Feb 28, 2007

Ten Unsung Indiana Jones Games

Indiana Jones games have always been a mixed bag really. For every Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis graphic adventure masterpiece there is a trite Fate of Atlantis action game, even though, admittedly, the franchise's average is well above ...uhm... average. Anyway, what's more interesting are the many quirky, old and not particularly well known Indy games. Here are 10 of them.
10. Indiana Jones in the Lost Kingdom (Commodore 64, Mindscape)
The first Indy game that got itself an original plot and also a game with absolutely no intention of helping the gamer understand what's going on. After all and according to the blurb on the box: "Nobody told Indiana Jones the rules. And no one will tell you". As for the game itself, well, it wasn't something particularly special, but was impressively short. Read more @ MobyGames.
9. Indiana Jones and his Desktop Adventures (PC, Lucasarts)
One of the first casual games (along with sister game Yoda Stories) that showcased how boring overly simplified gameplay can be. Minesweeper is fun, Indy's Desktop stuff is not. Don't believe me? Try the demo.
8. The Instruments of Chaos (MegaDrive/Genesis, Lucasarts)
It's a platformer pitting young Indiana against the Germans during World War I. Boring like the Arsenal of yore and definitely nothing to do with Black Adder. Also, quite obscure, as the rotten tomatoes webpage is the best you can do.
7. Indiana Jones and the Revenge of the Ancients (PC, Angelsoft/Mindscape)
Not only is Revenge of the Ancients a text-adventure, it's a very innovative one too. RotA is -thankfully- the only example of its genre I've ever come across, that won't hesitate to kill you if you take a moment to think things over. Action text adventuring at its best, and both MobyGames and Ye Olde Infocomme Shoppe would agree.
6. Raiders of the Lost Ark (Atari 2600, Atari)
Obviously the first Indy game ever and also a pretty decent Atari 2600 RPG. An evidently confused and pretty young Spielberg infamously commented "it's like a movie". Well, it's not, but it's a fun primitive little game. Then again, better see for yourselves, as AtariAge has everything you might need.
5. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (Arcade, Atari)
The one and only Indiana Jones Arcade, the first Atari System I arcade to have speech capabilities and one of the few coin-ops to allow players to choose one of three difficulty settings. Also a very enjoyable and varied gaming experience that manages to happily combine arcade-adventure action, shooting, platforming and driving. More shocking details available at Wikipedia and KLoV.
4. The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles (NES, Lucasarts/Jaleco)
Like The Instruments of Chaos, only on the NES. Rightfully unsung, mediocre in every respect and partly ripping off Castlevania. Read a review. Play it here.
3. Indiana Jones' Greatest Adventures (SNES, Lucasarts/Factor 5)
A truly brilliant, technically perfect and impressively huge game that manages to satisfyingly implement every major set piece from the whole Indiana Jones movie trilogy. An absolute SNES must-have. Apparently there's a Mobygames entry too. Who'd have thought?
2. Indiana Jone's and the Infernal Machine (GameBoy Color, Lucasars/THQ)
The game's Gamespot review is appropriately spot on. Heh. Sorry. If you can't be bothered to click on stuff, know it's a decent top down arcade/adventure game that has nothing to do with its 3D siblings on other formats. Ah, yes, Game Boy Color games were indeed rare.
1. Indiana Jones Interactive Storybook (Macintosh, ?)
The elusive one. Indiana Jones Interactive Storybook is supposed to have been released back in 1994 for the Apple Macinstosh and must have been some sort of illustrated interactive book. Still, extensive google searching, asking around those rare dedicated Mac game retailers and looking in every possible (wrong) place, has revealed nothing. This game is as elusive as a very elusive thing. It's as if they never actually released it...
Related @ Gnome's Lair: the illustrated history of the FPS, Will Wright's first game, Ratmaze, gaming history and retro features archive Related Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Star Wars: Bloodlines

Freeware Star Wars games are -quite frankly- an excellent idea. Freeware Zelda-like Star Wars arcade-adventures with obvious RPG tendencies, on the other hand, are better than watching cosplay pr0n on your European PS3. Star Wars: Bloodlines, possessing the added gift of being a modest 1.8MB download, is even better. Yes, it is. Download it here or see its wiki there. Hopefully you too will feel the force... Heh.

[Update]: Have a look at three more pics ripped right from SW Bloodlines' body. Thanks, Majik!

Related @ Gnome's Lair: Reunion, free online emulated retro-gaming, Alien Abduction, free games archive

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Feb 27, 2007

The Wii Warp Zone

The cunning staff of GWN discovered another cute little Wii feature: the Wii Warp Zone. It's a nice free service mostly appealing to retro gamers, that provides them with historic information on a variety of Nintendo related subjects and should soon be as rich and complete as something impressively rich and complete. To access this hidden portal to the past (well, according to Nintendo), simply visit the Wii Shop Channel and click on the smiley face (this rather Germanic video should help clear things up). Expect something like this, only in English. Also, expect an interesting look at Kirby.

Related @ Gnome's Lair: 3 Wii games micro-reviewed, Sam & Max Wii, Zelda Twilight Princess PDF guide

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Reunion eye-candy

Reunion, an obviously beautiful and still forthcoming freeware game by Mike Bithell, has already graced the dusty halls of Gnomes' Lair, but sadly never made it to the all singing all dancing happy place that is YouTube. Until now, that is. An early Reunion video has just been posted and all you have to do is follow the link and watch the game's first gameplay video. Then visit the developer's blog. It would only make sense (and let you find out all kinds of interesting bits of info).

Related @ Gnome's Lair: The Ugly Prince Duckling, StarFox PC, Medieval II: Total War review

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Feb 26, 2007

Shredz64: Bringing Guitar Hero to the C64

Never played this Guitar Hero thingy and probably never will. Unless of course somebody actually gets me a mint C64 and then goes on to conjure the interface pictured above (or something very similar, really), that is. For, you see, dear Commodore loving masses, the immensely popular and hugely gimmicky Guitar Hero game is sort of coming to the C64, and will surely be using this high-tech looking bit. Just don't expect proper PS2 quality graphics or gameplay, and obviously not an official port. Or a port at all, for that matter. What you should expect though is a chance to plug the guitar-shaped controller into your C64, have it recognized and thus get a rare chance to play some GH-like mini-games. Interested? Good. Off to the Shredz64 Project webpage to find out more.

Related @ Gnome's Lair: the NES home-computer, top 8 online emulators, Newcomer C64

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Museum Monday #48

Monday. Unsurprisingly, also the divinely designated day for another Museum Monday post. And, as -surprisingly- this Monday doesn't seem particularly nasty, thus not your average (or garden) Monday, this Museum Monday will safely take you to an accordingly unusual museum mostly exhibiting stuff that never really existed. Intriguing, I know. Now, click here, enter the halls of utterly amazing Amiga Games That Weren't and all will be clear.
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Feb 24, 2007

"Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice"

Having finally escaped from the accursed Pleasure Prison of the Bethuvian Demon Whore, I am lucky to linger for a while in the Lair's blissful shadows. At master Gnome's discretion, you may suffer my occasional comments, murmurs and arcane mutterings. I promise it will not be on bidets.

For a start, a little classic. Rumor has it there is an episode 2 in the works.

Related @
Gnome's Lair: The joys of D&D, And now for something completely elementary...

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Feb 23, 2007

Garfield welcomes the voices

Funny, right? Anyway. I have great news for them seven loyal readers of the Lair. a voice from the Lair, a man of immensely high cultural status and an unhealthy obsession for bidets, will soon be contributing his immensely huge ...uhm... gaming experience to this most humble of blogs. He's also going to have the blog all to himself for a whole weekend and be part of the growing staff of Gaming on the Go too. Nice. Hoorah!

(un-) Related @ Gnome's Lair: top 8 online emulators, Ratmaze, 2200 Roleplaying tips

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The Ugly Prince Duckling

A Hans Christian Andersen adventure! At last! Makes one wonder why it took them so bloody long to see the wisdom of the choice. It's a perfect match, really, and The Ugly Prince Duckling, appropriately developed by danish developer Guppyworks and soon to be published by The Adventure Company, an obvious choice for the debut game. Learn more by reading a nice Adventure Gamers preview and see lots of screenshots and a trailer over at Just Adventure.

Related @ Gnome's Lair: the 2006 AGS Awards, Runaway 2 Demo, Broken Sword 2.5 The Return of the Templars

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Feb 22, 2007

The very original & the original NES

Apparently the first NES version got scrapped by Nintendo of America and was replaced by the ROB featuring one. See the nice pictures? Good. That's the story behind them, really. (Pictures via this forum)

Related @ Gnome's Lair: the very best in online retro gaming, the beauty of Space Invaders, meet the TI 99/4A

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Feb 21, 2007

The twisted joy of online emulation

We are all cheap bastards, really. Yes, women too. Isn't it amazing? Even worse (and definitely amazing too), some of us are retro-gaming cheap bastards, who can't even be bothered to download and install stuff. Well, brothers, what follows is a list of the very best (according to traditional gnomish taste) free online emulators, that will hopefully cater to the cheap-ass, lazy and highly refined audience, I hope to have already managed to gather in Gnome's Lair for this little free retro gaming orgy, that will hopefully entertain you between readings of Das Kapital and Ulysses.

So, let's start off with the legendary and frankly quite powerful Apple II home computers, that are beautifully emulated through Java over @ Virtual Apple 2. Expect emulation of both the original Apple II and Apple IIgs, tons of freely available games, game manuals and a brilliant PDF fanzine. Games you should absolutely try include: Dungeon Master, Teenage Queen, Neuromancer, Wasteland, Wizardry and Castle Wolfenstein.

On to another popular machine then, the Commodore 64 and an online emulator I've already mentioned: the too brilliant for words c64s. There, you'll find that almost every C64 game ever released is available to you via an excellent and quite colorful web interface. Suggested games (subjectively selected from a few hundred impressively varied C64 classics) include: Bruce Lee, Dizzy, Giana Sisters, The Hobbit, Saboteur and Boulder Dash.

The hugely popular ZX Spectrum, Europe's beloved Speccy, being a traditionally humble piece of hardware got an excellent java emulator called Hob, which only (?) features 19 games and a version of BASIC, and lacks the bells and whistles of c64s. Thankfully classics like Ant Attack, Manic Miner, Skool Daze and Jet Set Willy are all included and faithfully emulated.

Equally popular to the Speccy, especially in the US and Japan, was the 8-bit Nintendo NES, which I believe arrived in Europe as late as the late eighties. Shame, but it didn't feature no SID chips, did it? Anyway, NES was generally brilliant and all-conquering and so is vNES, an emulator offering 500 English language games, 100 Japanese, 25 in various other languages and 5 unlicensed games. Must-play NES/Famicom games: Super Mario Brothers 3, Mega Man, Legend of Zelda, Castlevania, Metal Gear, Bomberman, ExciteBike and Final Fantasy.

MSX (MicroSoft eX/Cross, see Wikipedia entry), though not particularly successful, has also got it's nice little Java emulator thing going on. It's the aptly named Java MSX Emulator. Have a look and definitely try Raid on Bungeling Bay, Thexder, Nemesis, Dragon Slayer 4 and Zaxxon.

And now for the handheld loving finale. Gaming on the go aficionados, you see, also get their fair share of online freebies to enjoy, be it on their virtual Game Boy, Game Boy Color or Game & Watch. For the first two consoles do try the amazing GameBoy Online Emulator (just don't forget to play Tetris, Super Mario Land, Final Fantasy Adventure and Skate or Die), whereas for the really retro Game& Watch stuff this link should keep everyone happy.

Related @ Gnome's Lair: Batari BASIC, Watergate Caper, Alter Ego, Rick Dangerous Freebies

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Feb 20, 2007

Fahrenheit Postmortem

Fahrenheit (a.k.a. Indigo Prophecy in the US) is one of those extremely rare and ambitious games, that, despite obvious flaws, try to actually evolve the video-gaming medium and revolutionize interactive story-telling, while simultaneously remaining interesting and fun to play. Intrigued? Good. Off to Gamasutra to read a brilliant Indigo Prophecy Postmortem then. Oh, and if you're wondering what one of them postmortems is, well just know the term isn't used in its most literal of senses...

Related @ Gnome's Lair: Game Design Wikiversity, Designing game graphics, the interactive storytelling Sanitarium

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Feb 19, 2007

Museum Monday #47

Monday. Nothing conclusive yet, but still, Monday. Then again, Monday's what Museum Monday is all about (that, and spreading some monday-ish retro gaming love). Museum Monday #47, on the other hand, is all about the Philips Videopac and Odyssey 2 consoles. Simply click here, visit Videopac.org, and get lost in tons of articles, games, manuals and consoles. Oh, yes, you'll find some rather interesting books and accessories too.

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Feb 18, 2007

The Ratmaze retro feeling

Simply click and play. Your arrow keys are all you're going to need. Oh, and a nostalgic mood too. Other than that, it's just a lovely free retro-themed mindgame.

Related @ Gnome's Lair: Alien Abduction,'06 AGS Awards,Tetris 1d

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Feb 17, 2007

Encounter Zone: the gameplay demo

Remember Cry of Xaz the freeware homebrew Dreamcast game I mentioned a couple of weeks ago? Good. Now forget all about it and get used to Encounter Zone, as this will henceforth be the game's name. What's more, a brilliant gameplay (with placeholder graphics) demo has been made available to the SEGA loving masses. Download it, burn the auto-loading DC cd and enjoy good old fashioned shmup action. Oh, and please, do let the talented entities responsible for this game know what you thought of it.

[Update]: For a brand new screenshot and some interesting bit of info on the latest build of Encounter Zone do have a look here.

Related @ Gnome's Lair: 5 reasons to own a Dreamcast, Star Fox PC, 1980 Coleco

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2200 Roleplaying tips

Jeff Ayers, a wise RPGer who sporadically happens to comment here, has provided me (and consequently you too, dear readers) with the brilliant online resource for RPG players: the Roleplaying Tips website. Roleplaying Tips, you see, besides offering a weekly GM tips newsletter, gives you access to over 340 online issues worth of roleplaying content, that cover such diverse subjects as Maintaining your GM, Mission-style Roleplaying, 6 Bard tips or The Time Bomb Solution. Go on then, have a look.

Related @ Gnome's Lair: RPG maps & plots, a few inspirational posters, Dragon magazine issue #1 PDF

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Feb 16, 2007

Thrii Wii games micro-reviewed

Them last couple of months have been deeply and irreversibly influenced by Nintendo's quirky Wii console; the first current-gen console I have ever (ever) owned. Also, the first console/PC/handheld/whatever that made me buy not one but two whole games for 60 euros each, which -let's face it- might be a wise move from a gnome's liver point of view, but economically proved to be quite the disaster. Anyway, financial woes aside, what follows is a nice compact post swiftly micro-reviewing said games along with Wii Sports, the game only the Japanese are unfairly made to pay for...

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

Ahh, yes. Let's start off with the big one. The game everybody loves and praises, allegedly even people (or gnomes) that don't care much for Zelda. The Wii killer-app. The game that scored an impressive 95% over @ metacritic. Well, did I like it? Of course I did. The scope is truly epic, the art direction just fantastic, the gameplay varied, the story interesting and the controls much better than expected. Did I absolutely love it and declare it the best game evah!!1!, then? Uhm, no, not quite, even though I've spent less than 25 hours playing it and my judgement is far from final. Still, due to some weird reason, perhaps even due to severe lack of time, I haven't really gotten into the game. It still feels sort of consoley. But, please, don't get me wrong. I do see the sheer brilliance of the thing and did definitely enjoy many of the puzzles and set pieces. It's just, well, it's... it's just not as good as Beyond Good and Evil. There, I said it. More on the game, after I finish it, which according to my rough calculations should be sometime in mid-August.

Rayman Raving Rabbids

Rayman was an excellent platformer for the Atari Jaguar, Rayman 2 another excellent platformer for Sega's Dreamcast and Rayman Raving Rabbids the first properly funny thing to hit the Wii. This collection of mini-games, you see, as any old youtube search should easily prove, is the funniest thing since Monkey Island, with the only possible exception being them Sam & Max games.The 60 odd mini-games featured, most of which are extremely enjoyable (with 3-4 infuriating and badly designed exceptions), have you swinging the Wiimote like a lunatic, shooting Sam Fisher-esque rabbits in (on-rails) FPS style, getting all sado-masochistic with the demented creatures, dancing to ridiculous disco tunes and generally laughing your arse off. If only it were a bit more polished and offered a greater variety of mini-games, it would be an absolute must-buy, especially for people with at least one friend.

Wii Sports

Unexpectedly, Wii Sports is the game I've played the most. I think I have actually played it for over 70 hours, and, despite it's many shortcomings, I have enjoyed each and every one of them. Wii Sports, besides totally revolutionizing the way sports games are played (you know, by actually ...uhm... moving), is the perfect multi-player game, even beating Sensi on the Amiga, and also a way to get some much-needed light exercise while having fun. As for the included sports, well, Tennis is great, Golf is brilliant but too short, Bowling is okay, Baseball is pointless and Boxing is absolutely dreadful and unresponsive. The included mini-games are a nice diversion and so is the daily training/testing bit. Now, if Wii Sports definitely needed something, this would have to be online multiplayer. Then again, I haven't even managed to connect my Wii to a wireless network yet...

Related @ Gnome's Lair: Sam and Max get Wii-ed?, 3 forthcoming Wii games, Wii vs. Gamecube

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Defending Alien Abduction

Alien Abduction was an excellent and well-priced indy Defender-clone. It was beautiful, fast-paced, tactical and addictive. It featured 30 levels, 3 gameplay modes, tons unlockable stuff and 2-player action. Even the illustrious team of PC Zone seemed to enjoy the little shmup. Sadly though, Alien Abduction the indy commercial game is no more. Not at all. It's now been released as freeware and is available (both for PC and Mac) from Pumpkin Games.

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Feb 15, 2007

Coleco video games of 1980

Here's a little something the glorious Game Set Watch blog discovered some time ago: a fully scanned 1980 Coleco Toys & Games catalog freely available at the end of this tube. Highlights include Electronic Quarterback, head to head Baseball, Marksman, Colortron, Lil Genius and the less digital but most impressive Power Jet Hockey. People interested in the Colecovision console would apparently have to wait a few years back then. Mainstream (now retro) gamers, on the other hand, would surely be more interested in a few 1983 Atari 2600 advertisement scans.

Related @ Gnome's Lair: Re: Watergate Caper, beautiful Space Invaders, Alter Ego

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Feb 14, 2007

A short update just for Roleplayers

Two things, really:
  • A brand new, richer and definitely improved version of the FreeCountry Dungeons and Dragons mapping tool has been released and should be downloaded for free.
  • The Big List of RPG plots is available here and includes more than a few handy GM/DM scenario ideas. Smart GMing tips should also be expected.
Related @ Gnome's Lair: the joy of D&D, Mutant Chronicles, (almost) burning hot RPG sex

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Feb 13, 2007

Star Fox: Shadows of Lylat

Lylat? What do you mean by Lylat? Oh, Lylat. Anyway, silly name aside, Star Fox: Shadows of Lylat is shaping up to be a rather brilliant and very freeware Starfox game, that will shockingly (probably, too) appear on the PC before the franchise hits Nintendo's very own Wii. The game -obviously a fan project- will be based on the classic and open-source Freespace 2 engine and, among other things, will feature:
  • 3 Arwings and lots of other vehicles
  • Tons of classic and brand new enemies
  • An allegedly intricate storyline set between Star Fox 64 and Star Fox Adventures.
  • Space missions (in space)
  • Ground missions (not in space)
  • Multiplayer
Quite promising really. Now, before clicking yourselves over to the game's official site/forum or to a piece of its soundtrack, do have a look at this amazing Star Fox: Shadows of Lylat trailer:

Related @ Gnome's Lair: The complete 2006 AGS Awards, Medieval II Total War, True Combat: Elite

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