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
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
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)
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.