adventure games

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Adventure Games (aka Interactive Fiction), both textual and graphical.
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New ScummVM Released

Good news today for adventure games--the ScummVM team has just released version 0.11.0 of their popular emulator/frontend package for classic LucasArts games. The new version:

  • Support for the FREEWARE adventure Lure of the Temptress (available for download here)
  • Seven other new supported games: I Have no Mouth, and I Must Scream, Elvira 1 and 2, Waxworks (Amiga version only) and 3 Sierra pre-AGI games for children
  • Two newly available ports: iPhone and Maemo
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The Greatest Graphical Adventure Games Ever Made

The Secret of Monkey Island: A true classic?The Secret of Monkey Island: A true classic?I recently was visiting the Adventure Classic Gaming site and enjoyed a review of The Secret of Monkey Island, Gilbert's 1990 classic point-and-click that, for many people, represents the very pinnacle of the genre. While I have played all of the Monkey Island games and enjoyed each one immensely, I sometimes wonder if people don't seem a little too enthusiastic. For the same reason that I'd be dubious of someone who claimed that The Princess Bride or The Pirates of the Caribbean was the best movie ever made, I'm a bit leery of people who make similar claims about Monkey Island. Fun, definitely. Well crafted, sure. Classic--I agree. But I find that my list of the best GAGs looks much different from most that I've found on the net, mostly because I think a truly great GAG has to do more than amuse you.

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Review: Kheops Studio's "Voyage: Inspired by Jules Verne" (2005)

Voyage: Lush graphics, awesome story, great puzzles, witty dialog...Bon voyage!Voyage: Lush graphics, awesome story, great puzzles, witty dialog...Bon voyage!Kheops Studio's "Voyage: Insired by Jules Verne," published in the US by the Adventure Company in 2005, is one of the best graphical adventure games I've seen in recent years. It features compelling gameplay, multiple ways to solve puzzles, and a good, solid story based on the works of celebrated French author Jules Verne (one of the true godfathers of science fiction). The puzzles are clever, the script is fun--in short, it's worth checking out, even if you aren't normally a fan of Myst-style games.

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More Reflections on Zork and IF

I have finally finished writing my history of Zork for GamaSutra. Despite some initial difficulties, I was able to secure interviews from a variety of important figures in the Zork and larger IF world, including Steve Meretzky, Marc Blank, Dave Lebling, Nick Montfort, and Howard Sherman.

Runaway - The Dream of the Turtle

It seems like classic graphical adventure games on the PC are making a comeback. One in particular called Runaway - The Dream of the Turtle is keeping the tradition of the comedic narrative and hand-drawn animated look typical of adventure games produced by Sierra, LucasArts, and other studios in the early 1990s. Although the game makes heavy use of cell shading, the game uses fixed angles and beautifully hand-drawn animated backdrops done in high resolution.

It seems that there are two games in the series, one released in 2003, and the other (above) which has just been released. Both games are available as digital downloads through the game's website. It's rather unfortunate I missed the first game in the series, it seems that these types of games don't get a lot of publicity in many game media outlets.

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Review: Amazing Media's "Mummy: Tomb of the Pharaoh" (1996)

Malcolm McDowell is one of my favorite actors, so naturally when I found a graphical adventure game (GAG) starring him for only $1 (and that was a dual pack including a Frankenstein game), it was really a no-brainer. When games come that cheap, the only question is whether it's worth the time investment. Verdict?

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Review: Dreamcatcher's "The Crystal Key 2: The Far Realm" (2004)

The Crystal Key 2: The Far Realm, is as unlike its first game as to almost make the term "sequel" a misnomer. While the two games certainly have some elements in common, the gameplay has changed, and there is much more emphasis on characters and puzzle solving. These changes make the second game much more playable and enjoyable than the first, and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in adventure games. Let's talk then about what makes the second game so much better, and hopefully provide some insights along the way to give new GAG developers some assistance in making better games. After all, it's just as important for a critic to point out why something is good as well as why something it's bad, though the latter is always much easier to do. To this end, I've setup the review like a tip sheet and filled it full of the wisdom that comes from many, many an hour playing GAGs. Even if you have no intention of ever playing this game, I'd like you to read my review.

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Review: Dreamcatcher's "The Crystal Key" (1999)

Dreamcatcher's The Crystal Key, released in 1999 for Macintosh and Windows, is a humble Myst clone without much to offer folks who aren't already committed to this particular type of adventure game. Although it has an interesting storyline, good graphics for the time, reasonable sound effects, and some good puzzles, none of these elements are polished enough to really make the game stand out against the competition (can anything really compete against Myst and Riven on their home turf?). Furthermore, it's a chore getting the game to work properly in XP, and it won't run at all on my iMac. Nevertheless, this era of GAGs is critically important for the genre, and Cyan wasn't the only company exploring the possibilities of first-person perspective and CD-ROM storage.

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Review: Nucleosys' "Scratches" (2006)

Nucleosys' Scratches, developed by Agustin Cordes and published by Got Game, is one of the scariest graphical adventure games I've played to date. However, it's suspense is much more subtle and relies more on extended tension than "boo!" moments (although there are a few). What I'd like to talk about in this review are the techniques the game relies on to generate so much anxiety despite its point-and-click interface: a brilliant story, masterful pacing, incredible ambiance, and uncanny artwork.

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Will the Wii Bring Back Adventure Gaming?

David Taylor of Gaming Target has an interesting article up about whether the Wii can save adventure gaming. Taylor's argument is that the Wii's much-discussed controller setup makes it ideal for point-and-click adventure games like the beloved Gabriel Knight, Sam & Max, Space Quest, and Tex Murphy series. Furthermore, a slew of top-quality adventure games might distinguish the Wii further from the FPS-heavy competition imposed by the 360 and PS3. While I'm not sure that the adventure game "needs saving" (there are still plenty of adventure games released for the PC every year via The Adventure Company, and Cyan's latest Myst entry was only last year!), I would like to see the genre better represented in the console market. I could even see some unique puzzles based on the Wii's controller; perhaps a door could be opened only by tracing a certain pattern in the air, or perhaps a game could feature a magic system based on a similar scheme.

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