26 February 2005

Recent Games

I've been (or was, until my monitor went snap crackle pop) playing through all these adventure games I'd amassed. I want to finish them all (or as many of them as I can get to work) before I switch over to a Mac. Just for fun, here are the games I've played most recently:

  1. The Longest Journey (pc). I'd been wanting to play this for ages and ages. It's one of those adventure games that gamers who usually don't bother with adventure games were playing and raving about. And it was good. There was a little too much walking across essentially empty screens, and a few times I couldn't figure out where to get the tools to solve a problem I could see how to solve (if that makes any sense), but basically this was a very good game. A little old now, maybe, but still good. I think there's supposed to be a sequel in the works, but with my luck it'll never make it to Mac.
  2. The New Adventures of the Time Machine (pc). Now this game, on the other hand, was not so good. It was a good idea, and some of design was nice, but the gameplay was mostly pretty awful. There were some good puzzles, but way too much walking through some really ugly environments (poor graphics partly due to the age of the game, to be fair). The designers tried to make this an action-adventure, but the controls were too sluggish and the camera too bad to make any of the action elements anything but an annoying (and sometimes maddening) task to get through. Imagine walking into a room where you're immediately shot at (and you can't not go into the room, or else you won't get any farther along in the game), but you can't actually see the guy shooting at you, and if you walk to where you can see him, you'll soon be dead, because you can't move and shoot at the same time. That actually happened. More than once. This could have been a much better game if they'd either left out the action elements, or else made the controls better--either an auto lock-on or else the ability to move and shoot at the same time would have helped immensely. I'm a stubborn old lady, though, and I kept at it until I was done (consulting a walkthrough for hints on how to actually fight the bad guys when I couldn't see them). Why? you may ask (especially if you heard me exclaim "I HATE this game" many times over during an evening's play session). Like I said, I'm stubborn. And there were some good puzzles. Plus, it was oddly satisfying to finish the game. I may not have liked it much while I was playing it, but I liked having played it. Once it was over.
  3. Shivers (pc). This is a really old game. It won't run under WinXP, I don't think, since it's DOS-based. But damn, is it good. It's like a lot of older adventure games, in that the graphics are what's sometimes referred to as a "slide show"--there's no 3D movement, just zooming along from one view to the next (there is animation joining the screens, like you see the hallway zooming by as you click your way down it). The museum setting was the perfect excuse for lots of bizarre puzzles, and it meant there was mostly not too far to go from room to room, so it wasn't a big deal that you'd have to keep going back to places you'd already been. The only quibbles I had is that the animation of the evil spirits you have to trap was really cartoony and stood out (in a bad way) from the lovely museum rooms and artifacts and live-action ghost sequences (not very many of those), and that a few of the puzzles were really hard. There were only two I finally gave up on and went looking for the solution online--one was a move-coloured-pieces-back-to-where-they-should-be puzzle that I probably could have solved if I'd had more patience, and the other was that solitare game you play on a Chinese chequers board (or on a fox & geese board, should you have one of those). That one where you have to clear the board of pieces by jumping them and end up with the last piece in the centre. I've played that for hours offline and never been able to get closer than two pieces left on opposite sides of the centre position. I gave it a good shot, but after an hour or so, I decided I'd better just look up the solution so I could continue hunting down evil spirits. I just discovered that there was a Shivers 2--probably only for pc, but I may grab it on eBay anyway, since I probably won't have a Mac for a while yet.
  4. Atlantis: The Lost Tales (pc). I thought I was going to have to sell this game without playing it, because when I first tried it a year or two ago, it wouldn't work on my machine (or on my old machine, which I still had kicking around). I guess the video card I installed since then was compatible, because it worked when I decided to give it one more try. The game itself has some lovely graphics and decent puzzles, though sometimes the puzzles seemed rather tacked on. The story was pretty good--the Queen of Atlantis is missing and her consort seems to be trying to take over and turn it into a Kingdom, and you have to escape the city (or navigate secretly through it) to find the Queen and stop her consort from taking over. There were a few sort-of action elements that really didn't work that well. Trying to flee the bad guys with an interface made for peacefully clicking through slideshow-style screens doesn't work very well. Nor does shooting a boar with a arrow that points diagonally across your bow and can only be aimed in a very general way. The character graphics were pretty basic, and everybody had some irritating repetitive mannerism that made them look like they all had some kind of degenerative muscle disease. Anyway, it wasn't as good as The Longest Journey, but it was way, way better than The New Adventures of the Time Machine. Even though the ending was rather disappointing (**spoilers** you rescue the Queen, but she later gets killed; you stop the consort and his evil weapon, but then Atlantis is destroyed by a volcanic eruption and sinking into the sea--you know the story; you do get to escape with the fisherman's cute red-headed daughter, though).

I still have a fair pile to get through, and that's not counting the Playstation games (but I'll leave those until the pc games are done, since I'll still have a PS2 after I get my Mac).

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