Ever since playing The Secret of Monkey Island and realising that stories can come alive through pixels, I’ve loved adventure games. There’s nothing like having a lazy afternoon with nothing else to do except put on a video game, get lost in a narrative and overcome a few challenging puzzles. Throw in a couple of bars of chocolate for good measure and I’m a very happy gamer.
I’d therefore like to thank the awesome TriformTrinity for nominating Later Levels for the Sunshine Blogger award last month and giving me the opportunity to talk about some of my favourite adventures. His question ‘being in the mood for good old classic games, what would you recommend me?’ has given me the chance to reminiscence about the following classic titles, and hopefully they’ll inspire you to get your point-and-click on.
1993: Simon the Sorcerer
Although Guybrush Threepwood will always be my first true love, Simon the Sorcerer was the next adventure-game-hero to really capture my heart after I’d started on the Monkey Island titles. Our parents used to take my younger brother and I to a local market on the weekends so we could spend our pocket-money at the video game stall; and it was here that I first same across the boy-wonder in the purple robe.
The thing I liked most about the protagonist was his dry sense of humour and sarcasm: he’d say things to grown-ups and enemies alike that I’d never dream of saying, and get away with it too. I think one day I’ll have to introduce my stepson Ethan to the series and play through the games with him. I can already see his eyes opening wide at some of the Simon’s comments, before hiding a cheeky laugh behind his hand.
Back in the early 90s, a school-friend asked if I’d mind going over to his house to help him out with a video game. He was having trouble finding the solution to a puzzle and thought a fresh pair of eyes might point him in the right direction. That game turned out to be Myst – one of the best-selling PC releases of all time – and I loved it so much that I promptly purchased it for myself so I could play it in its entirety.
It was my love for the title which inspired me to back Cyan’s Obduction campaign in 2013 and, while it was pretty good, it just couldn’t live up to the original. The current Kickstarter project has therefore got me excited: the 25th Anniversary Collection gives backers the opportunity to get their hands on an ‘exclusively packaged collection on all the Myst games’. That’s seven titles complete with a linking book – and we’ve only got to wait until November.
1994: Beneath a Steel Sky
If you’re as old as I am, you’ll likely recall those days when you could pop to the local newsagent and pick up a few magazines about video games. A floppy disk was usually attached to the front cover (which was always a pain to remove) and contained several demos of the latest releases. I remember my dad bringing one of these home for me one evening and after dinner, firing up my Amiga to try out Beneath a Steel Sky.
I never got around to playing the full game back then, but I didn’t forget about the dystopian-future setting which went on to inspire a fondness for such premises as I grew older. Years later it was a pleasant surprise to receive the title for free as part of signing up to the GOG platform; and an even bigger surprise discovering the adult humour with plenty of the double entendres and one-liners. Pussies on Parade, anyone?
1995: Full Throttle
One of the first things I did after getting a home computer hooked up to the internet (and listening to the modem sound as though it was strangling itself) was to head to a CompuServe chat room. This was where I met Paul from Scotland: we started chatting about video games after school a few times a week, before becoming penpals and then friends in real-life. Things were so much more innocent back then.
When we were teenagers, we’d exchange physical games via snail-mail and Full Throttle was one of those he sent to me. Despite feeling as though the experience was over too quickly, Ben and Maureen were down-to-earth characters who captured my imagination with their minefield-bunny antics. I think Paul got the raw end of the deal: in return I’d loaned him Shivers, a horror-adventure which looks lame now but totally scared me back then.
1999: The Longest Journey
It’s rare now that I go into a GAME store and even rarer that I come out of one having made a purchase; but back in the 90s, it was a fairly regular occurrence. It was on a shopping trip with friends that I discovered The Longest Journey there and it went on to become one of my favourite video games. It’s hard for me to explain just how good the story, characters and setting are – just make sure you play it for yourself if you haven’t already.
I must confess that I’ve been a little bit in love with the lovely Red Thread Games guys since and have had the pleasure of meeting them several times over the years. I became a Kickstarter backer for the Dreamfall Chapters campaign in 2013 and recently revealed my problem with the title: I haven’t been able to bring myself to finish it so far because I simply don’t want the story to end. Hopefully I’ll be able to get over this fear at some point…
There are so many other great classic adventures I could mention in this post and the list would go on and on if I didn’t restrain myself. You may also have noticed that I haven’t included The Secret of Monkey Island above; it would be an extremely obvious choice for me so I’ve tried to provide some alternative options! I hope I’ve given you some inspiration here to go old-school and consider a point-and-click for your next play.
The classic adventures have been the subject of this post and it’s got me all nostalgic. But there are some great modern titles too, so who knows: maybe there’ll be a bonus post featuring newer games very soon…