adventure games

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Adventure Games (aka Interactive Fiction), both textual and graphical.
Matt Barton's picture

On Dean Erickson and FMV in Gabriel Knight II

Gabriel Knight 2Gabriel Knight 2My friends over at Adventure Classic Gaming have a great interview up with Dean Erickson, the actor who portrayed Gabriel Knight in the second game of the GK series, The Beast Within. As you may recall from my review of the game, I didn't think Erickson did the best job, but now, after reading the interview, I'm feeling a bit more forgiving. Obviously, one of the great challenges of being an actor in a FMV game is trying to "act natural" in a FMV studio, because the end product may turn out so much different than a movie or TV show would. People tend to forget that all of the pioneering FMV games were working without established precedents and tried techniques; they were experimenting and, in my opinion, were abandoned before they grew into their own. What I want to do here is address some issues with acting in FMV that may account for hits untimely (and hopefully not permanent) demise in the mid 90s.

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Rand Miller on Myst Uru and GameTap

GamaSutra has an interview up with Rand Miller, co-architect of the famous Myst series. The interview seems to be an effort to grab some free publicity for Cyan's new project--resurrecting Myst Uru for live play via GameTap. I'm not sure what to expect, but judging from the project's homepage, Cyan has big plans...And I hope things work out well for them.

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A Review of "Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Kill"

Nancy Drew: Map: Small Town, Big Secrets...Nancy Drew: Map: Small Town, Big Secrets...Secrets Can Kill (SCK), originally released in 1998 by Dreamcatcher, is the first of Her Interactive's licensed Nancy Drew graphical adventure games, and it's a rich and rewarding experience. It's set in a small town in Florida, where the murder of a local high school student and plenty of suspects peaks Nancy's curiosity to the "boiling point." The game is chocked full of clues, codes, and Easter Eggs--and puzzles galore. In short, it's a great game for all ages and both sexes, and even educational to boot. It's a well designed GAG with lots going for it, so if you see it, grab it--you won't be disappointed.

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A Review of "Missing Since January"

Missing Since January: The SKL Network, the in-game homepage.Missing Since January: The SKL Network, the in-game homepage.Missing Since January (MSJ), re-released in 2004 by the Adventure Company, is an American re-release of a game called In Memoriam, developed by the French Lexis Numérique company and published by Ubisoft SA and Dreamcatcher Interactive in 2003. The big gimmick is what I might call a "virtual reality" setup--playing the game requires moving beyond the program itself and doing Google searches. Players will also periodically receive emails containing clues or information, some of which are vital. It's pretty easy to see the problems that could arise from this setup, but it works. Plus, considering the game is now selling for $10 in various retail bargain bins (I got mine at Best Buy), it's definitely worth checking out.

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Broken Sword: Circle of Boredom

Broken Sword: Don't look down!Broken Sword: Don't look down!Although there were certainly aspects of Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars that I admired, and others that I enjoyed, I have to admit I found playing through this title an exercise in tedium. The key problem is poor pacing (snail race, anyone?), which amounts to a collosal amount of dialogue to sit through, a somewhat clumsy narrative technique, and what feels like hours spent watching the avatar slowly plod and backtrack across the screen. Compared to similar games like The Dig and Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers, Broken Sword just doesn't make the cut.

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Barton's Review of "Gabriel Knight II: The Beast Within"

Gabriel Knight 2Gabriel Knight 2"Gabriel Knight 2: The Beast Within" is an interesting game for many reasons. For one thing, it's one of the first games to incorporate full-motion video, and it does so effectively. Unlike Sierra's other pioneering CD-ROM project, "Phantasmogoria" or Trilobyte's "The 7th Guest," GK2 is still winning over new players today. The reasons are clear: GK2 has all the eyecandy of the other games, plus great characters, good drama, an interesting storyline, and challenging (yet not unsolvable) puzzles.

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Trilobyte's "7th Guest" (1993)

7th Guest Book Shot: Here's a shot from the introduction to The 7th Guest. Note the "blurring of genres" here with the storybook--Myst took the exact same approach.7th Guest Book Shot: Here's a shot from the introduction to The 7th Guest. Note the "blurring of genres" here with the storybook--Myst took the exact same approach.The 7th Guest is a graphical adventure game developed by Trilobyte and released in 1993 by Virgin. It was one of the first commercial games to ship only on CD-ROM, and certainly one of the first to really showcase the potential of the new storage medium. Trilobyte loaded the game with hundreds of megabytes worth of fully-rendered 3-D graphics, live-action video clips, and digitized audio, and topped it all off with some pretty clever puzzles and music by The Fat Man. Unfortunately, The 7th Guest is interesting now only from a historical perspective, the wizardry of its graphics and sound long overshadowed by newer PC technology.

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Lure of the Temptress

Lure of the Tempress: Screenshot from the first part of Lure of the Temptress, dialogue screen.Lure of the Tempress: Screenshot from the first part of Lure of the Temptress, dialogue screen.

Lure of the Temptress was the debut of a new British GAG developer called Revolution Software. The game appeared in 1992, the same year Lucas Arts released its classic Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, and two years after The Secret of Monkey Island and Loom. Around the same time, Sierra was releasing the fifth installment of King's Quest. In short, Lure was part of what we might call the early "Golden Age" of GAGs, when a few major companies were putting out very innovative work--but when a smaller company like Revolution (or Cyberdreams with their Darkseed game) was still able to make their presence felt with an innovative title. Lure was (and remains) a popular title for the Amiga platform, and even the DOS version I played had an Amiga-like quality to the graphics.

Lure's big gimmick is an engine called "Virtual Theater." Revolution describes this innovation on their website:

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Simon the Sorcerer

Simon the Sorcerer is one of those games that has been on my backlist for quite some time.

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