Your Story: LeftHanded Matt

Intro and captions by Ilmari

A new reader has found The Adventurer's Guild! LeftHanded Matt has been slowly going through our backlog, making some comments here and there. We received his What's Your Story -answers a while ago, and now we've finally managed to find a hole in our schedule for them. So, without further ado, let's welcome him to our TAG community!
Favourite album, perhaps?