Sunday, 29 January 2012

Game 9: Uninvited - Introduction


Our haunted mansion offers world class diving and sunsets

Uninvited is the second game to be released on ICOM Simulations’ MacVenture engine (known as PCVenture when ported to the PC). It was originally released for Apple in 1986 before being ported to numerous platforms, including DOS in 1987. The first MacVenture game was the noir influenced Déjà Vu: A Nightmare Comes True!!, which was the fourth game I played for this blog. That game was a relatively enjoyable adventure game, but was marred by low quality graphics and sound, and an ambitious yet frustrating inventory system. Of particular note when discussing this series of games is the fact that they are the first examples of what would come to be known as point and click adventure games, removing the text parser from the experience (although Déjà Vu did require it in small doses) and allowing the player to control everything with the mouse. This would become the standard for adventure games in years to come.


The original PC box cover

Uninvited moves away from the world of crime and murder, and instead puts the player into a haunted house situation. It’s apparently the only of the four MacVenture games to take place in the present day. I have to admit that the horror theme is much more in line with my personal tastes (while they’re both classics, I’ll watch The Exorcist over The Godfather any day), so I’m looking forward to Uninvited more than I probably should when I consider the low rating I gave Déjà Vu. It may also assist that this time I’m going in having had previous experience with the engine, so I shouldn’t have to spend much time trying to figure out the mechanics of the game or fighting DOSBox, and can instead focus on the puzzles and the story as it unravels. The screenshots I’ve seen look suitably creepy, even in the dodgy CGA colour palette. Speaking of the low quality graphics, it’s worth clarifying that I’m going to be playing the 1987 DOS port and not the 1991 Windows 3.1 remake, as tempting as that is.


People who play in 16 colours are soft!

I’ve found the game, downloaded it and tested it (including the save and load features), and also got my hands on a PDF version of the manual and quick reference guide. A quick skim through both suggests there isn’t anything of note that has changed between games when it comes to the interface, which means that wearisome inventory system is still there. Here’s hoping there isn’t another panic inducing time limit to contend with this time, and perhaps less of a focus on pixel hunting, which is far more challenging when the CGA colour limitations make everything blur together in a swirl of pink and blue. Anyway, there’s no point sitting here worrying about what might or might not be. It’s time to see what Uninvited has to offer. If you don’t hear from me for more than a couple of days, then I guess I didn’t make it out of the house. Whatever you do, don’t come in after me!


Aaaaaaaaggghhhhhh.....(gurgle)

12 comments:

  1. Uninvited! Ooooh, you're in for it now. ;)

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  2. Prepare to die, to everything... you'll be happy to know this is far more frustrating on the NES; although all versions have a way to make the game unwinnable, the NES has two.

    Enjoy!

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  3. As a horror fan, I'm looking forward to this one. There aren't many good horror games, the genre is populated mainly by action games that lack anything scary. Adventure games on the other hand are perfect for horror (or should be).

    Not long ago I played through the Chzo mythos games by Yahtzee (5 days a Stranger etc.). I'd recommend them to any horror/adventure game fan, even if some of the puzzles are obtuse and the plot is a bit patched together (he didn't intend to link them together at first, so there are a few retcons).

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  4. @Amy and Zenic: I get the feeling you guys are expecting this game to beat me. From the looks of things you could be right! But I don't give up easily. :)

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  5. @Andy_Panthro: I played through 5 Days a Stranger last year and thought it was pretty good for an indie game. There was only one bit that I got totally stuck on (who would think to talk to a tree!) and otherwise it was entertaining and relatively atmospheric.

    Never got round to playing the rest. Are they worth it?

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  6. Yeah, I'd say they're worth it. If you enjoyed the first you'll probably like the rest. I think the third is probably the best one of the lot (Trilby's Notes), but I'd recommend playing them all in order (5 days, 7 days, Notes then 6 days).

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  7. I don't necessarily mean that it will beat you, Trickster... but it may be tough. It's been a long time since I've played it, but I think sudden deaths are to be expected. ;)

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  8. I've never beaten the NES game because I refuse to look deeply into a walkthrough. There's an item that when picked up in the computer versions will kill you outright, but in the NES version, it kills you after a certain number of moves with no indication as to what item it is that did it. I was only told that by a friend and didn't want to know any more until I figure it out. I haven't touched the game for many years.

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  9. @The Trickster: Are you going to add the Yatzee games to your list? That would be cool.

    I am liking the diversity of settings, though I wish we found out a bit more about each one. I guess that will come as the games put more details into their settings though, and get long enough for more then an intro, middle and end posting each. Or do they get longer over time?

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  10. Uninvited can be streamed from Archive.org at: https://archive.org/details/msdos_Uninvited_1986

    Note that you can't save in the streaming version of DOSBOX they use, but if you want to give it a go with zero set up, give it a try.

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  11. It fascinates me that you can get that much detail and that range of colors out of a 4-color palette. The hair on that skeleton...

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