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adventuretime2

Well I’m killing two birds with one stone with this article. First off this is the inaugural article in my new series “Adventure Game Time” and its also happens to be my obligatory Halloween article. Last year I started the tradition with my article on Night Slashers.

If anyone knows me they know I love the RPG genre, I even have a separate blog detailing my quest to complete as many as those types of games as possible, but I also have another love and that’s Adventure games, primarily old school PC adventure games (are there really any other type?). Despite that affinity for the genre I’ve actually played very few of adventure games and have actually completed even fewer so I wanted to start this series to encourage me to play some more gems, and not so much gems, of the genre and then share my experience and thoughts.I wanted to set a few ground rules though.

1) As with all my gaming I will make every attempt to play the game on actual period hardware (I have all these old PC’s may as well make use of them)

2) I will make every attempt to complete the game but I don’t necessarily have to.

3) I will not use walkthroughs, the internet or printed guides as that just makes it to easy. I will allow myself to ask other people. for instance if I have someone over and I’m stuck in a game and there bored enough to sit with me and watch what I’m playing and make suggestions that’s okay. I suppose a bit of allowing that is nostalgia as I used to sit and watch my friend play Kings Quest games on his old Tandy and help him solve situations. Generally I will only use the means of  what would be available at the time to solve any in game puzzles without using anything direct like hint books or hint lines (not that those exist anymore). I think this makes the games an actual challenge and I’m very curious to see how far an average human can figure through some of these games.

These articles generally contain spoilers so be warned!!!!

So for the first game I’ll be playing in this series I’m going to ease myself into things with a very short, simple and Halloween themed game from 1990. Hugo’s House of Horrors AKA Hugo 1 AKA Hugo’s Horrific Adventure.

hhhcd

I learned about the game from this old Canadian shareware CD. Hugo 1 is a 1990 title and mainly the one man job of David Gray. Its shows in the short length and dated graphics of the game (even for the time). I’m not insinuating that a bad thing but just a stated fact. Right off the bat I need to say I violated my first rule with this game, sort of. Somehow forgetting I had the shareware version of this game I loaded it up on my early Pentium DOS machine and played the DOS version through to the room right before the last room when I learned I could not progress because I needed to register. feeling annoyed and pressed for time with the Oct. deadline I hung my head in shame and went to GOG.com and bought the whole trilogy for $5.99 that will play via included emulator in Windows 7. Truth be told I like GOG. The prices are generally good and from what I know you can take the Digital download files and transfer them easily to disks or CD’s or whatever and play them on real hardware. seeing as I already played through 97% or so of the game in a real machine I just used the emulator so the screen shots you’ll be getting are from that. The GOG versions of the game though are from the later Windows release and features an “improved” mouse interface, midi music and 10 more points to score. So it did give me a chance to compare versions. In truth I think I prefer the old DOS version. The Windows version feels really cheap with the generic interface and mouse control adds almost nothing to the game. The one thing that I did like though is the music. the original DOS release had almost no tunes that played except on rare occasions and they were short PC speaker diddies. The Windows version has a minimalist midi soundtrack appropriate to the game. Its doesn’t add a ton to the experience seeing how short that experience is but it doesn’t detract either.

 hhh1xBOO! Haunted House. The fact the Pumpkin is yellow annoys me.

100_8172How he walks almost reminds me of Lester the Unlikely for the SNES

Hugo 1 as I’ll just call it for simplicity seems a lot like Maniac Mansion and I suppose that’s the most common and obvious comparison. The plot is your girlfriend who intended to babysit has disappeared into a haunted house and its your job to brave the dangers of the homes crazy inhabitants and save her. Both homes even have a mad scientist but creator David Gray claims he never played Maniac Mansion and the actual inspiration for Hugo was the original Leisure Suit Larry game.

You move by way of the keyboard arrow keys or in the Windows version you can also use the mouse, though I prefer the keyboard. The interface is text input but you get some point and click functions with the Windows version. The parser is fairly limited compared to other games but I never found it giving me to many issues with performing tasks. The largest problem I can recall was figuring out the correct phrase for opening a bolted trapdoor.

100_8175I couldn’t resist trying the dog whistle.

The entirety of the game can be completed in less then an hour if your good. I completed it in under two hours total of play time and I never played this game before. Thankfully there weren’t any “dead man walking” situations I encountered where the game was uncompletable due to missing an item but The short nature lends to avoiding that. Even if a situation like that was to occur its not a huge deal to simply restart the game. Death can occur as there are a few monsters but its usually obvious things that will kill you and there aren’t any “cheap deaths”. There’s a mummy and a killer dog that can end you and the Butler will chop your head off if your not prepared. None of the deaths though have the charm or humor of Sierra games.

The first part of the game is roaming around the house proper, which isn’t very big. There are seven rooms in the house plus a backyard. The underground portion consists of five rooms and if you count the screen outside of the house there are a grand total of 14 screens comprising this game. There isn’t much interaction with the residents of the haunted house though the brief interactions are fun such as participating in the mad scientists experiment or wondering into a dinner party for classic monsters. even with its limited nature a few parts do have their charms. I have to say big green shirtless Igor made me a little uncomfortable.

hhh4ah, all the classics, we have a smartly dressed Frankenstein’s monster, Dracula….a zombie woman?, the Grim Reaper? that furry monster from the loony tune cartoons? and….the Joker?

One particularly bad section that I only found quickly by luck is the entrance to the caves found in the basement. Once you discover the basement your at what appears to be a dead end. The actual entrance to the caves in found by walking between two rocks and is completely obscured. It doesn’t even look like you can walk between the rocks making things even worse.

hhh6

The few rooms of the cave all contain obstacles for you to overcome usually by using the items you recovered in the house. None of the inventory puzzles are particularity difficult and all require very basic logic. There is a section with a killer Mummy that requires a bit of figuring out and dexterity. In a part of particularly annoying game design you eventually come across and old man who you cant pass unless you answer a series of trivia questions. Me, being a nerd was able to answer most of them in one try and one is multiple choice. Questions like Where does Azlian live (and not in a wardrobe) are fairly easy for the nerdy or film inclined but the second to last question is “what is the name of Roy Rogers dog?” This was an issue as I know next to nothing about westerns. I knew who Roy Rogers was but that was my extent of Roy knowledge. Now according to my rules I was very limited in options. I couldn’t simply take less then a minute to Google the name, that was against the rules and I was already bending one by running an emulator. I could hunt down a library and then hopefully a book on Roy. My other obvious option was to ask people but had to be sure they didn’t just Google it and tell me making it a risky task. In the end I had to have a call made and the answer was swiftly given by a Western buff. Crises averted. This is also the point when playing the original DOS version that I was unable to proceed as the last question is “did you register this game”. As I didn’t I was barred from proceeding (lying won’t help, the old man knows!). In the Windows version the last question is something like “do you want to save Penelope” (your GF).

The final room is another simple inventory puzzle and then that’s it. you rescue Penelope and thus ends your adventure. Well now I see the Leisure Suit Larry influence. Kissy kissy!

hhh9

So what did I think? well its not a bad game at all. It has its charms and you can forgive the poor music and visuals being a shareware project by one guy. There’s not much to the game overall and it’s a short experience that doesn’t overstay its welcome. I would place it in the very easy category and I assume most anyone could complete this game even if your terrible at inventory and logic based puzzles prevalent in adventure games. With the exceptions of the annoying hidden entrance and those unnecessary trivia questions there are no quieting in frustration moments. Hugo makes a great game for someone looking for a quick Adventure fix or someone just getting into the genre and intimidated by longer more difficult games that may contain unintuitive and ridicules logic puzzles.

on scales from 1-5

difficulty – 1

Plot – 2

Playability –  3

Characters – 2

Graphics – 2

Sound – 1 (2 for the windows version)

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2 Comments

  1. This is one of those games that I had always heard about or referenced in magazines but never seen first hand. It looks kinda interesting and it is impressive that one guy did it alone!

    Sparcie

  2. Its not a bad attempt. I have the other two games in the trilogy now as well so I’m curious as what there like. The subject matter is very different as the second is some sort of murder mystery.


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