Review

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Reviews of software, hardware and everything in-between.

Football (Magnavox Odyssey, 1972)

1972FootballOverlay: This is the overlay for Football on the Magnavox Odyssey.1972FootballOverlay: This is the overlay for Football on the Magnavox Odyssey.Football on the Odyssey, for my son and I, is worse than staring at a blank wall. We're not into football. We don't watch football. We don't even own a football. (well, we have a Nerf(tm) somewhere.) I honestly think that if two football fans played this game they would try it for 15 minutes and say "Screw this! Let's go outside and throw a football around."

Football is more of a "football abstraction". It's as if the game is asking you to pretend that you are playing a football simulation. It includes an Ãœberlay, a gameboard, about 40 cards, a football marker, and a yardage marker and utilizes no less than three of the pack-in Odyssey carts. The gameboard is included to use with the football and yardage markers to keep track of the ball and, um, the yardage, as one would expect.

Tennis (Magnavox Odyssey, 1972)

Der Ãœberlay for TennisDer Ãœberlay for Tennis

You: Didn't we just play Tennis the other day?

Me: Oh, no, that was Table Tennis and this is Tennis.

You: I see. Well, what's the difference?

Me: For one, this game uses the videogaming technological breakthrough known as The Overlay. In parts of the world that speak German this might be known as Der Ãœber-lay, which, to my mind, sounds a lot more exciting.

Matt Barton's picture

Amazing Media's Frankenstein: Through the Eyes of the Monster (1997)

Amazing Media's Frankenstein: Through the Eyes of the Monster is a fantastic game, and I'm stunned that it hasn't received more attention from serious GAG fans. Tim Curry's performance as the demented Dr. Frankenstein is wonderful, but that's not all this game has to offer. Great atmosphere, story, black humor, and intuitive puzzles--what more could a GAG fan ask for? I give this one two thumbs up--(and who knows whom those thumbs used to belong to?)

Table Tennis (Magnavox Odyssey, 1972)

Let's get this out of the way: I'M LONGWINDED! It's probably one of the many reasons I'm not a professional writer along with reasons like NOT being able to write about INTERESTING things, NOT being able to spell worth a damn and NOT caring (too much) about whether or not what I say makes ANY sense.

Ultraman vs. Odyssey

Okay, for those of you who didn't read my last entry (and who could blame you?) this blog is about pretending it isn't 2007. We're using our imaginations and pretending that it is 1972.

Matt Barton's picture

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?

Matt Barton's picture

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.

Matt Barton's picture

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.

Matt Barton's picture

Review: "Robots Unlimited: Life in a Virtual Age" by David Levy

David Levy's book Robots Unlimited: Life in a Virtual Age is a great introduction not only to robots, but also the various technologies that must work together in their creation: logic, artificial intelligence (AI), speech synthesis, natural language processing, sensory recognition, personality training, emotion--does it ever end? Although most people assume that we're centuries away from the invention of an intelligent, human-like android like "Data," Levy shows just how close we've gotten and just how soon we'll be interacting with amazingly smart robots on a daily basis. Robots will enhance our lives in countless ways; they'll not only help us in our daily tasks, but also become our friends and even our soul mates. They'll talk to us and show a sensitivity to our emotional states that not even our mothers could match. Furthermore, they'll be wonderful inventors and artists, breathing new life into every field of creative endeavor. Sound like science fiction? Levy shows that the only "fiction" is that robots won't play a vital role in the (near) future of the human race. David Levy will make you a believer.

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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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