February 5, 2015

Drascula: The Vampire Strikes Back

Digital Dreams Multimedia, 1997

Drascula is one of the most humorous adventure games that I have ever played with its extremely funny characters, colorful cartoon graphics, hilarious jokes and dialogues, and most of all a very compelling storyline. In this game you take over the role of John Hacker, an English real estate agent, who travels all the way from England to a small town in Transylvania in order to negotiate and finalize a deal with Count Drascula for some land in Gibraltar. In reality, Count Drascula is an evil vampire and the brother of the most notorious and terrible vampire, Count Dracula with the same idea on his mind to dominate the World and something in addition, to prove himself even more evil than his brother. Unfortunately, Drascula kidnaps your fiancée and now it's your main goal to free your fiancée from his evil manacles and fail all his ideas to dominate the world.

In the beginning of the game, an excellent cartoon style animated intro rolls on the screen with excellent graphics and superb voice acting. In-game graphics are of excellent quality and there are tons of hilarious characters in the game, which the player meets and interacts in order to get clues to solve the problems. The sense of humor used is simply brilliant and entertains the player throughout the game. Puzzles are quite hard for many average adventure gamers, thou most of them are inventory based and may be solved by trying different inventory items, but since the game is strictly non-linear, the problem is that you might not have the correct item to use in the inventory on the right time. On the whole, Drascula is an impressive cartoon adventure game guaranteed to attract your attention and you will fall in love with it at first sight.

Evidence: The Last Report

Microids, 1997

Evidence is an entertaining mystery adventure revolving around a classical crime story and a gameplay that doesn't rest only on adventure genre but also entertains the player with multi-action sequences like shoot'em up, beat'em up as well as car and speedboat racing in real-time throughout the game. You play the game as Daniel Singer, a news-reporter for Channel-Z and you are the prime suspect in Sarah Hopkins murder case. Sarah Hopkins, another Channel-Z reporter and your ex-girlfriend phone called you at your home before she was murdered and asked you to reach her place immediately for she had discovered something very terrible and it could be the greatest news of the century. On finding himself dragged into the case, Dan launches his own investigation into this brutal crime without having the slightest idea that the info he is about to uncover can destroy the careers of some people in very high places and they will do whatever it takes to stop him. So, in order to complete this mystery you need to be vigilante, fast and witty because there are dozens of clues to put together, numerous puzzles to solve and many action sequences to overcome before you are able to identify those key characters in high places.

The game has every feature that a traditional adventure gamer wants in a game, i.e. point and click interface, multi-choice dialogue option, huge inventory, mind-boggling puzzles and above all a compelling story. The control interface is an array of action icons that pops up in the lower part of the screen, which will be used to deliver different actions such as look, use, pick and talk. Puzzles are mostly inventory-based but some problems can be overcome by selecting appropriate dialogue options while interacting with game characters. Graphics and the game characters are still images pre-rendered in 3D. The game has a lot of excellent quality cut-scenes and animations completely rendered in 3D. Music and sound effects are very atmospheric and entertaining. Though the game has few minor glitches, which may be overlooked for the game is very entertaining and should not be missed.

Goosebumps: Escape from Horrorland

DreamWorks Interactive, 1996

Goosebumps: Escape from Horrorland is the second game in the Goosebumps computer game series based on R.L. Stine's horror paperback novels with the same name. Goosebumps novels, especially written for kids, features mild horror and suspense elements while keeping all the good entertaining aspects. In this sequel, you play the game as the friend of Lizzy and his bothers, Luke and Clay. Luke and Clay have once again sucked by the haunted house and transported to the Horrorland, a very scary and spooky amusement theme park. You follow Lizzy and after an enchanted ride you ultimately end up in the middle of the Horrorland. The game starts and you find Lizzy talking to her bothers, which are captured and locked in the Horrorland. Your main objective is to rescue Lizzy and her brothers and escape the Horrorland. But, its not an easy escape as you have to solve many difficult puzzles while exploring various places of the theme park, encounter many monsters like the Dracula, the Werewolf and also defeat the main villain, a psycho-scientist. Other challenges include solving of mind-boggling puzzles, killing spiders, ghosts and mummies in the sewers and the most important, to find and collect gold tokens and book covers that will increase your game points and score.

Brilliant graphics used in the game are incredibly detailed and look very realistic. Live action video of acclaimed big-screen celebrities like Jeff Goldblum, Isabella Rosselline, and many others are used as characters and superimposed onto 3D pre-rendered backgrounds. The music and special effects are well done and make the game atmosphere very scary. The controls are mouse dependent and a hand icon guides the player in the game. Overall, this is a nice and a little scary game and a bit hard to find in the stores now, but if you find a copy then don’t hesitate to give it a try.

Hard Evidence: The Marilyn Monroe Files

T1 New Media, 1995

Hard Evidence is a fine detective adventure game that deals with the unnatural death of famous big-screen celebrity, Marilyn Monroe. In the morning of 5th August 1962, Marilyn Monroe was found dead in her bedroom with the phone receiver in her hand and an open empty bottle of medicine on her bedside table. Due to the fact that Marilyn Monroe attempted to suicide a number of times in the past Police also determined this one a suicide case and closed it after a brief investigation.

Now, after thirty years the case is reopened and you have been picked to investigate by selecting any one of the four characters from character menu. If you select to play as a District Attorney, you will challenge some tricky testimonies of key witnesses. As a County Coroner or as a Chief of Police, you will dive into the heaps of classified documents that incriminate many rich and powerful figures like the Kennedys, 20th Century Fox and other members of the mob. Your main objective in the game is to investigate and solve the case and finally close it once again.

The graphics are mostly video clips and photo slides showing the historical scenes from the news. In the interactive game part a medium size video figure of the person appears on a still background with an array of questions to select and ask. The controls are totally mouse-driven and the player travels to different areas of LA, New York and Las Vegas by clicking on a building in a bird-eye view of the city. Another part of the game tells us the life history of Marilyn Monroe, who was called Norma Jane Baker before she became rich and famous. Overall, it’s a nice game with a lot of inside information on the celebrity and can be enjoyed by the fans of the genre.

Dust: A Tale of the Wired West

CyberFlix, Inc., 1995

Dust: A Tale of the Wired West is one of those unforgettable adventure games that I played more than once, rather twice. This Western classic game is set in the year 1882 in a lawless town named Diamondback where you arrived as a total stranger after crossing the desert and fleeing from a notorious outlaw known as "The Kid". Upon entering the town and interacting with the folks you find out that there is something strange about it. People are frightened of something and seem suspicious about newcomers in their town. So, to gain their confidence and respect as a stranger you need to prove yourself as someone they can trust and share their hidden secrets. As you explore the town, which is rather limited to only those places where there is an action, you meet and talk to some nice and friendly characters as well as few bad characters, who invite you either for a duel or trigger some kind of arcade sequence. There are multiply tasks in this game that involve finding about a lost treasure, helping an Indian tribe in distress, finding gifts for the folks to please them and most of all, discovering your real identity. To accomplish many tasks you need money, which can be earned either by playing poker or blackjack at the Hard-Drive inn or fighting a duel with some bad guy.

The storyline is extremely nonlinear and the game can be ended skipping many events including some very interesting ones, but on the contrary, it offers a chance to play the game over and over again. The puzzles on the other hand are a mixed bag, which are either very easy or so difficult and frustrating that you start losing interest in the game, but none are impossible and can be solved with a bit more concentration. The most interesting feature in the game is the dated graphics with superb quality 3D pre-rendered backgrounds and characters that turn into 2D digitized real actors as you interact with them. Interface is point and click and items once picked can be examined in detail 3D inside the Inventory. Voice acting is excellent, which adds a lot of fun in the humorous dialogues. Sound and music are equally nice and meshes well in the Western atmosphere of the game. All in all, Dust is a great adventure game and must not be missed at all.

Mission Sunlight

Prism Leisure Corporation, 1998

Mission Sunlight is an excellent educational adventure game for the kids age 8 to 13, but parents and adult members of the family may also play and equally enjoy this masterpiece. The game is set inside the three-dimensionally created postimpressionistic paintings of famous Dutch painter, Vincent van Gogh, who was noted for his artistic use of colors. Vincent van Gogh died in 1890, a few years before the French painters started picturing appearances by stokes of paints to give an impression of reflected light, but Vincent's paintings, which actually revolt against impressionism become extremely famous in later years.

As the game starts, the intro gives you an impression of a futuristic science-fiction story, but in the next moment you find yourself inside an art gallery facing it's front desk. A funny looking floating druid welcomes you at the front desk and tells you that the sunlight has been disappeared from all the painting in the gallery, which is sub-divided into three halls. The druid gives you an empty flower vase and asks you to restore the sunlight by travelling inside every painting to explore, collect items and place them where they belong. The solving of each painting's puzzles and quizzes will earn you a personal visit of Vincent van Gogh, who will then explain you the historical background of the painting and also award you with a sunflower to add in your flower vase, which the druid gave you earlier. The game will finished once you earned all the sunflowers from Vincent van Gogh by crossing all the obstacles and fixing all the problems in all his paintings.

Visually, the game looks like a reminiscent of "Monet and the Mystery of Orangerie Museum" with excellent graphics that offer the player a colorful real-time 3D world of Van Gogh's wonderful paintings. Puzzles are mostly like finding and collecting misplaced items and placing them back in their right place. There are few other quizzes and puzzles including some jigsaw puzzles in the game and Van Gogh, being your sidekick, guides and furnishes you with hints and clues for these puzzles. The Game control interface is mouse and keyboard hybrid that provides smooth and easy movement in the game. All in all, this is a wonderful adventure game for all the family members and I highly recommend it.

Orion Burger

Sanctuary Woods, Inc., 1996

Orion Burger is a well-done point-and-click graphic adventure game that involves an intergalactic and popular fast-food chain goes by the name, Orion Burger. The actual reason for the Orion Burger’s popularity is the use of fresh protein in their burgers, which their agents have been collecting and still collecting from various planets all over the galaxy without leave anything for the inhabitants of the planets. But now, the Orion Burger is facing a problem, because a new Alien-Rights organization known as 'Planet Huggers' has been established and their agents are monitoring the collection of proteins from planets. Planet Huggers’ job is to ban the harvesting of protein from a planet if any kind of intelligence exist on it, but to confirm the existence of intelligence they select a specimen at random and the subject must undergo a chain of tests to prove his intelligence.

The intro sequence shows that the harvester reaches our planet Earth and as a specimen they zap our hero, Wilbur Wafflemeier, a pet shop salesman in the town of Boonsville, aboard the harvester, but Wilbur fails the entire tests and waits for his turn to sent back to Earth after getting his memory cleaned. Fortunately, something happens to the zapping machine and Wilbur reaches back on Earth without getting his memory wiped and also, a little earlier in the time when he was first zapped. Taking advantage of this time you start your quest as Wilbur and start getting yourself equipped and well prepared for the upcoming series of test. Now, it all depends on you to help Wilber in getting through these tests successfully and save your planet Earth in time?

Visually, Orion Burger exhibits wonderful cartoon graphics created using a SVGA palette and excellent cartoon animations. Control interface is smooth and very easy to manipulate. While the puzzles are quite nice and enjoyable they are marred by the time factor, which sometime disturbs your problem solving skills a lot. Music and sound effects are quite enjoyable, but the voice-acting is slightly inferior in quality. All in all, Orion Burger is an above average outer space treat for the lovers of science-fiction adventure games.

Black Sect

Lankhor, 1993

Black Sect is a graphical adventure game published by Lankhor, a French company that also published classical detective-adventure games like Maupiti Island, Morteville Manor, etc. An ancient Book of Spells has been stolen from Issegeac, a small town in the Yorkshire Moors and your hometown, by a religious cult known as Black Sect. They have also killed your grandfather, who was the owner of that book. Your quest is to investigate and catch the killer, find the hidden headquarters of this sinister community, which is terrorizing the habitants of Issegeac and retrieve the book after failing their evil plans. Many of the game puzzles and events are time dependents and they only occur at a certain time of day or night. There are many places to visit and explore and many strange characters to meet and interact in this game and they all shape up a very compelling storyline.

Graphics are completely still backgrounds done in 256-color palette. Game interface is mouse-driven and an arrow cursor indicates the direction you can move. Ambient music is very scary at times but not annoying. Overall, this is a classical and hard to find adventure game and should not be missed by the fans of adventure games and especially those who love playing and collecting oldskool adventures.

Maupiti Island

Lankhor, 1990

Even a clumsy interface can't mar this first-rate graphic adventure by Lankhor. You play as Jerome Lange, Private Eye, hired to look into the disappearance of a young woman named Marie from the isolated island of Maupiti. Question witnesses, gather evidence and find Marie to save the day in this enjoyable mystery adventure. The graphics finished in 2D are well done for the time the game was released. Play this game even if you are not a mystery adventure games fan.