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!