Dec 30, 2007

Adventure Lantern: the final 2007 issue

Sam & Max ChristmasAs you should have cunningly guessed, the latests issue of Adventure Lantern has just gotten its PDF release and you can all merrily click here (or here for a rather more direct download) and grab a copy. Its 63 pages are filled with reviews, articles, walkthroughs and news mainly focusing on adventure games, though such triple A games as Super Mario Galaxy or Ratchet and Clank haven't been ignored either. Issue highlights include a Benoit Sokal interview, a 7th Guest retro guide and everything written by glorious wise old me. Heh.
Related @ Gnome's Lair: Sam & Max: Abe Lincoln Must Die gone freeware, Re: Zak McKracken, Indy Adventures Guide

Dec 29, 2007


Want to share your latest game? Idea? Bit of spam? Offer a review copy for, well, review? Propose for marriage? Promote something of a ludic nature? Chat? Drop a line? Well, if you don't have my email, then, by all means, do use the following form.

Dec 28, 2007

Behold the DOOM Bible

DOOMTom Hall, a member of the team responsible for the original DOOM game and author of the DOOM Bible, was the designer that tried to improve the storytelling and thus subtler bits of the game. His DOOM Bible, a 79-pages long document containing all the original ideas, details and plans for DOOM can be downloaded in its entirety here, courtesy of 5 years of Doom.

Read it (the PDF makes a far more interesting read than this clumsy post) and see how DOOM could have turned out a better game. Not a masterpiece, nor more influential mind you, but definitely a better, more interesting game. Sadly Tom Hall's ideas were never fully implemented, though one could say the have lived on to influence later id games.

Related @ Gnome's Lair: Jet Set Willy: the patch, 1700 arcade manuals, Classic DOOM, more free PDFs & ebooks

Dec 27, 2007

Wash and wait for the Age of Decadence

Age of DecadenceDecadence... a lovely word and a lovelier notion, but, really, a whole age of it? Surely too much to handle even if it's nothing more than a game. Still, a soon to be released CRPG with quite a bit of Fallout (X-Com too) in it and such an intriguing title might just be the RPG indie gaming has been waiting for.

Age of Decadence, you see, apparently an isometric, turn-based, single-player 3D role-playing game set in a low magic, post-apocalyptic fantasy world, seems more than promising, what with its 100 quests, 22 locations and G.R.R. Martin-esque epic storyline. Don't think I can remember other indie games claiming size as a virtue... Anyway, here's a gameplay video and here's AoD's official website. Oh, and do thank Tacticular Cancer for the tip.

Related @ Gnome's Lair: Aquaria released, The B-Game Competition, Тургор, World Basketball Manager

Dec 26, 2007

ButtonSmasher Gaming

I know I haven't been updating Gnome's Lair as regularly as I should have and I know it would be really pointless to promise the 30-40 posts per month like in the old days, but finally I can prove I've been busy. Busy, at helping with a brand new blog: Button Smasher. It shockingly is a video gaming blog focusing on... err... video games, though of the more Xbox 360, Wii, PS3, DS, PSP and PC mainstream variety. A touch of retro gaming is of course to be expected too and you might even get to find out how gnomes look like. Please, do have a look.

Retro Game RGCD One More Time (?)

Should have told you lot earlier, I know, but things were pretty hectic again and so I guess I can't do better than tell you now. Well, here I go then... the fourth issue of the amazing RGCD retro games discmag has been made available for free download here. Sporting 24 review, 10 articles and tons of free games and emulators it's everything you've come to expect and more. Now you know. There's even a bit of gnomish love in it too...

Related @ Gnome's Lair: Monty's Christmas Special, Retro Gamer eMag review, a couple new Amstrad CPC games

Dec 21, 2007

Armageddon helps Dark Future break free

Dark Future Games WorkshopGames Workshop has never been particularly generous with its loyal friends, but this seems to be a thing of the past, as apparently the Chaos Gods (Slaanesh would be my guess) have gone berserk with freebies. We already got the complete Mighty Empires, a decent PDF Gift Guide just got released and now I've discovered that a brilliant classic Warhammer 40,000 spin-off and a brutal sci-fi RPG-ish board game games have just gone freeware.

The Battle for Armageddon (download) is an aptly named wargame that pits the Imperium versus the Orcs in a fight to control the Armageddon Hive. The rules are simple, elegant really, and make for a fast yet tactically varied/deep game. Oh, and everything you need to play from counters to board pieces has been included.

Dark Future (scroll down and download) is not unlike a certain Mad Max inspired Steve Jackson game, meaning it does have to do with driving heavily armors cars around a desolate definitely post-apocalyptic place. The ultra detailed rules with their highly enjoyable fluff bits span an impressive 220 pages.

Related @ Gnome's Lair: Battle for Skull Pass review, Chaos Dwarf fantasies, Blood Bowl, PDF & e-book archive

Dec 13, 2007

And a very happy Saturn Junkyard Birthday!

SEGA Saturn 128-bitIn case you haven't notice those (us, really) SEGA Saturn retroboys are having a party over at their Junkyard under the wise guidance of the venerable Father Krishna. Have a look!

The first video game patch in history. Well, probably.

Jet Set Willy Cover ScanJSW cover scan blatantly stolen from JSW Remakes
Mathew Smith's 1984 Jet Set Willy on the ZX Spectrum, a game that was so much more sophisticated, surreal, fondly remembered and popular than Mario (well, at least in Europe it was), was also a bastard to beat. All you had to do was miss a jump by a pixel or fail to act in a nanosecond and you were dead. Why? Just because a talented 18 year old designer was in a cruel mood, that's why, and of course because back then even you, oh most glorious and esteemed readers, hadn't achieved gameplaying perfection yet.

Software Projects, the game's publishers, sensed that the sadism inherent in JSW would make for a great competition and thus a chance for some extra publicity, and knowing that the gamers of the era were hardcore 14 year olds, they merrily went on with their plan. The first one to find all of the JSW objects would win a helicopter ride and a case of champagne. The competition though, finally won by Ross Holman and Cameron Else, besides the publicity bit, did help bring forth 4 major bugs in the game and Software Projects decided to patch it. Probably for the first time in video gaming history and apparently to show they sort of cared.
A Freak Brothers related pic from Wikipedia
They came up with the fixes, but lacking in the Internet department, they had the users type them in. A series of four historical POKEs, collectively remembered as the official Software Projects Pokes, were released and distributed (mostly) via magazines. According to this apparently well informed corner of the web (and from what I can still recall) them official POKEs were:
  • Moving an invisible object from the First Landing to The Hall (42183,11)
  • Removing a killer object from the Conservatory Roof (60231,0),
  • Changing a block in the Banyan Tree to a walk-through type (56876,4)
  • The Attic bug fix Poke (59901,82).
All you would then need to do would be type them in, in way not dissimilar to what Your Spectrum would advise:
Rewind the Jet Set Willy tape and load it using MERGE "", press Enter and start the tape. Once the loader program has been loaded you will get the 'OK' message on the screen and you should stop the tape. Now enter:

CLEAR 32767
LOAD "" CODE as direct commands and start the tape. After the main part of the program has loaded, enter the following as direct commands:

POKE 60231,0
POKE 42183,11
POKE 59901,82
POKE 56876,4

and your problems should be over. To start the new version of the game, enter GO TO 40.

Related @ Gnome's Lair: The Heroquest POKE, PDF Spectrum emulation bible, 3D Ant Attack, free online retro gaming

Dec 12, 2007


I could easily come up with a 500 words piece on the excellence Passage, but I wont. It would simply take a bit from joy of discovering its beauty by yourselves and I really wouldn't want to spoil anything for you. Knowing that it's an incredible, unique, moving and handily free game that can be played in less than 5 minutes should be all the information you need. Or, to put it bluntly, simply trust me and go download Passage right after you wash your hands.

Related @ Gnome's Lair: Sam & Max episode 104 gone freeware, Pac-Txt, HPL's Commonplace Book Project

Dec 10, 2007

Aquaria released - underwater fantasy gaming reaches the indie loving masses

AquariaAquariaNot every game can win an IGF Grand Prize (actually only one game per year can, and that's ..uh.. not many games and definitely not every; yes) and only one game ever managed to grab the 2007 version of said illustrious prize. It was none other than Aquaria and happily this indie masterpiece has just been released, meaning you too, and yes that does indeed mean you, can grab a fairly priced copy here or download the incredibly hefty demo there.

Now, before going off downloading and/or wisely buying stuff, before even enjoying the sheer beauty of Aquaria's video teaser, better read a bit of the official word:
Aquaria, winner of the Seumas McNally Grand Prize at the 2007 Independent Games Festival, features over 175 strange and wonderful creatures (including several massive and ancient "bosses"), 8 magical forms with unique abilities, 50 original music tracks, and over 2000 pieces of hand-painted 2d artwork.
Related @ Gnome's Lair: Storked, The B-Games mega feature, Soldner-X, the Pathologic sequel

Dec 6, 2007

An hour of hot D&D 4th edition insider info and some other (audible) stuff

Yax was kind enough to include Gnome's Lair in Dungeon Mastering's Top 50 RPG websites and, being the sensitive little gnome I am, I sort of felt the obligation to blog about something vaguely related. Failing to come up with a Top 60 tabletop gaming blogs piece and ultimately ignoring the pleas for a Naked Cthulhu Gaming guide, I had a quick browse through the Velvet Dice Bag and found out that Gaming Steve's latest podcast -episode 64- has been made available here. You'd better go listen to it, especially if D&D is your thing.

It's a 148 minutes long monster, mind you, and besides discussing Super Mario Galaxy, the Witcher and a variety of non-analog games, said podcast sports 62 minutes of Christopher Perkins interview goodness. Shockingly, Mr. Perkins, Story Design Manager RPGs/Minis R&D at Wizards, chooses to discuss the 4th edition of Dungeons & Dragons and offer invaluable behind the scenes info.

Related @ Gnome's Lair: Steal Away Jordan, D&D Instant Campaign Builder, Proletariat: The Uprising, a D&D 4e post

Dec 2, 2007

Monty's Christmas Misty Eyed Special

Monty Christmas Special Retro RemakeWe make the cops look bad is so much more than a commendable social practice and the way to a better mankind. It's a fantastic blog of a highly talented retro remaker (extensive info on the very playable part of said talents in a post that should appear before 2008), who also happens to be a human, a gamer, not particularly odd and a great writer: oddbob. Interestingly, said bob, having absolutely no relation to any Black Adder Bobs you might have fond memories of, posted an exhaustive preview of Monty's Christmas Special and got me desperately waiting.

Well, guess what. In an anti-twist of blog writing fashion, I'm happy to inform you that the wait is finally over. Auld Games have, as of December 1st 2007, released Monty's Christmas Special for freeware public consumption and it's an absolutely gorgeous Spectrum-like, non colour-clashing platforming beauty. Download the game here NOW and see what this classic police avoiding rodent is up to.

Those either caring for more top quality interactive entertainment or looking to find out more on Monty Mole could do worse than grab the remake of the original Monty On the Run and have a read here.

Related @ Gnome's Lair: 'em classic game mags for free, Retro Gamer eMag review, ZX Spectrum documentary, Galaxian

Nov 30, 2007

Brikwars does to Lego Wargaming what Lenin did to bicycling. And its absolutely free too!

BrikwarsBrikwarsThe Download Munkey had always been a most excellent of blogs, but its recent move to spanking new servers has really made it shine. Brilliant! Visit it @ preferably by following this gamey link, thank Roys for taking the time to please you Internet people and -who knows?- you might also bump into a certain Brikwars post.

Brikwars, should you fail clicking any of the above links, is in its simplest form a freeware wargaming rules system, that let's use your Lego bricks and figures to ..uh.. play war with your mates. It is thus what some would call a tabletop strategy miniature wargame. Further inspection though, reveals a truly fantastic game that has been evolving for over a decade and is both simple (make that elegant) and deep enough to actually challenge Warhammer. As for the quality of the core rulebook and supplements, the top-notch humor and utterly jaw-dropping artwork, well, you'll have to visit the Brikwars site and impress yourselves. You wouldn't believe me otherwise.

Related @ Gnome's Lair: Mighty Empires for free, Chronicles from the Warzone issue 1, H.G. Well's Little Wars

Nov 28, 2007

A rather reasonable Resonance update

As this will apparently be the last developer's diary on Resonance for the next few months, I thought I'd let you lot know. Oh, and also had the weird feeling it would be wise to remind you that Resonance will soon be a highly innovative, beautifully 2D, shockingly interesting and apparently highly polished adventure for the PC sporting dozens of weird inventories. You might also want to check these rather related Gnome's Lair posts too:

Nov 23, 2007

Trainspotting: The Glorious Game

Sensible Software Train SpottingChoose life. Choose a job. Choose a starter home. Choose a fucking big television. Choose dental insurance, leisure wear and matching luggage. Choose your future. But why would anyone want to do a thing like that? Simply choose to go with Sensible's Train Spotting instead. No, really.

Sensible you see, the very same studio that created such timeless masterpieces as Sensi Soccer and Cannon Fodder, did actually bother coming up with a short, sarcastic and quirky Train Spotting game back in 1995. One whole year before Trainspotting, the glorious cult movie with the glorious cult trailer, taught everyone that Edinburgh has more to it than a lovely medieval centre, that Scots have an excellent sense of humor and that Brits in general tend to amuse themselves by looking at trains. Oh, yes, it was an excellent film, one of the best ever actually, but I digress.

Sensible Software TrainspottingSensible's Train Spotting, the first ever train spotting simulator that let you live the excitement of pointing at trains and jotting down their model numbers from the comfort of your bedroom, is this post's subject and that's the reason I wont even mention the movie's brilliant soundtrack. The game, yes. (pssst.. here's a classic first scene, you know, just in case you cared...)

Well, it was released as a coverdisk for the Amiga Power magazine, probably as a joke and you can nowadays download it for free from the Hall of Light. It is thus an Amiga game, or to be fair to it, it's a humorously pointless Amiga game, that puts you in a digital representation of a railway station and tasks you with identifying trains as they pass by while appropriately crossing them out of your card/list thingie. There's even a time limit to make things tougher. And frankly that's all the game does. Brilliant!

Oh, and shockingly Moby Games does have a Sensible Train Spotting page and so does Wikipedia.

Related @ Gnome's Lair: Free classic gaming mags, Space Quest IV retro review, Team 17's freebies, the Amiga launch

Nov 18, 2007

Introspect Unreal Tournament 2004

Introspect Unreal Tournament modWell, it seems I'm back from Amsterdam and apparently from Brussels too. Can't say I'm particularly happy about not having someone else prepare breakfast, but good things can't last forever and blogging can be quite an antidote to post-brilliant-times trauma. Besides, as most of northern Europe seems to be repairing itself, I didn't manage to see the Russian avant garde paintings I craved and oddly remembered I hadn't blogged about a mod for ages. Go figure.

So, well, uhm, here's Introspect. It's a madly innovative, beautiful, smart, typically freeware and very anti-FPS FPS mod for Unreal Tournament 2004. Cunningly subtitled A Journey Through Insanity Introspect turns UT into a non-violent first person painting/exploring game that puts players into the mind of a mad artist who must fight through his personal demons to regain his sanity. Almost surreal, definitely brilliant and a chance to be artsy via a game. Download it, have a foot massage and be happy.

Related @ Gnome's Lair: Quake in 32-bit colour, Half Life 2's Flipside, On nude patches, Hollow Moon

Nov 9, 2007

Decker's Delight Links (9.Nov.07)

This time it's Amsterdam (complete with a tiny slice of Brussels) and I'll probably be back in a week, provided of course them fickle airplanes behave as they should. In the meantime, do have a look at the lovely things the Internet has spawned and -please Elderly- do water the plants.
InternetsNow, as Travelhacker is all about ...uh... travels and hackers, well, I thought it might be nice to start from their most intriguing Top 25 Ultimate Gamer Vacations post. Read it and see why visiting Leipzig is such a brilliant idea (hint: Games Convention).

Ghacks on the other hand discovered another brilliant idea: It's like YouTube, only sporting tons of classic horror, sci-fi, kung fu and western films in their full 60+ minute glory. For free, that is.

Oh, and in case you haven't noticed, adventure games are back for good. Here are the interviews to prove it: Ron Gilbert talks funny, Tim Shaffer talks metal and Jane Jensen speaks the truth.

For those of you who would like to join said creative bunch for a cocktail or something, can offer some help via its How to write... an Adventure Game feature. Dave Grossman and David Cage do most of the advising mind you.

GameSetWatch examines Battle Circuit, a game that might have been. Obviously it wasn't meant to be. Sad story, excellent write-up, colorful pics and a distinct lack of naked people...

Still on the retro gaming front, but focusing on things that actually were, 1up explores the history of Panzer Dragoon, Gamasutra reveals Steve Wozniak's gaming past and Mike Daily tops everything with a Lemmings retrospective.

Add another retrospective, this time on Planescape Torment by Rock, Paper, Shotgun and a freebie friendly Sega Model 2 emulator post over at the Saturn Junkyard and we're done with old games. Well, almost. There's always the Expurgation of Maniac Mansion to enjoy. Now we're done.

On to the discussion bits.Well, Richard Cobbett discusses writing "girls in gaming" articles and manages to be hilarious and wise at the same time, which probably is something to be very proud of.

On an even more serious and rather thought-provoking note, the Artful Gamer managed to come up with the good, the bad and the ugly of academic games research. Ah, yes, proper ludologic reading. Gotta love it.

It's them Quick Links again:

Nov 7, 2007

Toad's Tool 64 let's you hack at Mario 64

Toad's Tool Mario 64Nothing beats 3D Construction Kit 2 and no 3D-engine will ever come close to Freescape, for -as the Great Book of Gaming clearly states- it managed to pull some really impressive stunts on the humblest of 8-bit hardware. Never forget this. Ok? Good. Now, you may have a look at the second best 3D game editing thingy man managed: Toad's Tool 64.

Toad's Tool 64, besides sporting a brilliantly silly name, is a Mario 64 level editor, is still in Beta as fashion dictates, is absolutely freeware and you can grab yourselves a copy from its very own web-page where both Windows and Mac OS X versions are available. What's more, the thing was simple enough to allow me to tamper with some of the best designed platformer levels in history, which means you too will be moving, editing and rotating Miyamoto created objects in no time. Ahh, glory days!

Related @ Gnome's Lair: The Commodore Amiga Launch, Computer Animation Primer e-book, Vectrex retro gaming

Nov 6, 2007

The shocking Sam & Max: Abe Lincoln Must Die full game, full monty, gratuitous free download

Sam & Max Abe LincolnGotta give it to Telltale. Not only do these wonderfully creative chaps and chappettes churn out brilliant adventure after brilliant adventure, not only have they successfully revived Sam & Max gaming and brought its humorous bloody rabbity-thing reanimated body into the mainstream, but now they 've gone and given the Internet the (second) best freebie it could ever imagine. In other words, Sam & Max: Abe Lincoln Must Die is now available for absolutely free in all its full glory. Download it here, weep with joy and re-read the same newsbit over at Telltale's fluffy blog.

In the extreme case you've been living under a rock or are one of the few heroic guerrillas that actually manage to read this blog, let me just inform you that Abe Lincoln Must Die is episode 4 of the first series of them Sam & Max games and that it's the funniest -though not the best- of the lot. It also is a point-and-click adventure that'll last you for 3-4 hours. Even contemporary critics loved it.

Related @ Gnome's Lair: Rise of the Hidden Sun news, Тургор, Space Quest IV retro review, Command & Conquer 95

Nov 5, 2007

The Complete Uncut Monkey Island Film

Monkey Island UncutIt's been quite a while since I last linked to Ron Gilbert's excellent Grumpy Gamer blog and I do believe that's a horrible thing to do. Nasty even, especially now that Mr. Gilbert has gone back to semi-regularly updating the thing. So, uhh... LINK, LINK, LINK. Now, that's over, and here's another link that will magically transport you to the lovely little web-corner where the brilliant Monkey Island Flash Film is constantly being played. Feel free to laugh out loud. Especially if you are at work, that is.

Related @ Gnome's Lair: The Lost Lucasarts ftp stash, Monkey Island music, more Monkey stuff, The House

Nov 4, 2007

Gaming magazines of the pre-Internet era living happy online lives

Retro Gaming MagazinesWell, ok, not necessarily pre-Internet gaming mags, but definitely classifiable as retro. Or at least of retro gaming interest. Or, well, you get the point don't you? Anyway, sod it. This is a post about freely available digitized computer & video gaming mags of yore and where to find them. Sadly, it lacks an interesting and/or witty introduction.

So, let's begin at the ..uh.. beginning with some much-deserved Atari love, courtesy of the Atari Museum. You can grab 11 issues of Atari Age here, 6 issues of the Atari Club Magazine here and (re-)discover what the Atari 2600 and to some extent 5200 were all about.

Compute!, a rather more serious take on the then-emerging digital scene, was first published in 1979 and featured content mostly on the Commodore PET and the 6502 processor. The complete magazine archive from 1979 to 1994 is available here. Yes, all 168 issues of it!

ZZap 64!, the everlasting pride of the Commodore 64 community and one of the best gaming mags ever, is available in its (almost) full glory here. Though you wont get every article of every issue, there’s more than enough scanned and html-ed (?) content to keep every misty-eyed 8-bit connoisseur off the streets. Besides, content is being added regularly.

Just as C64 replaced the PET, an time came when the 16-bit powerhouse that was the Amiga replaced the C64. Tons of magazines were published, gamers were having multiple orgasms and the utterly amazing Amiga Magazine Rack is the place were everything is kept safely for your free retro pleasure. 70 classic mags are covered!

Computer Gaming World, a PC favorite that's still going strong, has recently opened the gates to its virtual museum. Visit it here and download the first 100 issues in glorious PDF.

Mean Machines along with Mean Machines Sega and delicious bits of other classic British gaming mags have their very own, very retro archive right here. Visit it and find out exactly how the best console magazine ever to grace our puny planet looked like.

Old Computer Mags is a nice clean site with interesting content, sporting a fantastic selection of Italian magazines and quite a few issues of some classic UK and US ones. Oh, and 36 issues of Your Sinclair is quite an impressive offering.

Oh, and as Erik suggested, don't forget to register and have a look at Retromags. You'll find quite a selection of UK and US mags and an utterly impressive archive of Nintendo Power issues. Official Saturn Magazine groupies won't be disappointed either.

[UPDATE]: Wise reader/blogger JohnH suggested you grab some pretty digital copies of arcade focused gaming mag JoyStik here and/or here and I couldn't agree more. It's an impressively designed publication and quite a read. Thanks John!

Related @ Gnome's Lair: Retro Gamer eMag review, Wii retro gaming, Team 17 Amiga games for free, free PDF & e-book archive

Nov 2, 2007

Instant fantasy world building. Just add water.

fantasy artYes, it's time for another link to Dungeon Mastering and time for them creative DMs out there (preferably of the Dungeons & Dragons persuasion) to test their world crafting talents. The lovely Instant World Builder free PDF guide should come in as a much needed assistant or even the spark you needed to go for it, though studying Tolkien definitely wont be in vain either. Grab the booklet with all its 21 pages here.

Related @ Gnome's Lair: Instant Campaign Builder PDF, Proletariat: The Uprising, an introduction to RPG gaming

Nov 1, 2007

More Adventure Lantern Horror

Adventure LanternAnother month, another issue, another October/Halloween issue to come out a little bit too late. Anyway. Grab the latest Adventure Lantern issue here and enjoy its 57 virtual pages. Issue's highlights include a Zoetrope Interactive interview, 6 horror adventure game reviews, a short story, a few non-adventure reviews, some stuff by yours truly and something called Death by Annelid.

Related @ Gnome's Lair: Zak McKracken thingies, Adventure Game Speedruns, The Lurking Horror retro review

Oct 31, 2007

The (ominous sounding) House adventure and its freeware gaming siblings

The House adventureNon-AGS indy adventure games are a rather rare breed indeed, but it's them Visual Basic ones that are downright exotic. Apparently, The House, a short highly atmospheric horror point-and-clicker is such an exotic rarity. It also happens to be a freeware adventure with a Myst-like interface, great music and simple yet very smart graphics, that feels like one big elaborate puzzle. Not a very easy puzzle mind you, but still a well designed and very intriguing one.

To download The House (and its walkthrough) you could be cunning enough to follow this humblest of links. Oh, and don't be surprised if you end up looking at a whole herd of them freeware mostly VB games. Download wantonly and do not forget to try Rotris the Tetris clone, Sokoban inspired Strokio and Blockmania a Columns like thingy.

Related @ Gnome's Lair: Rise of the Hidden Sun news, Indy Adventuring Guide, Prototype 2 free shmup

Oct 26, 2007

Pac-Man gets freeware & Zork treatment

Pac-txtYou awaken in a large complex, slightly disoriented. Glowing dots hover mouth level near you in every direction. Off in the distance you hear the faint howling of what you can only imagine must be some sort of ghost or several ghosts.

Almost on par with "you are standing in an open field west of a white house, with a boarded front door. There is a small mailbox here", eh? Then again, this is no Zork. It's an alcohol (allegedly) inspired Zork/Pac-Man hybrid, that's properly freeware and can be played right here. The game, aptly named the Pac-Txt, is quite obviously a text/turn-based version of Pac-Man, which plays less than an adventure and more like a pill-popping maze.

So, should you really go grab your graph-paper notebook? Well, absolutely yes, for Pac-Txt, despite supporting only a bare minimum of game commands and being coded almost entirely in a day, is quite a brilliant and at times demanding little online maze game. Besides, glimpsing at a ghost will definitely remind the older among you of the glorious 3D Monster Maze days, without of course the 3D bit, and ...uh... that's quite a feeling. Just don't forget to enable the autolook and autonibble cheats.

Related @ Gnome's Lair: Cthulhu i-f gaming, Half Life 2 Flipside, Textfyre, the Saboteur remake

Oct 22, 2007

Steal Away Jordan & Board Game Slaves

Steal Away JordanMust have been due to my recent indulgence in the generally shallow world of video games, but I was happily shocked when excellent all around gaming blog Play This Thing! mentioned Steal Away Jordan. After all, a political roleplaying game focusing on slavery, for that's what SWA is all about, isn't what I consider banal, and, yes, that's coming from someone still enjoying the odd Class Struggle session. It's just that spending all this time shooting (mostly undead) stuff, makes such a game really stand out, especially considering that most RPGs have the player step into the iron boots of some hairy barbarian instead of a rather desperate slave.

Now, as I've yet to buy or obviously review the game, you'd better help yourselves to a lovely PTT review and of course have a look around the SAW official website. Rumour has it it's a narrative heavy game with a unique game system and that I'll soon be getting myself a copy.

Related @ Gnome's Lair: D&D instant campaign builder, Proletariat: The Uprising, 1000s free RPG character sheets

Oct 19, 2007

Prototype 2 free shmup

Prototype 2 shmupFirst glimpsed over at Independent Gaming and then micro-reviewed by TIG Source's Derek Yu, Prototype 2 is a freeware shoot-'em-up you absolutely have to play. It's got fantastic graphics, sports some classic side-scrolling action and offers enough options & power-ups to remind me of the glorious Amiga days. Download it here and don't expect a walk in the park. Prototype 2 is a tough little bastard (well, either that or I'm far too old for such games and alcohol has finally started taking its toll).

Related @ Gnome's Lair: The B-Game Compo feature, Epic Saga, Soldner-X HD trailer, Platform!

Oct 17, 2007

Retro Gamer eMag Review

Retro Gamer eMag Oliver FreySo, uhm, what's an eMag, eh? Simple really, as it apparently is a collection of digitized magazines in PDF on a disk, which obviously means that a Retro Gamer eMag is a selection of digitized Retro Gamer magazines, or to be more precise 30 issues/3000+ pages of Retro Gamer in PDF on a disk. To be even more precise this particular eMag I'm currently reviewing features the first 30 (now out of print and pretty expensive) issues of said mag and a variety of extras, complete with full search capabilities via an excellent and lovingly animated retro themed interface.

What's more, searching/exploring the brilliant and rich content available can be done in three ways. First of all you can very virtually grab each one of the issues as a whole and read the PDF from -so to say- cover to cover, even though admittedly the PDF quality isn't that great, as all the images (not the text) are too low-res to enjoy. Then, you can search for individual top/printable quality high-definition articles through smartly indexed predefined categories (unfortunately not every single article has been included, which is quite annoying) and finally you can search the PDF documents themselves for any silly keyword you could come up with. All in all, finding what you are looking for or simply browsing is easy and intuitive and, considering the quality of what's on offer, my only true gripe is that I can't seem to find quality scans of the magazines' covers.

Now, for those of you that haven't even heard of Retro Gamer, suffice to say it's my favorite video gaming mag ever. I even prefer it to the early issues of PC Zone. Besides, it covers everything from 8-bit computers and consoles to arcades, game making ofs, retro-remakes, long gone developers, handhelds and even Jeff Minter's ship obsessions. As a prime example of what to generally expect from RG, please do read this excellent Sega MegaDrive Genesis retroinspection, one of the rare RG articles to make it to the web for free, though neither with all it usual bells and whistles nor in its 100% complete form. Oh, and here's Imagine's official Retro Gamer website.

Retro Gamer scanRetro Gamer eMag interfaceAs an added bonus, and probably as an incentive to buy the compilation regardless of the number of RG issues in your possession, Imagine threw in some lovely little extras. These include wallpapers (1024x768 and 1280x1024, 40 each), a couple of rather pointless files to help you create your own RG cover, 6 never before published pages on the magazine's history and impressively all 257 PDF pages of Retro - Micro Games Action, featuring the best retro articles from 24 issues of games TM. This PDF might not be of the highest resolution, but it's easily readable, and one could argue it's enough a reason (besides the obvious collector's obsession) for regular RG readers to grab this eMag, which incidentally is available here.

That's a (nine) out of (ten).

Related @ Gnome's Lair: Wii retro gaming guide, free CPC games, The Lurking Horror by Infocom

Oct 12, 2007

Rise of the Hidden Sun re-entering the freeware indy adventure games saloon

Rise of the Hidden SunRise of the Hidden SunIt was more than 5 years ago when Adventure Gamers published their first installment in the Adventure Architect series and indy/freeware adventure gamers promptly started fantasizing about playing through a cartoon point-and-clicker set in the Wild West. As the dev-diary like AA installments kept coming (read 'em all here), it was clear that a) this would be one of the shiniest freeware games ever, b) it would be episodic c) the graphics would be more than impressive and d) the game's name would be Rise of the Hidden Sun and the team behind it would be Chapter 11 studios.

Then, after the first enthusiastic previews started hitting the net, production apparently stopped and eventually even Chapter 11's website disappeared. But was the game gone for good? Had the evil powers of daily struggle crushed another creative group? Happily, no, and here is a brand new Rise of the Hidden Sun site to prove it. Hurrah!

As for the game itself, well, it will indeed be the freeware yet professional quality AGS adventure spanning 4 episodes and 100 (!) locations it was always meant to be. I mean, really, look at these screenshots... Rise of the Hidden Sun will also come complete with a classic Sierra-style point-and-click interface and a full musical score. Intrigued? Great! Feeling helpful? Why, that's even better, for you can still join the team and help.

Related @ Gnome's Lair: AG Speedruns, Resonance, Space Quest IV review, Indy Adventures Guide

Oct 11, 2007

Storked Released; PC platform/puzzle gamers smile.

Storked platform gameStorked is an indy platform/puzzle game created by a refreshingly fresh & young development team, that just got released for the PC. The game is in colourful family friendly 2D, while offering a unique chance to be a penguin, an impressive number of unique and rather innovative features and intriguing gameplay. Have a look at the press release and visit the game's official site; there's a hefty free demo available, you know. Oh, and do watch this space... I might just review the thing.

Related @ Gnome's Lair: Soldner-X: The HD Trailer, LotRO gets free demo, How to relive Quake in 32-bit colours

Oct 10, 2007

The B-Game Competition Mega mini Review Part III

Part I - Part II - Part III
Well, dear unimpressed and not particularly numerous readers, it had to come to this: the third and sadly final part of the B-Game Competition mini reviewing marathon, sporting another bunch of 10 weird and lovely freeware games. Hopefully you still remember that you can download all 29 of them compo games right here and that, should you be nice enough, can still visit TIG Source and thank them for organizing the whole thing. Now, without further ado, let's just get on with it.

The B-Game equivalent of Godzilla and Rampage's spiritual spawn, this is a tough yet fun city destroying little game. Scale buildings, try to bring them down, avoid a variety of missiles, panic, hit random buttons and eat a marine or two, in a game that brings back those cherished arcade memories. Not a visual masterpiece by any means, mind you, though we obviously don't care and collectively admire the central sprite. Right? Right. Oh, yes, And Toadzilla Are You!

Speed Bear
Speed Bear is a deceptively simple game, with simple highly stylized graphics, that starts by being nothing more than a leisurely stroll through a Pac-Man-esque labyrinth, where all you have to do is shoot some obstacles (along with a few not very menacing beasties), collect treasures and head for the exit. Then, quite suddenly I must admit, it just turns into a frenzied race for escape that requires sharp reflexes and swift tactical decisions. Apparently the game also features bears in boats. Go figure.

Rap Attack: 2pacalypse Now
It's time for me to be unfair. Rap Attack, you see, is an imaginative mix of Metal Slug and Street Fighter 2 gameplay, with excellent pixel art and some lovely rap lyrics/music/story, that I will never be able to appreciate or praise. Unfortunately I'm desperately shit at it and simply can't enjoy the thing... Tsk, tsk.

Space Barnacle
Not that Metroid isn't b-movie-ish enough, but Space Barnacle is the only true platform action exploration B-Game ever created, and it comes complete with a minimal yet cheesy story appropriately set in space. Happily it's a brilliant game too. The retro styled graphics are excellent, the music is varied, its style impeccable and the controls spot-on. As for the exploration and power-up discovering bits they are easily comparable to Metroid's. Yes, it's that good; not that huge, but really good. The second best game of the compo really.

Hickbilly Bride
Making fun of rednecks, are we? Apparently, yes, or that's what Hickbilly Bride is all about. Now, despite not being comfortable with stereotypes of any sort, I must admit I appreciated the game's humor and more importantly truly enjoyed Hickbilly Bride in all its 4 fps, Atari 2600 styled graphics and country music glory. The game uses only three buttons (left, right, fire) but shockingly is not another action thingy. It's a smart and immensely enjoyable puzzler, thus an essential download.

Rover Race
The rover has made it to Mars and now you, oh bravest of players, have to guide it to safety and STOP signs, while avoiding fires, ghosts and a variety of lethal and/or non-lethal obstacles. Problem (good thing?) is you are positioned on Earth and this means that there will be a delay between the time you press a button and the time you will see the already unresponsive Rover's reaction! Sounds hopeless, I know, but after a few tries this infuriatingly difficult game starts being beatable and the levels (well, the first few at least) seem manageable. Fun even! Perfect learning curve, addictive gameplay and an absolute must try.

Tecnojam Dance 34k
After all these years of enjoying the demoscene and I'm still impressed by 34k games. Silly me... Anyway, this one in particular looks fine, comes with excellent and lovably silly music and in a humble 12 MB archive. Lovely, and even though I am not dexterous or hardcore enough to master it, I'm sure it's a fine finger dancing rhythm game.

Save the President
Simple as that, really. Shoot ninjas, bears, zombies and unidentifiable stuff in order to save the president and avoid having him killed. Uhm, yes. Also a pretty decent action movie parody with interesting visuals and good controls. It's extremely short and easy too.

Funny Cat
Despite the far too obvious Garfield references and the overly simplistic game mechanics, Funny Cat is a brilliant time sink sporting smart graphics and hardcore music. All you have to do is concentrate and press either Right Shift (food) or Q (not food). See how many points you can score in 2 minutes and remember what high-scores were all about.

Brain Drain
Judging from Mother Brain and Brain from The Pinky & The Brain Show, brains can be dangerous nasty little things, and more so when they are of the flying, bent on conquering the world sort. In Brain Drain the player unsurprisingly controls one such brain and tries to grab more human brains, control them (or the pink little clouds that represent them, actually) and avoid a variety of anti-brain projectiles by using an enjoyably fiddly mouse/keyboard control method and looking at some not particularly inspired graphics. Not exactly my kind of game, but definitely worth a try.

Related @ Gnome's Lair: Text is King, TOP 7 non-slutty female game characters, Call of Cthulhu games