Friday, 24 October 2014

Game 46: Countdown - Introduction

Written by Aperama


The game opens with a shill scream



...And then some generic hard rock music into a title screen. COUNTDOWN!

It's almost sad to be writing instead of reading these, but I'll try my best not to let anyone be disappointed.. well, aside from the fact that we're leaving QFG2, which I've already mentioned is quite possibly my favourite game of all time. Countdown: An Interactive Movie of Intrigue, Espionage and Suspense appears to be the next in a relatively short line of games we're going to see from Access Software - A.K.A. the creators of the Tex Murphy franchise. Seeing the familiar faces of Brent Erickson -- but more importantly, Chris Jones (the face of Tex Murphy) under the 'created and designed by' column is quite heartening, I'll admit freely, as I was quite worried this one could easily be a hunk of junk! At least the story is just about guaranteed to be good. Comparing the credits of the two games, it seems that Mean Streets had quite a few extra people working on it, though - if Mobygames is to be believed, only eight people actually worked on this game, which is a little concerning to say the least. (One of them is only there for 'additional text', at that, whatever that means!) Still, I've got faith in the ability of this crew, as all of the people who are listed in this game are veterans from Mean Streets, and the majority of them returned for Martian Memorandum - so they can't have mucked up too badly.


Chris Jones - anybody who doesn't know this face by now on this blog has some catching up to do

The manual doesn't exactly give amazing amounts of detail in regards to what I'm to expect, and isn't very graphical in nature. Apparently, I'm an American Intelligence officer (not Molly Meldrum, as I had so hoped - any Australian reader can fill you in) waking up in a government subsidized asylum for 'people who know too much'. But I have that ever-so-fun plot point of amnesia to deal with! (That said, the back cover informs me a little more, telling me that I'm Mason Powers, that I've just intercepted an ultra secret message about an international terrorist group - and that the CIA Section Chief, Frank McBain, is dead - allegedly at my hands! I'm already expecting there to be several playthroughs though, as there's another listed issue - 'You have 96 hours starting 12:00 am Wed. Oct. 7. You have until Sat. Oct. 10 at midnight to solve the game.' Ooh, boy! I love it when games give me deadlines! *gag* Still, that's not to say that the deadlines are going to be impossible, right? I'm definitely not heartened by its warnings of 'save often' (a common adventure game mainstay in manuals and death screens alike) - but I'll admit that my warning klaxon does seem to be firing away at the statement that I should 'play with a friend' and that I should 'play with the lights turned down for atmosphere'. Heck. There's even a hint book ad. And a help line ad. Yeeeah... I think Trickster might have picked the right time to stand aside..


I can already tell just from this little screenshot in the manual that there's going to be some real pixel hunting pain

The game appears to be using a modified version of the Tex Murphy/Mean Streets engine, which means I at least know what I'm likely to be in for as far as an interface - somewhat clunky, but mostly effective. It also shows pictures in the manual of a familiar conversation interface, even though I'm hopeful that they've at least taken out the 'remembering everybody's full name' sections of Mean Streets... but I'm really getting ahead of myself, here. I'll let you all know ahead of time that the blogging part of this is very new to me, and the thought of taking intermittent screenshots is definitely not one I'm used to.. doubly so with a timed game. With any luck, though, I should be able to get around my troubles and just focus on getting thoroughly lost in the world of Countdown. My copy forces me to choose my interface/sound options every time I run it up, even with it 'installed', which is quite annoying - and just from a few moments of fiddling with the opening screen, I can already tell that I'm going to be cussing a great deal at the game engine, making me click multiple times on things et al - I'll try not to belabour the point, though. Anyhow. Let's get on with it!


The 1990s loved these slogans, didn't they? Did anyone ever really feel that 'they were right there'? Huh?
Note Regarding Spoilers and Companion Assist Points: There's a set of rules regarding spoilers and companion assist points. Please read it here before making any comments that could be considered a spoiler in any way. The short of it is that no CAPs will be given for hints or spoilers given in advance of Aperama requiring one. As this is an introduction post, it's an opportunity for readers to bet 10 CAPs (only if they already have them) that Aperama won't be able to solve a puzzle without putting in an official Request for Assistance: remember to use ROT13 for betting. If you get it right, you will be rewarded with 50 CAPs in return. It's also your chance to predict what the final rating will be for the game. Voters can predict whatever score they want, regardless of whether someone else has already chosen it. All correct (or nearest) votes will go into a draw

25 comments:

  1. Yay, new game!

    Apparently we're still doing ratings. I've played the first few Tex Murphys very recently, but not this game. The second one in the series was only slightly better than Mean Streets IMO, so I'm assuming that this one is too. 55.

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    1. Yes, we are still doing ratings. Note that we were not sure whether Lars-Erik wants to continue sponsoring the blog, so there's no promise of a game for the closest guess. But we'll still hand some CAPs!

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    2. We were never in it for free games. It was a great bonus but we were doing it in the spirit of Adventure! 57!

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    3. I'm sure I will be able to sponsor the occasional game. Perhaps a Tex Murphy game for this one?

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    4. Andy: That would be great! Tex Murphy would probably be a logical choice.

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    5. I'll keep trying to help when I can get free or cheap games, but in the past I've not been able to give them away.

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  2. I have bad memories of this game. Although it's made by Access, it is much much harder - it's a regular "die and reload" -fest, especially near the beginning. I could never beat the game, but I think I'll try to play along with Aperama. at least for a while.

    I am not sure how suitable it is for an admin to guess the score (even if it is someone blogging the game), but I suppose Countdown won't get much higher score than Mean Streets. The difficulty might even lower the score of Countdown below Mean Streets.

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    1. Correction: "I am not sure how suitable it is for an admin to guess the score (even if it is someone else blogging the game)"

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    2. Guess away, Ilmari. I'll promise that you've only seen one gameplay post ahead - and anyone could just open up the game to get the little amount I've written up to this point.

      Spoiler: I don't think it's going to beat out Monkey Island...

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  3. I can't tell you how thrilled I am to see that The Adventure Gamer will go on without me. It seems my little creation has grown up and moved out on its own two legs.

    Looking forward to the gameplay posts Aperama. :)

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    1. Thank *you* for inspiring us to write about adventure games. :)

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    2. If I ever get to Down-Under, I'm gonna make you play Emmanuelle, Trix.

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    3. Are you going to keep reading? We could give you a bonus on CAPS so you can join the fun as a reader.

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  4. Thanks for carrying the torch.

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  5. Ah, it's great that we're up and running again.

    Being a big Tex Murphy fan, I'd like to say this game will be great, but I'm not confident. I hope to be pleasantly surprised.

    I'm guessing it will be a 47 - a little less than Mean Streets.

    I don't envy you having to play to a time limit but look on the bright side - you don't have to deal with Mean Streets' flight simulator.

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  6. Say... I'm thinking of playing "The Scoop" and send my article in since Trix left a swirling vortex of chaotic vacuum for us to fill in like a hungry crack whore in need of a John's nasty co- uh... right. I dunno. I might just do it. Even if it might make me feel dirty all over and require several doses of penicillin later. Waitaminit, what am I saying?

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  7. So awesome to see a new game post! Great job, guys. I'll guess 51.

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  8. Glad to see you guys taking over, I look forward to the continuing adventures of The (multiple) Adventure Gamer(s)!

    I've never played this particular game, so I've no idea how to score it but I'll guess 53.

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  9. I was browsing Rockpapershotgun, and guess what? Somebody has made a rewritten version of Hugo's House of Horrors.

    http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2014/10/23/freeware-garden-hhh/

    Direct link (can be played in broswer):
    http://ifcomp.org/1241/content/HHH.html

    Point-and-click interactive fiction! What're they coming up with these days? I've just started and haven't made it to the Roy Rogers question part yet.

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    1. Finished it. Well, at least it made more sense than the actual game. :-P

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  10. Hopefully this isn't a doublepost, but I think the blog ate by comment...

    Looks like a cross between Mean Streets (53) and Deja Vu (45). That B/W shot from the manual is making me nervous though, so maybe I should average in some Deja Vu 2 (33) as well.

    Final guess: 43

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  11. If you want to play along, Countdown can be streamed from Archive.org at: https://archive.org/details/msdos_Countdown_1990

    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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