Tag Archives: Terrible Adventure Games

Monty Python & The Quest For The Holy Grail

Monty Python & the Quest for the Holy Grail Windows Front Cover

Publisher: 7th Level
Developer: 7th Level
Year: 1996
Platform: Windows, Macintosh

When I received this game as an unexpected Christmas gift, I was excited. I found the movie incredibly funny and had read many positive reviews on multiple sites. But after playing Holy Grail, the only opinion I can justify is that this is absolutely the most irritatingly brain-chafing game I have ever played.

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Leisure Suit Larry 1: In the Land of the Lounge Lizards (VGA Remake)

Leisure Suit Larry 1:  In the Land of the Lounge Lizards DOS Front Cover

Publisher: Sierra
Developer: Sierra
Year: 1991
Platform: DOS, Macintosh, Amiga

The remake of Land of the Lounge Lizards (which was a remake of a the text game Softporn Adventure) could have turned a funny game with subpar game design into a masterpiece. Instead we are left with pieces. And none of them are masterful.

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Syberia

Syberia Windows Front Cover

Publisher: Microids
Developer: Microids
Year: 2002
Platform: Windows, XBox, Playstation 2, Nintendo DS

Labelled as the adventure game of the year for 2002, many accolades were given to this unique adventure and some have called it the best adventure ever. While I have no strong feelings about that (the list of great adventure games in the early aughts are pretty slim), I fear Syberia has been given legendary status in the gaming community for the wrong reasons.

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Cruise For a Corpse

Cruise for a Corpse Amiga Front Cover

Publisher: Erbe Software
Developer: Delphine Software
Year: 1991
Platform: DOS, Amiga, Atari ST

A decent mystery wrapped up in sloppy game design, the only corpse to be cruised for is the shell of a game that’s been left rotting on the promenade. On board a cruise, invited by the wealthy owner, you’re soon knocked out cold after coming upon the dead owner’s body. When you wake up you have the rest of the day to interview all of the suspects (read: everyone on board) and pin the murderer.

Because there are so few positives, let’s start with those. Delphine Software introduced their vector graphic engine that became popular in the Alone In The Dark series. While it is impressive, it is unnecessary (especially in an adventure), and the more polished sprite-based artwork of the time would have been sufficient. Some cut scenes add good flavor to the story. The dialogue is fairly banal, but it is translated from French so I’m giving it the benefit of the doubt. The plot itself is also fairly deep, with each suspect having a motive. At the end of the game, you have to accuse the perp, with the ending changing based on who you pick (with one ideal ending, of course).

Cruise for a Corpse Amiga Intro: After your arrival somebody got killed

The game itself has a Gabriel Knight time system, with the clock advancing every time you do something important.  This is fine, and actually a system that I prefer, as I become frustrated when I miss a clue because I didn’t happen to be in the right place at the right time. However, the logic the game uses to advance the clock is ridiculous beyond compare. For example, you can ask a lady about a topic at 2:00 in the afternoon and nothing happens.  But talk to her about the exact same thing a half hour later and the clock advances. Perhaps even worse, every time the clock advances, characters and items get distributed seemingly at random throughout the ship. Check that drawer and 10:00 and there’s nothing in it.  Go back to that drawer at 12:30 and you’ll find a key item you need.  Why is that item now in the drawer when it wasn’t before?  That’s an even greater mystery than the whodunit.

What these failures in logic amount to is tedious and aimless wandering throughout the ship, ruining continuity and interest in the story.  Thankfully, you can bring up a map of the ship to warp to any (unlocked) place you like, but that’s little consolation. Even playing with a walkthrough did little to relieve the boredom of this meandering investigation. Unless you have completely run out of games to play, don’t touch this corpse with a ten foot pole.

Cruise for a Corpse Amiga Exploring the ship.

Runaway: A Road Adventure

Runaway: A Road Adventure Windows Front Cover

Publisher: Dinamic Multimedia
Developer: Pendulo Studios
Year: 2001
Platform: Windows, iOS

I think I am going to write a review now of the game Runaway: A Road Adventure. Yes! That is what I am going to do. I’ll put my fingers on the keys and type out words that describe my feelings about this game! For starters, I will tell you about the plot. Runaway was originally developed in Spain, by guys who obviously like Tim Schafer’s work on Full Throttle. I also liked Tim Schafer’s work on Full Throttle. This game emulates that one in style and graphics. However, what this game has is a stripper! Yes, a real live one, who escapes from the mob after watching her father get killed. However, during her escape, she gets hit by a car driven by Brian, a college student on his way to Berkeley. After helping her escape the hospital, she convinces him to let her tag along and solve a mystery as to why her father was killed. Sounds like fun, don’t ya think?

I really liked the concept of this game to begin with. And I’ll tell you why I liked the concept. There’s a nerdy college student, a stripper, and the mob. Though, I probably already told you that, how could this game not be great with that formula? You control Brian (that’s the main character played by you), and you get to pick up lots of random items and use them to solve puzzles! However, I didn’t like the puzzles. I’ll tell you why I didn’t like the puzzles. There are many objects very hard to find, so you spend a lot of time searching pixels instead of solving anything. Also, sometimes Brian will (realistically) not pick up an item until he has a use for it. But then sometimes, he will just pick up a random item (like a poker) hoping he can use it sometime later. I will tell you one more reason why I didn’t like the puzzles. Brian will often have an item that would easily solve a particular problem he is having, but when he tries to use that item, he is not able to. Not only that, a reason isn’t given! So Brian must find the really bizarre solution to the problem that involves tricks MacGyver wouldn’t even try. Wow, who would think one could write so much about puzzles!

Runaway: A Road Adventure Windows A very strange laboratory

The stripper–by the way her name is Gina–is cute and nice, but unfortunately, I didn’t like the way she is used in the game. I bet you want to know why, too. I didn’t like the way she is used in the game because she never actually does anything except get in trouble or get injured. So what I am trying to say is that she was just eye candy, a plot device to make the game more appealing. And, if I’m being perfectly honest, she didn’t really have that great of a personality. So that is what I think about Gina.

I will tell you one thing I did like about the game, and that is the cut scenes. I really liked the cut scenes because the graphics were nice and the underlying plot was kind of fun. But that’s all I have to say about the cut scenes.

Runaway: A Road Adventure Windows A shot of the thugs chasing Brian and Gina.

Finally, I should summarize my feelings about Runaway. So, to summarize, I will tell you that an interesting plot is made boring by uneven and mostly uninteresting puzzles along with uneven and mostly poor acting. Those are the feelings I have about this game, so you can probably guess that I will not be rushing out to play the sequel any time soon! Well, that was fun writing that review. I sure hope you enjoyed it too!

Disclaimer: The entire review was written exactly the way Brian talks, which may be the primary reason I loathe this game. Unfortunately, I don’t know whether to blame the original script writers or the translators. Amazingly, I seem to be one of the few people who feels this way, as this game is generally held in high regard.

 

The Lurking Horror

The Lurking Horror Atari ST Front Cover

Publisher: Infocom
Developer: Infocom
Year: 1987
Platform: Every computer ever and now smartphones

Review: One of Infocom’s most overrated titles, The Lurking Horror is essentially the company’s only foray into the horror genre. Unfortunately, it feels more like a Zorkian dungeon crawl then an atmospheric mystery. While there are some creepy parts to this college campus caper, it is mostly a disjointed puzzlefest with a smattering of Cthulhu mythos. But what really sent my annoyance through the stratosphere was a hunger daemon, illogical walking dead situations, and unrealistic inventory restrictions. Coupling that with NPCs that aren’t fleshed out and a rather abrupt and unsatisfying ending, I can’t really recommend this to those looking for a good fright. Next year, look out for a countdown from Death By Troggles for good horror games.

Star Trek: The Next Generation: A Final Unity

Star Trek: The Next Generation - A Final Unity DOS Other Jewel Case - Front

Publisher: Spectrum Holobyte
Developer: Spectrum Holobyte
Year: 1995
Platform: DOS; Macintosh

With characters, actors, visuals, and sounds straight from one of my favorite television shows, I figured this game would have a hard time displeasing me. But it missed on all cylinders, and probably needs a new warp drive to boot.

In A Final Unity, you find the Enterprise unwillingly involved in a Garidian civil war and later in a race with the Garidians and Romulans to discover the power behind the mythological Unity Device. Several missions await, and on the way you run into Ferengi, Klingons, Vulcans, and a few new alien species. The plot is dished out slowly and effectively in gameplay and cut scenes, culminating in a satisfying end game reminiscent of Judgement Rites.

Star Trek: The Next Generation - A Final Unity DOS A zoological society governed by females.

Sadly, the plot is the only redeeming quality of the game outside from what the show itself brought to the table. The ship interface is downright maddening. The battle station and engineering are simultaneously slow and confusing, let alone uninteresting. While you can leave the controls up to Worf and La Forge, respectively, I was left yearning for the system in the Interplay games, which says a lot. Navigation is damn near impossible when the game doesn’t automatically set the course and speed for you.  You’re given a three-dimensional view of space, and discerning between sectors, neutral zones, and nebulae is a puzzle in itself. Finally, Starfleet gives many vague orders that are misleading at times. Sometimes, the plot advances simply by waiting for an indefinite period of time, with little clue that waiting, is in fact, what advances the game.

If that were all, I could forgive this section of the game. But away team missions are not much better. You can take any member of the crew on your away teams, and who you take matters very little, most of the time. Each crew member is given a ton of generic responses to every possible action and are not always in character. Who you control on the away mission is also usually irrelevant, and more or less is up to whose voice you’d rather hear at that moment. And while there are some conversation trees, there are rarely consequences for saying the wrong things until the end game, where you must control Picard. The puzzles themselves are fine, with some creative and original ideas and some clunkers. Regardless, some of the puzzles simply involve, again, too much waiting.

Star Trek: The Next Generation - A Final Unity DOS Romulan Warbirds closing in.

Yet, all of these faults pale in comparison to the most glaring atrocity in A Final Unity. The series was a veritable joy to watch week in and week out for two reasons.  The first one, intelligent and engaging stories, is present. But there was hardly an episode of TNG where I wasn’t laughing out loud on several occasions. There was a sense of humour underlining nearly every story, and sadly, there is absolutely nothing worthy of a laugh, or even a smile, in this game. Riker makes no mention of his exploits with women.  Data doesn’t ramble off his thesaurus nor makes any social faux-paus. Worf doesn’t even get to say, “Klingons do not play video games!” In short, the characters, while having the voices of their original actors, had none of the charm or personality. A significant reason for my enjoyment of 25th Anniversary and Judgment Rites was how well the writers embodied the characters and integrated them into the story. The rivalry between Bones and McCoy was there, as well as Scottie’s pleas in vain about the damage to engineering. And William Shatner’s overacting was funny enough on its own accord. I was hoping that perhaps Wesley Crusher could make an appearance so Picard could belt out, “Get the boy off my bridge!”  But, alas.

If you are a hard-core fan of Star Trek, you will probably enjoy this game, at least to some degree. But I found this adventure, despite the few positives, an insult to the fans.