Thursday, 19 October 2017

Missed Classic: Sorcerer - Going Underground

Written by Joe Pranevich



Last week, we made our first real trip back into the Great Underground Empire with Sorcerer. After learning that the demon Jeearr had taken control of the guildmaster, it was up to me to teleport to his location and rescue him… because everyone else went on a picnic. Using a handy Infotator that we nicked from the guildmaster’s room (and included in the game packaging), we cracked the code to a trunk in the guild basement which contained an “aimfiz” scroll, a teleporter. Moments later, we were halfway around the world and near the entrance to the sprawling Great Underground Empire. In a few minutes of exploring, I managed to find an underground amusement park and a quick death at the bottom of a chasm. It’s time to explore.

I want to pause before we get started because, as some of you know, Seastalker is the next game in the series. Written by Stu Galley and Jim Lawrence, it is Infocom’s first juvenile adventure game. Mr. Lawrence was an accomplished master of juvenile fiction, having written more than fifty books before the 1980s, not to mention comics and radio plays. He loved to write adventure fiction and contributed books to Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Tom Swift, James Bond, Buck Rogers, and other series… none of which I read as a kid. To help me get into the spirit of his work before starting into Seastalker, I am reading a few of those books, starting with 1957’s The Ghost of Skeleton Rock, a Hardy Boys adventure. I have put up a bonus post including my thoughts on that book and may do one or two more depending on timing and my ability to juggle the interactive and traditional varieties of fiction.

I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself. There’s a Great Underground Empire to explore, after all.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

The Dagger of Amon Ra - Final Rating

By Deimar

Re-reading my previous posts about this game, it might seem like I loathe it. You could see me bitching about it from the introduction until the end of my second playthrough. But the truth is not so one-sided. I can say that I have actually enjoyed my trip even in spite of the multiple problems this game has. The game possesses some charm, although it kicks in later in the game, with the first two opening acts being too slow in my opinion. Even on my second playthrough I was delighted when discovering new things. Speaking of which, although my first and longer playthrough was on ScummVM, it is only fair to judge the DosBox version. Let’s begin.


Knowing what you are in for, I wouldn’t be so optimistic

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Lure of the Temptress: Won!

by Alex


Well, I’ve done it. I’ve come to the ignominious end of an ignominious game. Upon getting Diermot smuggled into the castle, it didn’t take long to finish Lure of the Temptress, mainly because there just wasn’t much to do.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Missed Classic: Sorcerer - Just Getting Started

Written by Joe Pranevich


Last week, we started Sorcerer, the fifth canonical Zork game. After a particularly vivid nightmare sequence where I was killed by hellhounds, snakes, locusts, and lightning, I awoke to find the guildhall empty and the Guild Master, Belboz, missing. Thanks to some security nymphs, I cannot leave by the front door to rescue him. Time is passing very quickly and if I fall asleep, I am captured by a demon and subjected to a fate worse than death. They say that even the longest journey begins with a single step; I’m not even making it that far.

Today’s post will be a bit shorter than usual. Several “real life” events conspired to prevent me from writing as much as I had hoped. I have made it farther in the game than I document here and I want to make sure that I’m taking the time to properly discuss the puzzles that I found, rather than rush through them to cover more ground with this post. On the bright side, this is a game worth savoring.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

The Dagger of Amon Ra - Won!

By Deimar

If you have kept up to date with this playthrough, I have played The Dagger of Amon Ra to completion but failed miserably to answer the coroner’s questions. As I played the version of the game sold by GoG which uses ScummVM, I thought it a good time to replay the game using DosBox to try and beat the game and see the differences between the two versions. In that regard, there are not that many.

The first and most obvious one is, as Laukku pointed out, that there is no option to have both sound and text during the game. You have to choose one of them. Given that the quality of the recordings is not that great, that is more of a feature than something you can really miss but it is an odd option to leave out of the game. In fact, this time I played with only text to shorten the experience and because I don’t really think you are missing that much without the voices. I didn’t notice any other major differences but for a myriad of bugs, but I am not even sure this affects only the DosBox version. But I will get to them while recounting the game.

My plan for this second playthrough was to try and discover what I had missed by being a bit more thoughtful and persistent and not simply accepting time jumps as they come. Also, I just went ahead and read Illmari’s clues and a walkthrough after considering being “done” with every time slot so I don’t have to replay the whole game if I miss something crucial. Let’s see.

Like I missed commenting on this awesome piece of music

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Lure of the Temptress: Nothing Means Anything: A Treatise on Adventure Game Protagonists Disguised as a Gameplay Post

by Alex



Lure of the Temptress is like a food that you want to like, but every time you eat it, you get indigestion. Or a song you know should be up your alley, but in the middle of what should be a good part an obnoxious squealing sound ruins everything. Or that person you date time and time again, only for them to completely ruin the moment with an inappropriate comment or some ill-timed flatulence.

You get the idea.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Missed Classic 46: Sorcerer - Introduction (1984)

Written by Joe Pranevich


Infocom’s 1984 started off with a bang: Sorcerer, the fifth canonical Zork title and the second in the Enchanter trilogy, was the first game of the year. This is also the first Zork title not to be written by Lebling and Blank. Instead, it is helmed by the mastermind behind the Planetfall game as well as the Zork gamebooks that we looked at recently, Steve Meretzky. He is my favorite “implementor” of the gang so far and I am looking forward to playing this game immensely. I hope he sticks the landing after the disappointment that was Mike Berlyn’s Infidel.

But that does raise a question: why was Sorcerer released so soon after Enchanter? Each of the Zork games to this point had a fall release (November for the first two, then September). By releasing Sorcerer in March, that left only a five-month gap between releases. Was it intended to capitalize on the marketing of the Zork books? If so, why was the fourth and final gamebook released in the “usual” timeslot in October? It’s almost as if the fourth book was timed to be released when Sorcerer would have come out… If there is a story here, I do not know it and I welcome anyone that can shed some light on the subject. Whatever the reason, Spellbreaker took the usual fall release spot and players had a 17-month delay after this game before the finale.

The first sign I see that Mr. Meretzky is in charge of this game comes immediately after opening the manual: the new game is not shy at all to be connected to the previous Zork titles. I’m excited!

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

The Dagger of Amon Ra - Lost?

By Deimar

Laura Journal Entry #4 "Ok, ok. I have to get out of this museum. People are dropping like flies. First Dr. Carter, and then everyone else. I am starting to believe I am the murderer as I seem to be the only living soul around here. But I will soldier on and see the end of these murderers or I am not called Laura Bow!”

Who would have thought? It really seems like Yvette cared for Ernie. We start this chapter at her office trying to comfort her. She repeats the bit about Ernie being chased by Icepick, a loan shark, but that’s something we already knew. What surprised me in that conversation is that Laura reprimands Yvette for spending too much time with her Steve. I mean, we have seen her with Ernie, O’Riley, Tut, Najeer… basically the entire male cast but for Steve. I really must have missed something along the way…

And immediately after leaving her to her woes, we find the thought but sensitive stevedore-by-day artist-by-night Steve at The Thinker, talking with Dr. Myklos. He comments that the paintings in the gallery are all fake, but Laura doesn’t want to have any of it and presses on about all the women he has been with tonight. And just when Laura is about to get really mad at him, Yvette comes rushing to cry on his shoulder, taking him inside. That’s a short mourning period. Obviously, I couldn’t let the french blonde to get away with our Steve, so I used the old glass on the door trick™ to listen to them. Well…


Mon dieu! Let’s shout some more easily misinterpreted things so we can provoke a hilarious situation!

Curiously, that IS the same face she used when looking at a dead corpse. Maybe we will find Steve’s soon and we will be pretty sure of who did that

Yes, I will leave you alone so you can keep grasping her neck with your hands. It is not as if there have been several murders this night and Steve hasn’t been seen in a while...

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Lure of the Temptress - Twist Away the Gates of Steel

by Alex



So I got the Weregate open.

I’ll bet you’re wondering, “How did this happen?” Well, today’s your lucky day. We’ll get to that. But first, in order to understand the process and what to make of it in the grand Adventure Gamer tradition, let’s go back to my last post on Lure of the Temptress. Remember when I said that I enjoyed the game’s approach to puzzles?

. . . I actually find myself enjoying Lure of the Temptress’ approach to puzzles. My earlier complaints notwithstanding (and it looks like I’m not the only one experiencing pathfinding issues, though this seems to be more of an issue related to the ScummVM emulator), now that I have more time with the game under my belt, understand the interface and what the developers were trying to do . . . I kind of like it.”

I need to qualify this statement: While I enjoy the game’s approach to puzzles, I cannot say I particularly enjoy the puzzles themselves.

Let me explain.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

The Dagger of Amon Ra - The Thirteenth Hour

By Deimar

Laura Journal Entry #3 " What a day. After just arriving and getting a job I have managed to see the lows and highs of this city in a single day. I have even managed to get into a high class fundraiser party in a fancy museum. Sadly, the party ended when I discovered the corpse of the main guest inside a sarcophagus. Well, sadly and lucky for me, as I have a feeling this story will sell a lot of newspapers and there doesn’t seem to be another reporter here. The only caveat to that plan is that somehow I am now trapped with the other guests in the museum and I think I am starting to smell blood in the air”

I didn’t remember it when changing from chapter 1 to chapter 2, but when starting chapter 3 I got a message telling me “Excellent work. Your father would be proud of you”. That is an encouraging message, as I have previously doubted having gathered all the necessary information. I might not be going that bad (although Ilmari has pointed out some things I missed in chapter I). My only question is if that message is always the same or depends upon a hidden score.

Doing the interrogation with everyone listening surely produces wonderful results

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Missed Classic: Adventure - Won!

Written by Joe Pranevich

You are standing at the end of a road before a small brick building.

After the “fun” that was Infidel, I needed a palate-cleanser. I’ve started looking at Sorcerer already-- and if all goes well, you’ll have the Intro post to that game next week-- but I needed a break. So I hope you will not mind that I use the occasion of my birthday to talk about an important game in my life: Adventure. Ilmari already did a fantastic review of this game (as Missed Classic #2 back in 2014), but he didn’t win in his playthrough. That provides me the flimsiest of excuse to talk about it again, but I’m going to take that excuse!

This story started for me at a different birthday 31 years ago: my mother had given me a copy of Software Country’s Golden Oldies collection for the Commodore 64. Included in that, plus other public domain masterpieces such as Pong and Eliza, was the original 380-point version of Adventure. It may or may not have been the first adventure game I played, but it was certainly the first adventure that I owned legally. I didn’t beat it then-- I still remember my babysitter telling me that no one ever had-- but it remained on my mind. For years, I would pick up the game and play a bit of it. Three years ago, I made a concerted effort to win… but failed. It was time to change that.

Monday, 25 September 2017

Zork Marathon: 1983 Books & Yearly Wrap-Up

Written by Joe Pranevich



It’s been twelve months since we started this increasingly misnamed “Zork Marathon” and I thought it was worth a few minutes to pause and look back on the games we played and look forward on the games ahead. This year, we’ve more or less taken the story of Infocom from the exploration phase at MIT with Dungeon/mainframe Zork, through the formation of the company, up through the first ten games-- five years worth of history. Behind the scenes, the cancer that would eventually destroy Infocom was already growing: Cornerstone, the business product that some hoped would bring them respectability was well underway. We have plenty of time and a few more games before we get to that grim milestone.

Before we can look back, we have one more detail in 1983 to close out on: the first three Zork books. Since almost the beginning, Infocom had been creative with its marketing and its packaging. Most of the games had “feelies” and custom boxes-- Starcross literally rolled off the shelves due to its flying saucer-shaped boxes. But as Enchanter was launching, someone on the team thought that doing a gamebook tie-in would be a good idea. This would allow them to market the new game while also indirectly promoting the still-hot previous Zork titles. They could have gone to an established writer (as they would later), but instead they reached out to jack-of-all-traces Steve Meretzky, fresh from launching Planetfall. The results are somewhat surprising...

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Missed Classic: Infidel - Won! (Lost!?) and Final Rating

Written by Joe Pranevich



A few days ago, I took my first deep dive into Infidel’s hidden pyramid. Powered by a flaming torch and a sense of narcissistic optimism, I discovered a long-buried burial barge, a hidden underground temple containing two chalices, a cube maze with a hidden door, and an Indiana Jones-style weight puzzle to recover four gem clusters. Thus far, after a disappointing start, I am coming to enjoy the game. Mike Berlyn has a good handle on puzzles and has managed to keep the game grounded in a sense of realism. The hieroglyphics have been fun to puzzle through, though a bit inscrutable. More importantly, they have been just understandable enough, with effort, that I could advance through a puzzle or two.

I am reluctant to admit this, but the solution to my “plaster wall” problem was embarrassingly simple: I just had to destroy the wall with my axe. I had avoided this solution in large part because no real archeologist would deliberately destroy priceless artifacts like that, but it appears to be the only way to advance. At least in my mind, I could imagine myself cataloging each of the rooms as I came to them, carefully labeling where I found this treasure or that. But take an ace to a wall? Not really how I’d approach it. It was bad enough that we broke the statue last time, but at least that was an accident...

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Missed Classic: Infidel - Walk Like an Egyptian

Written by Joe Pranevich



It’s our special Zork Marathon Anniversary Week! We’re giving the regular reviewers the week off so that we can quickly sprint to the end of Infocom’s 1983. I had a dim hope that I might be able to start Sorcerer too, but that will likely be a bit much. With luck, we’ll get Infidel defeated before doing a special 1983 wrap-up and then a bonus post. It should be fun and I’ll just hope there are no unexpected distractions that blow-up the schedule.

Last week, I started Infidel and crossed the first major hurdle by discovering the location of a long lost pyramid. This was after my character pissed off his work crew so much that they left him for dead in the desert heat, but let’s put that in the past. Immediately after entering the pyramid, I fell to my death down a set of particularly steep stairs. We’re just getting started and I am looking forward to seeing how the game progresses. Since I died last time going north, I start this week by igniting my torch and heading east.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

The Dagger of Amon Ra - Night at the Museum

By Deimar

Laura’s Journal Entry #2: "So my boss has asked me to investigate the burglary of the dagger of Amon Ra from the Leyendecker museum by attending to a fundraising party there tonight, masquerading as a social events reporter. To be honest, I think I would have gotten a really good article about the upper class shenanigans with plenty of shady deals, femme fatales, impersonators and more. However, this whole thing about a murder has focused me again in the problem at hand, discovering where is the dagger of Amon Ra.”

Act 2 begins with Laura at night in front of the museum, which is now open and guarded by a German who is one svastika away of ending this walkthrough by means of Godwin’s law. He is apparently the chief of security but right now there is not much that can be extracted from him. We just have to give him our press pass (which he keeps for some strange reason) and he lets us in. This makes a clock appear in the upper left corner of the screen signaling that it is 7PM. Oh my god, I just got shivers from thinking about Colonel’s Bequest. I really hope I won’t miss key information due to simply walking into a room and making the clock advance.

I am going to be very sad if after so many stereotypes there is not a bullfighter somewhere in the game...

The real party starts inside the museum. As we enter we can see a big bust of Rameses II and several tables with refreshments. There is a group of men surrounding a blonde woman which seem interesting. Specially because our friend Ziggy is there. What is a crook doing in an upper class party? And who is all these people? Time to socialize!! The woman introduces herself as Yvette Delacroix.


Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Missed Classic 45: Infidel - Introduction (1983)

Written by Joe Pranevich



Although I had originally planned to play only the Zork games, I somehow find myself eleven games into playing the entire Infocom canon. I still doubt I’ll be able to finish all of them before we get to Return to Zork, but I hope I will have at least hit the high points. And that’s why I’m sitting down to play Infidel, the first game on the list that I was completely unaware of. Every other game so far I’ve at least started and abandoned twenty or more years ago. This one, and many of the games that are coming up, are completely unknown to me. That is exciting but also a bit intimidating as I do not know what to expect or whether Infocom will continue to retain a high level of quality as we get closer to their inevitable decline and shut down.

I also want to take this time to announce that next week (the week of the 19th) will be a special “Zork Marathon Anniversary” week! Time flies but I’ve been playing Infocom (and pre-Infocom) games for an entire year now. To celebrate, we’ll try to finish Infidel and end with a 1983 wrap-up, including the first three Zork books, plus a special non-Zork bonus post. It’ll be fun and hopefully put me in the right mindset for Sorcerer and Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes.

Infidel is Mike Berlyn’s fourth adventure game overall and his second with Infocom after Suspended. This is also Mr. Berlyn’s first game created entirely while at Infocom; according to some design notes that were shared with me by Jason Scott (of Get Lamp fame), he had sketched out much of that game prior to joining the crew from Wheeler St. I do not have to much more to add about this part of Mr. Berlyn’s career at Infocom, but we will continue to track him through Cutthroats (1984) and potentially a brief look at non-adventure Fooblitzky (1985). I am excited to see how Mike’s science fiction / dystopian writing chops will translate to a game that seems quite far from his strengths.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Missed Classic: Oo-Topos - Won! (And Final Rating)

Written by Voltgloss

When we left off last time in our attempt to escape Oo-Topos, we still needed to find 3 missing ship parts; the special seeds to save Earth; and 56.9 frod worth of treasure for lunch, gas, and tolls. Sounds like a lot, right?

Turns out we were only two puzzles away from accomplishing all of that.
Of course, they were the two puzzles that took me the longest to figure out.

My sentiments exactly.

The first puzzle: how to deal with the “collector robot” that was blocking access to the shield unit. Not only do we need that for our ship, but it also promises to be the answer to get us through the forcefield at the pyramid and catwalk areas. But the robot won’t let us take it - or anything else we try to offer to or throw at it; it just snatches whatever it is up and adds to its stash. Lasers do nothing. What’s the answer here? It’s… actually one of the more satisfying solutions in the whole game, in my opinion.

The second puzzle: turns out there’s a treasure item in one of the locations I’d visited (and screenshotted in one of my previous posts). How’d I miss it? Because the game pulls a trick here that it pulls nowhere else in the game: finding that treasure involves investigating a room element that is only in the picture - it is NOT in the room’s textual description. Making this my least favorite conundrum in the game.

Everything needed to solve these puzzles has been shown in my second post. In case you, the reader, want to pause and consider what those solutions might be before I reveal them, here’s some spoiler space.


Friday, 8 September 2017

Lure of the Temptress: Talking To People: The Game

by Alex



Whew, lads.

Lure of the Temptress is one of those games, those kind of games that makes mapping fun by using all sorts of tricks to distort the laws of physics and good game design.

See that screenshot up top? In a game like, say Quest for Glory, walking off screen to the right would move the player to another screen, approaching from the left. This would not only make mental navigation easier, but would also help the player make a paper map that makes sense.

Not so in Lure of the Temptress.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

The Dagger of Amon Ra - Thoroughly Modern Millie

By Deimar

Laura’s Journal Entry #1: "I just haven’t started off on my right foot in the Big Apple. I have been mugged, robbed and almost killed by a car. But I am not going to let that stop the daughter of John Bow. No, sir. This New Orleans girl is going to crack an important case, the theft of the dagger of Amon Ra from the Leyendecker museum, and impress Mr. Augustini, my new boss at the New York Tribune."

The introduction video shows us a murder taking place in a ship. An unknown man is sleeping in his room when a shadowy figure emerges, strangles him and proceeds to store his corpse in a trunk. Next we are presented with the arrival of a ship, presumably the same, to the docks of New York and see some of the passengers get off the ship.


Sweet dreams, my beautiful prince

First, we attend to a discussion between a fez-wearing Egyptian-looking guy and another fellow. If I had to tell from the voice acting I would say it is a conversation between Apu, the Quickie-Mart owner in The Simpsons and Snooby McSnob, the most pompous Englishman this side of the Atlantic. Really, you should play this game just to hear these two discuss about the dagger of Amon Ra. Because you see, the English prick (honorary title) just came back from discovering the dagger and taking it from its home land to his pocket. That doesn’t suit the Egyptian guy who insists the dagger should be in Egypt. The conversation gets heated to the point where the Englishman threatens the life of the Egyptian so he drops the subject.

Monday, 4 September 2017

Leather Goddesses of Phobos 2: Final Rating

Written by TBD

I was going to ask Madame Chavez what the final rating should be, but got distracted by a hand that she somehow raised without moving her shoulder

Time to rate the game. Before we get started, I'd like to mention why I think this game went down the path it did.

Since point-and-click interfaces became a thing a few years earlier, the companies that made parser-based games had to make an adjustment when they moved to this new type of adventure game. From what I recall of the time, there was a perception that all the challenge would be taken away if you could just click on everything instead of having to write exactly what you wanted to do.

Sierra tried a few strategies to attempt to cope with this – from King's Quest V's dead-ends galore and nonsensical solutions to Leisure Suit Larry 5's tactic of just taking out most of the puzzles and telling a funny (and sexy) story. Infocom clearly went the same way as Leisure Suite Larry 5 with this game. The only puzzle I had a problem with was Barth's 'get the iron' puzzle, which was only hard because the game gave me the wrong information.

Let's get to the ratings!

Friday, 1 September 2017

Lure of the Temptress: Tonight There’s Going to Be a Jailbreak

by Alex



Lure of the Temptress opens with a very good looking cinematic, expanding a bit upon the story from the manual—as explained by Ratpouch—that we talked about last post. This time, though, we get a view of events from Diermot’s perspective:

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Missed Classic: Oo-Topos - No Place, And Not Like Home

Written by Voltgloss


Explaining the title, courtesy of an 8th grade school project.
Also, “eu-topos” sounds similar but means “good place.” Thomas More was a punny guy.

When we last left off exploring our space prison/complex on Oo-Topos, we’d found an airlock to the surface and a decidedly non-breathable atmosphere; we’d found our spacesuit in the trash disposal but couldn’t escape the deadly garbage fumes; and we had no idea how to parse “taka ela leva.” There’s also the continuing oddity of the mirror room, from which I still haven’t been able to find any escape once trapped inside. Wandering around the rest of the complex didn’t come up with any other exits, so some of these problems are going to have to give. Onward!

First, I returned to the “taka ele leva” room. Maybe there’s more to this than just suggesting we “take the elevator?” In the spirit of Adventure’s “xyzzy” I try typing “taka ele leva” and…

Monday, 28 August 2017

Game 89: The Dagger of Amon Ra - Introduction

Written by Deimar

Deimar, there is a game that falls right up your alley, they said. And so I have come back to you, ready with my insatiable love for death animations and low budget unipersonal projects. And what is this game that will suit my tastes? A murder mystery that promises to mix the intense thriller of Hugo II: Whodunit with the gruesome deaths of any Elvira game: The Dagger of Amon Ra.


Where Laura needs to investigate her own murder!! Who saw that coming?

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Leather Goddesses of Phobos 2 - WON!

Lydia Sandler, Zeke Zarmen and Barthgub el Nikki-Nikki son of Jelgobar el Zayda-Zayda Journal Entry #3: The three of us went on our mission to Phobos to stop the Leather Goddesses' evil plans. To stop them we'll have to sabotage their plans both on their home planet and Earth. It'll be hard, but that's how we like it.

Zeke Zarmen Journal Entry Addendum: That's what she said!

In this episode we'll finally rescue the tanned annoyances from the peril they face at the thighs of the vile Leather Goddesses of Phobos

We're coming to save you. You are in great peril!

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Game 88: Lure of the Temptress (1992) – Introduction

by Alex



Lure of the Temptress
, the debut game from British developer Revolution Software—founded in 1990 and still making games—promises to be an interesting piece of adventure gaming history. If Revolution Software sounds familiar to you, that’s because these fine chaps (that’s what they like to be called in England, I’ve heard) went on to create the acclaimed Beneath a Steel Sky, as well as the Broken Sword series. Having played none of these games, I am very excited to embark upon something for The Adventure Gamer that is not a Police Quest game, is not a Leisure Suit Larry game, and is not a Robin Hood game.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Leather Goddesses of Phobos 2 - The X Trials

Written by TBD

When we last met our heroine, Lydia, she had just explored the town of Atom City, and had found a spaceship (that she really could have found straight away, because she saw where it landed, and that was where she was told to go)

Lydia Sandler Journal Entry 2: Today was the most exciting day of my life. I met an alien and rode on a spaceship! It was amazing!

I checked out the spaceship, but it needed repairs and I had no idea how to do that, so I moved on. Just past the spaceship is an old dried out canal.

Oh. okay then. I caused a rainstorm. Why do I not remember causing a rainstorm?

I checked out my old screenshots, thinking maybe turning on Dad's machine caused a rainstorm and found out that it did, although it wasn't clear at the time.


Ah. I get it now. By turning on the strange machine, I created a rainstorm that flooded the dry canal that for some reason had a moored boat waiting.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Missed Classic 44: Oo-Topos - Introduction (1981 original; 1986 re-release)

Written by Voltgloss



The Great Zork Marathon has graced this blog with many (and, in the future, many more) adventures crafted by the Implementors - Infocom’s cadre of game designers. With Oo-Topos, we’re taking a semi-detour to explore an Implementor’s work before he became an Implementor. That Implementor is Mike Berlyn, whose work we’ve seen showcased in Joe Pranevich’s playthrough of Suspended and will shortly be coming up again in Infidel. But those were not Mr. Berlyn’s first adventure games. Those honors go to Oo-Topos and Cyborg.

According to his Infocom bio, by 1979 Berlyn had completed two tasks keenly suited to a future career in adventure game writing: (i) he had written two novels; and (ii) he had purchased an Apple II and, like so many other game designers, found and enjoyed the original Adventure. By 1981 Berlyn converged those interests to found his own company, Sentient Software, and publish his first two, pure text adventure games: Oo-Topos (co-written with his wife, Muffy Berlyn) and Cyborg. What about those offerings may have appealed to the folks at Infocom to offer Berlyn a job? Let’s find out!...


Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Police Quest 1 (VGA Remake): Final Rating

Written by Alex



Police Quest: In Pursuit of the Death Angel is an interesting piece of adventure-gaming history. It might not have been the first to simulate a more realistic occupation in the sea of dragon-slayers, space-farers, and superheroes it found itself in when it first arrived on the scene in 1987, but it was the most successful, famous, and arguably unique. Say what you want about Jim Walls’ and company’s approach to game design, especially in later titles like Police Quest III and Codename: Iceman, but he and Sierra truly captured magic.

However, Mr. Walls had left Sierra at some point after the release of Police Quest III, and as such was not involved with this remake. Given that Walls was the father of Police Quest, and his experiences on the force helped give the original game, and the series as a whole, its realistic tone, it’s interesting to note that the remake does not mess with what made the original so groundbreaking. Other than the obvious cosmetic changes and the new interface which necessitates new ways to perform the same puzzle solutions, Police Quest remains intact.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Leather Goddesses of Phobos 2 - From A Time when Men were Real Men, Women were Real Women and Small Pulsating Creatures from Planet X were Real Small Pulsating Creatures From Planet X

Written by TBD.

The decision is made – YOU voted, and Lydia beat both Barth and Zeke as protagonist for this playthrough. You chose the character with the most boring thing to say in all you've read about so far, just giving us her name and planet of origin. Let's see if that lack of anything interesting to say continues throughout the game. If it does, I know who to blame. On with the show...


Lydia Sandler journal entry 1: Nothing much interesting ever happens in the sleepy town of Atom City, Nevada. Maybe tonight will change all that. My father, an astronomer (or possibly just a telescope enthusiast) asked me to check out a meteor that hit the ground near here. I seek help from my friend Zeke, as well as his employees at the gas station, and do some exploring. While checking out near a dried up canal, you won't believe what I found...

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Missed Classic: Enchanter - Won! and Final Rating

Written by Joe Pranevich



Last time out, I inched closer to discovering the Warlock’s inner sanctum and figuring out how to defeat him. In the process, I survived being sacrificed, watched a turtle be a ninja a full year before that would become a thing, and completely screwed up the Zork timeline by teleporting my character from the first games into an adventure that he wasn’t expecting. It’s been a great ride, if a bit frustrating at times. I’m not sure how I should think of a Warlock who leaves so many useful scrolls hidden all around his castle for a novice adventurer to come and defeat him with…

The first thing that I did in this session is to experiment with “melbor”, the protection from evil spell that I picked up at the end of last week. It doesn’t help one iota getting through the guarded door, but it does seem to prevent the cultists from finding me. With that, I have been finally able to access the eastern exit from the Junction… yay! This leads me to a landing and then a winding stairwell going infinitely up and down in both directions. I try to see if it repeats by dropping an object and seeing if I see it again later, but it really does seem to go on forever. With nothing up and nothing down and no spells that seem right for this occasion, I’ll have to come back later.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Kyrandia - Final Rating

Written by Alfred n the Fettuc

It is time for King Brandon’s adventures to be tested and thoroughly examined through the PISSED rating system. Will the beautiful universe crafted by Westwood be enough to forgive some lacklustre puzzle design or will Kyrandia disappear into the depths of our leaderboard? Let’s find out!


Sunday, 6 August 2017

Police Quest 1 (VGA Remake): Won!

Written by Alex



The reign of the Death Angel is at an end. The city of Lytton is safe once more. And Sonny Bonds—Detective Sonny Bonds—is the most beloved man in the city.

How did we get here? What happened in between Sonny disguising himself *snort* as a gangster *snicker* in order to infiltrate the illegal gambling ring at the Hotel Delphoria?

Friday, 4 August 2017

Missed Classic: Enchanter - The Terror that Flaps in the Night

Written by Joe Pranevich



Last week, I finished exploring nearly all of the Warlock’s castle but left many mysteries unsolved. We found a deathtrap with hammers and spears, a mysterious rainbow turtle, a man in a mirror, an excessively guarded door, and many other little mysteries. I’m going to have to put some of these puzzles to bed if I want to fight my way to the Warlock. You may have noticed that this isn’t a “Won!” post. Except for the original Dungeon (which was enormous), this is the first game in our marathon to require a fourth post. I’m still going to push to have each game done in three or less, but it seemed better to let this game breathe as much as it needed to. There are a lot of puzzles!

Just as with last week, my big break happened almost immediately after I stopped scrawling my notes for the last section. I put the game down, came back, and figured out a huge trick: napping. I have said this before, but when I write about these games, sometimes I sound smarter than I am. For every correct choice, I can spend enormous amounts of time wandering around or trying randomly stupid things which I do not always mention. Keep in mind that for every solved problem there is a strange man yelling at his computer screen about a thirty-four-year old game. Finding the clue I needed while napping was one example of said screaming.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Game 86: Leather Goddesses of Phobos 2: Gas Pump Girls Meet the Pulsating Inconvenience from Planet X - Introduction (1992)

Written by TBD

Since Maniac Mansion, Green Tentacle's become hungry for something else

After completing the original Leather Goddesses of Phobos, I was very much looking forward to the sequel, not so much for the opportunity of seeing the aforementioned goddesses in all their VGA graphical glory (Mmmmm, pixelated boobies...), but because of a point-and-click mouse interface - no more parser problems

{I don't understand the word 'point-and-click'}

Screw you, 1980s Intercom.

{I don't see any 'you' here}


Monday, 31 July 2017

Legend of Kyrandia - WON!

Written by Alfred n the Fettuc

Brandon’s journal - entry #5 : Finally. Malcolm’s abode. The fiend is near. I’m gonna avenge my new-found dead parents. This is it. The final showdown. Now if I can just find my way in this huuuuge castle…

Last week we followed the adventures of Brandon straight to Malcolm’s island (or what I can guess is Malcolm’s island, considering the dead plants and scary looking mountains scream “bad guy’s lair”)


Turning into a flying horse also left me with a craving for alfalfa.

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Police Quest 1 (VGA Remake): That’s DETECTIVE Bonds to You!

Written by Alex

In our last post, we were left hanging as Sonny busted suspected drug dealer, murderer, and driver of that darn stolen Mercedes, Marvin Hoffman aka Leroy Pierson. But did the bust stick?



The bust stuck. Sonny just had to go to court.

But first, Officer Bonds had to get into his street clothes and turn into (duhn-duh-duh-DUUUHN!) DETECTIVE BONDS! And you know what this means!

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Missed Classic: Enchanter - Magical Mystery Tour

Written by Joe Pranevich



Last week, I started my explorations of Enchanter by breaking into an ancient castle inhabited by an evil warlock. It seemed to be going well at first except I was too tired to memorize any spells, failed to find a safe place to sleep, and then was captured by cultists and sacrificed on an altar to a bloodthirsty god. I did manage to learn two new spells (one to open doors and another to repair damaged objects), found a mirror leading to the original Zork games, and encountered a door so heavily guarded that it’s defenses had defenses. Fort Knox would be easier to enter! The game is a ton of fun so far but I’ve barely cracked the surface. How am I going to find and defeat the Warlock? Will I win by opening a stuck door at him?

I will start this week by saying that I solved the sleeping issue immediately. Not really having any better ideas, I tried sleeping immediately after restoring from my trauma and that worked for some reason without any hassle. I have to assume that it’s a random event and I was just unlucky the last time, but I honestly have no idea. Did I just sleep in the wrong room? At the wrong time? Who knows but at least I can memorize some spells and start a less haphazard exploration of my environment.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Police Quest 1 (VGA Remake): Make the Bust and Make It Stick!

Written by Alex


Make the bust and make it stick! That’s the goal, right? I mean, it even says that on the box to this game:

At least, on the box of the original game.

So did Sonny bust someone? Did he make it stick? Ah, for that, you will have to read on. Because first, Sonny was off to The Blue Room for a shindig in honor of his buddy Jack Cobb.

(The suspense is killing you, I know. That’s all part of the trick.)


Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Missed Classic 43: Enchanter - Introduction (1983)

Written by Joe Pranevich


It seems like forever since we played Zork III, but we are finally returning to the unambiguous portion of our Great Zork Marathon with Enchanter, the first game in the second trilogy. It seems a waste for Infocom not to have taken advantage of the well-established brand name, but I am sure the marketing team had their reasons for not wanting to do so. Zork IV: The Enchanter would have been a fantastic title! I enjoyed the Zorkisms that we found in Starcross and Planetfall, but it feels good to be back on the main road. Like many of the games in this series, I vaguely remember starting this game (or one of its sequels) more than twenty years ago. I know that it has a magician protagonist and that finding and casting spells will be a key component. I also know that at some point in this series you “meet” your player character from the first Zork trilogy, but it might not be this game. I look forward to finding out!

This game both starts and ends an era for Infocom. This is the final game jointly designed by the team of Marc Blank and Dave Lebling. Marc remained at Infocom until 1986 but did not have time to develop any other games; he would return to produce Battlefield and Journey in 1988 and 1989. Dave will write four more games but we aren’t quite done with him yet. We will be looking at his Spellbreaker, the third game in this trilogy, in a few months. (Steve Meretzky of Planetfall-fame will be given the helm of the second game, Sorcerer.) Enough introduction, let’s play!


Monday, 17 July 2017

Kyrandia - Hocus Crocus

Written by Alfred n the Fettuc

Brandon’s journal - entry #3 : After this horrible cave, where to go next? After being knocked out by this branch, I met with Zanthia, another mystic. She seems to tell me I am a prince of some kind and when I ask her more infos, she asks me to bring her some magic water… These mystics and their errands! Could someone just give me actual real help already?

One week later…

We left Brandon having a little nap on the forest ground. He wakes up directly into some kind of witch house, with a blonde woman mixing up a potion in a huge cauldron. She introduces herself as Zanthia, another mystic (and future heroine of Kyrandia 2). She is pissed at the other mystics for basically telling you nothing apart than “go see other mystics” with a slap on the buttocks. Then she tells you you’re the prince...

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Missed Classic: Leather Goddesses of Phobos - WON! and Final Rating

When last we met, Trent had almost died for the fourth? time in Cleveland. A circle in Cleveland took us back to Phobos, and from there on to Venus and Mars.

South Pole

EDUTAINMENT WARNING < While Mars' north pole is made from water ice, the south pole in Mars is made from CO2 ice. >EDUTAINMENT WARNING

While hanging out near the Sultan's palace last post, I found that one of the teleportation circles takes me to the barge. With that information I (eventually) work out that I can get to the south pole without going past the brain exploding machine.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Police Quest 1 (VGA Remake): Speeders, Drunks, Bikers, and Murder

Written by Alex



Sonny’s first in-game day on patrol wastes no time getting to the hardcore stuff! But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves here; like I wrote in the last post, we need to talk about the Police Quest remake’s driving interface first.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Kyrandia - The Descent

Written by Alfred n the Fettuc

Brandon’s journal - entry #3: Caves. Darkness. Floating balls of light talking to me. Monsters moving in the shadow. This is definitely the last night I spend in this night club…

Yay, the fireberries cave! Well it’s a long long maze, and it’s very surprising at first. You’ve been wandering around the game nicely until now and random gem puzzles aside, it’s been somewhat of a breeze. And then the game throws at you a hundred-screen maze with insta-death around every corner! I understand that a lot of players just stopped there dead in their tracks… As for me I kinda like it! I enjoy mapping my old-school games with graph paper and pencil and this is a maze that rewards the player for being thorough.


One of the two kinds of screens we’ll see for a long time…

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Missed Classic: Leather Goddesses of Phobos - The Sultan of Schwing

When we left off last time I'd just escaped from a gorilla's body in a mad scientist's lab in Venus.

Inside the locked lab is another black teleportation circle, which I enter, ending up outside the scientists' house. A few screens later is another black circle, which I also enter.

After entering the circle I am now in...


MARS

I arrive in a ruined castle where I get told the story of King Mitre – on Earth we've heard a bastardized version about King Midas who turned everything he touched into gold, including his daughter. The real story is about King Mitre, who turned everything he touched into a forty-five degree angle. Next to him is a pile of angles, including one with golden hair and a flowing white gown {HINT! HINT!}

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Police Quest 1 (VGA Remake): Morning Routine

Written by Alex



And so we begin the Police Quest remake. I have to say, right off the bat, it gets points for presentation. I like that the title screen mirrors that of Police Quest III, released one year earlier.



In fact, this remake uses a lot of the same assets from Police Quest III, as though they were intending make sure that the overhaul of the series maintained a certain level of continuity throughout.

Lytton P.D. in Police Quest I


…and Lytton P.D. in Police Quest III.


Sonny’s street clothes in Police Quest I…


…and in Police Quest III


And lastly, Sonny’s character portrait in Police Quest I


…and in Police Quest III.

I’m getting ahead of myself here, but these are cool little touches that make me wish that the second game had also been similarly remade to bring it in line with these two.

Back to the intro: over some wailing guitars—well-composed, though the audio quality is a bit grating—we get the game’s credits, as well as some ominous imagery bespeaking the violence facing the city of Lytton.


This is actually animated.


So is this. It turns into a SKULL!

It definitely gives the game that “cop show” vibe I’m sure they were going for, and that I enjoyed so much about the third game . . . at least in the beginning.

But among the credits . . .