REVIEW - The Guide to Classic Graphic Adventures

HardcoreGaming101.Net recently published its first book, titled The Guide to Classic Graphic Adventures, by Kurt Kalata.

I first heard about this book a couple of months ago via Al Lowe's humor list, Cyberjoke 3000 (which I highly recommend if you're not already signed up), and I ordered it via Amazon. The book is HUGE, 769 pages, so it took me a while to get through it all. I thought it might be useful to others if I posted this short review.

Let me start with an executive summary - this book is highly recommended. I'd almost call it the Bible of graphic adventure games.

The selection of games discussed is encyclopedic. Just about every graphic adventure you might have played or heard of is in there, from the Sierra and Lucasarts favorites to much more obscure classics. I felt that the genre was very well represented. That's not to say that I didn't have minor gripes. For example, the Infocom Zorks were covered only as an intro to the graphical Zork games, and most of the rest of the Infocom canon was skipped. OK, I understand that Infocom games were for the most part not graphic adventures, but the later graphical games such as Arthur should have been covered, especially given the extensive coverage of Legend Entertainment and the interview with Bob Bates. I have other minor complaints like this one but as I said, overall, the selection is incredible. And given that there's already 769 pages in the book it seems almost petty to complain about some games that were left out.

The presentation of the material is quite good. The articles in the book are very logically ordered, with the games categorized by publisher and by year. The first 650 pages or so cover games that fit into a series, or have common developers or publishers, while roughly the last 100 pages deal with games that were standalones or one hit wonders. A shortish section at the end covers some of the most popular and culturally relevant independent adventures, such as the Chzo Mythos, and the Shivah. The text is easy to read, and there is a box shot included for each game, as well as one or more screenshots. Unfortunately, the images in the print version of the book are black and white only, but with such a huge book, color images were cost prohibitive. I also wish the book wasn't so heavy, but again, it's hard to complain about something like that. : )

Finally, the content itself - the book is very informative, even to someone like me who has been playing graphic adventures for just about as long as they've been produced, and who owns the vast majority of the games reviewed in the book. It is evident that Mr. Kalata did not just surf Wikipedia and write down some facts that he gleaned online, but rather did fairly extensive research to supplement what was probably already an exhaustive knowledge of these games. I did spot a few inaccuracies, but they were few and far in between, and the overall quality of the writing was excellent. Significant games such as King's Quest and Myst were given the treatment they deserve, with several pages of content each, while less significant games were limited to a page. Add in the introductions to the various series, the background material on the publishers, and the aforementioned developer interviews, and the final package is a very impressive volume.

The book is currently available at Amazon.com for a bit over $23. I highly recommend it.

Comments

Bill Loguidice
Bill Loguidice's picture
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Thanks for the reminder on

Thanks for the reminder on this. I just had the Kindle sample sent to my iPad and I must say it's definitely well-done. Naturally there are a few oddities (Lord Garriott?) and errors, but that's true of any work like this. I may very well spring for the Kindle version since its far cheaper.

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