Justin sat in the darkest corner of the darkest bar in the space station, shrunk into the shadows like a wet rat in a lightning storm. He was wary for a reason. If anyone guessed who he was or his purpose, his presence here would end his past. He needed answers. He needed courage. But he was scared as hell and fresh out of pencils.
Greetings, Armchair Arcaders and all of our beloved readers! I have some great news: Within a few weeks you're going to see something at Armchair Arcade that you've never seen before--a science fiction short story! Don't adjust your resolution, you read it right: in addition to all of the great news and feature articles about classic and modern gaming you've come to expect from your favorite website, we're bringing you the most exciting short stories you've ever read--or my name isn't Matt Barton! The first story in the queue is "Jumpman," a bold tale about a reluctant space-faring young man who finds himself embroiled in a mystery of universal (or should I say, multi-dimensional) proportions. You'll be clawing at your keyboard in anticipation of what will happen next in this amazing story! And wait until you get to the surprise ending--nothing can possibly prepare you for it! If you have any interest whatsoever in science fiction or just flat out good story-telling, don't miss it.
Don't be the chump that hears about Jumpman secondhand--stay tuned to this website, and grab it the nanosecond it hits the net!
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?)
I don't know how many of you are interested in magic tricks, but I think they're cool. Anyway, I just saw link on Digg to this set of 10 magic tricks and how to do them, and it's all in the form of video tutorials. I'd love to learn a few of these for use at parties and to pick things up in a dull class. There are card tricks as well as nifty feats like ripping a phone book in half!
As you well know, I've been doing quite a bit of research into the CRPG, particularly the early years of their development. I just finished my "Golden Age" article that covers the years between 1985 and 1993, and I've been thinking more about what makes a "CRPG" a "CRPG," and how different developers have modified the concept over the years.
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?
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.
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.
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.