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January 7, 2012 8:16 AM   Subscribe

Top 100 all time adventure games list. Suspense killing, spoiler laden Full List (nb: links in full list do not go back to the reviews in the list).
posted by Sparx (66 comments total) 41 users marked this as a favorite

 
Everyone calm down, Grim Fandengo is number one.
posted by The Whelk at 8:25 AM on January 7, 2012 [16 favorites]


I was a bit surprised to see them lump all the infocom text adventures together, and then stick them at 50.

But then, Zork Grand Inquisitor (my favorite!) came in at 12, so that redeemed it a little.
posted by kittenmarlowe at 8:28 AM on January 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


WTF? Portal 2 is not an adventure game. And what's it doing higher on the list than the first Monkey Island? MI2's in the top ten, so I won't grumble too loudly. But still... as much as I loved Portal 2, it belongs in a Top 100 Puzzle Games list, not this one.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 8:29 AM on January 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's a cute list, to be sure, but it's so far from my preferences for adventure games that I can't really cotton to it.
posted by FormlessOne at 8:30 AM on January 7, 2012


Portal didn't really have puzzles. Yes, there were portal gun tricks, but not much in the way of "wtf I am stumped" content.
posted by ryanrs at 8:33 AM on January 7, 2012


What an odd list.
posted by iamkimiam at 8:34 AM on January 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Portal didn't really have puzzles. Yes, there were portal gun tricks, but not much in the way of "wtf I am stumped" content.

If not puzzles, how would you describe Portal's gameplay? It mimics an FPS, but with no motile opponents that's not really a fair label. The second game (which is the one on this list) is a lot less twitchy than the first, further removing it from that category. Maybe I'm just dumb, or have poor spatial reasoning, but I was stumped by it a number of times too.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 8:41 AM on January 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


I was a bit surprised to see them lump all the infocom text adventures together, and then stick them at 50.

For me, this invalidates the whole list. The infocom adventures vary massively in quality, and the very best (Zork 1-3, Suspense, Deadline etc) should stand on their own merit - and in the case of the original Zorks, right at the top.

It is dark, you are likely to be eaten by a grue.
posted by metaxa at 8:49 AM on January 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


and the very best (Zork 1-3, Suspense, Deadline etc)

I, of course, mean 'Suspended', not Suspense. :)
posted by metaxa at 8:50 AM on January 7, 2012


TBH The entire list other than 50 could be seen as a graphics addled footnote to the history of Infocom.
posted by Artw at 8:51 AM on January 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


Portal didn't really have puzzles. Yes, there were portal gun tricks, but not much in the way of "wtf I am stumped" content

Portal's consistent internal logic is greatly to its credit. There are tons of adventure games I would have loved to have watched if their gameplay wasn't so noxious. I'm looking at you, The Longest Journey. And Grim Fandango.
posted by lumensimus at 8:52 AM on January 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Both Portal games are on the list, and I found their inclusion a little strange, too. But then, I haven't played a proper adventure game since King's Quest VI (and now wonder how I ever had the patience for them. It must be on account of how pretty they are/were.)
posted by Navelgazer at 8:53 AM on January 7, 2012


If text adventure games are to be involved (and I actually thought that the list was going to be about text adventure games), yeah, the Zorks are great and all, but #1 should be The Gostak.
posted by Flunkie at 8:55 AM on January 7, 2012


I'd certainly say Portals solid and logical puzzles are a closer analogue to the adventure games of old than games of the "click the pixel, follow the dialoge tree" kind.
posted by Artw at 8:57 AM on January 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


No XYZZY.

No peace.
posted by delfin at 9:00 AM on January 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


But then, Zork Grand Inquisitor (my favorite!) came in at 12, so that redeemed it a little.

The geekiest thing I own is the Zork Grand Inquisitor soundtrack CD.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 9:02 AM on January 7, 2012


Lentrohamsanin: The geekiest thing I own is the Zork Grand Inquisitor soundtrack CD.

I totally have that too, somewhere!
posted by kittenmarlowe at 9:07 AM on January 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


What I really want to own, though, is the book that came with the "Treasures of Infocom" compilation. It had all the info from the booklets that came with the original game, art, extra stories....

I rented that from Blockbuster back in the day. Didn't get far in the games, but I read and re-read that silly book, all the info about the Flathead Empire and whatnot. And then I begged my parents to buy it for me. Two years later they finally did, but it was the crappy "Masterpieces of Infocom" compilation instead, which just came with a large pdf with scans of the booklets in it.

I'm still a little bitter.
posted by kittenmarlowe at 9:11 AM on January 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


What I really want to own, though, is the book that came with the "Treasures of Infocom" compilation.

A friend had that in college! It's surprisingly affordable on Amazon, and now I'm tempted too.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 9:17 AM on January 7, 2012


Get ladder.
You shove the ladder into your pocket.
Ouch.
posted by jeffamaphone at 9:24 AM on January 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


"...Tørnquist’s storytelling prowess..."

*Snicker*

Speaking of Portal, I think Erik Wolpaw once cited Gabriel Knight as an example of how Adventure games committed suicide.
posted by flechsig at 9:47 AM on January 7, 2012


I agree on shoehorning all the Infocom games into a single entry. For some time these were what text adventure games were. To excuse their conflation they said:

Okay, so we cheated. But really, how can we not? The wealth of text adventures in the genre’s early days could fill up a best-of list all on their own, many of them supplied by Infocom.

You don't cheat by not cheating. Make the list longer if you need to -- it was your idea to make it a "best 100" list. Be honest, this was really so you could 1. fit more games you wanted to talk about into an arbitrarily limited list, and 2. get around the problem of having to find emblematic screenshots of text games.
posted by JHarris at 9:55 AM on January 7, 2012


> drop list
posted by curious nu at 9:58 AM on January 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Bladerunner was the only PC game I ever owned, but man it was great. I wish I knew what happened to my copy; and that I had a machine I could run it on.
posted by Rangeboy at 10:06 AM on January 7, 2012


I do have to agree with them on the CD version of Space Quest IV. Gary Owens's narration is wonderful.
posted by JHarris at 10:11 AM on January 7, 2012


No love for 'Beavis and Butthead in Virtual Stupidity'? Amateurs.
posted by prinado at 10:15 AM on January 7, 2012


Speaking of Portal, I think Erik Wolpaw once cited Gabriel Knight as an example of how Adventure games committed suicide.

What. Explain please. GK1 (never got too far with the others, 2 always had issues on my PCs at the time and never did 3) is amazing.
posted by yellowbinder at 10:16 AM on January 7, 2012


flechsig is talking about this Old Man Murray article, which uses Gabriel Knight 3 as an example of how ridiculous adventure game puzzles had gotten.
posted by Sibrax at 10:31 AM on January 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


Gabriel Knight: The Beast Within is both how I got hooked on video games again after high school and how I cemented my relationship with my partner of 11 years.

The partner bit came from her saying, "Hey, you speak German, right? You should play this video game with me and tell me if the German parts are accurate." It was an easy excuse to get me to spend hours in her company, and things just sort of went from there.

The video game addiction bit came because after we finished playing Gabriel Knight, she said, "Here's another video game you might like. It's called 'Final Fantasy VII.'"
posted by infinitywaltz at 10:39 AM on January 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, Gabriel Knight 3. Say no more. I got stuck on Blade Runner and never finished, in the days before help was a click away. I remember being totally blown away that it took up 1.5 gigabytes on my hard drive.
posted by adamdschneider at 10:59 AM on January 7, 2012


I honestly enjoyed Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Father way more than the Beast Within. But reading this list as a random list of the top 100 games...not so bad, lots of great memories. Would've been nice to see some other great ones on there however...like Police Quest 4, Starship Titanic (with some John Cleese voiceovers), the original Quest for Glory, Eric the Unready, and any random mini-adventure games involving Coconut Monkey (well not really...just all this nostalgia had me thinking fondly of PC Gamer CDs). And seriously...if they're going to put Portal/Portal 2 on this list, they should atleast then have Another World/Out of this World as well....but still think those should really fall more into the action/puzzle genre...
posted by samsara at 11:04 AM on January 7, 2012


My son and I worked through Grim Fandango together when he was 9 or 10, definitely one of my best memories of parenthood. Recently he had to watch Casablanca for a film class and told me that he finally got a lot of the reference in the game.
posted by octothorpe at 11:37 AM on January 7, 2012


OG Quest for Glory was amazing. Fondest memories forever!
posted by wemayfreeze at 11:41 AM on January 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


samsara: But reading this list as a random list of the top 100 games...not so bad, lots of great memories. Would've been nice to see some other great ones on there however...like Police Quest 4 , Starship Titanic (with some John Cleese voiceovers),

Starship Titanic was absolutely hilarious, and also kind of a terrible game.
posted by kittenmarlowe at 11:55 AM on January 7, 2012


I was a bit surprised to see them lump all the infocom text adventures together, and then stick them at 50.

Especially since there has been lots of interactive fiction since then that's better than anything Infocom ever did.

But that just turns into a stupid genre terminology debate. They're talking about different kinds of game than interactive fiction. "Adventure Game" is almost as large and sloppy a term as "RPG."
posted by straight at 12:15 PM on January 7, 2012


Well, yeah, do we exclude something like Deus Ex because it has stats and combat?
posted by Artw at 12:42 PM on January 7, 2012


This list is awful but what's even more awful is that Blade Runner won't play on 64 bit systems without doing all this stuff. (I'm about half way through now, hoping it works. Also hoping the game holds up at all to my memory of it.)
posted by frenetic at 12:55 PM on January 7, 2012


"PLUGH"

- A Hollow Voice.
posted by Decani at 1:09 PM on January 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


OG Quest for Glory

Surely you mean "Hero's Quest".
posted by adamdschneider at 1:51 PM on January 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Real adventures can be spooled to a line printer. There there, that's better.

/although I did like the Space Quests and Star Trek 20th Anniversary
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 2:33 PM on January 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've got an EVIL-looking doorstop next to me that says Curse of Monkey Island deserves to be higher than #45.

It's also on my smartphone, so there.
posted by ersatz at 2:52 PM on January 7, 2012


Everyone calm down, Grim Fandengo is number one.

I am very happy about that, of course.
posted by SpacemanStix at 3:35 PM on January 7, 2012


Portal is sometimes called a "physics puzzler," a distinction of possibly even vaguer meaning than "adventure game". It does in fact do odd things with momentum, and the player character's body does in fact obey Newton a little better than in your average Super Mario, but I don't think either of those things alone is sufficient for physics-puzzlerhood, or else Half-Life 2 would qualify, due to the Gravity Gun. I suppose The Incredible Machine should qualify, but it doesn't have a player character at all. What about Gish? That's a platformer, where you navigate platforms and jumping and stuff, and you stomp on enemies to clear the path to the end of the level, but Gish is a ball of tar with miraculously variable physical properties. What about N, a more straightforward platformer that is nonetheless quite Newtonian? What about Tomb Raider? etc.

Game designers and the people who write about them prefer to classify games based on their 'verbs': these can in principle be vague things like "Solve!" but are usually more like "Create Portal!" or "Jump!" or "Become Slippery!" I think that's a much more useful classification mechanism, for both designer and player.
posted by LogicalDash at 5:05 PM on January 7, 2012


I guess my description of Portal should have included some mention of the portal gun. Whatever.
posted by LogicalDash at 5:12 PM on January 7, 2012


The Whelk: "Everyone calm down, Grim Fandengo is number one."

I really tried to love that game, but for some reason my computer ALWAYS fucking kept crashing and such... I never got much past the balloon thing before I had to restart.

Shame I never had a good computer then. Same thing happened w/Starcraft. Maybe I should try to re-install now that i have a modern computer that wouldn't die like the old one?
posted by symbioid at 5:30 PM on January 7, 2012


Any list that includes Under A Killing Moon and The Pandora Directive is a fine list by me.

UAKM was my very first PC game - when we got our first PC, it had just come out and it looked interesting so was picked up at the same time - and I managed to locate the following two games over the next 8 or 9 years through a combination of Trade Me (the NZ version of Ebay) and Ebay for Tex Murphy: Overseer (the DVD version was never released here in NZ so I had to go further afield to get that one).

The DVD version of Overseer is pretty difficult to get going on modern systems - it relies on you having an MPEG2 decoding video card or PCI card. The workaround is to install some pretty old DVD software called DVD Express that had the ability to decode MPEG2 in software and was also supported by Overseer.
posted by netd at 5:37 PM on January 7, 2012


I am actually super pissed that King's Quest IV: Perils of Rosella is not on there, but I guess this is a list of Great Adventure Games and not a list of Classic Elements of Mrs. Pterodactyl's Childhood. Monkey Island is on there, at least.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 6:08 PM on January 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Surely you mean "Hero's Quest".

Totally, but they had to change the name on the remake because of a trademark dispute with the boardgame "Heroquest" (which was also pretty fun...kind of like a D&D-lite)
posted by samsara at 6:38 PM on January 7, 2012


OH HOLY SHIT I THINK I PLAYED HEROQUEST (THE BOARD GAME) IN LIKE 1992 WITH ZARA SERABIAN-ARTHUR! OMFUCKINGG!

WHOA A FLOOD OF MEMORIES JUST CAME FLOODING BACK!
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 6:41 PM on January 7, 2012


I can't believe no one has mentioned Hardcore Gaming 101's book yet. It's basically seven hundred pages of this.
posted by griphus at 6:49 PM on January 7, 2012


Sorry, I went out for a cigarette and some perspective.

It may not come as a surprise that, in my youth, I was something of a nerd. When Zara and I were kids (say second through fifth grade) we were really good friends and played a lot of a game that might well have been Heroquest (or might just have been something similar). We had a lot of fun and even some standard NPCs (like a gargoyle named Gargy who could find traps).

When we were in sixth grade a bunch of stuff kicked in including my (formerly mostly latent) bipolar. I tried to distance myself from her out of a combination of insecurity, self-destructiveness and a desire to reinvent myself and even though it got better things were never really the same, especially because what I'd done was awful and hurtful and mean and selfish and senseless. I was totally miserable throughout middle school and I didn't really have any friends at all (I went to a very small middle school; there were twenty-five of us). We ended up going to the same high school but had different groups of friends and didn't hang out and I don't know if I've seen her since we graduated.

Something that I think is a part of my depression is a lack of nostalgia; when something is over I don't really reflect on it much on an emotional level. I think this is probably a defense mechanism; I have a lot of memories that are really painful and when I go exploring through the past at all it tends to be a problem, so I kind of forget or don't think about good things as well as bad. I don't think about Zara or Heroquest (or whatever it was) very often and I've forgotten how close we were and how glad I was that we were friends as kids. She meant a lot to me and I almost never think about her or the really positive parts of our friendship before I got moody and awful. Thinking about it brought a bunch of these memories, good and bad, back, and kind of forced me into unwilling reminiscence. I guess Proust had a Madeline and I have mentions of RPG board games on the internet, but thinking about that really did overwhelm me.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 6:57 PM on January 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Games do that to people, yeah. I think it's because of the participatory nature of gaming that the experiences tend to stick more readily than e.g. movies; maybe it isn't a transcendent cultural experience, but it's YOUR experience, dammit.
posted by LogicalDash at 7:15 PM on January 7, 2012


Portal and Portal 2 have lots of good puzzles (including a lot of ones which will stump us mere mortals once you get past early stages) and a lot of good adventure storytelling to them. what makes them definitely puzzle games in my view, is that the story is just icing on the cake (yes, yes, there is no cake etc. etc.). Imagine Portal or Portal 2 with all the story elements stripped out, leaving just a series of physics puzzle rooms for the player to experience: it would still be fun, coherent, and effective game to play. Now imagine Grim Fandango or The Secret of Monkey Island with all the story elements stripped out, leaving just a sequence of find-item-use-item-combine-items puzzles in different rooms. I don't think this would be coherent or effective, let alone fun. In adventure games, the storytelling is crucial to the player experience in a way it isn't in puzzle games.
posted by Bwithh at 7:47 PM on January 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


What I really want to own, though, is the book that came with the "Treasures of Infocom" compilation.

You're really not missing that much. The LTOI books were not great scans, rendered grayscale and shrunk down to fit the books, in some cases reformatted entirely, losing much of their charm. They did include a bunch of maps from the Invisiclues hint booklets, though, so that was nice. But the books themselves, not that great, certainly not compared to the original materials.

You'll get at least as good scans (some of which come straight from the LTOI booklets, I'm pretty sure) and in some cases much better from the Infocom Documentation Project. Or the Infocom Gallery.

The geekiest thing I own is the Zork Grand Inquisitor soundtrack CD.

The geekiest thing I own is probably my zorkmid.
posted by hades at 7:50 PM on January 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Totally, but they had to change the name on the remake because of a trademark dispute with the boardgame "Heroquest" (which was also pretty fun...kind of like a D&D-lite)

Yeah, I was trying to be snooty. I played a ton of HeroQuest (Kellar's Keep, woo) with my uncle back in the old days. I remember when they changed the name to Quest for Glory...I think that was my first encounter with trademark disputes. I remember thinking, "That's stupid."
posted by adamdschneider at 9:45 PM on January 7, 2012


Wow. I can't believe I actually won something! This means a lot to me. I would like to thank Glottis for being out there for me & the beautiful Mercedes for her support.

Last but not the least, I would like to thank Tim Schafer
posted by manny_calavera at 4:34 AM on January 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ron Gilbert never gets the credit he deserves.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 5:55 AM on January 8, 2012


Now imagine Grim Fandango or The Secret of Monkey Island with all the story elements stripped out, leaving just a sequence of find-item-use-item-combine-items puzzles in different rooms

There are quite a lot of games referred to as "adventure games" that fit that description. Schizm; Rhem; any number of nineties Myst-wannabes. They are perhaps not the best examples of the genre, but if your genre only includes its own best examples, what you have is a "canon," which isn't very useful as a classification scheme; only as a way of guilting people into playing your faves.

How would you account for e.g. Ace Attorney, where the puzzles consist mainly of demonstrating your comprehension of the story--that is, an alibi and its flaws?
posted by LogicalDash at 6:01 AM on January 8, 2012


Sigh. The problem with lists like these is that they make you realise that you need to play more games or read less lists.
posted by Willfull at 6:26 AM on January 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


There's a lot in there I wouldn't consider 'adventure games' - the Portals, for one, are clearly arcade games in my head, albeit non-traditional ones. Fallout(s) would just about make it as adventures, as there's a clear lineage between them and D&D and table-top games.

I also think it was quite harsh bundling all the Infocom text games together; some we awful. Things like Suspended and Nord and Bert Couldn't Make Head Nor Tail Of It were genius, and quite unlike anything before (or since); Suspended haunted me as a kid, a game where you took the role of a person frozen and unable to move, with six other unreliable narrators you control until you are killed for failing. Nord and Bert... was a wordgame built around different zones of puns and bad humour.

I part-completed my Infocom collection with a copy of volume I of the 'Lost Treasures of Infocom' on Amiga floppy, which gave access to a lot of the early games - as well as the invisiclues you'd generally need. I could not find a copy of the second volume for a long time (remember trying to acquire things before the internet?) until I stumbled on a distributor with the final few copies, available in a really strange setup; they'd managed to acquire some of the final stock from a distributor in South America, and gotten a license to copy the files off PC floppies onto Amiga floppies, and bundled a free interpreter with them. Ultimately, I was left with a set of Amiga copies of Infocom games I could no longer read with anything. Around this time, 'Masterpieces of Infocom' was released, and while it missed a few titles available on the Lost Treasures, did have an excellent set of scanned manuals, maps and clues available as a huge PDF.

A few years later, I bumped into Steve Meretzky and got him to sign my copy, which I conveniently had with me. He said he'd never seen the final reissue of much of his work, which seemed a sad end to everything Infocom had done. They'd defined a medium, then produced almost every possible variation of work in it; a team of Shakespeares who mastered their form in only a few years, then disappeared.

Giving Infocom just one position is criminal. Criminal.
posted by davemee at 11:48 AM on January 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Syberia I + II are on there? Very nice for me. Big games for our children, growing up.
posted by doctornemo at 6:34 PM on January 8, 2012


Agreement with Mrs. P on KQ4. Every game in that series was pretty fun (though I could never get into 3, or the abominations after 6...), but Rosella was special to me. The puzzles were mostly logical and her character seemed deeper than a lot of previous games (and, quite frankly, I though Alexander was absolutely yawn-inducing in #6).

Meanwhile, yeah, I cannot understand #50 lumping so many different games together, while Portal and Portal 2 get separate billing. This is the worst thing that has happened in my worl din the past few minutes. Probably.
posted by nickgb at 8:26 AM on January 9, 2012


Inside adventure games
posted by Artw at 12:51 AM on January 10, 2012


Interesting you should bring that up, Artw.

Having been through all the Sam and Max seasons, there is a beauty to TellTale's puzzle design that hasn't been seen since Infocom. Easier puzzles, to be sure, but ones in which the clue is equally as important and fair as the puzzle itself. That level of playtesting really makes the difference.
posted by Sparx at 4:16 AM on January 11, 2012


Things like Suspended and Nord and Bert Couldn't Make Head Nor Tail Of It were genius, and quite unlike anything before (or since);

This is not true. The Interactive Fiction community has since made excellent games that take the kinds of ideas in both of those games much further than Infocom did.

Giving Infocom just one position is criminal. Criminal.


Really, Infocom games and other interactive fiction are a different kind of thing than the games they're talking about in this list. I think they just felt obliged to mention Infocom because Infocom's games were also called "Adventure Games" (and because these games owe a debt to text adventures) and people would have complained if they left Infocom out, even if they don't really fit.
posted by straight at 1:22 PM on January 11, 2012


If they defined it as "point and click adventures" then they could pretty much run the list as is... (also I would have no interest in it because as I say it's the genre of pixel clicking and dialogue trees)
posted by Artw at 1:26 PM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


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