ACG has posted my review of Jack Keane, an adventure game in the style of Monkey Island. Check it out if you get a chance; in short, I thought the game was excellent and well worth your money if you're a fan of the genre (or even if you're not!). It's a little "sexier" than what you might expect, but I certainly didn't mind that--we're not all 10, after all.
You can purchase the download for the game here for only $20. Not a bad deal IMHO.
Well, the time has come for me to turn my attention to King's Quest, having recently finished the drafts of Pac-Man and Myst. I played through the original King's Quest and a few of the later games, though again they're blurring together somewhat in my mind (will have to go back in to refresh my memory). Naturally, a discussion of KQ will let me talk about the PcJr as well as EGA and the early PC game industry. It'll be fun to talk about the many spin-offs, though I don't want to get too far away from the original game.
Steve Meretzky has some comments up at Game Set Watch from an interview at GDC. If the name "Meretzky" doesn't ring a bell, you may not have played some of the finest text adventure games ever made.
***UPDATE: Links to my reviews of all the Myst games below.***
Whew. I've been working all day on the Myst chapter of the book. I'm actually a good choice for this chapter, since I've played ALL the Myst games from start to finish and have a great love and respect for this venerable series. That said, it's been challenging; the games tend to blur together in my mind. I still think Myst IV: Revelation is the greatest of them all, simply because it had the best graphics and puzzles. Still, I admire III because of its brilliant marble puzzle and voice acting, and the final game for its luxury car interface that I still think is the best ever made for an adventure game. It's *comfortable.* I love it.
I'm sure this is already common knowledge (I haven't researched this yet or have much interest to at the moment), but apparently another new Leisure Suit Larry game is in development. Listening to the Howard Stern show this morning on Sirius Satellite Radio heading in to work, co-host and comedian Artie Lange is apparently doing a recording session today for a character named "Big Al". He didn't disclose what he's getting paid for what is expected to be around 3 hours or so of work, but apparently it's in the range of "what a person in his 20's makes in a year" (go perspective, go!). It was kind of funny to hear how little all on the Howard Stern knew of Leisure Suit Larry (and obviously gaming in general), but at least Howard himself was vaguely familiar with the basic premise of the original classic computer adventure games in trying to "enlighten" Artie and the crew. I'm sure this new one is just like the middling 3D "reimagining" of a few years back for PC and consoles, but it's still interesting to get a mini and unexpected behind-the-scenes-during-the-making-of from an unexpected place...
You may have noticed (hopefully with some sadness!) that I haven't been posting as much as I usually do here on Armchair Arcade. Part of the reason is that I've been overloaded with school work (this is finals week), but the true reason is that I've become a GameTapaholic. Don't get me wrong--the system is not without its faults, and is not available in Europe. However, it's far too easy to get sucked into games like Baldur's Gate again and end up losing days and even weeks of productivity. It's really hard to believe how much is available! Nevertheless, while there are plenty of classic games to keep you busy, we can't ignore the Sam & Max series. As far as I know, these are only available on GameTap, and well worth the price of admission.
There are so many critics nowadays who like to scoff at the venerable old graphical adventure game (GAG) genre. All I can say is that the news of the GAG's demise is highly exaggerated. If you desire proof, then I suggest you give FunCom's Dreamfall a chance. This epic-sized adventure game is an amazing achievement, and certainly ranks as one of the finest GAGs of all time. Although it's certainly not flawless, Dreamfall capitalizes on its key assets: Interesting and well-developed characters, a fascinating storyline, and excellent pacing. Although some GAG fans will dismiss any game that doesn't burden the player down with "puzzles" and other distractions, I'm refreshed by FunCom's focus on story, characters, and dialog. If videogames are ever going to move beyond just simple diversions for young men, we're going to need more games like Dreamfall.
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.