Tag Archives: Legend

Gateway

Publisher: Legend
Developer: Legend
Year: 1992
Platform: DOS, Windows

Rating: 7

Science fiction is at its best when it is used as a tool to explore the human condition. Science fiction games have an extra hurdle of not alienating players by making the sci-fi overly complex; to do so can disengage the player from the story. Frederick Pohl’s Gateway mostly succeeds at both before faltering in the final act.

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Shannara

Shannara DOS Front Cover

Publisher: Legend
Developer: Legend
Year: 1995
Platform: DOS

Around 1993, Legend Entertainment decided to mostly stop developing their own ideas and started pounding out adventure titles based on best-selling novels. Shannara was probably the most high-profile of them all. I was hesitant at first as neither the genre nor Terry Brooks’s style appeals to me, but I found Shannara to be a mostly pleasant, if very simple, adventure.

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Spellcasting 101: Sorcerers Get All The Girls

Spellcasting 101: Sorcerers get all the Girls DOS Front Cover

Publisher: Legend
Developer: Legend
Year: 1990
Platform: DOS

When Infocom disbanded, Steve Meretzsky was hired by up-and-coming Legend Entertainment to continue text adventures and compete with Sierra in the adventure game industry. While Legend’s first offering wasn’t entirely polished, and did not have very good sound support, Meretsky certainly did his job to jump start the company and this series.

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Quandaries

Publisher: Freeware
Developer: Legend
Year: 1998
Platform: DOS

I’m stretching this by calling it an adventure game, as it is more of an edutainment title.  But it was developed by Legend Entertainment and written by Bob Bates, so I’m going with it. This game is actually an ethics training program designed by the U.S. Government and used as an ethical training tool for its employees. As it was fully funded by the government, the game is freeware, and worth a play by anyone who is interested in ethics.

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12: Death Gate

Publisher: Legend
Developer: Legend
Year: 1994
Platform: DOS

Review: The first Legend game to eschew typing and implement strictly the point’n’click interface, Death Gate succeeds admirably in creating a captivating and moderately difficult fantasy adventure that almost anyone can enjoy. Based on the Death Gate Cycle short stories by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, the game designers managed to take many elements from those stories and use them to create a foundation for their adventure. Never does the game feel like a translation, and you certainly do not need to read the stories to enjoy the game. Following is the summary from Moby Games:

Two thousand years ago, the Sartan split the world into five realms. The mensch races – the humans, dwarves, and elves – were split between four of those worlds named for the four elements, and your race, the Patryn, was banished to the deadly Labrynth. After those two thousand years, some of the Patryn have found their way through the Labrynth’s exit. It is your job to sail through the Death Gate into each of the other worlds to find each world’s seal piece, so that your race may reconstruct the planet and have revenge on the Sartan.

The story is one of revenge and reunification and there are many plot twists (though mostly obvious) along the way. Magic is used extensively and often in very clever fashions never seen before in adventure gaming. Most puzzles range from easy to fairly challenging, though none are unfair and are usually interesting in their own right, and fit within the context. Rarely do puzzles feel contrived or pointless. While no puzzles have multiple solutions, you are often given appropriate feedback as to why your solution is not the correct one, with a pat on the back from the designers for your thoughtful try. I never felt insulted by the game’s interface, which is very easy to use but often requires critical thinking. One puzzle near the end of the game that involves conquering your own double had me absolutely giddy when I solved it, and is one of my favorites of all-time.

The graphics are mostly well-drawn still frames, though there are some decent movies. The voice acting is superb; however, the dialogue gets stale in many places and sometimes goes on forever. Despite the simple writing, the story behind it is consistently engaging, more than making up for its faults. The ending is a little weak, but on the spectrum of adventure game endings, is not all that bad.

You do not need to be a fan of fantasy novels to enjoy Death Gate, and any adventure game connoisseur should have this one in their library.

You get to play as a dog, too!

Contemporary RatingHigh. The game tries really hard to be accommodating to all players.  It was obviously beta-tested really well.

Cruelty RatingPolite.

25: Eric the Unready

Publisher: Legend
Developer: Legend
Year: 1993
Platform: DOS

Review: Rated by many the best adventure game of 1993 and it’s pretty obvious to see why. You are the infamous Eric the Unready. You have been assigned to save the princess from her evil stepmother. Unbeknownst to you, you were assigned because you are the most ill-equipped knight in the land.

As with the early Legend games that used a text parser, you can play the game with or without graphics.  The graphics are gorgeous for the time, and being a comedy they do well to serve the humor.  The music is pleasant if too repetitive.

It’s more of a parody than a game. To the skilled adventurer, this should take less than a couple of weeks to win. The puzzles are not all that well-developed, and can even be annoying at times. But it is without a doubt the funniest game I have ever played. Bob Bates spoofs everything from Star Trek to Saturday Night Live to Zork and has a grand ole time with medieval culture. There is something here for everyone.  I haven’t played the game since 2000, however, so it’s possible the jokes have become dated.

Contemporary RatingMedium. Some of the puzzles seemed there just for busy-work.

Cruelty Rating: Tough. Like many text games, you can get rid of objects that you need later, but you never really need to.

31: Mission Critical

Publisher: Legend
Developer: Legend
Year: 1995
Platform: DOS, Windows

Review: An easy, plot-driven space-faring adventure by Legend Entertainment, Mission Critical tells the story of a lone surviving crewman of a terrible battle. An incredibly long FMV opening sequence depicts this battle where the Alliance (composed mostly of survivors of North America) loses to the United Nations at a key turning point in the war. However, the captain (played by Michael Dorn), decides to destroy his own crew to save the ship (and its secrets) by taking the enemy with him. As you were left unconscious and were the only person kept aboard, the U.N. ignored your presence, allowing the kamikaze plan to work. Now awake, you must quickly make repairs to the ship, figure out what’s really going on in this war, and try to complete your ship’s mission.

As with all Legend games, you play from the first-person perspective. Puzzles are mostly inventory based but are creative and perfectly logical. Never does one feel contrived or thrown in just to make the game longer. Sadly, many are too easy, ramping down the satisfaction level taken from completing them. The ship’s computer will also help guide you nearly to the answer for many problems. But the puzzles do their job, which is provide the necessary pacing to make this extensive story work. Information is revealed slowly, with regards to suspense and intrigue. It is also possible to die, either violently or due to running out of time (though the time limit is very liberal), which adds to the realism. And thankfully, it is impossible to put the game in an unwinnable state.

One aspect that does hurt the pacing is a battle simulator, where you must practice several missions before fighting a few real ones. While the simulation is well-done and the difficulty level can be adjusted to please any gamer, it seems out of place, especially with the type of adventurer the writers had in mind.

The graphics and sound are above-average, and the FMV sequences are beautifully done. Being dead, Michael Dorn’s character doesn’t make a lot of appearances  but it was fun seeing him without the Klingon makeup on. The other actors are up to the task as well, except perhaps the protagonist, who sometimes makes it a little too obvious he’s reading from a script.

While nothing about Mission Critical strikes me as fantastic, it is very solid throughout until the end, where the story comes hurtling at the player with seemingly endless exposition. Thankfully, the game rescues itself a bit with the final puzzle, which is clever and satisfying enough. I would recommend this game to any adventure fan who’s looking for a sci-fi story that plays more like an episode of Star Trek than a puzzlefest.

Contemporary RatingMedium. Intuitive, but the battle simulator definitely doesn’t stand the test of time.

Cruelty Rating:  Polite. You must save the game regularly, but you don’t have to obsess about it.

46: Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon

Publisher: Take-Two Interactive
Developer: Legend
Year: 1997
Platform: DOS

ReviewLegend might have raised the bar with this game. They had to tap into many talents to make the game as good as it was. They certainly did not lounge around while this was in production. Inn fact, you could say they put more effort into this one more than any other. I’m even confident enough with that opinion to go pub-lic with it.

And if you could stomach that pun-filled synopsis, you might want to try Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon. Based off series of books by Spider Robinson, you fill the shoes of Jake Stonebender, a reserved man with a haunted past, witnessing and partaking in the strange goings-on in the titular tavern. You’ll run into many fascinating friends, ranging from vampires to aliens to talking dogs to time travelers and even some regular ol’ drunks, who all respect one another’s privacy and can’t go three sentences without starting an all-out pun war.

The overarching plot is that our universe is about to be eliminated by an intergalactic council because there is nothing unique about it, thus being labeled a tax on resources. The creator of our universe is allowed some time to make a defense for his project, and decides to head to Earth to see if anything pops up. Oblivious to the fact that end of the world is near, you (as Jake) must traipse through many other hurdles (such as preventing an alien species from sucking all the testosterone from Earth) and help out your friends (possibly by heading to the future to save a certain cacao plant from extinction) in order to pass the time. Meanwhile, the universe’s creator is keeping a close eye on your adventures.

The game starts with the player attempting to win a contest at the saloon by solving various riddles of a pun like nature. The theme for the night (which becomes soon obvious) is classic rock bands.  One clue is “Slender Projectiles + Legend.” In other words, “Arrows + Myth.” Thus, the answer for that riddle is Aerosmith! I absolutely love word puzzles, so this game hooked me immediately. The rest of the game is based less on word puzzles than on quirky inventory-based puzzles that make sense only in the bizarre environment you encounter through your adventures. On several of these adventures, you will have a partner (from the bar) who comments on your predicament and even helps out on occasion.

Your enjoyment of the game will highly rely on your taste in humor, as the personalities and subsequent jokes by this crazy bunch of characters is the heart and soul of Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon. There are some logically satisfying puzzles, but many are contrived and feel like busy work. Meanwhile, the game includes responses (in full speech) for thousands upon thousands of actions. While this attention to detail is appreciated, most of the game is spent listening to the narrator drone on about various tangents. Some of the commentary is amusing, but it eventually feels like a chore. I zipped through the first half of the game, but the redundancy slowly bored me right up until the final chapter, when I was happy to see the plot finally moving along.

The other highlight here is the four solid folk songs interlaced throughout, written and sung by Spider Robinson himself. The Drunkard’s Song is fantastic, and the author has released a CD of his own.

I laughed out loud a couple dozen times during my playthrough, and was pleased to see many unique features (and gambles) taken by the developers. But when all was said and done, there were too many flaws to give this game a high ranking, though I would still recommend it to fans of the author, of Legend games, and puns.

Contemporary RatingHigh.  Intuitive game, easy interface.  Though, if you’re not a native English speaker, the game would be difficult at times.

Cruelty Rating:  Merciful.  You can die, but there’s no need to save as you’ll get taken right back to where you were.