“Out of Order” doesn’t break down

October 23, 2006

outoforder2.jpg

I think it was last week that I told myself I would absolutely stop reviewing adventure games. I’ve reviewed three in the last 14 posts. But I also told myself that I could still play them. Bad idea. I found “Out of Order,” an absolutely delicious free adventure game provided by Hungry Software and couldn’t resist writing about it.

In “Out of Order,” you play Hurford, an Arthur Dent-like character right down to the fact that he’s a British man who wanders around the game world in his dressing gown. Oh, and he was abducted by someone(s) called the Panel. Apparently, humans from the early 21st century aren’t the only victims of these kidnappings.

So, you, dear reader, must guide Hurford around, erm, wherever he is to uncover the sinister plot. Along the way, he comes into contact with many people and not-people. Whether or not the characters are human is largely irrelevant; they’re all pretty bizarre. Some things he learns to trust turn out to be his downfall. Sort of. I don’t think there’s any way to get stuck in this game.outoforder3.jpg

How are the puzzles? Doable. The game tells you what you need to do, but many of the solutions require “adventure game logic.” Adventure game logic is the rather skewed form of logic that would never apply in the real world. For example, one puzzle requires you to feed glue to a stupid, stupid person. No, seriously. But when you get into the game, many of the solutions make sense. Probably the best thing about the puzzles is that they don’t take so long for you to solve that the storyline feels like it’s stopping and starting.

The graphics and the sound also add much to the atmosphere of the game. Although there are only three main areas (plus one stuck to the end) of the playable world, you get the feeling that there is so much more happening behind the scenes that you don’t really see. The sprites and areas are large and colorful, a plus in an off-kilter game like this one.

The only small complaint I had with “Out of Order” was the ending. I felt slightly unsatisfied by the way it ended, but it did make sense in the weird way the game worked.

happy.jpg “Out of Order” is a wonderful adventure game that will keep you occupied for quite awhile. And maybe make you laugh out loud. Maybe not.

“Out of Order” is a free download from Adventure Developers.


Apprenticeship was never so much fun

October 12, 2006

apprentice.jpgThe Apprentice does what all great superheroes do in their time: mop floors and get sent on pointless errands by their wizard bosses. Yes. That sounds like a way I’d like to spend my precious college hours. Of course, you get to step in Pib’s place just when he is given the opportunity to do his first spell! Yay!

Those of you savvy with adventure game speak will realize this means “go find such-and-such and bring it back to point A.” The gameplay is very intuitive. The point-and-click interface is used, and there’s only a few things you can do with any given object (look, use, walk to).

The best thing about the Apprentice is its rather quirky use of objects. That also makes the game slightly more difficult because the last puzzle relies on outside knowledge that you don’t think about everyday. Well, if you do, then you probably make saddlebags for a living.

happy.jpg This game is definitely a must-download for anyone who enjoys a good laugh. The only downside is how short the game actually is.

The Apprentice is a FREE download from Herculean Effort Productions. You will need to unzip the file before you can play it on your computer. There’s 26 MB version and a 6 MB version. I reviewed the 6 MB verison without the full voice and soundtrack.


The answer is forty-two

October 11, 2006

h2g2b.jpg

There are two kinds of people in this world: those who understood the mention of “42” and those who didn’t. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy fans will find this text-based game (albeit updated with illustrations for its 20th anniversary) one more lovely dosage of H2G2 goodness. Those of you have never read the books (watching the movie shouldn’t even count as experiencing Hitchhiker’s Guide) will find this amusing, interesting, and it may even motivate you to read the books.

Now on to the actual gameplay. Many commands are recognized by the game system, so keyboard inputting is quite intuitive. The game itself is a challenge. If you fail to pick up some important object (even something that seems as inconsequential as junk mail) near the beginning of the game, you won’t be able to proceed. Period.

That problem can be avoided if you make an account on the BBC site. Then you can save and restore games at your leisure. If not, you’re going to have to replay the game from the beginning each time.

Of course, gameplay is not going to be winning any accolades in this age of Halo and the Nintendo DS. What makes the game enjoyable for anyone with a sense of humor is how well-written it is. The storyline itself may not wow anyone: it’s convoluted and weird. The writing style, yes, style, will make Hitchhiker’s fans melt with nostalgia and make anyone else laugh.

happy.jpgThis game is wonderfully written and will effectively whittle away at a good portion of a few of your days. It is quite difficult, though, which may make some people swear at their computers.

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is absolutely free to play. I referred to the BBC 20th Anniversary edition in my review, but there is also a version that has no illustrations whatsoever, but it does not allow you to save.


Abducting Ten Minutes of Your Time

October 10, 2006

abducted1.jpgIn “Abducted: 10 Minutes!!”, you play a policeman whose daughter has been kidnapped by the very terrorists he capture in 1994. If you take any longer than 10 minutes to rescue your daughter, she gets shot. Of course, there’s plenty of opportunity in the game for you to get shot yourself. Don’t worry. There’s a save function so you don’t have to start from the beginning every time you die.

The premise of the game is interesting due to the 10-minute time limit. Most everything takes place in a single apartment building, although you do have to use your car and talk to a bum outside. This is a simple point and click adventure, but you need to use your right-click more than usual to change between actions.

The graphics of the game are rudimentary at best. The hardest part of the game is interacting with the environment. You may have to click around a certain item to even use it due to the very particular pointer. This can be remedied when you realize a single white pixel at the edge of your “hand” command (and all the others), is actually what you need to align with objects. Even then, it’s a little hard to know where things are meant to be clicked.neutral.jpg

Verdict: It’s worthwhile to play since it’s a free download. The story is somewhat interesting, but the game is short.

You can download Abucted from this website. It’s a 900kb download. You will also need to unzip the file, so you need a program like Winzip. This program is absolutely free to download.


SMI still crazy (good) after all these years

October 10, 2006

monkey1.jpgAh, Monkey Island. Some call it overrated. Some call it sublime. Others don’t call it anything at all, since they haven’t heard of the four game adventure series released by LucasArts. For this review, I will examine the very first in the Monkey Island series. It ran on DOS, so, to play it, you need to download ScummVM.

Moving right along. Secret of Monkey Island (from here on out, it will be referred to as SMI) has you, dear reader, playing as Guybrush Threepwood, a young man trying his darndest to become a pirate. A mighty pirate, at that.

This game is comparable to Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney for the DS. SMI is a point-and-click adventure game that requires you to read. Yes, read. It’s not so foreign a concept is it? Especially for all of you who have to crack open a book once in a while for that thing adults like to refer to as “school.” I guarantee you, you will find this far more interesting than your Mankiw Economics textbook.

monkey2.jpgThe whole adventure is off-the-wall and silly. The dialogue is smart and funny despite its relative zaniness. You even get to swordfight (and what person who hasn’t seen Pirates of the Caribbean doesn’t want to do that?), but not in the traditional sense. You use insults to gain the upperhand against your opponent rather than button-mashing skills.

Actually, there’s not a whole lot of button mashing at all in this game. Gameplay focuses on your ability to solve puzzles logically (or, ahem, look up a FAQ off the internet). You can basically use anything available to Guybrush to solve the puzzles, but nothing is too over-the-top or funky that you’ll find yourself going “what the hell?” after a puzzle.

There’s something in SMI for nearly everyone with a sense of humor. Some people who are used to 40+ hours of gameplay might be slightly appalled at the relative short nature of the game. However, you can always spring for the next chapter in this game.

veryhappy.jpgAll in all, SMI is smart, funny, and it has certainly made an addict out of me. This game gets an extremely happy smiley face, meaning: “Go out and buy it! It’s worth the time and money you will spend!”

This game is not free. I’d just buy it off eBay or from one of the Amazon storefronts. My home computer has a 3 1/2 floppy drive, so I bought the LucasArts classic collection which includes some of their other games like Maniac Mansion and Zak McKracken (all for the low price of $50!).