Becoming a rock god through the medium of videogames isn’t easy. Continue reading
We all have our favorite video game franchises. My personal favorites would have to be the Final Fantasy series as well as all Street Fighter games. But everyone has their own personal choice as to what they may be. That’s why it’s always a bitter revelation when a sequel gets cancelled.
This week, I decided to pay tribute to five of those sequels. Starting off with…
1. Shenmue III (Dreamcast, Xbox)
Yu Suzuki’s hugely ambitious project. Shenmue was conceptualized as an epic sixteen (!) chapter story, spanning multiple games and sequels. It told the tale of Ryo Hazuki on a quest to retrieve the Dragon Mirror from his father’s murderer, Lan Di. The first game encompasses the first chapter of the Shenmue saga while Shenmue II contains the third, fourth and fifth chapter (the second chapter was a comic/manga released in Japan and available in the Xbox version of Shenmue II).
Both Shenmue and Shenmue II were released to critical acclaim. Unfortunately, Sega, who was developing the game, was already is dire financial straits. This eventually led to the cancellation of the third installment of the series. The sad thing is Yu Suzuki already has the entire story drafted! Still, there are rumors that persist to this day that Shenmue III will be made in the future.
2. Eternal Darkness 2 aka Shadow of the Eternals (Gamecube, PC)
With its candy-colored case and adorable name, the Nintendo GameCube always had to fight of the stigma of being a “console for babies.” Well, anyone who owned a GameCube can rebuke this by simply letting their detractors play Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem. The game, developed by the team at Silicon Knights, is a Lovecraftian-like tale spanning different characters from different time periods.
What made the game unique was, instead of the standard health meter, each character has a sanity meter. These could ranged from the mundane (the sound of footsteps following the character) to the weird (statues will look at the character wherever they go) and the fourth-wall breaking kind (supposedly deleting all your save games).
Eternal Darkness was rated very highly by critics. Sadly, it wasn’t a commercial success, which probably contributed to the fact that a sequel hasn’t been greenlit by Nintendo. This didn’t stop Precursor Games, formed by former Silicon Knights employees, from starting a Kickstarter campaign to create a spiritual successor to the game called Shadows of the Eternals. However, the funding campaign was cancelled as of June 6, collecting only $128,039 of their intended $1.35 million goal.
3. Leisure Suit Larry 8: Lust in Space aka Leisure Suit Larry Explores Uranus (PC)
I already wrote about my great love for classic Sierra adventure games. And my particular favorite character from their games would have to be the lovable loser, Larry; Larry Laffer. I’ve played all of the Leisure Suit Larry games when they initially came out and I loved every minute of it (well, except getting stuck in the bamboo forest in the third game but that’s another story). So, when I saw the ending of the seventh game, Love for Sail!, which had our hero levitating into an alien spaceship, I was excited!
Alas, I never got to see Larry’s adventures in space as Sierra’s adventure game department was dissolved and development of the game ceased. There is still a glimmer of hope as the remake of the first game, Leisure Suit Larry Reloaded, may have renewed some interest in the series.
4. Mega Man Legends 3 (PlayStation, 3DS)
It’s pretty easy to dismiss the Mega Man Legends series. It plays like a weak 3D Legend of Zelda clone. The graphics are not exceptional in any way. It can be tedious to go back and revisit stages to destroy enemies and collect gems to purchase upgrades.
So, what makes Mega Man Legends any good? Charm, that’s what! All of the characters exude personality; Tron Bonne, one of the villains of the series, got her own game, The Misadventures of Tron Bonne, and became a playable character in Marvel vs. Capcom 3 because of her popularity. Also, while the graphics aren’t anything to write home about, they are depicted in a childish and cartoony way that’s just a joy to look at.
Mega Man Legends 3 was actually announced to be in development way back in 2007, which made a lot of fans like myself overjoyed. However, when Keiji Inafune, co-creator of Mega Man left, this pretty much signaled the death of future Mega Man titles and Mega Man Legends 3 got the axe in 2011.
5. Fear Effect: Inferno (PlayStation, PlayStation 2)
Who’s the hottest female video game character of all time? Most gamers would say Lara Croft, Chun-Li, Cammy, Samus Aran, the Dead or Alive girls and the like. While those are pretty good answers, in my opinion, I would have to say it’s, hands down, Hana Tsu-Vachel.
Who is she? Hana’s the deadly bisexual mercenary from the Fear Effect series, that’s who! Fear Effect uses cel-shading for the main characters who traverse pseudo-3D backgrounds (actually video clips), giving the game an extremely unique look. It also doesn’t hurt that both the first Fear Effect and its follow-up, Fear Effect 2: Retro Helix, have pretty outlandish stories and tough puzzles.
Fear Effect: Inferno, the third game of the series, was going to be published for the PlayStation 2. Early test video clips have been released, showing the game’s overall progress. The game was officially cancelled as of 2003 with no official reason given.
I know there are a lot more games and sequels that were cancelled but the five I’ve mentioned are five bitter pills for me to swallow. So, the next time you say you’re sick and tired of sequels, just remember that means you want to kill of someone’s beloved franchise.
The Xbox One will be made available to the public this Friday. This is exciting news… except for me. That’s because I will not be getting an Xbox One. In fact, I’ve never even considered purchasing it or its predecessor, the Xbox 360. Like the old saying goes, “First impressions last” and my experience with the original Xbox soured my impression of future Microsoft consoles.
Let’s go back in time. The year was 2003. I finally got my hands on my very own Xbox. It was a console I lusted for because of one specific reason: Halo. I’m definitely not the biggest first person shooter fan but I read a lot of reviews regarding Halo and how groundbreaking it was and it made me want to play it. I only had a PlayStation 2 at the time (which I still enjoy, by the way) and I couldn’t get Halo on it. So, I actually saved some money to get an Xbox and Halo.
At first, it was a dream come true. Halo was a blast to play and I was pretty much in agreement with the reviews: it was probably one of the best shooters of its time and its story was surprisingly deep, especially with the twist with the Flood. But, eventually, I did finish the game. And I did find out that the Xbox had a pretty good selection of games.
I had a blast playing games like Project Gotham Racing, Fatal Frame II, Silent Hill: The Room, Halo 2 and much more. I even played an embarrassingly huge amount of time playing Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball. Call me shallow but I really spent a lot of hours buying a lot of gifts and swimsuits for all the gals, but especially for Hitomi! The Xbox was getting as much playtime as my PlayStation 2.
Alas, the good days were not to last forever.
One day, I was playing Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. I have been playing the game for about a month and, finally, all my hours of playing was going to pay off. I was at the point of the game when you fly to the Star Force and face Darth Malik. All of a sudden the cut scene of the Ebon Hawk flying into the gigantic space station became a bunch of still pictures! Even the sound started skipping! This signaled the beginning of the end of me having fun with my Xbox.
I tried playing other games to check if it was just the disc that was having problems or if it was the console. Unfortunately, it was the latter. It would take an awfully long time for Project Gotham Racing to load a track. Some games, like my copy of the first Halo game (the reason why I got an Xbox in the first place!) wouldn’t even be recognized by the system!
I looked online and it turns out this was a fairly common issue: the DVD drive was failing. But I only had the console for 2 years and the drive is already defective? No amount of cleaning seemed to work. Okay, that’s really awful engineering but I’ll just repair it myself. I went online to find out how to do it and it’s a pretty complex process. Basically, it involves adjusting the voltage that goes to the laser assembly. I tried making numerous adjustments but it never worked out for me. I guess I had to get a replacement drive, which I managed to do.
3 weeks pass. I was finishing up Fable, a game I started playing the instant I got the new drive. During the final battle with Jack of Blades, the framerate just dropped sharply. It reached a point when it seemed I was watching a slideshow. I have no idea how I managed to defeat Jack of Blades (dumb luck probably) but I couldn’t enjoy the ending since, well, it was unwatchable already! I tried other games again and, sure enough, the drive was failing again!
The replacement drive I got was a Thompson and it was the only drive they had in stock. This is the drive that was known to be extremely defective. I tried desperately to find other DVD drives in my area but to no avail. I resigned myself to the fact that I’ll never be able to get my Xbox fixed.
Soon after, the Xbox drive just totally quit and refused to read any discs. I never bothered getting it repaired since. Ever since then, I tend to not trust Microsoft’s consoles and it turns out I’m justified to do so. I’ve had friends tell me horror stories encountering the Red Ring of Death with their Xbox 360s. In fact, I’m not kidding when I say all of my friends who have Microsoft’s 2nd entry in the console wars have experienced the RROD.
Unless they can prove that its going to be a reliable piece of hardware that I can count on, I’m will not be getting an Xbox One anytime soon. You can blame the real Xbox 1 for that!
We will see the 4th iteration of PlayStation on Friday. It’s pretty exciting, honestly. I’ve been a big fan of Sony’s gaming console ever since the first gray box PlayStation was made available.
I had an extensive library of (bootleg) games for the original PlayStation and played it for an extremely long time. But all of that stopped when the PlayStation 2 came along. I would use this console non-stop for years. In fact, I still use it moderately even though I actively play on a PlayStation 3.
You see, I still live with my parents. It may seem odd to people in other countries but where I come from, the Philippines, it’s common practice. So, I do help out with paying the bills, the chores and whatnot but this does mean living and personal space it kind of at a premium.
Anyway, we only have one HDTV in the house and it’s in the living room so the PS3 is hooked up to that. My PS2, however, is hooked up to my own television in my room. And, like I said, I still boot it up once in a while and play a couple of hours on it.
During the day, I play GTA V but, late at night, before I go to bed, I follow CJ’s adventures in San Andreas.Once it a while, when it’s late at night, I would turn it on an play a few rounds of Street Fighter Alpha 3 or Pocket Fighter/Super Gem Fighters MegaMix from the Street Fighter Alpha Anthology.
Otherwise, I bust out my old plastic guitar and play Sweet Child o’ Mine on Guitar Hero II. I started replaying Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas again a few weeks before Grand Theft Auto V was to be released. And, I can’t believe it myself, I’m playing both game concurrently. During the day, I play GTA V but, late at night, before I go to bed, I follow CJ’s adventures in San Andreas.
I’ll be the first to admit that the graphics don’t hold up to today’s standards. But the games are still fun as they were when I played them so many years ago. Besides, graphics don’t make a game good; it’s the gameplay, right? And there are so many games in the PlayStation 2′s library that gets gameplay just right!
If you played Metal Gear Solid 2 and 3, Silent Hill 2, ICO, Shadow of the Colossus, Ratched and Clank, Jax and Daxter and Gran Turismo, you know what I’m talking about. Even during its twilight years, the PS2 was still releasing gems like Odin Sphere and Sakura Wars: So Long My Love.
I also have both the fat and slim versions of the PS2. Well, had is more accurate since the fat model’s DVD drive conked out some time ago. But I was amazed with how long it lasted! If you had the original PlayStation model, there’s a good chance you had to turn it to its side or flip it on its head to get it to work right. I didn’t have to do that with my fat PS2; I actually went in and opened it up to fix it!
My fat PS2 lasted for a good 5 more years after the repairs I made myself were done!When my fat PS2 started getting the Disc Read Error, I went online to see if there were any similar workarounds akin to flipping it over.
It turns out there were none but I did see a guide that gave detailed instructions on how to open it up and make the repairs on your own. I actually followed them and it was up and running. My fat PS2 lasted for a good 5 more years after the repairs I made myself were done! I think Sony did a great job in making it easy to do home repair on the PlayStation 2.
Even though the PlayStation 2 is getting pretty long in the tooth (it’s roughly 13 years old now), especially with its younger brother arriving in a few days, my PS2 is still getting a steady workout of playing games. I will still get a PS4 (after they release a patch for that media sharing brouhaha) but, for right now, I’ll be fine with my PS2/PS3 combo.
This is going to be an incredibly SPOILER FILLED article about one of the main characters of Grand Theft Auto V, Trevor Phillips. So, if you haven’t completed the game, please stop reading now! But, if you have already finished GTA V (or you don’t mind spoilers), this article will be my views on Trevor Phillips, the crazy, volatile protagonist of the game.
Trevor Phillips. He’s the owner and CEO of Trevor Phillips Enterprises, a company that deals in the manufacture and distribution of illegal drugs and selling guns to the highest bidder. In all honesty, he’s a pretty despicable human being. A man who has seems to have very little remorse to killing people and even appears to revel in it. It was because of those reasons I initially didn’t like playing as Trevor.
Yet, underneath this very unappealing exterior (both literally and figuratively), I actually accept Trevor Phillips not just as an evil human being, but as a flawed individual. A man who endured hardship and had to struggle to find his niche in life. And all of this culminated into the creation of this incredibly insane but vulnerable human being.
Even the introductory mission shows Trevor has a heart.Even the introductory mission shows Trevor has a heart. During the final moments of the failed bank heist, Brad and Michael Townley, his allies and friends, get shot during their escape. Trevor actually tries to stand his ground, not wanting to leave his friends.
He starts killing off numerous cops in a futile attempt to stay with them. While I didn’t think that much about it at the time, in retrospect, this simple scene does show Trevor is extremely loyal to his friends.
However, when I was re-introduced to him, nine years later, he’s definitely more crazy. In fact, the first thing you see is him having sex with Ashley, Johnny Klebitz’s “woman”. It’s also revealed that Trevor takes advantage of Ashley’s addiction so he can have sex with her. Even when Johnny comes to Ashley’s defense, Trevor uses a moment of weakness from Johnny to bash his head in with a beer bottle and kill him in cold blood. At this point, I was honestly disgusted at the thought of controlling this guy throughout the game.
Later on, it may seem Trevor just loves killing people for no apparent reason. Well, that’s what I initially thought when I saw the first Rampage mission. This time, Trevor asks a bystander for a sip of beer from his bottle. The man refuses and, when he “accuses” Trevor of having sexual relations with his mother, he loses it and starts shooting people.
However, looking back at it, Trevor doesn’t really lose it (starting the Rampage missions) until the “victims” do two things: accuse him for being Canadian and, more telling, if they suggest he’s had sexual intercourse with his mother. And dialogue actually does hint Trevor almost did because, in Trevor’s own words, “It’s not legally [having sex] if you do not penetrate.” So, either Trevor has some unhealthy relationship with his own mother or he was abused by his parents.
And, during a later mission, it’s hinted it’s the former. One of Trevor’s side missions has his mother visit his home. Trevor’s mother berates her son and delivers a massive guilt trip. While Trevor would usually be angry by this accusations, he turns into a blubbering child and proceeds to steal a van filled with drugs to appease his mother. When he does return with the drugs, his mother is gone. It’s never fully revealed the visit this was just a figment of his imagination but it reveals what a damaged character Trevor really is deep inside.
Trevor is actually heartbroken he has to return Patricia to her husband.Trevor may seem like a murderous psychopath most of the time but, throughout GTA V’s story, he also shown to have a great capacity to care for others as well. When Michael (now using the last name De Santa) and Trevor reunite and James tells them Tracey’s trying out for Fame or Shame, it’s Trevor that gets Michael to rush to the stadium to rescue her from humiliating herself.
When Jimmy sends him an email asking they go hang out and drink beers, Trevor rebuffs him, saying he thinks of him like his own kid. Also, in one story sequence, he kidnaps Patricia, the mistreated wife of a mob boss. But, instead of mistreating her, he actually becomes kind of infatuated with her and treats her with respect. Trevor is actually heartbroken he has to return Patricia to her husband.
He also has shown to actually be helpful and compassionate at times. He helps out Nigel and Mrs. Thornhill with gathering trinkets and souvenirs without expecting any payment in return. He’s shown to be cordial to Maude Eccles, the woman who gives Trevor the four bounty missions. He does mistreat Wade, his mentally challenged lackey, often but Trevor does shield him from a lot of his more violent actions, such as not letting Wade see the dead bodies of his cousin, Floyd, and Debra… after he murders them, of course.
Yes, Trevor Phillips is a deranged, sick, twisted and sadistic human being but he still is a human being. When I finally realized that, that was when I really got into the character of this madman. I may not identify with him… but I accepted him as, not just as a crazy killer, but a defective individual who was a victim of circumstance and bad luck… and a pretty awesome character!
How many of you have fond memories of the Philips CD-i? Or the Atari Jaguar? Or even the 3DO? What? Not many of you do? Well, that’s to be expected since the consoles I just mentioned were branded as commercial failures. You see, I don’t think the gaming population can only support three consoles at any given time. We may want more variety but the sad reality is we can’t have more than three per generation.
So, when the 16-bit wars arrived, a lot more companies threw their hat in the ring.Now, why do I say this? Well, let’s first take a look at each and every console generation after the 3rd generation of consoles or the 8-bit generation. We saw the NES and the Master System rise to popularity and enabled Nintendo and Sega to build gaming empires around their successes. Gaming was starting to regain traction after the video game crash of 1983. So, when the 16-bit wars arrived, a lot more companies threw their hat in the ring.
NEC started the 16-bit wars with the release of the TurboGrafx-16. Sega and Nintendo soon followed suit with the Sega Genesis and the Super Nintendo. Then came the Neo Geo, the odd man out so to speak. It was a monster of a console, both in specs as well as physical size. In fact, the joysticks had the same footprint as the console itself. It was more powerful and touted to be a 24-bit machine (one 16-bit parallel CPU with an 8-bit co-processor) and probably the most successful fourth entry of any console generation.
Then the so-called 32-bit consoles took over and a newcomer actually became the front-runner in the console wars. Sony’s PlayStation took the world by storm and that little gray box stole a lot of thunder from the Nintendo 64 and Sega Saturn. But this success didn’t translate to others who tried their luck. Atari attempted to make a huge return to the home console market with the Jaguar and the newly founded 3DO Company with their entry, the (what else?) 3DO Interactive Multiplayer. Even though the Jaguar and the 3DO were technically more powerful than Sony, Nintendo and Sega’s new consoles, they didn’t sell well.
After that, every fourth console that tried to enter the market seemed to be doomed to fail. NEC’s PC-FX never reached the mass market’s consciousness in America. The Apple Bandai Pippin may be one of the reasons why Apple has no plans of entering (or re-entering) the console market. Even Sega, who was an industry giant and probably the only real contender to Nintendo’s throne of video gaming dominance during the 8-bit generation, crumbled after the failure of the Dreamcast.
We don’t just want the biggest and most powerful console anymore; we want the one that will give us the most value.We actually hit the sweet spot with the current (and soon-to-be previous) video game console generation. The PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Wii is a great trio of gaming consoles and we didn’t need another console to mess things up this time. Old hardcore gamers (like myself) were pleased with either Sony or Microsoft’s entries and even casual gamers or those just finding their love for video games had a great time with the Wii.
I think the biggest reason why four or more consoles per generation is too much is because, well, let’s face it, gaming is an expensive hobby. Purchasing one or even two consoles is a pretty big investment, so we tend to be pretty picky with our choices. We don’t just want the biggest and most powerful console anymore; we want the one that will give us the most value. We want the one that will have a great library of games.
Also, I don’t think a lot of the triple-A developers and publishers nowadays can release games on more than three consoles. Each console will have different specs, controllers, among other things, and developers will have to allocate people and resources to research and development for each of them. That doesn’t seem realistic, especially if they want to turn a profit with each game they release. The bottom line for developers and publishers is gaming is still a business and they have to be careful where they put their money because, if they spread out too thin, they’ll either make crappy games on one will buy or just hemorrhage money every time they try to make a game.
For me, gaming is much more than than just a fad or a craze. It’s a part of my life.On a personal note, I’m actually kind of afraid each time I hear four or more gaming consoles are out in the market. I have vague memories of the video game crash of 1983. During that time, there were a huge number of consoles competing for gamer’s attention.
There was the Atari 2600, the Mattel Intellivison, the Magnavox Odyssey2 and many more consoles I care to mention before the video game crash happened. Most of these companies went out of business or left the video game industry altogether after the crash.
The crash also left a bad aftertaste in many consumer’s mouths and most news outlets said that gaming was “just a fad” and nothing more. I don’t want one of my favorite pastimes to be called “just a fad.” I don’t want something that had brought happiness to a lot of people just a craze. For me, gaming is much more than than just a fad or a craze. It’s a part of my life.
So, when I hear that there are more than four consoles, I kind of cringe a little. Newer consoles, such as the Ouya or Valve’s Steam Machine, may have big dreams but they have better be sure they have the gusto and staying power to kill off the PlayStation 4, Xbox One or Wii U. But, honestly, I’m not looking forward to any console dying out anymore. I’ve seen so many of them fall already and I don’t want to see another.
Let me give you a brief glimpse on how I usually start writing an article for Gamemoir. Obviously, good writing is created when you’re motivated and it can sometimes be difficult to find inspiration. So, what I usually do to excite my creative side is to listen to music. And, since I write about video games, I usually go to YouTube, search for some video game music I like and listen for a bit. A lot of times, it works and gets me in the mood to write.
It seems that I only remember the retro video game songs and none of the new ones.Last week, while I was searching for “inspiration”, I realized something: I was only looking for older tunes and never any songs from the later generation of games. That got me thinking as to why that is. It seems that I only remember the retro video game songs and none of the new ones.
I’m not saying that the music in video games that were created during the current generation is bad. Far from it! I actually think the songs from God of War is excellent and the background music of Silent Hill give an appropriate creepy feel. And Metal Gear Solid 3′s Snake Eater is actually one of my favorite songs! But they don’t just stick in my head. I don’t have the subconscious urge to hum “The End Begins.” In fact, if I heard it by itself on the street, I wouldn’t have any idea it came from God of War.
There was just something about the old songs which made them easily recognizable and easy to remember. Right now, just from memory, I can recognize the Base Theme song from Contra, the Green Hill Zone music from Sonic the Hedgehog and One Winged Angel from Final Fantasy VII. Oh, by the way, I never even played the original Sonic the Hedgehog! I just watched a video of it one time and the song got stuck in my head without me even knowing it!
I guess one thing the older tunes have going for them was how simple they are in composition.I guess one thing the older tunes have going for them was how simple they are in composition. The technology of the time just didn’t allow them to make complex songs with multiple layers. The original NES only had a few sound channels available and, seeing that one or two of them have to be reserved for the sound effects for the game, that left composers with the ability to only play one, maybe two, notes at a time. So, they really had to focus on the main melody and a few background notes to create a whole song.
Take a quick listen to the overworld song of the original Legend of Zelda. It may sound pretty complex but really, if you listen closely, you’ll notice only two notes playing at the same time and a faux drum beat. That’s it! One of the most epic tunes in video game history has only two voice tracks and nothing more.
Nowadays, modern consoles and computers do not have these limitations and have numerous sound channels so composers can go pretty crazy and make songs with multi-tiered tunes. Unfortunately, this makes them hard to listen to the main melody. Generally, a song with a lot of competing notes and no “clean” main melody makes it hard for the brain to wrap around and remember.
There are a few modern video game tunes that focus on the main melody, which is why they seem incredibly memorable to me. One example is Uncharted’s theme song. Yes, technically, it’s trying to rip off popular movie theme songs but, if you really think about it, most memorable movie theme songs follow the same formula: a simple, uncomplicated main melody that’s easy to hum.
Of course, this isn’t the sole reason why older songs are catchy. Having to listen to the same tune over and over and over again definitely helps getting a song buried in your subconscious. This is the same reason why some pretty awful songs get lodged in your brain. If you had a radio during the time Titanic was shown in cinemas, I’ll bet you can still remember Celine Dion screaming at you about how her heart will go on and on. Don’t worry. I’m not cruel enough to embed that song in this post.
Instead, let’s take a look at one of gaming’s most enduring soundtracks: the songs from the original Super Mario Brothers. The game has a total of 4 different stage varieties: overworld, underworld, underwater and castle. Not sure if these are their original names but anyone who’s played this game probably know the music of each stage just by those one word descriptions. You know why? Because when we played Super Mario Bros. and we go through those stages, we hear the same songs over and over again.
And we’ve all played Mario repeatedly so the tunes just buried themselves deep into our memories.And we’ve all played Mario repeatedly so the tunes just buried themselves deep into our memories. Not only that, in all honesty, I don’t think the underworld and castle themes aren’t even good! They’re extremely repetitive and loop back to the start in just a few seconds. But, since you’ve heard these songs multiple times, you’ll never get them out of your head!
I think modern games try to avoid repeating the music as much as possible. They try to create as much variety as possible, which I think is commendable and actually great to give gamers a more varied experience. But, at the same time, since we only encounter the song once during a long playthrough, we’ll never get to listen to it again, limiting their chances of embedding into our brains.
Actually, now that I mentioned it, I’m kind of relieved music composers for games have more tools and less hardware limitations to create songs. There was no way the NES could have pulled off tense atmospheric background music like the evasion theme of Metal Gear Solid or the haunting chorus of voices heard in Halo. They are still memorable in their own right but there was just something about the simplicity of the tunes during the early days of gaming that hold a nostalgic place in my heart.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll off to look for more video game tunes from my past. And, you know what I just realized…
Guile’s theme does go with everything!
These days, most games are all about shooting and killing things. Don’t get me wrong; I love doing these things! But there was actually a time when I really played games where it was necessary to kill waves and waves of monsters. No, there was a time when most of the games I played where about going to different lands, collecting items and solving puzzles. These were adventure games and I loved… no, scratch that… I love (present tense) playing these games. Especially the adventure games made by Sierra On-Line.
Adventure games were actually one of the earliest forms of computer games because you didn’t really need graphics to play them. If you’re familiar with classic text adventures like Zork, then you already have a good idea on how to play them. But, of course, while the early text adventures were popular for their time, adventure games only really hit their stride when they actually started inserting pictures to go with their wordy descriptions.
This is where the initial entry of the King’s Quest series comes in and my very first introduction to the world of adventure games. You control Sir Graham, a knight of the kingdom of Daventry. The current king and ruler of Daventry is old and doesn’t have an heir to the throne. However, he does see a goodness in Sir Graham and sends him on a quest to find the 3 magical treasures of the kingdom and, if he does, he will bequeath his kingdom to Sir Graham.
After that, I started collecting all of the Quest games Sierra On-Line produced. The great thing about them was that they tackled very diverse genres. The King’s Quest series had a medieval fantasy setting and usually had a member of the Daventry royal family as the protagonist. In Space Quest, you’re put in the shoes of Roger Wilco, space janitor (or sanitation engineer, as he calls himself). Police Quest has you solving a major crime with each game while having to follow the proper police procedures. There was also Quest for Glory, which follows an RPG route, and you get to pick from three classes (Fighter, Wizard and Thief) and use a combination of puzzle solving and stat building to finish the game.
However, my favorite series definitely has to be the Leisure Suit Larry games. I remember playing the first game when I was 13. Yes, I know the game was supposed to be only for adults… but that never really stopped me from playing them! Was it was the raunchy humor that got me hooked? Maybe it was the thought that I was playing I shouldn’t be playing? Or was it because I just loved the Larry Laffer’s ridiculous main goal of getting laid? No, it wasn’t one single thing. it was definitely the combination of all of those things!
That’s not to say that the other Quest games weren’t great in their own right. Far from it! I loved how the King’s Quest games drew a lot of inspiration from fairy tales and myths. It was fun to see how Space Quest would draw from popular science fiction movies and television shows and how Police Quest actually showed how police protocols and rules actually help the police solve crimes.
Besides the settings and the stories, another thing that made adventure games so popular were the puzzles.Besides the settings and the stories, another thing that made adventure games so popular were the puzzles. Most of the time, finding the solution to the puzzles involve the main character using the right item or items in your inventory at the right location. While it may seem pretty straightforward, they can be challenging to figure out, especially if the game wants you to use the items in non-traditional ways. One example that comes to mind would be in Space Quest II; you have to use your jockstrap as a slingshot to take out a guard. I remember getting stuck on that screen for around a week!
Getting stuck was actually a big part of the adventure game experience. I played these games way before the Internet was made public so I couldn’t just go online and look for a walkthrough. No, I had to wrack my brain and figure out how to move on. This actually led to a lot of camaraderie between the people who enjoyed Quest games. There was a corkboard at the computer store where I would get my games with a slew of questions tacked on it, such as, for King’s Quest IV, “Where do I find the bridle?” or, for Leisure Suit Larry III, “How do I get out of the bamboo forest?” I did post a couple of questions on the board and someone actually put the answer! It was pretty nice to see total strangers actually trying to help others out.
I guess one of the problems with this genre is it’s not as fun to replay the game once you solved all the puzzles and finished the game.Sadly, adventure games’ popularity waned after some time. I’m not sure why it happened. I guess one of the problems with this genre is it’s not as fun to replay the game once you solved all the puzzles and finished the game. I actually replayed Police Quest II, a game that took me around a month to finish. But, since I still remember practically everything about the game, where the items are and how to solve the puzzles, I finished it in around 2 hours. And, with the Internet, it’s just so tempting to look for an FAQ that has the walkthrough…
Still, I’m pretty glad that I played these games. They were a big part of my childhood and, I guess, a big part of the childhood of others as well. I’ve seen groups such as Infamous Games create their own pseudo-sequels and remakes to King’s Quest and Space Quest (they’re free, by the way). The first Leisure Suit Larry had a successful Kickstarter campaign and the official remake is now available for new generations to enjoy.
All of the games are actually available from GOG.com at extremely low prices now. In fact, I think I’ll let nostalgia get the better of me and purchase some of them right now and get transported back to a time when shooting bad guys wasn’t as important as finding a magical bowl that could fill up with stew indefinitely with a single command.