Thursday, 31 December 2015

Castle of Dr. Brain - Mazes and Codes

Written by Reiko

Last time I programmed some robots and gathered some intriguing items. The wall behind the robot, which has finished its purpose, has opened, and I step through into... another elevator maze! This one's made of stone, though, which I think makes more sense, since the castle appears to be built into a mountain. At first, the stone pattern on the walls makes the corridors harder to understand visually, but I get used to it after a bit. Aside from that, the elevator interface is identical to the previous one. The maze area isn't any larger than the previous maze, but there are a lot more vertical passages linking the floors. I map carefully and soon come to the exit door, which leads out into the third floor hallway, the language hall.

I had to use a lot more colors and characters to identify all the vertical passages in this maze.

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Castle of Dr. Brain -­ Robots and Logic

Written by Reiko

The second-floor corridor looks a lot like the first-floor corridor, complete with violent decorations. Below was a suit of armor; here there are some spears. Supposedly Dr. Brain is "throwing them out" because he "hates violence" but really, why leave them in a bin in a random corridor, then? Why not melt them down for the metal, or throw them into whatever gorge is being bridged by that bridge seen in the intro screen, or something?

Second floor hallway with random spears.

Monday, 28 December 2015

Castle of Dr. Brain -­ Math and Mazes

Written by Reiko

Ringing the doorbell starts a game of Memory to unlock the door as the first puzzle. The panels above the door can be triggered, and (in Expert mode) also the lamps and flamingoes. The game triggers one item, then I have to repeat it, then it triggers two items starting with the same first one, and I have to repeat it, and so on. The final sequence is ten items long. On lower difficulty levels, the lamps or flamingoes aren't involved, and the sequence is shorter, 6 items on Novice and 8 on Standard. Finishing the puzzle opens the door and yields the "Memory Puzzle Plaque" (regardless of difficulty level -­ I played through on all three levels for the first puzzle to see the differences).

Winning a plaque doesn't mean as much on Novice level.

Friday, 25 December 2015

Missed Classic 16: A Spell of Christmas Ice (1984)

Written by Joe Pranevich

A text adventure for Christmas! You shouldn’t have...

Merry Christmas! Last year at this time, we had only recently transitioned “The Adventure Gamer” from the Trickster-era to something new. As Christmas rolled around, we took a look at only our third “Missed Classic”, a nearly-unknown graphical adventure called Merry Christmas From Melbourne House. It was as much advertisement as game, but did it also set a precedent? Should we look at a Christmas game every year? I have no idea. They say it takes three to make a tradition, so let me introduce #2: A Spell of Christmas Ice.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Missed Classic: Dungeon Adventure - Won! (Barely)

By Ilmari

Looter's Journal, day 3 - I've found myself a new job - I am now the head executioner of the Dark Lord. Now I should just wait that some useful idiot finds the gem containing the mind of my Master, who shall rise again one day!

I am beginning to think that Level 9 got its name from the ninth level of hell, meant for betrayers of the worst kind. The game began with some clever puzzles, but then went quickly downhill with some really obtuse problems - and in the final stages I found out that at least the BBC version I was playing was bugged and I couldn't get the perfect ending. At least the graphical version corrected that fault, even if the silly puzzles persisted.

Where I was left in the previous post

Monday, 21 December 2015

Castle of Dr. Brain - Introduction

Written by Reiko

The Castle of Dr. Brain (and the other Dr. Brain games) was one of my favorites as a kid. I was into numbers and puzzles, so while the adventure elements are very light, the variety of the puzzles, plus the trademark Sierra wacky humor, made them so much fun to play.

There's not much for story here: the Castle of Dr. Brain itself is just a setting for the wide variety of puzzles you face. You're unceremoniously dumped at the front door of the castle, and one puzzle after another awaits. The documentation will tell you that the goal of the game is to win a position as Dr. Brain’s position, but the game itself doesn’t tell you that until the end.

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Willy Beamish - If At First You Don’t Succeed (Request for Assistance)

Written by Joe Pranevich

Is this the end for Horny the Frog?

William J. Beamish Journal #8 - I’m so close, I can taste it! Or is that frog leg batter coating the air? Gross! I got past the Tootsweet security guard and into Leona’s mansion on my brand new jet ski. Exploring this place has been a cinch since Leona is too busy doing “mom and dad stuff” to notice me. I know I’m close to getting Horny back, but the Chef here is brutal. Don’t worry, Horny, I’m coming for you...

Last week, we accomplished the impossible: we won the Frog Jumping competition! Well, strictly speaking, Gigi won but she came over to kiss Horny afterwards so that’s a lot like winning. But immediately after the contest, Tootsweet security guards rounded up all of the competition frogs to take them away to their edible destiny. Yes, the competition was nothing more than a front to ensure that Leona could eat the best frog legs on the planet. Horny managed to escape into the Tootsweet building, but even he was captured a short time later. Now, Willy is being held by a well-meaning security guard. How will we get out of this one? How can we rescue Horny in time?

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Martian Memorandum - Final Rating

Written by TBD

It's time to determine the Final Rating of Martian Memorandum.

Puzzles and Solvability

In general, the inventory and environment puzzles of this game made sense, but some of them, even though they make sense on paper, were difficult due to lack of information. I'll discuss this in more detail in the “Interface and Inventory” section.

Some puzzles were rewarding when solved, like using the wrench on the magnet in the power plant.

Monday, 14 December 2015

Missed Classic: Dungeon Adventure - Orc heads and rat tails

By Ilmari

Looter's journal, day 2 - Ma always told me not to eat any weird mushrooms, and boy was she wrong! Never have I felt so high in my life, walking on this golden path to a wonderland with giant ants and sleeping trolls. 

Last time I had just searched the countryside thoroughly, and when the sun started to go down, I went inside the dungeon, through the mouth of an orc statue, carved on the mountain. Now, Dungeon Adventure is one of those old-fashioned games, in which you don't want to stay too long in dark caverns - you are not eaten by a grue, but killed by a ghoul, this time. Getting light was pretty easy. I had a piece of a driftwood and dungeon room had a jet of flame, so all I had to do was light the wood. Problem is that the driftwood burns only for a finite number of turns, after which it is all gone. Thus, I haven't even been able to do everything I could in one go. Either I am going to find another light source somewhere or then I shall have to time my movements really carefully.

The trouble with such almost plotless games, based on nothing else but treasure seeking, is that there's no easy way to describe what has been happening. I have therefore decided to divide my account according to different areas I've been to,

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Martian Memorandum - WON!

Tex Murphy Journal Entry #6: I did it! I solved the case and topped it off with a hot dog and beer at Weenie World. Now to go home and collect my fee. Oh, and I also found a Martian Memorandum, but that is neither important, nor was it vital to solving my case – honestly, I'm not sure why I bothered mentioning it...

When we last met our intrepid hero, he'd just spoken with local religious leader and all-around-nice-girl Deacon Hawke. She'd given us the address the the Martian colony that had been massacred by the Stanton Expedition. So that's where I headed next.

This game is insistent on making me sad about this place. It's working :(

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Willy Beamish - Horny vs Turbofrog

Written by Joe Pranevich

A disgusting way to start your day!

William J. Beamish Journal #7 - We did it! We won the frog jumping competition! We had to cheat, but how else could we beat an impossibly fit German frog? But in the ensuing excitement, Horny got away and has been captured by Leona’s security guards. He’ll be frog legs very soon, unless I can escape from this security guard.

When we last left our hero, Willy had been saved from certain doom at the hands of a singing street gang by a group of Japanese tourist ninjas. This was following an evening where he fought off a vampire bat using a vacuum cleaner. When I started this game, I thought it would be domestic comedy, but it has certainly taken a turn for the surreal! After surviving all of those adventures, we are finally at the big day: the frog jumping competition! And actually, as I think about it, wasn’t the Nintari championship implied to be the focus of the game? It certainly feels like we’re getting close to the end, but I don’t think Nintari has even been mentioned since the first day.

Monday, 7 December 2015

Martian Memorandum - Men are from Mars, Women have no... well, women are also from Mars

Tex Murphy Journal Entry #5: I found out a LOT of information from the two women I met on Mars (and I thought women were from Venus.) Jane told me plenty but Deacon Hawke was full of information. Not only that but I found a Martian Memorandum and some vital information on my client, Marshall Alexander.

We start today's episode with another flashback, where I repeated some more things I'd done earlier before reloading.


… I visited Dr Barkley, took his Orange Box (TM), asked him about everything, went to the Power Plant, spoke to “I'm a PC”, got the pass card, used it to get to the restricted area, took the wrench, used the magnet to get upstairs, got the hoverboard, spoke to Lowell, went to Big Dick's, got Big Dick Card, went to bathroom, took Blueprints, then instead of going to the office went back to visit Jane...

Now that Jane will give me more information, I ask her all my questions again.

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Missed Classic 15: Dungeon Adventure (1983) - Introduction

By Ilmari

The Hygienic Adventure: Battle Against Bugs and Mould

Jubilation reigns in Minas Tirith!

With this interesting tidbit on late-Gondorian rulers begins the manual of the final game in Middle-Earth trilogy. The name of the new monarch of Minas Tirith seems rather un-Gondorian, but it does have a bit of a hobbit ring to. Think about it: Gamgee, Bilbo, Boffin, Chica Chubb, Jubilation. Yes, I am now convinced that a hobbit has ascended to the throne of the kings of West.

(Note from the editor: A concerned group of angry readers, led by a retired police officer, has protested that "Jubilation reigns" is in this context just a fancy way of saying that people of Minas Tirith are partying like hell. Yeah, could be, but I still like my theory better.)

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Martian Memorandum - There and Back Again: A P.I.'s tale

Tex Murphy Journal Entry #4:  I've spoken to Big Dick and been locked in his office. Fortunately I found a vent and escaped. After questioning other citizens of Mars I realised I needed to go back to Big Dick's of...

RELOADING... ... ...

Before going to Big Dick's office, I question the other citizens of Mars, then I go back to Big Dick's office and realise I need more...


Before I leave Earth via the smuggler's base I return to the jungle for a seemingly innocuous and nonsensically buried newspaper advertisement. This ad somehow opens up many new avenues of investigation. I'm sure I'm now on the right track in my search for Alexis Alexander.

Last time I controlled our hero, Tex Murphy, I was killed by saying the wrong things to Big Dick.

So I went for my usual 'systematically try each possible option of dialogue until one works' process.

The way I do it made this the easiest dialogue 'puzzle' to solve.

I started with Response 1, then chose Response 1, then Response 1 again, and I'd suddenly won the dialogue on my first attempt! Thumbs up for Murphy's System for Dialogue Organisational Success! I should trademark MSDOS immediately.

Well, that was easy.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Missed Classic: Adventure Quest - Won! and Final Rating

By Ilmari

Yonder and Back Again for Tea, by Gumbo Baggins, Chapter 4: Don't Bite the Hand That Feeds You to Bog - Hack It Off Instead

"A large skunk ape was seen trying to enter the royal palace at Minas Tirith last afternoon. The hairy beast, smelling of rotten plant life, kept making noises that sounded almost human, and an onlooker was sure to have heard the words 'I vanquished the Black Lord', although no sane person would have believed that this creature, covered in mud, peat and muck, could have been human, dwarf, hobbit or elf. The poor animal was taken back to the nearest swamp, where it could be seen slowly taken by the gentle skeletal arms of its fellow apes, rising from the quagmire."

I have to admit that the final sections of the game have been really boring. After a weird but promising start and an interesting and at times even exciting middle game it all just fizzled to nothingness in the end.

In case you wanted to see moor pictures *runs from tomatoes* 

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Willy Beamish - Preteen Novice Ninja Beamish

Written by Joe Pranevich


William J. Beamish Journal #6 - Tomorrow is the big day! I was able to get my entrance form to the Frog Jumping Competition no problem, but I had a bit of an adventure getting back home. Fortunately, some nice Japanese tourists helped me out and took me out to dinner. They were very sweet and I hope to meet them again someday. We also defeated a street gang together; it was very cool.

Last week, the young Mr. Beamish had successfully defeated his vampire babysitter and settled in for a good night’s rest. It might have been a dream, but it seemed real at the time. In the morning, we did our chores and boarded the ferry for a fun day of adventure: West Frumpton, here we come!

Friday, 27 November 2015

Martian Memorandum - I never thought I'd be smuggling myself

Tex Murphy Journal Entry #3: And I thought the jungle was hard? I made my way to the smuggler's base, managed to make my way past one guard and EVENTUALLY avoid another, but I have no idea how to do something as seemingly simple as emptying out a crate. I've been hiding behind the crate for most of my time here with no idea how to proceed. Am I doomed to stand here forever? Or will I somehow get some assistance?

My first plan for this session was to go back and get the ladder correctly rather than magically shooting one out of my ars... I mean, gun.

Fry pointed out in the comments that the junkyard scene scrolls to the right. In my defense, you have to get far to the right before it starts scrolling, and the scene LOOKS complete enough as is. I'd previously gone enough to the right to get killed by the radioactive pool, but if I'd just gone a little further...

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Missed Classic: Adventure Quest - Through the Elements

By Ilmari

Yonder and Back Again for Tea, chapter 3: I Have Eyes Only for Elves

Striking for the soft underbelly? Finding that weak spot? Pre-historical ideas! I've found out a guaranteed dragon tamer and flame extinguisher. All I have to do is start bottling it and selling it with a great profit. There's been some definite interest from a fair knight in a distant land of Daventry...

Rolling on the river

Last time I had just dropped in an underground river, which was slowly taking me towards my inevitable death. The only plausible direction to go was up, but I had too much stuff on me for climbing. If I dropped things, they were carried away by the river. This might not be that bad, since I might find those items later on, at the end of this river. Except there was this one thing.

Like its predecessor, the game has a four-object inventory limit.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Martian Memorandum - Shooting Snakes and Ladders

Written by TBD

Tex Murphy Journal Entry #2: After spending most of yesterday grilling people for information, I started this day the same way. But by the time the day was over I'd beaten death at the junkyard and a jungle and knew how I was going to make my way to the next location in my investigation. I just need to figure out a way to get past this smuggler and, more importantly, his high powered weapon...

I finished my last post with a list of possibilities for making progress, so I got started on my list. I first decided to see if I could still talk to Chantal (I could, but she didn't have anything useful for me) and seeing if there's any more I could get from Jocques (a LOT more – I hadn't figured out the dialogue format when I spoke to him earlier and had just assumed that getting the film was all I needed from him.)

Jocques told me that Rick Logan used to work for “Galactic Pictures” which is an exploitative movie studio that ran into legal problems after their “Joltovision” experience accidentally fried 20 patrons in their seats.

I go to their address, but there's nothing there. Fortunately, my old friend Rhonda is available to help out.

Rhonda had sent several faxes (that futuristic technology again) to the studio chief Guy Callebero, asking for payment on Alexis' behalf, but he's never paid. She gave me the address the faxes were sent to (What – do they physically MAIL faxes in the future?)

This guy doesn't pay his bills, but he looks so loyal and adorable!

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Willy Beamish - Willy the Vampire Slayer

Written by Joe Pranevich

Can I play Nintari and ignore you?

William J. Beamish Journal #5 - I had the strangest dream! Alicia, our new babysitter, was a vampire out to eat Brianna and I. I fought her off using a vacuum cleaner and a can of hairspray! It was an epic battle, but then I woke up. It was just a dream, right? Now, it’s time to head to West Frumpton and sign up Horny for a frog jumping competition!

When we last left our hero, Willy had just figured out that he can use the cola to supercharge his frog to win the jumping competition, and we had secured Dana’s participation by bribing her with a shirt. But as soon as we got home, Willy got a surprise for the evening: a new babysitter! His parents were heading out to a barbeque and someone needed to watch Willy and Brianna. Where Tiffany was during all of this isn’t stated, but perhaps she had a date.

Our new sitter is Alicia, a suspicious-looking woman that Willy calls the ugliest person he’s ever seen. He’s probably biased. We also get a new chore to do: vacuum the living room after dinner. Duffy has been shedding all over the furniture. Just one more thing to remember to do, but it doesn’t seem like too much of a problem.

After Mom and Dad leave, Alicia cooks dinner and we sit down to eat. Willy is bored by having macaroni and cheese again, but Brianna thinks it is pretty good. But all is not as it seems... Willy’s fork starts to march across the plate by itself-- the macaroni is alive! It was worms cleverly disguised as macaroni. Brianna throws her plate at Alicia, covering her in cheese. But before either of them can react, Alicia transforms into a giant flying bat. Willy and Brianna run like heck.

I captured the whole babysitter sequence for your viewing enjoyment.

The power of imagination? Or a strange diversion into a new genre?

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Missed Classic: Adventure Quest - Beeb beeb

By Ilmari

Yonder and Back Again for Tea, by Gumbo Baggins, Chapter 2: Size Doesn't Matter, If You Know How to Wave Balls of Silver

Oliphants and talking trees, I say! Tales of my ancestors seem so childish now. If they just would have seen all the wonders and monstrous things I have witnessed - the beast with a human face, the ghost made of smokeless fire, the hairy man living in cold and the nameless terror from the distant places where space is all wrong - they would have run away from these stones to Shire with nothing coming out of their mind except maniac laughter and drips of drool.

Hello hello moshi moshi everyone! Last time playing this game, set on Middle-Earth, I learned that I am about to destroy an evil demon AGALIAREPT with a Talisman of Life, but first I should find four elemental stones. I had some difficulties in crossing a desert, mainly because sand worms stopped my exploration quickly. For a moment, I entertained a thought that I should ride one of them, but after a while, I noticed a more mundane solution. Whenever I moved in the desert, the worms came nearer, but whenever I spent a round doing something else, they went away. In other words, all I had to do was to move one screen at a time, wait and then move again.

Land beyond desert

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Martian Memorandum - Help me Rhonda!

Written by TBD

Tex Murphy Journal Entry #1: It seems like I might be able to catch up on my rent and electricity bills. My new client is the richest guy in the world, Marshall Alexander, who wants me to find his missing daughter. I didn't get a good look at Alexander. He's dark and mysterious, like the Brew 'N Stew's soup of the day. I found a few leads but nothing solid as yet. Looks like I'm in for a long case

A game about people who survived a nuclear war by hiding in shelters? That'll never work!

I start the game in my office. There's mail on the floor so I grab it – apparently someone mailed me cash in an envelope. Not a very safe way to send money, but I'm not complaining. Money may not buy happiness but it can buy a cheap bottle of bourbon to help me forget about my troubles for a night and that's as close as I'm likely to get in the near future.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Willy Beamish - He Who Smelt It

Written by Joe Pranevich

Breakfast of champions!

William J. Beamish Journal #4 - Holy heck! Today has been a busy day! Now that I can practice Nintari again, I just need to figure out how to pay my way to the championships. The solution came to me during breakfast: a frog jumping competition! My friends and I spent a lot of time practicing today and we plan to enter Horny into the competition tomorrow. We also managed to teach that bully Spider a lesson that he won’t soon forget! Have to head out now to meet the new sitter. Really, Dad? I’m old enough to babysit Brianna myself!

Welcome back! Apologies for the skipped week last week, but I had an emergency in “real life” that threw the schedule out the window. I wish it had been an emergency playthrough of Fallout 4, but that is a special treat I am going to save for after writing this up. See? I do have priorities! Joking aside, I will still have some distractions over the next several weeks as we kick into the end of the semester and the holidays, but I am expecting to be able to keep the adventures of Young Master Beamish on a regular schedule from here out. Wish me luck!

Where we last left Willy, he had just gone to bed at the conclusion of his last day of school. His father has lost his job, and with it any chance of having the money to go to the Nintari championships. Because of a poor grade in “Music Appreciation”, Willy had also been grounded from practicing Nintari, but we dealt with that by convincing his sister Tiffany to hand over the key. All that stands in the way between Willy and Nintari domination is actually getting to the competition.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Missed Classic 14: Adventure Quest (1983) - Introduction

By Ilmari

Dude, could you wear a bit longer skirt?

Middle Earth is a tranquil and peaceful place. The problems with the Dark Lord Sauron are ancient history, and no dragon has been seen since the sack of Esgaroth. The last elves sailed for the West centuries ago, after the rescue of their fellows from the dungeons below Colossal Cavern. Indeed nothing remotely interesting has happened for ages, and the ordinary folk lead peaceful, mundane and - for the most part – contented rural lives. At least this was true until a year ago.

No, this is not script for Peter Jackson's new movie (although Peter, if you are reading, you would have material for a new trilogy here).

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Game 62: Martian Memorandum - Introduction (1991)

Written by TBD

TBD Journal Entry #1:

November, 2015.

I was sitting in my study pondering my next move. Rain was hitting the window with significant force, like a Lytton cop hitting an uncooperative suspect. I needed to write an introduction to Martian Memorandum, but wasn't sure how to begin. Being a big fan of the later Tex Murphy games – what can I say, I like my detectives like I like my eggs, hard-boiled on the outside but soft and runny on the inside – I wanted to show people what was both good and bad about Tex's earlier games. Without a specific plan and deciding to just write what seemed interesting, I made myself a cup of coffee and got to typing...

Okay, it's time for our third game from Access Software and our second game in the not-yet famous Tex Murphy series.

If you've seen my avatar you won't be surprised to read that I'm a fan of Tex Murphy games. But, perhaps more surprisingly, I'm NOT a fan of the first 2 games. I've played Mean Streets and Martian Memorandum once, for completeness' sake, many years ago and haven't revisited them since, despite having replayed the next 3 games multiple times. I would have used a walkthrough whenever I was stuck back then so this will be the first time I go through the game without that crutch. I've read a little about Martian Memorandum and there are apparently dead ends, so I expect to encounter at least one. (I'm still having nightmares about King's Quest V's rope/branch dead end.)

I will be counting on you people to inform me if when I get stuck - the discussion about deliberately not telling Trickster he was dead-ended in Les Manley has me a tad concerned, but I trust you won't do the same to me. You wouldn't want to betray that trust, would you?

To start, I thought I'd have a look at the cover art. What do you do when you have more to say than will comfortably fit on a front and back cover? Simple, you print four pages of cover art!

This game cover has since been plagiarised by many a sore throat medicine commercial

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Police Quest III - Final Rating

Written by Alex

If you’ve been reading my posts about Police Quest III, you’ll know that I tried really hard to like this game, but certain things kept me from achieving as much enjoyment as Jim Walls and company would have liked me to.

REAL paperwork!”

These things aren’t, I believe, complaints from a modern gamer engaging in chronological snobbery against a game over two decades old. No, my complaints have to do with basic elements of adventure game design like writing, story, and puzzle construction. But I’m getting ahead of myself here. On with PISSED! It’s far better than being PISSED on!

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Police Quest III – WON!

Written by Alex

Oh boy, you guys. Oh boy. I just finished Police Quest III, and all I can say is hold on to your hats. We’re about to see is an example of an adventure game running out of spunk at the very end. There are twists and turns and piles of dead bodies, puzzles and procedural work and drama, but in the end, there is no narrative cohesion or emotional payoff. You’ll see why.

Day 6 begins just like every other day, with Sonny waking up, dressing, and driving to the station. The previous day had been pretty exciting, featuring detective work, a demonic puzzle, a shoot-out with a suspect, and a car chase resulting in a dead perp. And Sonny’s partner, who has a history of stealing evidence, stealing evidence.

Is it a good sign when computer games get as monotonous as a real job?

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Police Quest III – The Puzzle From Hell: Full-Blown

Written by Alex

Here it is. The Big One. The puzzle that kept me from finishing this game way back when. Day 5, a day that shall live in infamy. A day when my adventure-gaming exploits were thwarted by one man . . . a man on a mission to ruin my police quest. A man fond of inserting himself into his own games, who claims that his games were designed based on his real-life experiences. I certainly hope that this puzzle is not based on one of them.

Whether he had a hand in creating this puzzle, I’m not sure. But in the great American tradition of blaming the most visible person for something, regardless of the truth of the matter, I am laying this all at your feet, Mr. Walls.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Willy Beamish - A Little Exploration Before Bed

Written by Joe Pranevich

Even the dog looks sad.

William J. Beamish Journal #3 - I won back my Nintari key! Yeah, it involved seeing my sister naked but that’s a price I am willing to pay to become the Nintari champion! A few more chores before bedtime, but something tells me that tomorrow is going to be a very big day.

Last week’s session ended in disappointment: Willy’s dad lost his job and we no longer have the spare funds to send Willy to the Nintari Championships. To make matters worse, Willy’s sister has the key to his Nintari which will prevent him from practicing. We also discovered that there is a “plot” afoot in the city of Frumpton as the head of the Plumber’s Union and the CEO of a sweetener company are plotting to overthrow the town. How this relates to Willy’s dream to be a Nintari master still remains to be seen.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Missed Classic 13: Colossal Adventure (1983?)

By Ilmari

Since Joe Pranevich has already written great posts on Sierra’s early Hi-Res Adventures and Scott Adams's Questprobe games, I thought I should also do my duty and acquaint myself with some company making text adventures with graphics. With lot of options to choose from, I finally decided on a British gaming company, Level 9, mainly because I had never played any of their games, but also because after Infocom, they had the largest catalogue of text adventures.

The story of Level 9 begun with three brothers, Pete, Mike and Nick Austin. It was a family-based company, and as the years went by, they hired at least their father and sister. The exact details of the founding of Level 9 seem a bit hazy, with Brass Lantern and Digital Antiquarian giving two conflicting set of dates for their early years. What everyone seems to agree on is that the brothers begun by making an extension of BASIC on a rare computer called NASCOM, but the company manufacturing these computers promptly went bankrupt soon after.

Austin brothers in 1987.
On the background, Ingrid Bottomlow,
a character from Gnome Ranger

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Police Quest III – The Puzzle From Hell: Prelude

Written by Alex

Oh, Jim Walls and friends: Why do you hate me? I’m following proper police procedure. I’m using the manual. I’m picking up on in-game clues and hints and trying to do everything right. But it’s not working. Why? Why must you be so damned finicky?

I’ll tell you why: Because you can. That’s why.

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Willy Beamish - Dinner at Willy’s

Written by Joe Pranevich

Casa del Beamish

William J. Beamish Journal #2 - Well, that didn’t go well. I guess I got cold feet because I gave dad my report card after all-- but I didn’t expect him to lock up my Nintari! Now how will I practice for the big competition? And I guess dad lost his job or something.

Where we last left the young Mr. Beamish, he had just returned from a final round of after-school detention. Through trial and error, we were able to find a way to sneak out early so that we could get home before any of his parents or siblings grabbed the mail and saw his report card. With the report card in hard, including its terrible “C” grade in “Music Appreciation”, we can cross the threshold into the Beamish household.

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Results of the Lurker Poll

by The TAG team

The Lurker poll ended a while ago, and it seems that most non-commenters just didn't feel they'd have anything to contribute to the discussion or then they just didn't want to go through all the fuss of creating an account, just to make a comment. We've now decided to solve the latter problem in an easy way and to continue accepting anonymous commenting in the future.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Police Quest III – Happy Wife, Happy Life

Written by Alex

At the end of last post, Sonny had just been called to check out an assault at the Oak Tree Mall; since there were no other available officers, Sonny was next on the list. Dutifully, he rushes over, only to his wife Marie’s car in the parking lot. Running to the paramedics, Sonny finds his worst nightmare come true.

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Police Quest III – Sonny on Patrol

Written by Alex

So this is what it feels like to be a highway patrol officer!

After booking crazy Brian Forbes, Sonny gets called to Highway 41 near the 7th Street on-ramp to help Officer Morales with a violator who refused to sign their citation. Apparently, such a situation may require a supervisor. Whipping out, I mean, opening the PDF of the game manual, I check out Section III, Traffic Officer, Part 12: “Refusal to sign a citation.” Anyone refusing to sign must be advised that a signature is not an admission of guilt but only a promise to appear in court. If the violator still won’t sign, then they earn a one-way trip to the klink and have to post bond before being released. This rule, however, has one specific exception: “Pregnant women and the elderly. Advise the violator as above. If the violator still refuses to sign the citation, call a supervisor to the scene.” So given that Morales needs a supervisor, I’m dealing with either a pregnant woman or a senior citizen. Isn’t this exciting!

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Willy Beamish - Afternoon Snack Club

Written by Joe Pranevich

The dangers of daydreaming

William J. Beamish Journal #1 - No more teachers, no more books, no more of Ms. Glass’s dirty looks! I made it home, and not a moment too soon! I have managed to snag my report card before my parents found out that I got a “C” in Music Appreciation. If they find out, there’s no way they will let me get to the Nintari championships!

The game begins on the last day of school and Willy Beamish is in detention. His frog had jumped on the principal during a morning assembly and now he was paying the price. But Willy’s detention daydreams of winning the Nintari Championships came to a crashing end when his teacher, Ms. Glass, asked him if he was paying attention. Nope, but what we have is the first task of the game, a choice between three possible responses: admitting we don’t know, making up a story about having something in our ear, or guessing that she said we could go home early. Which to pick?

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Police Quest III – Crazy by the Water

Written by Alex

Sonny Bonds is in his car and ready to hit the streets, accompanied by that totally awesome Jan Hammer soundtrack. I would seriously love this track to play every time I got into my car.

Let’s talk about the driving interface here as Sonny heads off to Aspen Falls to do whatever dispatch wants him to do. As an aside, wouldn’t a dispatcher give a police officer a little heads-up as to what to expect on the scene? Something like, “Gunshots fired,” or “Kitten stuck in tree,” or “Crazy naked man doing rude things to passersby”? This could have only help so that the arriving officer doesn’t jump into a dispute over a bridge game guns blazing, or stroll into a gang war with no weapon other than his disarming smile. For a game that’s supposed to be so realistic pertaining to police procedure—and, in fact, is very procedurally accurate, as far as I can tell—this strikes me as a little odd.

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Spellcasting 201 - Final Rating

By Aperama

Not exactly the most beautiful picture in the world, but kinda endearing
– just like the rest of this game

I'm somewhat conflicted as it comes to this game. It was fun pretty much all the way through, always making me feel like a little bit of a fool every time I got something wrong as it really was the 'obvious' solution almost every time. At no point did I feel like the game was working against me to solve any puzzles, but I do think that the game would have been far more fun were you able to visit everything and enjoy your time a little more. The obvious correlation I take here is between this game and The Colonel's Bequest. Not because it's a better or worse game, but simply because of the way it runs itself – time is always a factor, but you can visit everything you'd like before a critical moment changes the clock. If this happened in this game and I could sit back and watch Sid and Gary messing around for their own pranks without having to reload, it'd be fantastic – it's only that I decided I wanted to take the long road and enjoy matters that I found the game so flavourful. Thankfully, the game allows dozens of saves – but I still consider it pretty harsh that you can't sit by and watch some of the most entertaining writing in the game and actually go on to succeed also. There are now two comparable games to Spellcasting 201 that have been blogged through – its precursor 101 and Timequest, and I plan to base this rating at least partially off of a mixture of whether or not I feel the game has progressed and used its strengths in favor of hiding its weaknesses.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Game 60: The Adventures of Willy Beamish - Introduction (1991)

Written by Joe Pranevich

Is Willy the boy or the frog?

Pull up a chair, I’d like to tell you a story. Once upon a time, there was a video game company called “Dynamix”. It was a good little company, primarily building action and racing games, including some award-winning flight simulators. One day, they were purchased by an “adventure game” company (Sierra On-Line) and suddenly decided that they had to make adventure games, too! You’ve already heard this story before, back when Ilmari completed his excellent review of their first adventure game, Rise of the Dragon. While that one was far from perfect, it’s higher than 3/4ths of the games reviewed on the blog so far. The following year, Dynamix made two more attempts at adventure games: this one and Heart of China. We will be getting to the latter before too long, but I am very curious to see what lessons Dynamix learned from their previous game. Can Willy Beamish crack our top ten? Our top five? I have no idea.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Police Quest III – Administrative Affairs

Written by Alex

Firing up Police Quest III, we get a rather high-quality intro that features all the tropes of cheesy yet awesome cop movie and TV shows: Scenes showing car chases and officers dramatically pointing their weapons towards the camera set to a pulse-pounding score. And what’s this? The music is done by none other than Jan Hammer, keyboard and compositional whiz known best for the soundtrack to the television show Miami Vice, so you know exactly the vibe that this game is going for, at least musically: Minor key and driving, with a lot of Latin percussion and horns. Fun fact: Frank Zappa played a villain named Mario Fuente on an episode of Miami Vice called “Payback.” But lest you think Mr. Hammer only does TV work, he’s also an accomplished prog rocker, having, among other things, been an original member of the Mahavishnu Orchestra with John McLaughlin and playing with Jeff Beck on some classic albums. If none of this means anything to you, don’t worry: This is a blog about computer games. Let’s just say that having Jan Hammer work on your computer game is a pretty big “get.”

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Spellcasting 201: WON!

Written by Aperama

Ernie Eaglebeak's Journal #5
“Saved the world. Again. Well, probably.”

Ernie Eaglebeak's Journal #5 – Addendum
“So maybe I should give a little more info. Eve left me to go to Housewife U. I mean, dynamite girl and all, but really would have cramped my style. Hu Delta Phart accepted me in after I mooned the Queen of Balmoral. She didn't mind or anything – I even got her infamous Bubblewand for showing her a good time after she got me out of jail. I figured I'd take the last piece of the Appliance down before having an easy night – I was fairly sure we HDP pledges had all won our way in as I saw Sid freshly welding together the door to Gramma Eta Pi and had already heard of Gary parachuting into the middle of the funeral of Otto – were I writing this yesterday, I'd be saying I wish I coulda been there. So I attach the Bubblewand.. and there's Chris Cowpatty and Professor Hiddenmolar standing in front of me. Only it's not Hiddenmolar – it's Joey Rottenwood! Bastard was trying his best to make his way back into taking charge of Sorcerer U again, shut the entire campus down. Thankfully, I still had a few tricks up my sleeve. Rottenwood removed the Bubblewand, but he also set the Appliance so I could assume the identity of Professor Moldybreadcrust, not resetting it. Arrogant bastard! UGUGOOWAH served me well as I slipped through the sewers underneath the lab in Ivorytower and quickly made my way up to the Trustees Room while the Appliance was still taking effect. When I was confronted with Otto Tickingclock's perfectly preserved body, I thought of what the Bubblewand left as an imprint when I attached it the first time – 'necromancy'. I loaded Otto onto the pastry cart, pinched the Bubblewand back from Rottenwood on the way, DEPLUMITed my way back down to the Appliance.. bam. Instant Dean. Now this time, we've got to keep Rottenwood GONE! Oh, and Chris Cowpatty got dumped by HDP. Bonus!”

Step 1: Find my way off campus!

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Interview with Scott Adams and Kem McNair

Introduction by Joe Pranevich with questions by “The Adventure Gamer” readers


Before we close up our summer series on Questprobe, Scott Adams and Kem McNair have been kind enough to agree to be interviewed by our community. As you know, Scott Adams was the CEO, lead programmer, and game designer for Adventure International. Scott pretty much invented the personal computer adventure game with his release of Adventureland in 1978. He has been tremendously helpful to me during my several months with Questprobe, answering many questions, and even providing me with the incomplete copy of Questprobe #4 which you have already read about. Kem McNair was the Art Director for Adventure International and drew the graphics for many of the games personally, including the Questprobe series that we have just played.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Game 59: Police Quest III: The Kindred (1991) – Introduction

Written by Alex

Released for the IBM PC and the Amiga in September of 1991 (according to Giant Bomb) or October (according to MobyGames), Police Quest 3 (according to the box) or III (according to the game itself), subtitled The Kindred, takes the series into the VGA, 256-color point-and-click, a place Sierra had been transitioning many of its long-running adventure series during the early 1990s. King’s Quest first got the king’s treatment in 1990 with King’s Quest V, followed in 1991 by Space Quest IV and a remake of Space Quest I, Leisure Suit Larry 5 and a remake of Leisure Suit Larry 1, and finally this title. More series would follow suit, as well as a bevy of new titles, some of which would spawn franchises of their own, created with ever-improving presentaiton.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Spellcasting 201: Beautiful Barmaids Near Barfton

Ernie Eaglebeak's Journal #4
“I'm not sure how to feel about today. It's such a bummer that Tickingclock isn't around – I could really use his help! I have this horrible feeling in the back of my mind that someone has bad ideas in mind for me.. and I don't mean Chris Cowpatty. He actually did something pretty cool for me, not that he realised it at the time. An all day pass out of Sorcerer's University was really what I needed to stretch my legs and get things moving again. I made sure to stop by Tickingclock's corpse.. but I did it on my way back from his wife, who I decided could spare some clothes for the girl I just made. I just made! How weird is that?!?!? Eve is really cool. I mean, she doesn't know much of anything just yet, and she's sorta a little.. creepily devoted? But except for that, she's really amazing and entirely the sort of girl I could spend heaps of time with. It's really lucky I had her come along with me to my assignment – spiking some punch at Barmaid U. I've been holding onto this dehydrated pellet of spirits from the University Pub for a while now, and I was really planning on having a great time once me, Gary and Sid were in the frat officially. Instead, I masqueraded as a guy from Plumber U, found a handy wrench with this coupon I've been holding onto, fixed some pipes, watched some crazy barmaids dance around with Eve and even got a new cloak out of the deal.. Impossible, huh, Chris? Bring it on! Another Attachment fell out when I was leaving the crazy party, too.. I'm beginning to think I'll have this thing ready and unlocked before the end of the week!

But I wanted the Malls n' Muggers assignment!

Friday, 25 September 2015

Lost Classic: Questprobe #4: X-Men

Written by Joe Pranevich

The Chief Examiner shows off his gem collection. (From the ending to Questprobe #1.)

Last time, we completed Questprobe Featuring the Human Torch and the Thing, the third and final Questprobe game to be released out of a planned twelve games. Shortly after that game came out, Adventure International faced bankruptcy and all of the games in progress were cancelled. That would have been the end of the story except for two things: Scott Adams had already started work on the fourth Questprobe game and had it in a partially working state, and Marvel would revive the character of the Chief Examiner a few years later to wrap up the Questprobe plot line. The most amazing part of this is that Scott kept the partially completed game stored away and has been generous enough to allow me the chance to play it. This is a “Lost Classic”, a game that could have been. Next week we will post interviews with Scott Adams and Kem McNair, then we will wrap it up with a final epilogue as we look at Marvel’s continuation of the characters as well as a few surprises.