Friday, 21 July 2017

Police Quest 1 (VGA Remake): Make the Bust and Make It Stick!

Written by Alex

Make the bust and make it stick! That’s the goal, right? I mean, it even says that on the box to this game:

At least, on the box of the original game.

So did Sonny bust someone? Did he make it stick? Ah, for that, you will have to read on. Because first, Sonny was off to The Blue Room for a shindig in honor of his buddy Jack Cobb.

(The suspense is killing you, I know. That’s all part of the trick.)

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Missed Classic 43: Enchanter - Introduction (1983)

Written by Joe Pranevich

It seems like forever since we played Zork III, but we are finally returning to the unambiguous portion of our Great Zork Marathon with Enchanter, the first game in the second trilogy. It seems a waste for Infocom not to have taken advantage of the well-established brand name, but I am sure the marketing team had their reasons for not wanting to do so. Zork IV: The Enchanter would have been a fantastic title! I enjoyed the Zorkisms that we found in Starcross and Planetfall, but it feels good to be back on the main road. Like many of the games in this series, I vaguely remember starting this game (or one of its sequels) more than twenty years ago. I know that it has a magician protagonist and that finding and casting spells will be a key component. I also know that at some point in this series you “meet” your player character from the first Zork trilogy, but it might not be this game. I look forward to finding out!

This game both starts and ends an era for Infocom. This is the final game jointly designed by the team of Marc Blank and Dave Lebling. Marc remained at Infocom until 1986 but did not have time to develop any other games; he would return to produce Battlefield and Journey in 1988 and 1989. Dave will write four more games but we aren’t quite done with him yet. We will be looking at his Spellbreaker, the third game in this trilogy, in a few months. (Steve Meretzky of Planetfall-fame will be given the helm of the second game, Sorcerer.) Enough introduction, let’s play!

Monday, 17 July 2017

Kyrandia - Hocus Crocus

Written by Alfred n the Fettuc

Brandon’s journal - entry #3 : After this horrible cave, where to go next? After being knocked out by this branch, I met with Zanthia, another mystic. She seems to tell me I am a prince of some kind and when I ask her more infos, she asks me to bring her some magic water… These mystics and their errands! Could someone just give me actual real help already?

One week later…

We left Brandon having a little nap on the forest ground. He wakes up directly into some kind of witch house, with a blonde woman mixing up a potion in a huge cauldron. She introduces herself as Zanthia, another mystic (and future heroine of Kyrandia 2). She is pissed at the other mystics for basically telling you nothing apart than “go see other mystics” with a slap on the buttocks. Then she tells you you’re the prince...

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Missed Classic: Leather Goddesses of Phobos - WON! and Final Rating

When last we met, Trent had almost died for the fourth? time in Cleveland. A circle in Cleveland took us back to Phobos, and from there on to Venus and Mars.

South Pole

EDUTAINMENT WARNING < While Mars' north pole is made from water ice, the south pole in Mars is made from CO2 ice. >EDUTAINMENT WARNING

While hanging out near the Sultan's palace last post, I found that one of the teleportation circles takes me to the barge. With that information I (eventually) work out that I can get to the south pole without going past the brain exploding machine.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Police Quest 1 (VGA Remake): Speeders, Drunks, Bikers, and Murder

Written by Alex

Sonny’s first in-game day on patrol wastes no time getting to the hardcore stuff! But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves here; like I wrote in the last post, we need to talk about the Police Quest remake’s driving interface first.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Kyrandia - The Descent

Written by Alfred n the Fettuc

Brandon’s journal - entry #3: Caves. Darkness. Floating balls of light talking to me. Monsters moving in the shadow. This is definitely the last night I spend in this night club…

Yay, the fireberries cave! Well it’s a long long maze, and it’s very surprising at first. You’ve been wandering around the game nicely until now and random gem puzzles aside, it’s been somewhat of a breeze. And then the game throws at you a hundred-screen maze with insta-death around every corner! I understand that a lot of players just stopped there dead in their tracks… As for me I kinda like it! I enjoy mapping my old-school games with graph paper and pencil and this is a maze that rewards the player for being thorough.

One of the two kinds of screens we’ll see for a long time…

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Missed Classic: Leather Goddesses of Phobos - The Sultan of Schwing

When we left off last time I'd just escaped from a gorilla's body in a mad scientist's lab in Venus.

Inside the locked lab is another black teleportation circle, which I enter, ending up outside the scientists' house. A few screens later is another black circle, which I also enter.

After entering the circle I am now in...


I arrive in a ruined castle where I get told the story of King Mitre – on Earth we've heard a bastardized version about King Midas who turned everything he touched into gold, including his daughter. The real story is about King Mitre, who turned everything he touched into a forty-five degree angle. Next to him is a pile of angles, including one with golden hair and a flowing white gown {HINT! HINT!}

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Police Quest 1 (VGA Remake): Morning Routine

Written by Alex

And so we begin the Police Quest remake. I have to say, right off the bat, it gets points for presentation. I like that the title screen mirrors that of Police Quest III, released one year earlier.

In fact, this remake uses a lot of the same assets from Police Quest III, as though they were intending make sure that the overhaul of the series maintained a certain level of continuity throughout.

Lytton P.D. in Police Quest I

…and Lytton P.D. in Police Quest III.

Sonny’s street clothes in Police Quest I…

…and in Police Quest III

And lastly, Sonny’s character portrait in Police Quest I

…and in Police Quest III.

I’m getting ahead of myself here, but these are cool little touches that make me wish that the second game had also been similarly remade to bring it in line with these two.

Back to the intro: over some wailing guitars—well-composed, though the audio quality is a bit grating—we get the game’s credits, as well as some ominous imagery bespeaking the violence facing the city of Lytton.

This is actually animated.

So is this. It turns into a SKULL!

It definitely gives the game that “cop show” vibe I’m sure they were going for, and that I enjoyed so much about the third game . . . at least in the beginning.

But among the credits . . .

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Missed Classic 42: Leather Goddesses of Phobos (1986) - Introduction

What can I tell you about Leather Goddesses of Phobos? Let's check in with wikipedia...

Leather is a durable and flexible material created by tanning animal rawhide and skin

A goddess is a female deity in polytheistic religions

Phobos is the innermost and larger of the two natural satellites of Mars

Well, that explains it.

Leather Goddesses of Phobos are female deities from a moon of Mars who are made from a durable material.

But that's not the image I get in my head when I read the title.

THIS is closer to the image I get in my head, but that's Space Quest IV clearly referencing this game

Read more to find out about the game everyone is talking about

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Game 87: Police Quest: In Pursuit of the Death Angel (VGA Remake) (1992) – Introduction

Written by Alex

Alright people, let me fire up my computer, have I got a treat for you. You see, I’m finally going to get out of Sierra Land and talk to you all about a cool little game called Lure of the--

Oh brother, who’s at the door now? Maybe they’ll go away if I ignore them. Where was I?

Lure of the Temptress is a point-and-click adventure developed by Revolution Software, a British company also known for—

I guess they won’t go away. Looks like I’m going to have to go give whoever this is a piece of my mind.

Hold on a second.

*gets up to answer door*

Look here pal, I’m trying to do a review oh my God!

“Slight change of plans, buddy!”

Monday, 26 June 2017

Hook - Won!, Final Rating, and More

Written by Joe Pranevich

The final battle begins!

Last week, Peter Pan got his groove back: we were able to recapture his old memories and remind him of his happy thoughts, his family. This allowed Peter to reclaim the leadership of the Lost Boys from Rufio and he reclaimed his sword before flying off to Pirate Town to rescue his kids and confront Captain Hook.

Before we start, I mentioned last week that I had read Peter and Wendy, the original 1911 novel, and was considering watching either Disney’s animated Peter Pan or the actual Hook film. Since this post won the game, I skipped the cartoon and went straight for Steven Spielberg’s Hook. I did not watch the film until after playing and writing down my rating so I promise that it didn’t interfere with the score. I’m going to conclude playing the game, talk about the movie briefly, and then finish up with the score.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Kyrandia - Snakes on a Tree

Written by Alfred n the Fettuc

Brandon’s journal - entry #2 : Okay, I know have a perfectly useless amulet and Brynn seems to have disappeared somewhere! I certainly hope the other mystics will be able to help me. First I have to go see Darm and Brandywine, then I’ll try and get access to these darn caves…

We’ve left Brandon at the entrance of the Timbermist Woods. The first screen after the entrance leads to a big hut which seems to be the abode of Darm and his pet dragon Brandywine. Maybe they’ll be able to help me…

Worst roommate ever

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Missed Classic: Lords of Time - Won! (With Final Rating)

Written by Ilmari

7) Scifi zone

It’s a pity that this time zone has just a picture of my time machine

I ended my last post by complaining how repetitive the time zones had become and by wishing that something new would appear in the last three time zones. The seventh time zone taught me that I should stop wishing for things, since in worst case my wishes could come true.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Hook - Island of Misfit Boys

Written by Joe Pranevich

Welcome back! Last week, our lawyer-turned-hero had two of his teeth pulled, drugged a pirate with cocoa, and stole pirate clothes all to gain access to the famous Jolly Roger, Captain Hook’s ship, to rescue his kids. Making it there wasn’t enough: Hook easily defeated me but Tinkerbell argued that she could get me into fighting shape in three days. Hook let me go so he could have more of a challenge but still forced me to walk the plank. It’s been a fun adventure so far, but I am curious where this will go next.

As I was playing and working on this post, I also tucked into Peter and Wendy, the original Peter Pan novel from 1911. (The play came first but it was modified many times in its theatrical run.) Honestly, I do not think it will help much and puts me in a strange position where I am catching the obscure references to the original book but have no idea of even the big connections to the Hook film. Depending on how things go, I will try to either watch Disney’s animated Peter Pan or Hook for next week’s post. My first observation: this book is much darker than I expected, very focused on topics like death, memory, and the role of parents. It’s a fun read, but somehow I didn’t expect a book that would make me think so much. More on that in a bit. For now, I think I have to help Mr. Banning to stop drowning…

Friday, 16 June 2017

Kyrandia - Romancing the Stones

Written by Alfred n the Fettuc

Brandon’s journal - entry #1 : Damn Malcolm! This monster has turned my grandfather Kallak to stone! And now the wooden wall of his hut starts talking to me telling me about my destiny and how I’m supposed to fight this jester devil and save the world! Now if I could only find a way to read the magic note that I found on grandfather’s desk? Maybe Brynn will be able to help me…

Note : having experienced a tragic MacBook crash, this post will be shorter than usual in order to be able to release it (somewhat) on schedule. Sorry about that guys, I promise you a full-length post for next week! -Alfred

First of all and without further ado : playing Kyrandia nowadays is still a blast! The MIDI music and the low resolution graphics are still as beautiful and enchanting as it was before. Pixel art is still what’s holding up best, especially when you compare it to digitized graphics or early 3D ones! But enough of this for now, let’s try and figure these puzzles out…

Pretty hut, and with a natural elevator to boot!

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Missed Classic: Lords of Time - All Caves Look Alike

Written by Ilmari

3) Flintstones Era

I landed on a prairie, with large animals grazing around me - dinosaurs. I particularly ran into one allosaurus and one tyrannosaurus, which both started to follow me and finally had me for a lunch, if I happened on the same screen with them. The obvious answer was to lead the allosaurus to the tyrannosaurus and watch the two take care of each other.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Hook - (Won’t You Take Me to) Pirate Town

Written by Joe Pranevich

Clap if you believe in faeries!

Our game begins in a town full of pirates. If you missed the introduction, our protagonist is Peter Banning, a boring and career-obsessed lawyer with two kids. While visiting London, his kids are kidnapped by the evil Captain Hook and taken to Neverland. Mr. Banning learns that faeries are real and that he is actually Peter Pan, grown to middle-age and without his memories. Tinkerbell flies him off to Neverland and they land right smack in the middle of pirate-central. Why there and not with the Lost Boys? I have no idea! In fact, the only reason I know this much is because I vaguely remember the movie as the opening cinematic is sparse on the details. If I will need to recall the film to understand key plot elements throughout the whole game, I may get into trouble quickly.

My first impressions are not too bad. The opening area that I find myself in has a good respect for the Peter Pan mythos: the Crocodile, Hook’s ticking nemesis, stands stuffed in the center of the square as a sign that the pirates have won in Pan’s absence. The whole town seems to be made of parts of ships pulled together, perhaps from a long history of shipwrecks on the Neverland shores. Tinkerbell is my constant companion, hovering around Peter’s head, but the pirates don’t seem to pay much attention to either her or me. What am I supposed to be doing?

Friday, 9 June 2017

Game 82 : Legend of Kyrandia - Introduction (1992)

Written by Alfred n’ the Fettuc

Aaaaah, Legend of Kyrandia. One of my all-time favorites! I don’t know why but the first game has always evoked images of my childhood, be it the wonderful music, the lush colours, the zany characters, the thoughtful puzzles… Needless to say I’ll be wearing huge rose-tinted glasses on this one, or I’ll find some detail point that annoys me and isn’t as good as I remember (fireberries, anyone?) and I’ll flay this piece of crap. Only the next few weeks will tell, but I’m certainly curious about playing through this one again all these years after.

That’s what I call a cover that screams adventure and danger. There is even Tinkerbell in it!

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Missed Classic 41: Lords of Time (1984) - Introduction

Written by Ilmari

When it comes to Missed Classics, it's obvious that Joe's huge formerly-just-Zork-and-now-probably-whole-of-Infocom-Marathon is the main attraction right now. Because Joe is currently doing another gig in the Main Game Division (Hook), it's time for another warm-up show with a game from the company known as the British Infocom, Level 9. Braze yourselves for Lords of Time.

Why exactly does Father Time carry a scythe?

Monday, 5 June 2017

Game 85: Hook - Introduction (1992)

Written by Joe Pranevich

Other than text adventures, if there is one thing I might be becoming known for here on TAG, it is playing licensed games. It was not deliberate! Yet, as I sit down to play my tenth licensed game (from James Bond to Star Trek)-- and am on the hook to play several more in 1992-- I am optimistic. Sure, these titles haven’t all been gems but our recent playthrough of Gateway proves that a licensed title can be one of the best games of the year. Even Consulting Detective, for its flaws, was a tremendously influential title. I know absolutely nothing about Hook. Will it be a surprise success? Or will I be pulling out my fingernails? Only one way to find out!

Hook does not have a deep adventure game pedigree. Published by Ocean Software (later to be bought by Infogrames and now branded as Atari), it is one of dozens of licensed games produced by that company since the early 80s. Nearly all of those were action games of one type or another and off our radar. Of the key credits, designers Bobby Earl and Kevin Oxland plus producer Jon Woods, only Mr. Woods had ever worked an adventure game before: a 1985 text adventure based on The Neverending Story. Of course, there is a first time for everything and by 1992 there were many fine examples of adventure games for new designers to take inspiration from.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Fascination - Final Rating

Written by Ilmari

We reviewers have rarely explained in detail our methods of deciding the individual scores for each category. I am sure there are as many ways to do it as we have reviewers, but personally I like to pick a few games to compare with the game I am rating. If the game is part of some series, I’ll choose an earlier part of the series, just to see if there has been any progression or regression. Even if the game is a part of a series, but especially if it isn’t, I’ll also take as a reference point a game that has something similar to the game I’m rating, but which is otherwise not related to it. Finally, I want to choose game reviewed by another person, just so my ratings would be in line with what the other reviewers are doing. Thus, when I have rated games by Level 9, I have made comparisons to my own earlier reviews of their games, but I’ve also checked what ratings Joe Pranevich has given to Infocom and Sierra Hi-Res games with similar themes.

In this particular instance, I’ve chosen to compare ratings of Fascination to my own ratings of the earlier Coktel Vision erotic adventure, Geisha, and their slightly better game, Legend of Djel, but also to the ratings of another Coktel Vision game, Bargon Attack, reviewed by Alfred ‘n the Fettuc, and to ratings of a French adventure game from a completely different company, Eternam, reviewed by Aperama. Let’s see what will be the result!

Contestant number 1: Fascination

Contestant number 2: Geisha

Contestant number 3: Legend of Djel

Contestant number 4: Bargon Attack

Contestant number 5: Eternam

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Dark Seed - Final Rating

Written by Alfred n the Fettuc

This is going to be a tough one. Dark Seed is a game that’s particularly average on a lot of points, be it writing or puzzle design. However, the universe and ambiance is kinda compelling so it lasts in your mind after you’ve finished. This game as a sort of je ne sais quoi (pardon my french) that partly explains its cult status despite all its shortcomings, but I’m not 100% sure it will show in the PISSED rating. Without further ado, let’s begin the judging!

A little shower and we’re off.

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Missed Classic: Planetfall - Won! And Final Rating

Written by Joe Pranevich

Oh boy! Are we going to try something dangerous now?

Last week, we continued our Planetfall adventure and solved many of the game’s early mysteries: how to get food from the kitchen, how to cross a ravine using a ladder, and even how to fix malfunctioning communications equipment using color-coded chemicals. (Better than colored rods!) Despite not helping in any way, Floyd is growing on me and I increasingly see him as a fun sidekick. At the end of the last post, we had just worked out how to use an underground train to cross over to another base on a second island. What will we find inside?

I warned you last week, but it bears repeating: Planetfall is one of those adventure classics that you can only play once. Sure, go ahead and peek at the score graphic if you want, but if you ever plan to play this game, the spoilers that I’m going to spoil here may be best left unspoiled. If you have played already or don’t mind learning the truth, read on!

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Dark Seed - Won!

Written by Alfred n the Fettuc

Mike Dawson journal #4 : I’ve made it! By removing their spaceship and destroying the mirror, I’ve finally been able to trap the Ancients in their cursed dimension! The Keeper of the Scrolls provided me with pills in order to deal with the embryo in my head and even sent the beautiful librarian my way… Now if only someone could buy this house off my hands...

As I was suspecting last time, I was very close to the endgame and very far at the same time, because I was once again in a dead-end situation. Turns out you could put several items under the cell pillow and not just the pin, allowing you to successfully keep part of your inventory before having everything stolen from you. I would have loved to find that by myself but of course, I had to admit I was stuck once again and did look at the hints Ilmari gave my on my second gameplay post. His third hint in the “Jail” hint thread was that I could only put three things under the pillow. It meant I could put more than one thing! That’s kinda obvious I blame myself for not at least try to do this by myself.

Stupid pillow

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Fascination - Tramp Stamp on a Bare Buttock (Request for Assistance)

Written by Ilmari

Happened in the previous episode: While Doralice had thought that ice cubes were a great hiding place for an inhibition lowering drug, he hadn’t foreseen that his fling, Robaire de la Cafetiere, would consume the ice cubes, together with the dangerous substance, becoming then a mindless rapist. And although she had been clever enough not to hand out the other two vials of the same drug to a suspicious inspector in a wheelchair, she had been careless enough to contact Lou Dale, an erotic photographer, who had just took some photos of Kenneth Miller, son of Jeffrey Miller, the inventor of the dangerous drug. Gangsters hired by a crooked plastic surgeon, Peter “Doc” Hillgate”, had planted a bug on Lou’s phone and had at once captured Lou after Doralice made her phone call. And although Doralice was able to knock out Lou’s guard with a homemade gas bomb, she still hadn’t figured out that Doc had used Lou’s photos to switch Kenneth with a completely different guy

...and now she’s about to meet Kenneth Miller

Monday, 22 May 2017

Missed Classic: Planetfall - Leavin’ on a Midnight Train to Lawanda

Written by Joe Pranevich

Which bed to sleep in tonight?

Last week, I kicked off my explorations of Planetfall, the sixth stop on the “Great Zork Marathon.” The game opened with a brief on-rails sequence where I was taunted by a petty superior officer for not cleaning the floors properly, but quickly became something very different when our starship blew up. I fled in an escape pod and crash landed in an abandoned military base on an unknown planet with only a spare towel and some tasty goo to survive with. Don’t panic! As I explored the base, I discovered many locked doors and elevators, earthquake damage, and a new best front: Floyd, a helpful but childish robot who runs off at odd times and likes to write on walls with crayons. As I ended my last post, night had just fallen and I retreated to an empty dormitory to sleep. I’m running out of food but I had just discovered a key to the lower elevators. That’s where I’ll start today.

But before I go, a word of advice: if you haven’t played Planetfall before, you may want to stop reading and pick this up. I won’t have any of the best spoilers in this post, but this is a game that is worth experiencing for yourself unspoiled. Another challenge I have is properly communicating the tone of the game. Much of what I have glossed over, the mundane exploration of the alien base mixed and the slow realization that you will die without rescue, creates a tension that adds to the solving of typical adventure puzzles. It’s well-written in a way that I doubt I can capture very well. I’m having a ton of fun and I hope you do as well.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Fascination - Aphrodisiac in Orifice

Written by Ilmari

High-class CEOs put their numbers in Who’s Who, low-class erotic photographers don’t

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Dark Seed - Stranger Things

Written by Alfred n the Fettuc

Mike Dawson journal #3 : I’ve finally met the strange being that’s sending me messages and clues from the Dark World, the Keeper of Scrolls. With her help, I’ll have to destroy the Ancient Race and save the world… and all of that before the Alien Embryo I have in my brain blows my head off!

Before starting this post I wanted to tell you that I’m pretty sure I’m really close to the end of the game, however I’ve hit another roadblock and considering I wanted to avoid using any more clues and try to figure out one or two things for myself in this game, it might lead to a kinda short final gameplay post. After last post, I’ve spent quite a lot of time running in circles in the game, utterly and completely stuck, before resorting to read the three hints Ilmari left me after my first gameplay post.

I have no idea what a Chanague Cointreauchet is but I’m pretty sure ANY wine from 1961 would be exactly my cup of tea.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Missed Classic 40: Planetfall - Introduction (1983)

Written by Joe Pranevich

When I was a kid, one of the boxed sets of games that my family picked up for me was the Zork Anthology, a 1994 collection of the what someone at Activision considered the “Zork” games. This package included the original Zork trilogy, Zork Zero, Beyond Zork, and… surprisingly… Planetfall. Looking back on this now, it’s clear not a ton of thought was put into this: the set didn’t include either the Enchanter series nor the ZorkQuest games. They probably didn’t intend to imply that that Planetfall existed within the Zork universe, but it was enough to lodge this particular misapprehension firmly in my brain for decades. When the time came for my marathon here, I added Planetfall to the list even though I knew better. Who knows? It might be connected after all.

Last time out, I took a break from my marathon to play Suspended, a dystopian science-fiction game and Infocom’s sixth title. 1983 marked a huge year for Infocom, a company that had never released more than two games per year suddenly had five. After Suspended came The Witness, a game that Ilmari reviewed last year, and then Planetfall. Although Ilmari already looked at The Witness, I wanted to come to Planetfall with the full Infocom experience so I also played and then wrote about my experiences with that game. You can find it as a special bonus post here. Spoiler: I do not like it as much as Ilmari did.

Planetfall is the first game by adventure gaming legend Steve Meretzky. We’ve seen his work (in various roles) on the Spellcasting series and Gateway; we’ll also be seeing him soon in Leather Goddesses and Rex Nebular, not to mention at least three more stops on the Zork marathon. He came to Infocom as a game tester and, thanks in large part to Planetfall, became one of their top designers. I’m thrilled to be able to experience his first game once again.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Dark Seed - Dark City

Written by Alfred n the Fettuc

Mike Dawson journal #2 : After all these weird clues, I’ve finally gained access to this strange dark alien world. It seems my predecessor in this house went crazy because of them, and I’m starting to worry if the horrible nightmares I’m having are just bad dreams or something more ominous… I’ll try to get to the bottom of this before these headaches kill me!

Since my last play post, I was able to find something else to do before moving on to day 2 : In the garage, I tried using the hand icon on the car to enter it but to no avail. It’s just that I was using the wrong icon. Simply “moving” in the car was enough to enter it. Now that I write about it, it kinda makes sense, but it proves that I have to be careful to use all the icons on things before dismissing something as useless. Entering the car, I can find a pair of gloves in the glovebox and… a radio! The clue from the library book told me to go to “tune to the right station” but all I can get is music. Maybe something else will happen on the radio later.

Honk if you want to find a purpose in this game!

Onward to day 2!