ExoDOS Playthrough, Altered Destiny, Ad Verbum

Ad Verbum

[4/5 stars]

AdVerbumI’m not sure exactly why some of the more modernish IF community games are included in this collection.  Maybe it’s a sort of “best of” addition to the classic DOS games.  I’d been meaning to get around to this game for a long time.  It seemed similar to an Infocom game that I was a fan of, Nord and Bert Couldn’t Make Heads or Tails of It.  As modern IF goes, Ad Verbum is one of the best. The puzzles are challenging, but they are presented in a more than fair manner.

 

Altered Destiny

[2/5 stars]

For being developed by one of the “greats”, Michael Berlyn–maybe not the worst Sierra-esque graphic adventure, but… so much of the progression through the game is spent trying to navigate your way through pixel-wide areas, stepping to either side of which can cause you to die instantly that it is very quickly not fun to play.  Funny death scenes are not bad in themselves, but it gets old in this game.  I think if you can get past the frequent complicated control / death dynamic then it might be an enjoyable game.  For me… I have over a thousand more games to get through here, so I need to keep moving.

ExoDOS Playthrough, A-“Ad “

A Day for Soft Food

[3/5 stars]

OK, so I guess I’m a cat.  Not a good start (I hate cats).  But not a bad game, anyway.  Puzzles involve figuring out an elaborate chain of events to get food before the timer runs out (you’ll probably have to restart a few times), outsmarting a rival cat and so on.

 

A Dudly Dilemma

[0/5 stars]

I couldn’t get this one to run.  I hear a single note from my emulated AdLib soundcard (or whatever) and it freezes on a black screen.

 

A Matter of Time (1995)

[2/5 stars]

RayTraced.jpgLooks like somebody got a ray tracing program and was looking for a way to get some use out of it.  Graphics involve the typical mirrored spheres and other geometrical shapes, along with some others–perhaps digitized photos.  Not all of them are this cheesy, there is some well done stuff in here.  Actually, though, the graphics get a little annoying past a certain point and hinder the game by breaking it up with lengthy load-time waits.

It looks like the plot is you are going back in time to rescue a murder suspect that is searching for the existence of God.  You follow him back in time and end up encountering… Not much really.  A forest, a cave, a waterfall, a dinosaur.  After a few times of being eaten, and having to go through the intro with all of the slow-loading graphics, I called this one.  Being that it is an “introductory adventure” meant to entice you to purchase the full version, I have a feeling I’m not missing too much.  Still, it’s not totally unworthy of a quick play-through.

CardinalSin.jpg

As a minor point of interest, this may be the first game in the post-Infocom era to not have a response to ‘xyzzy’.

 

 A Mind Forever Voyaging

[5/5 stars]

And so we come to the first Infocom game in the list.  I believe these are still being sold by someone… Activision?  Not sure.  So it’s not technically abandoned like most of the other games in this package.  However, between all of my Lost Treasures, original game purchases, and iOS/GOG purchases, I own this one a few times over.

Here’s the thing–I only played through the first section of this game at this time, and decided to “table” it for now.  As I work through the ExoDOS collection, I am looking more for “quick-hits”–I could probably spend the rest of my free time playing through these until I die–but I don’t want to do that exactly.  I’m trying more to find the hidden gems in here and move quickly through the other ones.  AMFV falls into the hidden gems category, and as such, I am going to collect these and do them later, giving them the extra time they deserve.

 

A-MIS Adventure

[3/5 stars]

Not bad for what it is… A quick little text adventure in which you play the part of a programmer coming in to work over the weekend to fix a horrible bug in your program code.  The game is not without its frustrations–such as having to punch in a code to unlock a door every time you go through it.  Most of the solutions make sense, or are at least easy enough to figure out.  One thing that tripped me up for a while is that being in the same room as an object that you need to use is not necessarily the same thing as carrying the object.  Shouldn’t take more than a half hour or so, from start to finish.

 

The Abbey

[2/5 stars]

Fairly extensive mapping at first yielded a large map but no real direction on where to go.  Thus, this became boring quickly due to the poor pacing of the game and the story.  Still, it should earn some marks for good grammar and spelling and a dark, brooding atmosphere.

 

 Acheton

Too many text adventures lately.  I know from reading about this game that it is pretty brutal.  I think I’ll save this one for later.  Ad Verbum would be next, and I am looking forward to that one, but I am in the mood for a more graphical game right now.  So I’ll end this here and move on to the next one of those…

ExoDOS Playthrough, 1-9

So I’ve more-or-less decided to play through the exoDOS archive in alphabetical order.  It was either that or random, but the types of games I’ll encounter going through them alphabetically will essentially be random, but I’ll also be able to keep better track of my progress.  So that’s what we’ll do.  There’s no way in the world that I have time to give every game a full playthrough and a proper review, so I’ll try to breeze through them, adding mini-reviews grouped by alphabetical first letter.

The 11th Hour

[1/5 stars]

The first game in the collection you come to is The 11th Hour.  Or The 11th Hour: The Sequel to the 7th Guest, the way it’s referred to in the manual every single time it’s used, to the point of being ridiculous. We get that it’s a sequel!

Anyway, the ridiculousness doesn’t end there.  The entire thing is ridiculous.  The acting… The “atmosphere” mentioned in any blurbs about the game.  It’s not dark and spooky.  It’s annoying and ridiculous.  The puzzles are either completely random, unplayable without a walkthrough or basic “brain teaser” logic puzzles like trying to get chess pieces to where they need to be on a chess board or figuring out a random sequence of digits. Not what I’m looking for in an adventure game.  I had to abort this one.

 

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

[1/5 stars]

Ostensibly based on Jules Verne’s classic.  The game begins with a fake news headline regarding the departure of the Abraham Lincoln to seek the sea monster off the coast of Queen Charlotte’s Island.

Right off the bat, there’s a huge “strike”.  I click on this thing that looks like a staircase, and it turns out that I flood the submarine that I’m on and have to go all the way back to the copy protection screen. Apparently you need to save very often in this game if this is going to be what it’s like.

And now I’m stuck on a boat looking at an island.  After being locked in my cabin.  Not exactly what I’m looking for.  I think I will hit the abort button on this one, too.  I promise they won’t all be like this!  Er… Actually I’m going to skip the next one in the list entirely on the premise that it doesn’t really look like what I would consider an “adventure game”.  So… Moving on, then…

 

3 Skulls of the Toltecs (1996)

[2/5 stars]

Hopefully this game can redeem the 1-9 games in the archive.  I’ve never heard of it, but the screenshots look decent, so I am hopeful.Asian

Well, after playing a bit… I guess it’s slightly better than the first few games I’ve played in the archive.  But still, in the opening sequence, I poison an old guy and then rob him.  Not promising. The game gets points for being LucasArts-ish, but in the end, it’s just not that interesting.  And the humor… I’m not PC by any means, but it seems it could be offensive to just about any one of any type of minority or religious persuasion, judging by the first, maybe… 1/10th of the game that I played.

 

3D Dinosaur Adventure

[1/5 Stars]

Not in any way an adventure game.  I admit, I got excited when I saw the screen for the “exploration” phase as it looked a lot like a Legend Entertainment / Magnetic Scrolls type of game, but alas, that’s not what it was.  I suppose this was probably an impressive piece of software for its time, and if someone is interesting in teaching their kids the naturalist/evolutionary view of the earth’s history it may have some value, but it is horribly out of date anyway.

 

4K Adventure

[3/5 Stars]

Blake.jpg

My first victory in this collection.  That’s not saying much–it’s described as “ideal for a complete beginner providing they
examine everything” in the Readme.  The puzzles are of the “look at x, find y, use it on z” variety.

This is really not bad for a game developed from scratch in Assembly.  Yeah, I don’t like that the “unknown input” message and the “item has no description message” are the same, and there are a few other minor flaws like this, but not bad, considering.

The game captures the spirit of the pre-Infocom text adventures very well–but it does feel updated somewhat.  No mazes, and I wasn’t dying without warning at every turn.  I ended up with a score of 72–not sure what the max is.  I suspect there is something you can do with the fungus to increase your score, but I’m not sure what it is.  Anyway,  I reached the conclusion of the game, so I’m happy.  Also, just for the heck of it, I ran a few of the other .COM files in DOSBox–a fun little addition to the game. This one is worth checking out if you have a few minutes free some day.

 

The 7th Guest

[?/5 stars]

I had to defer this one for a later time.  After aborting the 11th Hour due to the fact that it sucked, I couldn’t see giving this one a fair chance.  Maybe at a later date.

 

9:05

[3/5 Stars]

The last game in the 0-9 series.  Next starts the “a”s.  A daunting task if I have ever seen one. I think I’ll split them into sub-groups.

9:05 is essentially a puzzle-less game in which you can play through a few different ways to experience a slice of life from a few different angles.  I’m not usually one to play a game through after reaching the end, but this piece is short, and replaying it seems like almost the entire point (you’ll only see what I mean once you have tried it). With that being said, there’s not really a satisfying ending.  I kept looking for ways to “win” but there were only other paths you could take–the most interesting one being the path that you probably took in the first place.

9:05 is the first piece of IF from Adam Cadre that I can remember playing.  Not that I’ve been purposefully avoiding his stuff–it just happens that I haven’t gotten to it yet.  I will definitely check out his other stuff–I see quite a few games out there.

Codename: Iceman by Sierra [1 Star]

Title.jpg250px-20626-31360.jpg

I first learned of Sierra’s Codename: Iceman while killing time playing around with computers in the Sears electronics department.  It was one of the demo programs that they left running on one of their IBM-PC clones, along with maybe Microsoft Flight Simulator and some boring office programs.

One day my mom and I were probably out shopping at Alderwood Mall and I managed to get her to leave me in the electronics department for a few minutes so I could mess around with the computers. The game was

Volleyball.jpg
Earn a point playing volleyball

running, and I was able to input a few basic commands and movements before the older guy with white hair and garlic breath came over to see if he could help me.  I declined assistance and futzed around with the game without really getting anywhere, maybe reading a newspaper article and playing a game of volleyball.

But, I knew that I had to somehow get this game.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be.  I don’t even think I learned the name of the game until recently.  So, fast forward 30-some years and now I am finally getting a chance to play it. All I can really say is, “wow, I waited 30-some years to play this?”

From what I was able to glean from the story for the short time that I played it, you are a Navy submarine captain being called back from some PTO (or whatever they call it in the military) in the tropics to assist with a hostage situation.

There are a few sequences in Iceman that are enjoyable, but the majority of the time in the game is spent trying to successfully manage the submarine simulations.  Maybe the controls just don’t translate well through DOSBox.  I’m not sure–but it put me on the thin edge of wanting to forge ahead through the game and wanting to give up.

Image
Some trademark Sierra humor

Ultimately, I had to call it quits after getting hung up on the part where you are supposed to decode a couple of messages.  After consulting walkthroughs and everything, I still couldn’t get it to work, and gave up. Part of this decision was based on glancing through the walkthrough and seeing just how much more head-pounding frustration was in store for me with the submarine simulations.

So this childhood memory had a somewhat unhappy ending.  There are many more, though, and I’ll be going back through some other games that I expect will be more enjoyable in the very near future.

Links for Code-name: ICEMAN

Sky Kid, an Arcade Game

I’m still trying to place where Sky Kid might be in the chronology of my life.  I think it may be a bit later, but (since I know I played it on the NES which came after the Atari at least) I’m going to blog it now because I’ve been thinking about it.

Ah, pizzerias.  Godfathers…. Round Table… Pizza Haven.

Round table was the best.  They had a unique pizza that I have never seen anywhere else.  Not sure what it was… The sauce, maybe?  The slices were cut into ultra thin and long triangles, but they held together nicely.  And Round Table had a cool “sword in the stone” thing going on at the entrance to their establishments, with a sword that looked like it was buried in a large rock, and the temptation to grab it and give it a yank as you walked in or out was hard to deny.  And they had a nice arcade room.

But Sky Kid wasn’t at Round Table—it was at Godfather’s.  The arcade section here was smaller, and included other cabinets like Punch Out! and Star Wars, among others that I don’t remember.  Pac Man, maybe?  Ooh, bonus—I think they had one of those little sit-down Pac Man tables where you could take turns playing across from a friend while eating pizza.

So, but Sky Kid was a fun game.  Fun enough that I eventually bought it for the NES later.  I remember plopping tons of quarters into this game, but I never got far in the arcade.  I think the only arcade game that I put enough in to actually beat was TMNT, and that was much later in life—probably high school.

Typical of older games, Sky Kid is very simple.  You basically fly around and try not to get shot while shooting down other planes/tanks and bombing the fortress at the end of the level.  Button 1 shoots, and button 2 does a loop, a move that you can use to evade shots sometimes.  Or end up colliding into another plane and possibly crashing.

It had a surprising amount of Easter eggs and fun little things. 2014-10-23_122337 For example, shooting the happy, dancing girls at the end of the level  This would, for some unfathomable reason, turn them into happy, dancing ghosts. 

imageFlipping around the sun would turn it into a moon, and this would change the level to night. 

At the beginning of a level, sometimes there would be dancing girls that would send up some love (and increase your score) if you would loop over them.  image

 

imageDoing a flip just above the Pac Man billboard would give you a medal.

imageLooping around the statue of liberty swooshes her dress up a little bit.

imageAnd here, shooting a couple of helpless penguins turns them into polar bears.  So I think you get the idea.

The Tale of Beta Lyrae by Paradise Programming

By Philip Price?  The same guy that did Alternate Reality?  It really is a small world…

I have one memory of this game as a kid.  I was playing it before school, and my mom was trying to get me to leave, and I was so flummoxed because I had just gotten this game and wanted to play it.  Where did I get it?  I’m thinking at some software store at the mall.  For some reason I was playing this downstairs… But I only remember my computer being upstairs, first in like a guest room kind of thing, then in my own room.

Let’s see, so I was playing this downstairs… We had a kitchen separated from a family room by some kind of wrought-iron rail.  The family room was sunken… Had a wood burning stove, maybe?  The kitchen had a big sliding glass door out to the backyard with a patio, and was fenced in, behind which were the houses of our neighbors. Ahh… I remember drawing up plans with my friend from the house on the right to build a tunnel from my yard to his, complete with electric wiring (for video games) and hidden entrances.  I was incredulous that we couldn’t get financial backing from my parents for that.

There was an island of non-grass landscaping in the middle of the yard, with a big stump that served as an occasional table upon which to brew sun-tea.  There was also somewhat of a forested section in the back-left of the yard in which I would play G.I. Joe’s sometimes.  The other side of the yard wrapped around the house and housed some wood pallets where we held piles of wood for the fireplace.

Well, the emulated gameplay on this is interesting.  It’s the first joystick-based game I have actually been able to play with the keyboard reasonably well.  It reminds me a lot of Cosmic Avenger, another game I used to play way back when.  I love the animation when you shoot some of these things like the antennae–they actually crumple to the ground.  Well done!  None of this, however, justifies the almost $30 price tag back then!

Game Two: Blue Max by Synapse Software

This is another one that I remember playing at M.B.’s house.  They had an Atari 800, which was slightly different than my Atari 130XE, and I believe they had the more-or-less standard Atari joysticks with the black plastic case with the single stick in the middle and the two orange fire buttons.

OK, I’m going out on a limb here and trying to remember some particular details…  I believe their upstairs was… Unfinished maybe?  With just studs uncovered by drywall… A maroon-ish couch… They had a dog named Schnapps.  The Atari was situated in front of a TV in front of a stool, I think.

I had a lot of fun here…  The dad was into things that my dad would never have been, and that got me some exposure to certain things that I otherwise wouldn’t have had.  War-gaming… Role playing games…  He was fairly into this stuff.  They had elaborate dioramas made out of Styrofoam, shellac, paint, etc. to look like landscapes upon which they had painted metal tanks and would measure out movements and firing.  I remember having some German Panzers…  Shermans… Anywho.

Playing Blue Max via emulator was incredibly disappointing.  That’s mostly because every time I hit a key, the plane crashes on the runway.  If I don’t hit a key, the plane crashes at the end of the runway.  I’m starting to think that I’m not going to have much luck with the joystick games.  At least unless I get a joystick, and I have no plans to do that.  I remember Blue Max playing much like Zaxxon, but in a less sci-fi setting.

For now, I’ll have to be content watching the demo that plays before you hit the start key.  Yeah… Pretty much like I remember it.