Thursday, 22 February 2018

Missed Classic 53: Cutthroats - Introduction (1984)

Written by Joe Pranevich



In 1984, Infocom had a fantastic idea: let’s make two nautical-themed adventures in a row! More to the point, Infocom was working hard to keep each of their key developers working on a game to release this year: Steve Meretzky on Sorcerer and Hitchhiker’s Guide, Stu Galley on Seastalker, Mike Berlyn on Cutthroats, and Dave Lebling on Suspect. (Marc Blank even produced one: the Tutorial Game that I looked at in my last bonus post.) The nautical comparison isn’t quite fair: while Mr. Galley had produced a rolicking sci-fi adventure in a submarine, Mr. Berlyn was aiming for a modern-day tale of treasure hunting and piracy on the high seas. Still, it seems odd to have two superficially similar games in a row.

For this game, Mike Berlyn picked up an accomplice: Jerry Wolper. Mr. Wolper was an Infocom programmer who would work on the technical aspects of the production while Mr. Berlyn worked on the story. Berlyn had already proven himself more than capable of handling the technical side, but this freed him up to be more of a creative presence than before and was well-aligned with other creator/programmer pairings the company was experimenting with. Seastalker had been built the same way, and Hitchhiker’s Guide will follow the same model in just a few months. Will this change help Berlyn to write the best possible game? Possibly, although it could also suffer from having a less experienced programmer at the helm. I guess I’ll have to play to find out.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis - Jones in the Fast Lane

Written by TBD.

Indiana Jones Journal Entry #3: Sophia suggested we look for Atlantis together but I felt she'd just cramp my style. I'm using my own wits to find out if the place is real or the myth I've always thought.

Now that I've reached Atlantis on the TEAM path, it's time to backtrack and try to get here by WITS alone. So let's say goodbye to Sophia and use our wits in the fine city of Monte Carlo.

Thanks. Try not to get captured by Nazis while I'm gone.


Sunday, 18 February 2018

L.A. Law: The Computer Game – Case #2: The Blown Whistler

by Alex



Well, the people have spoken! The Adventure Gamer reading public actually liked the detailed, blow-by-blow account I gave of L.A. Law: The Computer Game’s first case. Here I thought it was too boring and dry, but the legal profession is all about upholding the process and the rules the people agree to! Who am I to argue? So instead of consolidating multiple cases together, I’ll go through one case per post. And since the boring basic stuff has already been taken care of, this should go a bit quicker than the last one.

First things first: in the comments to post one, Joe Pranevich wondered if the choice of character has any effect on gameplay:

“Do we know how the character selection impacts the game? Are there certain witnesses that one character is able to get more out of than another? Is one of the characters a superhero who can defeat difficult judges using the power of hypnotic suggestion?”

That would be fantastic, but I haven’t yet checked out other playable characters. Perhaps I will after I finish the game as Victor Sifuentes, but not until then, because this game is . . . hoo boy, we’ll get to that.

Continuing in the vein of Case #1, we’ll focus on L.A. Law’s two main aspects: Trial Prep and The Trial. In the meantime, there are two factors I want to keep in mind as a through-line for these posts:
  1. Does L.A. Law: The Computer Game work as a game?
  2. How well does L.A. Law: The Computer Game simulate actually being a lawyer?
Strap yourself in for some hardcore lawyering, because we’re about to find out!

Friday, 16 February 2018

Missed Classic 52: Infocom’s Tutorial Game (1984)

Written by Joe Pranevich



You might say that a guy who is trying to play every Infocom game in release order, plus read all of the tie-in books, is a bit of a completionist. If you then added that he was trying to do all this in a mad rush because he wants to be done before it’s time to review Return to Zork when we get to 1993, it’s probably best that I don’t know your opinion. If you asked my wife, she’s tell you that I like to do things in the correct order. I always try to read books in the order they were published, regardless of what the author says. I’ll probably never let my son watch the Star Wars prequels before the original films. The shared experience is important to me and my playing these games in order, I have a hope of understanding how the original players felt when these games came out, even if the average Infocom-purchaser wouldn’t have bought all of the games.

That leads me to this surprise. I had thought that Cutthroats was the next released game, and I’ve started playing it already, but while I was wrapping up the research I learned that I had been mistaken: there was one tiny Infocom release between Seastalker and Cutthroats. Around the summer of 1984, Infocom released two special advertising packages. The first of these, the so-called “Zork I demo” was a disk sent to computer stores. The intention, at least according to text in the demo itself, was that a customer in these fine establishments could sit at a computer terminal and play a few minutes of an Infocom game, become inspired, and leave with a handful. But while Zork I is a lot of fun, it wasn’t quite the perfect game to get players hooked. It didn’t hold players’ hands at all or even explain how you play interactive fiction. To remedy this, Infocom developed the Tutorial Game, a miniature adventure that would introduce the key concepts in a fun and lighthearted way.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis – My Big Fat Greek Dreading

Written by TBD

Indiana Jones Journal Entry #4: I'd previously used my ship rib to expose a mural of Atlantis' Greater Colony. This time I used my rib to dig for hidden Atlantean treasure and expose two secret doors. I love my trusty ship rib. Oh, and Sophia helped too.

Sophia Hapgood Journal Entry #2: Using our archaeology skills we found an Atlantean moonstone and entered the Greater Colony, which also seemed to be the basis for the story of the Minotaur in the Labyrinth. I made Indy admit that Nur-Ab-Sal was a mighty king and single-handedly found the map room. Oh, and Indy helped too.

When we last met our heroes Indy and Sophia, we had gotten ourselves an Atlantean Sunstone that, together with a Moonstone, would give us entry into Atlantis' Greater Colony, and we found evidence that the greater colony might be in Crete.


CRETE

Apparently Crete's airport is a jetty

Monday, 12 February 2018

What's Your Story - Alex Romanov

Answers: Alex Romanov
Introduction and captions: Ilmari

It has been a pleasure reading the comments of Alex Romanov, who appears to have encyclopedic information on some of the games we've been playing. Just look at what he wrote about Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes or the effort he is now putting on analysing Fate of Atlantis! We finally get a chance to meet the man behind the comments in person.


I'd really like to find out if he's any relation to the Russian imperial family

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Missed Classic: Seastalker - Won! And Final Rating

Written by Joe Pranevich



Welcome to the Aquadome! Last week, I started into Seastalker and discovered that my father’s company's underwater base is under attack by a sea monster. I was able to finish work on my experimental sub, deal with two acts of sabotage, and navigate a busy and obstacle-filled harbor to finally arrive at the Aquadome. This game is fun so far, half adventure and half mystery, as we have to both save the base and uncover the saboteur. I have a theory who that is, but we’ll see what happens as we arrive at the base itself.

This week starts with a happy reunion as I dock my sub at the base’s docking tank, and emerge into a reception area. The whole station crew is gathered to meet us! Is one of them the saboteur?

Thursday, 8 February 2018

L.A. Law: The Computer Game – Case #1: The Wrathful Race

by Alex


In the comments to my first L.A. Law post, reader Lugh expressed his or her feelings about this game’s technical qualities:

“20. It's a Capstone game, so I'll be shocked if it even works.”

Well, the game worked, after a fashion, in that it loaded and I could choose my character—in this case, Victor Sifuentes as portrayed by Jimmy Smits—and get started at my first day at the prestigious firm of McKenzie, Brackman, Chaney and Kuzak!

As chosen by YOU, The Adventure Game readers!

Problem was, every time I tried to call someone on the damn phone, the game would freeze as I waited for the person on the other line to pick up. And since most of this game involves making phone calls, you can see how this could be a problem.

Imagine this . . . forever!

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis - By Balloon to the Sahara

Written by TBD

Indiana Jones Journal Entry #3 : I had to convince a Frenchman in Monte Carlo that I'm a ghost, and had to get a discount from a beggar in Algiers in order to take a balloon trip over the Sahara desert. It's been a strange day, but I have one of the stones I need and I know where to go next.

Sophia Hapgood Journal Entry #1: Indy reluctantly agreed that I'll be needed in the quest to find Atlantis. I got us a Sunstone with no help from Dr. Jones. I had knives thrown at me and fell down a hole with Indy exploring a digsite instead of using his whip to rescue me. I'm starting to understand why women leave him after a single adventure.

When we last met our heroes Indy and Sophia, we were given the option to continue with our WITS, FISTS or TEAM. On reading some comments on the last post I've decided to play each path in turn up until the point they converge. And to start off, I'll be playing the TEAM path. 

So let's get to it. Sophia has suggested meeting with her contacts in Monte Carlo and Algiers so let's first go to Monte Carlo.


MONTE CARLO

Now, I'm not sure how big Monte Carlo is, but I'm confident Sophia's reasoning to come to this exact street and hotel contains a flaw.

OK, fair enough. This must clearly be the only place in Monte Carlo with bright lights...

... or not...

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Missed Classic 51: Seastalker - Introduction (1984)

Written by Joe Pranevich



Now, where was I? Oh yes, before I was distracted by the amazing Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes (plus a Christmas side trip), I had just completed Sorcerer, the first Infocom game of 1984. That game remains one of my favorites so far and has moved Steve Meretzky into my short list of awesome game designers. Three months later, Infocom followed it up with Seastalker, our first “junior” adventure. One of the key trends with Infocom as they entered into 1984 was a desire to connect traditional fiction writers with their new “interactive fiction” medium. We have already seen two games by Mike Berlyn, a science fiction author, in 1983, but this year will go even farther: three of their five games will be written by an established non-interactive author.

In order to ensure that their first adventure for a younger audience was successful, Infocom sought out Jim Lawrence, a 30-year veteran of middle-grade fiction, and paired him with Stu Galley. Mr. Galley had already proven that he could take another’s ideas and make them blossom when he wrote The Witness, this would be his chance to do so with an author that didn’t understand the medium. You probably have never heard of Mr. Lawrence, but in just the few weeks that I have been researching him, I have become a tremendous fan.

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis - A Lot on Our Plato

Indiana Jones Journal Entry #2:  I'm now on the look out for the mythical Lost Dialogue of Plato, which supposedly leads to the mythical city of Atlantis. I'm sceptical that Atlantis or the Lost Dialogue even exists, despite having personally witnessed the magical powers of the mythical Ark of the Covenant, the mythical Sankara Stones and the mythical Holy Grail - hell, I've personally spoken to an 872 year old man!!! Anyway, I'm for some reason still sceptical of mythical historical objects and locations, and am only looking for one as an excuse to beat up some nazis. So far, my investigations at Iceland and New York have given me two clues - one that leads me to the Azores in Portugal and another that will take me to Tikal in Guatemala. And don't even ask how a journal written in 1939 contains Wikipedia weblinks???


THE AZORES


Last time, Icelandic eel chiseler, Heimdall, told me to visit Costa in the Azores. The one location that the game takes me to in the Azores is Costa's front door.

I try to talk to him with Indy, but don't get very far. So I talk to Sophia and ask her to take over. Now in charge of Sophia, I try again. I get further, with Costa actually leaving the house instead of talking to me from the crack in the door.

Monday, 29 January 2018

Game 93: L.A. Law: The Computer Game (1992) – Introduction

by Alex




Video games, like any other form of entertainment, are meant to provide recreation.

Let’s look at the word “recreation” for a moment. It is made up of two separate parts, both Latin derived: the prefix “re,” meaning “again,” and the word “creare,” “to create, bring forth, beget.”

So taken together, through our leisure activity, we are being reborn.

This is why I have to chuckle when I, a lawyer by day, am playing a game like L.A. Law: The Computer Game.

As The Adventure Gamer’s resident legal eagle, I have already been tasked with playing two Police Quest games. And while those put the player in the shows of the street-level law enforcement officer, they touched a little bit on the law—I’m thinking of the first Police Quest’s reliance on proper police procedure in order to successfully make the bust, and make it stick, and Police Quest III’s oh-so thrilling paperwork puzzle. Police Quest I had you testify in court to keep a no-good perp in jail, and Police Quest III also had parts where you had to testify in traffic case and discuss evidence with a judge in order to get a warrant, so I’ve been in a virtual courtroom as a part of my duties on this blog before. But L.A. Law will be the first time the game is focused exclusively on being a lawyer.

Lucky me.


Saturday, 27 January 2018

The Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes - Final Rating

Written by Joe Pranevich



And here we are, finally at the end of the Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes. We solved a murder (or three), reunited a woman with her son, and explored the highs and lows of 19th century London. This has been a fun game, but it will also be a challenging one to rate. I know many of you have fond memories of this game, but nostalgia makes everything nicer. I had never played this game before. All we can do is start the rating and see where it ends up. As I explained in my last post, we will be doing a small experiment this time around by including some reader ratings for the game. I’ll include them as a counterpoint after I complete my own review.

Before we can get there, we have one piece of unfinished business: our “unexpected” contest!

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis - The Psychic Sidekick

Written by TBD

Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis has one of the best opening sequences I can recall. After playing through it again now I was reminded of a discussion point we had a little over a year ago about the “Best Introduction to an Adventure Game

While my vote went to The Curse of Monkey Island on this one, I agree completely with Torch, Rowan Lipkovits, Alfred n the Fettuc and Draconius – this game had one of the best introductions ever!

So I thought I'd share it with those of you who don't own the game or want to revisit the opening. Enjoy!



For those who don't have the time or inclination to watch the video, the game starts with Indy looking for a statue for his friend Marcus Brody. He keeps getting knocked down through levels of the museum until he finally finds the statue he's after in the cellar. He takes it back to Brody, who's talking to a German man called “Smith” who wants the statue. Smith turns out to be a Nazi (Indy hates those guys), there's a fistfight and Smith escapes with the statue, but Indy has grabbed his coat containing a Nazi identification and an archaeological journal containing a story about a digsite once managed by Indy and his young apprentice Sophia Hapgood. Indy decides to find Sophia in case the Nazis try to get to her instead.

Sunday, 21 January 2018

The Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes - Won!

Written by Joe Pranevich



Welcome back! Well, you’ve read the title already so you know that we are reaching the end of our Sherlock Holmes adventure. It’s been a fun ride. As I left off last week, I had just “solved” two more murders, the detectives hired by Anne Carroway, and captured their killer. Is that the end? Not quite. Although we have the triggerman, we do not have his boss: Lord Brumwell. My guess is that he is the ringleader behind all of these crimes, all in an attempt to keep the truth about Paul’s parentage (and his affair with Anne) out of the spotlight. My best lead right now is that the detectives supposedly had Anne’s missing pendant, but apparently not with them when Mr. Hunt killed them both. I’m going to start today by returning to their detective’s office to search for more clues where they might have hidden it, but we also still do not know where Anne is hiding and might have to track her down.

But before we get there, I have two quick notes. First, as you might have read on the Final Rating for Quest for Glory, I’d like to do an experiment: If you have been playing along or have played the game recently, I invite you to write up your own quick thoughts, just a couple of sentences, and send them to the blog. I’ll try to edit your thoughts into my Final Rating post as either an agreement or a counterpoint. We’ll see exactly how it looks when we get there and we’ll award some CAPs for anyone that participates. I also have a small CAPs contest for this game which I will talk about at the end of this post. Enough of that, let’s solve this case.

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Game 91: Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis - Introduction (1992)


A weapon more dangerous than the Atom Bomb??? We're gonna need a hell of a lot of refrigerators!

So what is Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis?

Well, let's start from the beginning.

QUESTION: Who is Indiana Jones?

ANSWER: Some guy who looks a bit like Han Solo

But honestly, if you don't know about Indiana Jones, do yourself a favour and watch Raiders of the Lost Ark. There's a reason it's the answer to the “My favourite movie is...” question in my What's Your Story?

QUESTION: What is the Fate of Atlantis?

ANSWER: It's in the Pegasus Galaxy and currently inhabited by humans from the Stargate program.

Now that the basics are taken care of, let's get into the game.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Missed Classic: Cyborg - Won! (With Final Rating)

Written by Voltgloss

We left off last time having reached the bridge of the spaceship we’ve been blundering around all this time, having rediscovered that we are its cyborg captain and need to fix up and land the thing in order to safely deliver a precious cargo of humans in suspended animation. We had several pathways open to us and apparent problems to solve to do so - let’s dive in!


Potential surprise twist: as “Captain Cyborg,” we looked like this all along.

Friday, 12 January 2018

The Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes - Murder on the 9:10 Express to Bedford

Written by Joe Pranevich



Welcome back! Last time out, we arrived at what I think will be the meat of the case: adultery. An aristocrat named Lord Brumwell had an affair, and a child, with a servant (and eventual opera singer), Anne Carroway. He accepted the child as his own but hid her parentage even as he kept his former lover on as a nanny. Years later, she was let go and was only permitted to see her son on brief visits outside his private school. Lord Brumwell caught wind that she was going to try to claim paternity-- she had a letter which proved that Paul was her son-- and so he hired a small-time crook to try to steal it from her. The robbery was double-botched both because he killed his victim and because he targeted the wrong sister, but completely by accident he got away with the letter anyway, only to pawn it off thinking that it was just a pendant. He tried to make the whole mess look like a Jack the Ripper crime, but we managed to pin it on him. Anne is now in hiding somewhere and we have to try to find her and prove that Lord Brumwell is the “real” murderer. It feels like we are nearing the end.

I ended last time having just visited Lady Brumwell, but while she knows about Paul, she doesn’t want to admit to anything. I had a lead of some foul-smelling and specialized tobacco that we found in her house, but the tobacco shop surprisingly didn’t have anything to say about it. Without leads, I checked and re-checked every location until I found something new: this time when I visit the murderer, Mr. Blackthown, in jail, Holmes taunts him that he had the letter all along and didn’t know it. Somehow this convinces him to tell Holmes where be pawned it. We run off to the pawn shop and the owner is reluctant to talk, but Holmes manages to convince him as well. He’s a very convincing detective! And I just have to keep hitting the “Talk” button! The shop owner provides us the address of the man, Mr. Moorehead, that he sold it to, but also a warning: another man, Robert Hunt, is searching for the same pendant. That name isn’t familiar, but the pawn shop owners tells us that he is “rough trade” and implies he is someone not to trifle with. Is he on Anna’s trail as well? A second criminal hired by Lord Brumwell or someone involved for some other reason?

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Quest for Glory I - Final Rating

Time to rate the game!

I had a bit more to think about when rating this game as opposed to others. In particular, I compared it with the original Hero's Quest, other Sierra VGA remakes and my own previous ratings to ensure the rating is somewhat consistent.


Which version will score better?

I also asked for my fellow reviewers’ help when my first ratings came out a lot lower than I’d expected. They’d pointed out a few things I hadn’t considered and as a consequence the final score ended up a little higher… still nowhere near as high as everyone anticipated (Sorry, Corey.) I largely put this down to my total lack of nostalgia when it comes to this game and series. The last few months have been my first interaction with Quest for Glory and it shows in the way I haven’t been as blown away by this game as most people who played the series in the 80s and 90s were.

So let's see what I came up with...

Saturday, 6 January 2018

The Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes - Lady in a Blue Dress

Written by Joe Pranevich



Happy new year! I hope you all had an enjoyable year and enjoyed our Christmas and New Years bonus posts. The good news is that I was able to make significant progress in Sherlock Holmes while relaxing near (but not on) a beach, so that’s something. Just a reminder that last time out, I had finally tracked down Sarah Carroway’s rugby-playing boyfriend, but he wasn't cooperative. At first he refused to admit that he was seeing her at all-- instead suggesting that his bookworm roommate was her real beau-- but once we talked to him enough he agreed that he was really her boyfriend, but he didn’t want his coach to find out. He then refused to admit that she was dead unless we brought him her death certificate. We found said certificate at the morgue, but the rule-following guys at Scotland Yard didn’t want to lend it to me. I was stuck.

I remained stuck for a while, but while I was waiting for Florida to realize that it’s not supposed to be 40 degrees Fahrenheit, I discovered that I was going about it all wrong. I asked the newspaperman back at Baker Street, the one that sells back issues as well as current papers, if he has the edition that announced Sarah’s death. He doesn’t, but he sends me off to Fleet Street to see if they have that edition. (Watson had this paper at the beginning of the game; I suppose he must have tossed it since then.) I head there, except that there’s no new location on my map! I head back to Baker Street and this time talk to Wiggins who agrees to go to Fleet Street for me. In the process, we discover that he actually has that paper already as he’s been using it as insulation in his coat. We take the paper and Holmes hands Wiggins some cash for a new coat.

Is there a way to nick the death certificate from the morgue? It seems more than suspicious that the coroner just left it out for us to see but not take. Is this one of the “alternate solutions” that I’ve heard so much about from the comments?

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Quest for Glory I - WON!

Written by TBD.

When we last met our Quest for Glory characters before our Christmas detour, I'd asked for assistance.

I had help from Ilmari who told me that, as I had feared, I was dead-ended! Of the games I've played for the blog so far, I've hit a dead end in King's Quest V (which I got out of on my own after wasting an hour or so) and I've hit a dead end in Martian Memorandum (where I didn't pick up a newspaper buried in a jungle before going to Mars.) The only game I haven't been dead-ended in was the game with very few puzzles at all – Leather Goddesses of Phobos 2.

Corey Cole mentioned in the comments of my introduction post that there should be very few if any walking-dead situations. I should have known then that if there was a single dead-end situation, I'd find it and I'd be annoyed by it! It's kind of my thing - I'm the one who's bad at adventure games!

Anyway, with the bad news sinking in, I went back to the saved game that took place before I was dead-ended after finding out to my dismay that that saved game was in fact no longer on my save game list! The game allows only 20 saved games and all 20 of them were from after that point.

This is the moment the game becomes unfinishable. Seems innocuous enough.

Fortunately, my obsessive personality has me backing up my QFG folder every time I finish up my 20 allotted saves. So I reloaded a save from 4.5 hours earlier, and proceeded to continue the game. Phew!