Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Elvira II - House on Haunted Hill

Written by Deimar

Dirk Gentley Journal Entry #3 "My luck had run out. As per usual. My careful exploration of the studio offices yielded nothing. Except for a encounter with a witch. In the literal sense, with lightning bolts, molts and all the complete package. Lucky for me, she was allergic to steel. Unlucky for me, that meant more brain matter across my new security jacket. In any case, I will have to follow the clue the janitor gave me and try to find those magical items in the cursed sets..."

Having finished the exploration of the studio offices, it is time to delve into the real meat of the game: the three cursed studio sets. Access to each one of them is granted through security doors in a hall in the first floor of the studio offices. And when I say security I really mean it, as opening each one requires introducing a value from the anticopy wheel of doom™. The door number 1 hides the set of “Kiss of the spider”. Right after entering this set, Elvira appears to warn us (and mock us, of course) about the dangerous nature of the place.

What’s behind door number 1?

An Elvira!! Glad the game is over so fast. I thought it would last longer but I appreciate the brevity (and the pun)

Bait and switch. No Elvira, just your regular insect-infested dungeon

Sunday, 29 May 2016

Cruise for a Corpse - Gambling Debts and Hidden Affairs

Written by Joe Pranevich

A very expensive clue!

Last week, Raoul and I dug deeper into the death of Niklos Karaboudjan, the wealthy patron who invited us on to his cruise only to die before we even met him. We found some interesting leads: that Suzanne and Niklos had a difficult relationship, that Tom made a shockingly expensive purchase even though he is having financial difficulties, and that Father Fabiani has a gambling problem. I do not know know how all of these clues will connect, but I can say one thing with confidence: the butler did it.

As the game settles into something of a routine, I am going to divide this post into two parts: first, I will discuss the routine and the way the game plays then document my play as usual. The game is extremely linear and new leads are revealed slowly through dozens of conversations, but the plot is pretty interesting and I’ve found it fun to try to keep track of all of the relationship and disputes that surround Niklos and his extended family. Some of the rest… is less fun.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Missed Classic 22: Robin of Sherwood: The Touchstones of Rhiannon (1985) - Introduction

Written by Alex

Yes indeed, here we are. Another Robin Hood game, and my first Missed Classic for The Adventure Gamer. Yeah! After I played and reviewed 1991’s excellent Conquests of the Longbow: The Legend of Robin Hood, fellow TAG writer Joe Pranevich threw down the gauntlet and challenged me to play The Touchstones of Rhiannon. And like a dumb-dumb, which should come as no surprise to anybody reading this blog, I accepted. So if it turns out that this is a great game, thanks Joe! And if it turns out to be a horrible one . . . thanks Joe!

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Cruise for a Corpse - Looking for Clues (In All the Wrong Places)

Written by Joe Pranevich

Pardon me, sir. Why are you sitting on my bed?

Last week, Raoul and I tried to find our sea legs as we finished exploring the ship-- or at least as much of it as we could access. We spoke to a few of the possible suspects, but most of the passengers were missing or unwilling to talk to me. You would think that more people would be willing to talk to me, or at least seem somewhat concerned that there was a murderer in their midst. At any rate, the time was now 8:50 AM and it’s time to see what else is new onboard the ship and whether I could get into any previously locked areas.

The first change that I find is that there is now a mechanic in the engine room, but like all the other crewmembers on the ship, he doesn’t seem to have anything to say. Working my way from room to room, I discover that Julio is hanging out in our room now… but sitting on MY bed. How rude! I talk to him again and new dialog options about Suzanne have opened up; he tells me that she recently spent five months in the hospital and came out looking ten years older. I wonder what happened? I race back to Suzanne, but she doesn’t want to talk about her illness to me. Very suspicious.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Missed Classic 21: Seas of Blood - WON! And Final Rating

Written by Joe Pranevich

A mysterious mountain, soon to be filled with pirate booty!

Welcome back! Where we last left our evil pirate adventure, I had just discovered the mythical mountain of Nippur, the location where I am supposed to store twenty treasures to win the game. Unfortunately, I had located only thirteen of the treasures in my voyages around the Inland Sea and not all in one go. It is pretty clear that not only do I need to work out the rest of the puzzles, but I also need to figure out the correct order to approach the various cities and islands to ensure that I get to the end without running out of food, hit points, crewmembers, or all three.

In my retelling, I will skimp on narrating all the running around and experimenting. I played through aspects of the game six times, with many reloads each of those times, to inch my way forward. Sometimes I would bee-line to a specific island to try something new, other times I would try out different routes to see what might make sense. I also started playing through the gamebook to see if that gave me any clues (more on that in a bit), but there were fewer than I expected and a large number of red herrings. With the disclaimer out of the way, let’s go pirating!

Friday, 20 May 2016

Elvira II - Witching & Bitching

Written by Deimar

Dirk Gentley Journal Entry #2 "The red liquid dripping off the tip of my new jacket was a giveaway of the mess Elvira had gotten me into. A 20-foot tall doggy from hell has taken her. His friends are running amok the Black Widow studios, focused on reading the entrails of any human being they cross paths with. While they are alive. And here I am, in front of the studio doors thinking about fighting this demonic horde. I hope she is really a dame to kill for..."

Last time we ended in front of the main door to the Black Widow studios. Upon entering, we are greeted by a fairly common and boring office entry hall. There are some posters making fun of known B-movies and a fire extinguisher that we can take, but otherwise the room is fairly inconspicuous.

Elvira II: The jaws of office space

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Cruise for a Corpse - A Three Hour Tour

Written by Joe Pranevich

Jinkies! How will we solve this mystery?
Welcome back! In the opening moments of the game, we saw a Paris police inspector (that’s us!) unexpectedly invited onto a pleasure cruise by a wealthy businessman, Niklos Karaboudjan. The cruise had only just gotten underway when Hector, the businessman’s butler, rushes out of the owner’s cabin to grab us. Niklos has been murdered! I immediately suspect the butler (of course!), but when he takes us to see the corpse, we are both knocked unconscious by an unknown assailant. A few hours later, we wake up to discover that the body is gone! Hector runs off to inform the family of the tragedy, leaving Raoul (and us) free to investigate the crime. Let’s begin!

Right off the bat, I’m not sure how to report on this game. Mystery games aren’t always linear and viewing the same scene eight times from different angles might not make for entertaining reading. Since I know nothing about this game, I’m just going to write it as I go and if we need to adjust the format down the road then so be it.

Monday, 16 May 2016

Missed Classic 21: Seas of Blood - Introduction (1985)

Written by Joe Pranevich
Arr! Finally a pirate adventure I can believe in!

One peek at our leaderboard and the evidence is plain: we love pirate games. Sure you might argue that the Monkey Island series has fantastic art, great characters, and tons of humor, but that’s not the reason that those games top our charts. No, I can summarize the real reason in one word: pirates. We just love games about pirates. It doesn’t matter if they have red beards, black beards, or no beards, a game about pirates will always do well here at the Adventure Gamer. Even our #3 game, Conquests of the Longbow, was so beloved because it’s essentially pirates in the woods. At least, that’s my theory.

Before we can swash and buckle, I should say a few words about this game, but it is difficult to know where to begin. Seas of Blood was one of the final games released by Adventure International UK and shares a bit of pedigree with the Scott Adams adventures that we discussed during my look at the Questprobe series, plus it’s one of the first games written by a prominent adventure developer. Let’s jump right in!

Release the kraken!

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Elvira II - Let me in

Written by Deimar

Dirk Gentley Journal Entry #1: "The night was cold like the mackerel that was served on the plane. Just another week on the job. A tough negotiation with some Wall Street wackos and a new ampliation for the study later I was back in California to reach another kind of agreement with the mistress. Ah, Elvira. The lingering smell of Elvira still emanated from the ruby necklace and the book she had left one week before in my car. A reminder of the nights we had spent rocking the desolated bars of the nearby town. A reminder of why I have stopped chasing unfaithful husbands and other low grade scum to start a career in The Business. The only business worth its capital letters: The Show Business. And a reminder of why I was freezing my ass in this cold night waiting for Elvira outside the Black Widow Studios."

We start Elvira II just outside the Black Widow Studios with a choice, the career of the protagonist. I chose being a detective, as it is not only quite cool (and I grew up watching Remington Steele and Moonlighting) but it is also the most balanced character with a 8 or 9 in all 8 attributes. For reference, in Elvira I there were just 5 attributes, hence this game should be at least twice the RPG the first one was. Pure maths!! The strength and weapon skill attribute maintain their meaning. That is, strength indicates how hard you hit and your carrying capacity while weapon skill improves how lethal you are with your weapon. The only difference is that in this game weapon skill is not dependent on your weapon and does not improve with its use. In summary, I am screwed.

Behold our inconmensurable powers!!

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Call for Questions for Mike Woodroffe

Introduction by Joe Pranevich

If you’re like me, you’ve asked yourself more than once, “Who was it that got the brilliant idea to combine a 1980s horror movie personality with adventure and RPG game elements to create the Elvira series?” Or who it was that brought Scott Adams-style adventure gaming to Europe? Or who was the mad genius behind a cornucopia of licensed adventure games based on He-Man, Fighting Fantasy gamebooks, Robin Hood, and even Super Gran, a British TV series about a grandmother that gets super powers?

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Game 69: Cruise for a Corpse - Introduction (1991)

Written by Joe Pranevich

The butler did it!
Ahoy, adventure gamers! We have reached the third and final adventure game from Delphine Studios, one of the great European game development houses of the 1990s. While most of their games are outside the scope of this blog, the two that we have played, Future Wars (43 points on the PISSED scale) and Operation: Stealth (44 points), have been disappointing. So why am I still excited to play this game? Because in 1991, Delphine Studios also released one of the most cinematic platform games of the era, Another World (also known as Out of this World in the US). That game topped sales charts, won numerous awards, and was one of the first computer games exhibited by the Museum of Modern Art in New York. It was also a favorite of mine as a kid and well worth your time. With Cruise for a Corpse under development at the same time, did any of that genius rub off? Is this a lost classic? It’s time to find out!


Sunday, 8 May 2016

Conquests of Pop Culture: An Interview with Christy Marx

Written by Alex

I recently had the pleasure of playing through Sierra’s excellent Conquests of the Longbow: The Legend of Robin Hood, and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it, Much the Miller’s Son notwithstanding. The game’s lead designer was one Christy Marx, whom you may have heard of: among other things, she was the mind responsible for Longbow’s spiritual predecessor, Conquests of Camelot.

In addition to designing two great late-80s/early-90s adventure games for Sierra, Ms. Marx is a talented and imaginative writer who has had an interesting and varied career in the creative arts. In fact, she’s responsible for a few things that I know you’ve heard of. What’s more, she’s a really nice woman who has been more than gracious with her time, responding to an out-of-the-blue email request for an interview from some weird lawyer/retrogaming chrono-blogger for the edification of The Adventure Gamer community. Over the last few weeks, I have taken questions from you, the readers, and emailed them to Christy, who found time in her busy schedule to answer them all. Enjoy!

Friday, 6 May 2016

Game 68: Elvira II: The Jaws of Cerberus - Introduction

Written by Deimar

The sassy lassie with a classy chassis is back!! And being a non-native english speaker I don’t even know what I just said. But it sounds cool and serves as introduction for our next game: Elvira II: The Jaws of Cerberus.

Fetch the bone, doggy!! Fetch!!

Just one year after the release of the first game, Horrorsoft came back to Elvira to milk the license a bit more. The company increased its size during that time, almost doubling the staff involved in the second game, especially in the play testing department. It will be interesting to see if their efforts managed to solve the problems the first game had.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge - Final Rating

Just as with all classic adventure games, rating Monkey Island 2 is daunting to say the least. I’m going to try not to overthink things. I’m sure you all know that whatever comes out below is purely subjective, and based entirely on my own experience playing over the past month. Let’s do this…

Monday, 2 May 2016

Monkey Island 2 interlude: Monkey 2 LITE!

Written by TBD

Before we get to Trickster's Final Rating of Monkey Island 2, I'd like to take a moment to discuss the differences between the full and lite version of the game. Don't worry, the Final Rating will still be appearing in a day or two.

Because I'm rubbish at adventure games (I've blogged two full games for this blog and needed help for both of them,) I'm the perfect candidate to play the version of the game made for children and game reviewers

In 1991 the concept of a LITE version of an adventure game was largely unheard of. The only games I can think of that offered us a crutch were Martian Memorandum, which gave us the option of hints at each location, and Loom, which gave us the option to have to memorise drafts purely by sound (Expert) or with varying levels of visual clues at the easier two levels.

This screen makes me think they really don't want anyone to play the Lite version

The way Lucasarts decided to do it was to offer a LITE version, i.e. a version with many of the harder puzzles removed from the game. Before I discuss the pros and cons of that method, let's go over the details of the differences.