All right, Tighty Whiteys, here are some old DOS games I’ve been playing lately.
Game: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Developer/Publisher: LucasFilm Games (known today as LucasArts)
Also available for: Commodore Amiga, Atari ST, Fujitsu FM Towns
This is one of those LucasArts adventure games I mentioned in this blog awhile ago. This game is well-regarded in the adventure game community but not quite considered to be in the top half of LucasArts adventures, according to adventuregamers.com. I played The Secret of Monkey Island awhile ago and this game is quite similar to it, made only a year earlier. I’m still pretty unfamiliar with classic PC gaming so some elements of this game proved pretty alien to me. For instance, unless you somehow have the original manuals for these kinds of games you’re going to HAVE to use an online guide at some point. Why is that? Because back then they were so scared of piracy that certain portions had elements that require you to consult the manual to find the information to proceed.
I’m not too familiar with adventure games but this game seems pretty linear to me to be an “adventure”. In most situations, there is a specific solution required to advance without many alternatives. If you do something that’s not in the basic “script” of how events should play out, the game won’t even let you do it. For instance, if you want to do something as simple as set your whip down on a table top you’ll get a message from Indiana Jones like, “No, I don’t think I want to do that.” To actually find all the solutions on your own requires much more in the way of PROCESS OF ELIMINATION than logic or brains, which kind of sucks.
And how does the game succeed as an adaptation of the movie it’s named after? Also a mixed bag. The plot of the game follows the plot of the movie rather closely. The prologue adventure featuring a younger Indiana Jones is just an opening credits movie but when the game begins Indy is at his college in NY, then meets with Donovan, goes to Venice, visits the Castle Brunwald, heads to Berlin and finally to the temple at Iskerunde. While the plot is identical the particulars are quite different. Remember the library scene where Indy notices the big X and moves onto the next scene? In the game, the clues are much more complicated and pretty vague. Meanwhile, cool scenes like the tank battle in the desert are completely gone. The Jones boys just stroll into the temple. The other thing holding back the game as a translation of the movie is the tone: it’s just too silly. Lots of jokes, stupid gags, corny dialogue.
In spite of my criticisms, if taken on its own merits this is still a pretty decent game. The art is very attractive, the sound is decent, and some of the puzzle areas are pretty cool and actually make sense. I feel they would have been better off working with an original story instead of making this adaptation, which they eventually did with Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis. The grade for this game isn’t going to be awesome, but I liked it well enough and will probably play the sequel.
Conclusion: Don’t believe the hype!
Game: Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego?
Ah, yes, the classic. OR IS IT?! This version is actually a graphical update of the famous game released 5 years earlier. I had the game for Commodore 64 when I was a kid and I thought it was pretty cool but maybe that’s because I was really stupid and bad at geography. If you have decent knowledge of geography the game is a cinch because there are only about 16 countries in the whole game. So you basically end up going to the same places over and over and hearing similar clues. As you keep playing the clues get SLIGHTLY harder but it’s still easy. I’m not sure how long you have to play to “beat” it or if you even can but I’ve solved about a dozen cases with no end in sight. It has its charms but it’s not very engaging.
Conclusion: Curse you, childhood!
Game: Oregon Trail
Yes, that’s right, 1992, which means this sure ain’t the original version. I’m not sure if it’s just a graphical update or if there’s more to it. The original version came out in the mid-1970s and was strictly text-only but the most famous version is the Apple ][ version from the 1980s. This review applies only to the early 1990s DOS version.
I’d like to say that I think this is a great concept for a game. It’s kind of an adventure game, kind of a strategy game, and there are even action elements in the hunting sequences. I’d also like to mention that this game is PRETTY EASY, which blows my mind because I thought it was so hard when I was a moron kid. I played through the game 3 times over the last few days, each time much more quickly and easily than the last. I never died or failed. The first time I played as a doctor, which I later learned gives you the benefit of a lot of money and quick healing times for your party members. I played it somewhat conservatively until I realized I was so slow I wouldn’t get to Oregon before winter. I played as a teacher on my 2nd playthrough. The teacher only has 20% of the money the doctor has and no special skills. I played pretty conservatively and relied on hunting for food. 2 of my party members died, one with NO WARNING AT ALL. Grrrrr. Still, we eventually waddled our way into the magical Oregan valley and won. I started to realize that hunting is really the key to beating the game, at least this version. So the 3rd time I played as a teacher and bought nothing but bullets and oxen. Nothing conservative this time – we travelled at the fastest speed and ate like kings. I hunted constantly and we traded surplus food for whatever supplies we needed. I still had 2 assholes die but we made it to the end in record time and spent the rest of our lives loafing and fucking in the fertile valley. The End.