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Archive for the ‘Computer games’ Category

N.B. I had begun writing this some time ago, but decided that now would be a nice time to complete and finish this post with Halloween coming up. Enjoy 🙂

Any talk of ghosts or the supernatural nearly always brings to mind my childhood experiences of Alone in the Dark (1992), by Infogames. That game used to scare me and my brother out of our wits. (Obviously, we never got to finish the game. ) The game takes place in the mansion “Derceto”. The mansion is rumoured to have supernatural influences and the owner Jeremy Hartwood has apparently hung himself in the attic. In the game you either play as Edward Carnby – a private investigator searching for a piano in the attic for an antique dealer – or Emily Hartwood, Jeremy’s niece who is searching for a suicide note left behind by Jeremy. As you enter the mansion, “BOOM” the doors mysteriously slam behind you. Now it is time for the fun – or fear, depending on whether or not you are a scaredy cat like me :-P.

The game requires a combination of puzzle-solving skills and reflexes, as not only do you have to get out of the scary house alive battling zombies, were-rats and the like within a few minutes of starting off in the attic – ultimately you have to solve the mystery of the haunted mansion. Although, some of the fighting can be avoided with planning and tactics. Personally, the rather sudden manner in which the enemies appeared and my lack of mastery of the (poor compared to today, but probably great for 1992) controls mean that I never managed to, or have bothered to finish the game. I have however since watched a let’s play series which I highly recommend by Youtube user POLE7645 who played the original game in French (with subtitles). Here is his playthrough of the first 10 minutes (obvious spoiler alert):

The game is available on Abandonia too, for those who dare ;-):http://www.abandonia.com/en/games/91/Alone+in+the+Dark.html

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King’s Quest V

If you love the stunning difficulty of King’s Quest IV but hated the terrible manouverability, then King’s Quest V is for you. Here is the beginning of point-and-click adventuring and the little ‘toolbar on top’ that you will have been familiar with in KQVI. You have to help King Graham (and a little owl friend) save his family from the wizard Mordack’s revenge, which involves them being eaten by a cat. (In KQIII, Prince Alexander turned Mordack’s brother into a cat, a spell only reversible by the spellcaster himself.)

The solutions are not less random than those in KQV; still, I believe that the beginning bits are a bit more managable, with a few more leads than poor Princess Rosella got in KQIV. Be warned though, I got quite stuck at the above scene even with hints and help from a walkthrough 😮

Oh, and King Graham can’t swim, so don’t try 😛

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King’s Quest IV

Revisiting the computer games of my youth, I decided to try out an even earlier game – King’s Quest IV: The Perills of Rosella. In this game, Rosella must recover the talisman of a faerie as well as find some magical fruit to restore her ailing father King Graham to good health.

Main differences between KQIV and VI. Here the pixellated charm is very obvious, the colours more garish and music more MIDI-like. Manouevering was much more difficult and you had to be sure that Rosella’s dress wasn’t accidentally too close to a tree or some other obstacle in order to let her pass. Therefore no clicking in a general direction -everything had to be specific. This added to the difficulty when running away from enemies or going up and down winding stairs! The fact that you had to type in words in order to do actions made it quite difficult, especially when it is not clear what small objects are when they are so pixellated. Some objects had such specific names too. Surely a brown, rectangular object could be called a “plank” as well as a “board”?

As with the KQVI and KQV (which I am in the process of exploring), the puzzles are potentially fiendlishly difficult without help of a walkthrough. How many computer games require you to clean a house, in order to get some diamonds, in order to get a fishing pole, in order to catch a fish, in order to feed a pelican which has a whistle that summons a dolphin that helps you escape from a desert island?

But Rosella as a character is to be admired. Imagine that Rosella had to do it all in 24 hours (before the faerie lost her power to restore Rosella to Daventry)! The brave girl can actually swim in the sea too, unlike her brother in KQVI!  (Although, perhaps Alexander couldn’t swim in the Land of the Green Isles due to strong current which was likely since the coast was meant to be treacherous.)

Plot and concept nice, gameplay not so easy due to poor manouverbility, puzzles very difficult without help (I guarantee that without the walkthrough or prior knowledge of the game Rosella will die at least once!). Still, fun to play if you stick through the cons! 🙂

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Nostalgia

for a person in their twenties such as me, has got to be MS DOS-type computer games. You know, pixellated images and funky music. I loved the ‘adventurer’ type and the most memorable to me of these games are King’s Quest VI, The Lost Secret of the Rainforest and The Secret of Monkey Island.

N.B. As far as I am aware, the copyright on these games has either expired or they have become Abandonware. If I am unintentionally infringing copyright by posting screenies, please inform me and I will remove them asap.

The Secret of Monkey Island is avaliable on the iTunes Store for £4.99, albeit graphics improved since the original version. In this game you play Guybrush Threepwood, a pirate wannabe who has to prove his worth in order to be a true prirate. I love the references to the modern world such as the grog vending machine and the t-shirts you find in Chapter 1. Oh look behind you, a three-headed monkey!

King’s Quest VI was the only game from the King’s Quest series I had ever played back in the days, but so far having done some research I think this is the one with the best storyline, with handsome graphics and music. In this game Prince Alexander of Daventry has his wits put to the test after he is shipwrecked in the Land of the Green Isles searching for his beloved Princess Cassima. Did I mention that I love the storyline? Highly recommended and available for free!

The Lost Secret of the Rainforest (also available at Abandonia for free) has a strong educational slant to it nevertheless is great for both children and adults with green tendencies. Here you are Adam, the young son of an ecologist, who has to help save the rainforest of a developing country from being destroyed. I loved the game so much, I cried when a tree (albeit a very important one) died. Ok, I probably was also a very naive young person. 😛

Complete guides to downloading and installing KQ VI and the Lost Secret of the Rainforest available here (You need a DOS emulator these days to play them).

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