Thursday, 30 June 2016

Heart of China - Tanks for the Menageries!

Written by Aperama

Like always, Jake's problems involve planes and flying money

It's probably fair to say that my experience with Heart of China is 'confused'. It's not that I'm not enjoying myself – no, the game is definitely fun in and of itself – there's a certain something about it that does make it fun. But boy, it is on the 'bizarre' side of things. We left off with the cutaway to Kate Lomax being dressed up as an Oriental who.. uhm.. lady of the night. The game immediately moves to the time-honoured 'Indiana Jones line' form of transport on a little map. I nearly thought that there was actually some degree of choice allowed here, but I was very wrong – no matter where you click, Lucky begins to make his Yankee Doodle fly away towards the fortress of Chengdu where Kate is being held hostage. Makes sense, I suppose. The little 'flying dollar bill' thing really felt like it belonged in, I don't know.. a different game of some sort? But I can handle it. Why the game then offers dozens of false landing points and only allows one, though, I am not too certain of – it may well be for remembering the lay of the land later in a tank chase. But I'm getting ahead of myself...

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Two Interviews With Teoman Irmak

Introduction by Joe Pranevich

This week, we have a special treat: not one, but two interviews with artist Teoman Irmak. I first stumbled onto Teoman’s work while reviewing the Questprobe games. You may recall that I didn’t quite understand why some systems had different graphics than others and I interpreted this to being due to Adventure International optimizing the art for each platform. Not so! As I learned later, the different art was because the two “Adventure Internationals”, the US and UK ones, were targeting different platforms (the common ones for their regions) and employed separate groups of artists to do so.

Teoman’s work is likely to be more familiar to European adventure game fans, but we’ve seen his art in the original Elvira game and Robin of Sherwood, as well as the UK editions of the Questprobe games. He also worked on many more including Sorcerer of Claymorgue Castle, He-Man, Gremlins, Personal Nightmare, and others that I hope we will eventually cover as part of our Missed Classic series.

So why do we have two interviews? Teoman has been kind enough not only to answer a few questions for me, but also to provide us an unabridged interview that he did last year for Sam Dyer’s book, ZX Spectrum: A Visual Compendium. There’s a bit of overlap between the two interviews, but together they provide a fantastic glimpse at some of the processes that underscored early adventure gaming.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Missed Classic 24: The Islands of Beta (1984)

Written by Joe Pranevich

Time for an educational adventure?

As this blog and countless other can attest to, we live in an age where digital archeology allows us to replay and relive many our childhood software adventures. Thanks to commercial offerings from companies like, as well as organizations like the Internet Archive, many classic games, once forgotten, have returned to us. Until I started writing here, I didn’t realize how many adventure games I was influenced by, most of which had completely disappeared from thought until I stumbled on them again while researching this or that. It’s a great time to be a so-called digital historian and I love the work that we (and others) are doing to keep those memories alive.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Heart of China - Immigration issues

Written by Aperama

Heart of China is already striking me as though it is a game that really, really wanted to do something amazing and unique, and probably found itself struggling a little with the effort of doing it 'all'. It's not that I'm not enjoying myself, but I've already found a few puzzles in the opening little area that have definitely made me shrug my head in spite of them being undeniably solvable. The game starts in Hong Kong, with Lucky Jake Masters (he insists that his name is simply Lucky, with several characters already having belittled him for that little idiosyncrasy in the little section I've played) having just freshly been told by Eugene Adolphus Lomax (E.A.) that he needs to go and rescue his daughter. Well, perhaps I come slightly ahead of myself here – the game actually starts with a little cinematic, and an incredibly long credits sequence over Lucky's flapping aviator's scarf blowing in the distance. The cinematic I feel is best summed up in a short GIF:

I particularly like the evil man's 'glint'..

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Missed Classic 22: Robin Of Sherwood: The Touchstones of Rhiannon – Living the Legend

Written by Alex


Friends, Romans, Adventure Gamers and fellow writers, lend me your eyeballs. You have all been exceedingly patient in waiting for me to get on with this game. The issue has not been finding time to write, but finding time to play. And since this is a blog about adventure games (hint: games are things you play), this is a problem.

Work/life issues are nothing you are interested in, nor that I feel like going into great detail about here, except to say that my family and I are fine, I didn’t lose my job, I’m not getting divorced, and nobody is dead, in jail, or both (don’t ask).

With that said, I’m eager to continue sharing my play-through of Robin of Sherwood: The Touchstones of Rhiannon with you. As I said in Post 1, published about one-thousand years ago (according to the carbon dating), this is my first non-DOS game for the blog, as well as my first text adventure.

So strap on your quiver, heft your quarterstaff, and sharpen your sword for more bad jokes, inappropriate comments, and hopefully a good old-fashioned longbowing or two!

Friday, 17 June 2016

Elvira II ‐ Warlock

Written by Deimar

Dirk Gentley Journal Entry #5 "So after the burns, butcher’s knives, vampires, succubi and even Dr. Frankenstein himself, I finally got the memo and got my ass out of the haunted mansion. My only prize was an indian peace pipe which I got from the house’s safe, but it didn’t seem to be especially magical. Let’s hope the next haunted set is a bit more welcoming than the last one..."

Time for a change of scenery. But first, I decided that I would prepare a kit of the all­-around spells. We will begin mixing the brainboost spell, which increases intelligence. This is important because intelligence determines how many copies of a spell you get when you create it. There is only one ingredient needed, something that stores information. I have tried many things such as books, a movie reel, a document filer... but the only thing that is capable of mixing this spell is the diskette we found back in the office. The spell doesn’t last too long, so I started mixing quite a few spells:

Just because of the use of the diskette I think this is my favourite spell so far

  • Fireball - A combustible substance - Every single piece of paper I have found in the game 
  • Protection - A metal band - Buckets, cans, etc…Sadly nothing from the Black Sabbath altar was allowed... 
  • Resist Fire - A fire extinguisher - Well… what do you know? I used several fire extinguishers. Although those could have been used for the protection spell also 
  • Mindlock - A padlock and a book - I found the padlock inside a drawer in the desktop at the haunted house’s office. For the book I just used one found in the nursery 
  • Breathe underwater - Something edible - FOOD! GIVE ME MORE FOOD! 
  • Telekinesis - A magnet - The radio cassette contains a magnet to read and write on tapes. I don’t know I would have solved this one on my own, as I remembered it from my previous tries to complete the game. 
  • Courage - A vial of alcohol - There were a lot of bottles in the offices 
  • Magic muscles - Three metal objects - Every metal object in the house’s kitchen 
  • Glue - An adhesive - I found glue inside a metal box in the kitchen 
  • Fear - The eye of a witch - What a coincidence that I happened to be carrying one since the very beginning of the game 
  • Revive - Some strong smelling item - A cheese from the pantry 
  • Detect trap - Any shaped glass - There are a lot throughout the game 

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Cruise for a Corpse - WON! And Final Rating

Written by Joe Pranevich

One of you is guilty! But which one?

Last week, our Cruise for a Corpse had just about come to an end. Despite our best efforts, Suzanne and Hector had both been killed, although we discovered that the ship was smuggling explosives, that a mafia hitman was sent to kill Niklos, and that the captain secretly wants to be a railroad engineer. But how do all of these things connect? Who killed Niklos? And is he really dead? We’re about to find out! Raoul has gathered together all the remaining suspects and he’s about to reveal who the killer is.

After the killer is revealed, we’ll jump straight into the Final Rating. No need to wait another week when we only have around 20 minutes of play time left. So, let’s get right to it!

Monday, 13 June 2016

Game 70: Heart of China (1991) - Introduction

Written by Aperama

Heart of China – 1991's most 'under the radar' adventure game for me

This is probably a first for me here at the Adventure Gamer – an exciting game that prior to this blog I'd never really heard of, but now I'm legitimately excited to get started in on (Countdown had me cautiously optimistic – this is full­blown finger­quivering anticipation!) Heart of China is the third adventure game created by Dynamix. If you've read Joe's work on Willy Beamish (or would like to follow that to Ilmari's post on Rise of the Dragon), you'd know that Dynamix is essentially Sierra­lite – a company best known for simulators that was bought out during the late eighties-­early nineties and decided that this change meant that they ought to start producing adventure games. This company will see quite a few more releases to be covered on this blog (with a lot of ex-Sierra employees 'jumping ship' later on – Jim Walls went from creating 'Police Quest' to 'Blue Force'.. a game about.. motorbike cops. Huge leap, as I'm sure you can tell.) This game has a few interesting quirks to it, definitely, and just from gathering information I can already begin to form an opinion of what I'm in for. But first? A little bit about the name at the dead top of the manual.. Jeff Tunnell.

Or as you all probably better know him – 'the guy who made The Incredible Machine'

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Cruise for a Corpse - Class Warfare

Written by Joe Pranevich

Attempted murder!

Welcome back! Last week, our murder investigation took a sharp turn as Raoul had to save Suzanne from drowning. Someone had damaged the deck where she liked to stand, causing it to collapse and send her tumbling into the sea. We have a number of good leads on who would want to kill Niklos (in short: just about everyone), but why target Suzanne? She wasn’t in line for the inheritance so what would be gained by her death?

This post will wrap up the rest of Cruise for a Corpse, excepting a final reveal of the killer in the next post. Who do you think did it? I’d love to hear your theories in the comments (no spoilers if you have played through already). This final section returns to traditional “adventure game” territory so if you found yourself drifting through some of the long sections of dialog and clue-searching, this is a good spot to jump back on. Just as I did last week, I’ll summarize the clues and the suspects at the end of this post to help you make an informed decision.

Ready to go? Let’s play!

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Cruise for a Corpse - Death by Carpentry

Written by Joe Pranevich

Not dead, just drunk.

Last week, Raoul and I made some headway into our murder investigation by confirming that Niklos’s wife was cheating on him with his solicitor. We also know that Tom is desperately in debt, yet still buying jewelry far beyond his means to support that affair. As far as I’m concerned, this makes Tom and Rebecca as our prime suspects. And yet, there is still a lot more story to unravel. We also know that Father Fabiani has a gambling problem and may have extorted from his church, Suzanne is an alcoholic, Hector may be a former criminal, and Dick is a mysterious stranger that no one knows very well. Will the real murderer please stand up?

This week’s post covers the remainder of the “9 hours with no puzzles” that I mentioned last time and it has-- gasp!-- an actual puzzle so keep your eyes peeled. The game is pretty scatter-shot at this point in terms of the random things that Raoul is discovering, so apologies in advance that this post is all over the place. In the interests of full disclosure, I’ve beaten the game now and will try to wrap up the story next week. That means that you can be less careful with spoilers, but PLEASE do not spoil the ending. We’ll do something special with the final rating this time: I’m going to stop just short of the big reveal next week to give everyone a chance to chime in and pitch who you think did it. No cheating! It should be a lot of fun.

Since we’re now juggling nearly a dozen characters and you aren’t spending as many hours with them as I am, I’m also going to end the post with a quick summation of each of the suspects and why they might want to kill Niklos. If you want to avoid the play-by-play, feel free to jump to the end. Now, on with the game!

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Elvira II ‐ Young Frankenstein

Written by Deimar

Dirk Gentley Journal Entry #4 "I wonder how did we manage to get someone to fund a set full of so many horrors. There are rooms in fire, magically contained to the interior of the room as an added bonus, succubus, vampires, ghosts, poltergeist, a very ugly cook… I am dying to get out of here. I hope it is not literal. Oh, and no clue about Elvira’s whereabouts."

Time to solve some puzzles. First order of the day: the poltergeist at the sitting room. Bypassing this phantom is easy after Elvira’s hint. It wants something to play with, we just happen to have found a nursery full of toys. Leaving one of those toys in the floor makes the specter stop blocking the door and go to take it. The problem is to leave it in the same square it is in, as we won’t have enough time to go inside. Therefore, the solution is dropping one toy in the next square, giving us access to the library, the official hint guide for this game.

Have you noticed the flying books? Who you gonna call? Copyright infringement!! 

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Missed Classic 23: Suspect (1984)

By Ilmari

Dracula, werewolf and a gorilla - all we need is Lucy

Since Joe is now playing another detective adventure, this is a perfect time to look at Suspect, which concludes Infocom’s detective adventure trilogy (previous titles were Deadline and Witness). Unlike in previous games, you do not assume the role of a police detective. Instead, player character is the prime suspect of the murder, which makes the atmosphere quite different than in the earlier games. Part of the difference is probably also due to a change of implementor. It’s not Marc Blanc with the original idea of Deadline nor is it Stu Galley with his finely tuned writing skills, but Dave Lebling, a man behind many Infocom classics and one of the makers of original Zork.