Adventure games!
May 31, 2001 9:29 PM   Subscribe

Adventure games! They seem to be "old school" in this world of Quake shooters and real time strategy but does anyone remember the halcyon days of King's Quest, Maniac Mansion, and even ... Leisure Suit Larry?
posted by owillis (30 comments total)
yah, i played them all. what i maybe miss more are the old school role playing games, like wizardry, ultima, the bard's tale, phantasie, might and magic. those games are still around, but. i remember when i was 6, i got might and magic 1 for my birthday. today, the current game is might and magic 8. (it's not all that good, either.)

it's just wonky to be 21 and to have presided over so many different games; to have been there. my friends didn't get into games until the early '90s, around wolfenstein 3D and such. it's hard to talk to them about how ultima 5 had people with their own little schedules in the towns, they all slept at certain times and went into the inns to eat at certain times. small things. and now all the old '90s games seem passe.

sad. things change. oh geez, now i seem like a huge nerd.
posted by moz at 9:50 PM on May 31, 2001

I always liked the text adventures from Infocom myself... Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy being one of the best of course.

I still wonder how to get past where I got stuck in Leather Goddesses of Phobos (but dammit, I got the riddle at the harem on the first try!)
posted by beth at 9:56 PM on May 31, 2001

Ye gads. Ultima isn't all *that* old-skool -- Hunt the Wumpus is old-skool, baby!

Here's another version...

Or Adventure! Don't forget that, either! Xyzzy!

Oy. I'm old...
posted by metrocake at 10:03 PM on May 31, 2001

i got stuck in that game, too. or maybe i shouldn't admit i played that game... actually most text games i did not play, for whatever reason. the one i did play was the fellowship of the ring one, back in 7th grade. i didn't get too far in that one, either.
posted by moz at 10:03 PM on May 31, 2001


I just can't seem to ignore game threads. It's not quite a religious feeling, but I trace my first at home experience to an Odyssey clone. That was nothing compared to the Odyssey 2 of which I had the pleasure of playing nearly every game that came out for it. Over the years I managed to get my paws on most of the consoles released, but I will always love the Odyssey 2.

Odyssey rendition of john

As far as Adventure games...Old man Murray said it best.
posted by john at 10:52 PM on May 31, 2001

Since this can of worms has been opened...

For months now, I've been looking for a text based RPG from the mid 80s (when else?), but I don't know the name or who made it...I played it on both an Apple IIc and IIe. The premise is this:

You are a boy who just found out that he is not real, but a computer program. You have all these created memories, and you must do...something. The game came with this great booklet explaining it all, as well as a faux futuristic advertisements in the book, and when I read it at age 8 or 9 or 10, it felt terribly profound. Serious, but with a sense of humor. As trite as it sounds to me now, I still get chills thinking about it.

So can anyone tell me what this game is? Can anyone empathize?
posted by thebigpoop at 11:02 PM on May 31, 2001

Sorry poop, I ended up aligning with the C= tribe. We are now scattered to the winds.

posted by john at 11:16 PM on May 31, 2001

There was a text based game called "The Mist" that my friend had. It was based on the Stephen King short story, but no matter what we would do Miss Carmedy would always throw us out of the supermarket where we'd be pecked apart by birds, or else the Mist would get us whenever we stepped outside the supermarket. Did anyone else ever play this game?

I was somewhat shocked when "Myst" came out because it brought back memories of hour after fruitless hour spent trying to solve the unsolvable text based game.
posted by drezdn at 11:27 PM on May 31, 2001

there ain't a sierra online game I ain't played all the way through an beat! except for:

conquest of longbow
every police quest game
phantasmagoria (doesn't count anyways!)
black cauldron
leisure suit larry 2, 3, and whatever the last one was
eco quest 2 (also doesn't count!)

and any other game released after 1997. thats still a lot though! does anyone remember A Colonel's Bequest? best mystery game ever, says me! :~( (if you don't have it and you want it, let me know and I will hook you up.)
posted by mcsweetie at 11:30 PM on May 31, 2001

thebigpoop: are you thinking of A Mind Forever Voyaging, from Infocom? I didn't get very far into it myself, and it's been a while since I played it, but I think it approximately matches that description.

Now you've made me want to dig up my copy of Lost Treasures of Infocom and start playing it again.
posted by moss at 11:45 PM on May 31, 2001

I could never get into the more "serious" games (a little too much like real life but harder). I much preferred the Leisure Suit Larry games which usually consist of "add x to x then give to girl, sex ensues". Simple, but entertaining...
posted by owillis at 11:55 PM on May 31, 2001

On the A mind Forever Voyaging website did anyone notice the "The superpower race to build an impenetrable missile defense has ended in a tie, with the foreseeable but unforeseen result that an even more dangerous arms race has begun -- a race to build miniature nuclear weapons, some as small as a cigarette pack, and smuggle them into enemy cities -- a race which threatens to turn the USNA into a giant police state." Kind of appropriate considering the recent metafilter thread on missile defense shields

The best and worst kind of sci-fi is when it comes true.
posted by drezdn at 12:05 AM on June 1, 2001

it's sort of sad that text games probably would not survive today if marketed and sold as they had been in the '80s. gamers have really changed, at least, the new ones have. although i wouldn't have figured anything similar to Little Computer People would have sold until the Sims proved me wrong.

i really wonder, though, if gamers really want all the graphics and multimedia that they get nowadays. what i mean to say is, are they necessary? so much time is spent developing and debugging that code in particular — it's no wonder so many games are initially buggy when they're released.

what games out right now do you all think are particularly intelligent? or just flat out good? the last game i bought is deus ex, which had bugs up its ass, but was fairly interesting if you could get past that. my favorite recent game is the heroes of might and magic iii, which is 2 years old and yet i still play it often. it's not only aged well, but managed to avoid the it's-gotta-be-3D bug.
posted by moz at 1:01 AM on June 1, 2001

For the last few days I have been cleaning up A500s for my girlfriend's nephews, aged 3 and 5. The plastic face-plate was browned with age and they had fly spots all over. I discovered the corrugated backing was just for show, and didn't ventilate (while proving a corner for grime). I pulled all the componentry out and soaked the remaining plastic in bleach overnight which restored the colour. One machine had a lego man inside, ha.

And the adventure games! The glorious pirated adventure games! Exile, and all the Infocom series and Kyrandia and Zack McKracken. I was amazed at how much crap I had slowly learnt to put up with on my PC: Stupid drivers and IRQ settings; Having to use a keyboard which was never designed for games and teaching myself to not swipe anything but the arrow keys, ALT and CTRL, and 1-9 for weapons. I think I understand why games are made for adults now - those 80s kids grew up with big pockets (betty boo and the bitmap brothers saw to that). But PC games aren't made for kids, and there isn't a console/PC middle-ground as there used to be.

When BeOS 5 came without OpenGL the best type of game they could make was 2D. All the bizzare block puzzle games, and platformers and adventure games. If they had ever brought out OpenGL it would have killed them - i'm sure.

Exile was an excellent arcade adventure game. I thought Kyrandia was rich with dripping music though no one else did (at least it wasn't Malcolm the Magician). I played Infocom's Ballyhoo for months though never completed it.

The last game I bought was Powerslide by Australian's Ratbag, oh, and get the kittens out from under the house without getting dirty (which I failed).
posted by holloway at 2:43 AM on June 1, 2001

This was an excellent post. Forgotten memories dredged up with numerous supporting links. References to old computer systems that have come and gone. Ahh the good old days (single tear down cheek).
I have managed to get hold of and keep in storage many old systems. 2600, 5200, 7800, intellevision, Vectrex, Genesis, Fairchild Channel F, 3do. I also could not help my self 2 years ago when the opportunity to buy a full size Robotron presented itself to me. That game is my pride and joy. And I do put quarters in.

Thanks for a great post owillis. I may go dig out my commodore with the fastload cartridge and reminisce.
posted by a3matrix at 5:20 AM on June 1, 2001

I recently started getting old Sierra games from "abandonware" sites. It was a great blast from the past for me - I've played and beat most of the "Quest" games up until the early nineties. The only Sierra game I played but never beat was Codename: Iceman - I could never plot the sub's course efficiently enough to make it to the rendezvous point in time. But damn, those games were great. Vive Astrochicken!
posted by starvingartist at 6:23 AM on June 1, 2001

i remember kyrandia, and thinking that it was one of the better adventure games around. i never bought the sequel, for some reason. i have to say, though, that i do prefer lucasarts adventure games over sierra ones. dying if i tried incorrectly solving a puzzle wasn't a problem for me with sierra. the problem was that the jokes in sierra games were usually awful, while the secret of monkey island and maniac mansion always had me rolling.
posted by moz at 7:15 AM on June 1, 2001

I'm getting one of these sent overseas. I figure with the cost of shipping and the very much needed PAL to NTSC converter, I'll end up spending as much as I would on a dreamcast...oh but this is so cool!

There was another sierra-like game out there that involved a gender-bender to solve problems and pixilated was like LS larry meets Space Quest....Rex Nebular and the Cosmic Gender Bender.
posted by samsara at 7:18 AM on June 1, 2001

it's sort of sad that text games probably would not survive today if marketed and sold as they had been in the '80s. gamers have really changed, at least, the new ones have.

This is probably true. But there is a thriving group of people who continue to write Infocom-style text works of interactive fiction and distribute them for free. The best of these are far better than anything Infocom ever did, and there are even a few affecting artistic achievements that I don't think could be done in any other medium (e.g. Photopia).

There is a really good page listing some of the best games that have been written lately here.

There has been an annual competition for several years for short works of interactive fiction which has produced some great games.

Most people involved with interactive fiction hang out in the newsgroup.

This is a really cool community of people, producing wonderful games and all sorts of programing tools for writing them and sharing all of it for free. They are typically written in a platform-independent file format that then can be played using an interpreter for whatever kind of computer you have. Interpreters exist for everything from Mac and Windows98 to Linux, Amiga, and even Palm Pilot!
posted by straight at 7:27 AM on June 1, 2001

straight: Also, don't forget about MUDs! Dragon Realms in particular generates a steady income for Simutronics. Anyone ever play Hack 103 or Rogue?

It is pitch black
You are likely to be eaten by a Gru
posted by samsara at 7:40 AM on June 1, 2001

MUDs... One of my good friends in college lost his academic scholarship after his freshman year because he got addicted to a MUD and never went to class. (Potentially) evil things.
posted by starvingartist at 7:52 AM on June 1, 2001

MUDs and Adventure Games seem like completely different animals to me.

One is an ongoing, open-ended, role-playing game that involves multiple people and requires you to be online whne you play it.

The other is an interactive story involving puzzle-solving. It has a beginning and an end. You can play it on your Palm Pilot or laptop while you ride the bus to work.

The only similarity I see between the two is that both are text-based. And that early versions of them tended to be dominated by Tolkein/Dungeons&Dragons types of settings. (Nowadays, very few works of interactive fiction are written in traditional fantasy settings.)

I've enjoyed IF for years, but have no real desire to get involved in a MUD.
posted by straight at 8:05 AM on June 1, 2001

i never got into muds myself. i have friends who used to play them, and they didn't even pay attention to what was being said (you couldn't — it was all real-time, and you couldn't afford to pay much attention else you might die). they would just type in these cryptic commands really quickly and understand what would happen.
posted by moz at 8:15 AM on June 1, 2001

come to think of it, i just described Unix. never mind!
posted by moz at 8:21 AM on June 1, 2001

I just threw out my leisure suit larry disks last night while cleaning out a box of mementos. But I have my "castles" disk. And i recall when the seventh guest came out and i justified getting a soundblaster 32 AWE just to hear the awesome effects.

it's been a while though.
posted by jmackin at 9:01 AM on June 1, 2001

One is an ongoing, open-ended, role-playing game that involves multiple people and requires you to be online whne you play it.

That's actually pretty close to my opinion as well....the multi-user aspect being what seperates it the most. I've seen many simularities between text adventures and MUDs when involving quests, which in turn have a means to an end. But involving a direct story line is often difficult when you have such an open system in comparison to a Point A to Point B or C plot and often is not as engrossingly consistent and fun to accomplish, IMO.

One thing I am seeing much more of though is the return (somewhat) of MUDs in an graphical environment. The online version of Ultima being mostly to credit, other internet-only games have been fairly successful as well. Everquest comes to mind as one of the more popular games that is closer to a classic MUD with text-based interaction, yet also supplying a 3D interface to overcome typing "e, e, w, nw, s, n, w, etc..." One of the downsides I found to this type of gameplay is the fact that other "people" are involved and not always the best fictional writers and role-players. You'll see your share of folks thinking they are using IRC to discuss movies, or even your share of typical quake players disoriented by their new surroundings. /shrug

It is kinda neat to see these things catching on in an industry where the first-person shooter is what makes the most money.
posted by samsara at 10:11 AM on June 1, 2001

Two Words: Monkey Island
posted by noisemartyr at 11:58 AM on June 1, 2001

The code geeks on this list who loved the Infocom games might be interested in Inform, a cross-platform, object oriented language specifically designed for creating text adventure games. It's been in development at least since 1993 (I believe it was spun off of the original Infocom code), and there's a whole community of adventure game enthusuasts that churns out new games every year. (There's even an annual awards competition.) Inform 6 is the latest version.

And it's completely free. Neato.
posted by scottandrew at 1:25 PM on June 1, 2001

scottandrew: Yep, the Inform folks are related to the group I mentioned above centered around

There are other good, free, cross-platform languages for interactive fiction besides Inform, such as TADS and Hugo, but Inform seems to be the most popular.

I'd forgotten about the Xyzzy awards, which have been around longer than the annual interactive fiction competition. So, yeah, the community is active enough to support two separate sets of annual awards (one focusing on shorter works, and one giving overall best-of awards like the Oscars).
posted by straight at 1:56 PM on June 1, 2001

I have Colonel's Bequest. I tried playing it again recently, but I couldn't find my manual and red magnifying glass thingy, so I was stuck at the copy protection. McSweetie: do you know a good way around the copy protection?
posted by stopgap at 10:05 PM on June 2, 2001

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