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The Ultima and Wizardry series are heavy hitters of the early CRPG days and generally considered must plays for anyone even remotely interested in the early days of PC RPG’s. Unfortunately if you want a physical copy many of these early games are not only hard to find but also command a hefty price. Fortunately for us collections of both these series were compiled on CD-ROM in the late 90’s and although these collections also go for a hefty sums these days they still not only represent the better value but you have the piece of mind of having all the games on a convenient CD. But what about us purists that long for the experience of these games on early 1980’s 8088 based hardware from the time they were released? After all these collections were released in the era of Windows 9X and were surly expected to run under that environment. Are these collections of any use to us? Well friends, read on to find out.

Will start with Wizardry Archives.

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Wizardry Archives was released in CD-ROM format in 1998 and contained the first seven games in the series as well as Wizardry Gold. The original Wizardry games were released on 360kb floppies and were PC booter games. This means that no operating system such as DOS was needed. simply put the floppy into your machine and power on. When it comes to the Wizardry Archives there is good and bad news.

The bad news is you cannot copy the games from the CD to floppy and play them as you would an original copy. On the archives collection Wizardry 1 through 5 are broke into three files, wiz1.com, wiz1.dsk and a save1.dsk the wiz1.dsk is exactly 320kb, Wiz1.com 2kb and finally save1.dsk is 640kb. Obviously these files will no longer fit on a 360k floppy.

This is because the games in the archive, amusingly enough, have been officially modified with a 3rd party, gray-area software loader (wiz1.com) to run off of a hard drive which is very good news for us. The modified files automatically advance through prompts where switching disks would otherwise be required. Of course there is the negative of not being able to play as originally intended off a floppy disk but I myself think it’s a good trade off for the ability to play and save straight from a hard drive and have the greater reliability that comes with that medium. I wouldn’t want to trust a floppy disk these days with save data for an RPG you may of just dumped hours upon hours into.

Unless you have a CD-ROM drive installed in your early 80’s PC (unlikely) your going to need a method to transfer the files. Your also going to need a hard drive in your machine to copy the games to, obviously. This will likely be an MFM drive but there are more modern methods such as using a 8 bit IDE controller card and an IDE hard drive. There are several other methods to transfer the files such as via a network connection or ZIP drive (if you have a NEC V20 or later installed) but I prefer a 720kb floppy drive as it is a very easy method and chances are you already have one installed. If not I would advise installing a 720kb floppy drive to make things very easy. Almost all floppy controllers can recognize 720kb floppy drives. Also you can use the cheap and abundant 1.44mb floppy drives on a older controller and have it be seen automatically as a 720kb drive.

If your one of the lucky ones that have a high density 1.44mb floppy controller in your 8088, are using a 286 with a high density drive or are using a parallel port 1.44mb drive or one of the other methods mentioned you can skip this part but assuming most people will have a 720kb drive were going to need to ready a 720kn floppy disk. First off we need to ready a disk or two. If you don’t own any 3 1/3 inch 720kb disks, no problem as you can easily make a 1.44mb floppy into the 720kb sort by simply covering up a hole as depicted in the image below.

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The most common method is to tape over the hole. I use black electrical tape but even clear scotch tape will work. It also serves to mark which disks you have as 720kb formatted.

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So now that we have a disk ready we need to format it. This is very easy in Windows 95 and 98 as you can format disks for 720kb right through My Computer. Just insert the floppy disk, click on My Computer and then right click the floppy drive (likely A:) and you should be presented with a list of option. Click Format and then you should get a options screen and a pull down menu that allows you to format for 720kb.

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This option however was removed from Windows XP and up so in this instance your going to need to use the command line interface to format your disk. Open a new command prompt by going to Start->run and typing CMD. Type Format A: /T:80 /N:9 and hit enter and that should do it. I haven’t tried this with Windows 7 and up but I’ve read it does work. Honestly I’ve never had luck with floppy drives and Windows 7 as they usually end up coming out corrupt.

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The wizardry Archives breaks the games up into their own folders so once you have the game files on your floppy disk it’s just a matter of copying the files to your chosen PC’s hard drive via the COPY command.

That’s basically it. I made a folder called WIZ1 on my 4.77mhz 8088 PC and copied the first game there and it works like a charm. Just go into the file and run WIZ1 and it loads right up. Saving within the game works without issues as well. Now I haven’t tested the other games on the archives or tried transferring the party between games as you are required for Wizardry 1-3 but seeing as they are set up the same the process should be identical.

20150815_203549_LLSJust hit S and the game starts as normal bypassing all the Make Scenario Disk stuff.

I have played down to level three in Wizardry 1 so far and sunk well over ten hours into it without a single issue. The game runs as it should on my 4.77mhz 8088 which is the type of CPU that this game was originally intended for. I did try running the game in 10mhz turbo mode but all it does is speed the message screen up making it very difficult read information during a battle before it goes off screen. I never bothered playing the archives in a Windows  9X environment but I’m guessing theres some kind of slowdown utility included.

Now on to the Ultima Collection.

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The Ultima Collection was released on CD-ROM in 1997 and contained the first eight games in the Ultima series including several add-ons and the speech pack for Ultima VIII. All the games in the Ultima Collection as far as I can tell are unmodified in any way. These are not ports for Windows but the original DOS versions so for retro enthusiasts this is a boon as like the Wizardry Archives they will all have no issues running on period hardware. The collection does include a registered version of mo’slow to allow the games to run on faster computers but from what I’ve read Ultima VII and VIII are still virtually unplayable within Windows (though getting Ultima VII running even in DOS is a challenge and is going to be its own article).

I won’t go over again the transfer process but its basically the same as with the Wizardry archives and the games will run just fine on native era hardware for which each game was intended.

The collection includes Akalabeth which was retroactively named Ultima 0, being the very first, and primitive, Ultima game. This game was never given a DOS port and was only available on the Apple II cira 1971 – 1981. The version of Akalabeth that comes on the collection though requires a 32-bit DOS extender so will not run on a 8088 or a 286. It should run fine on a 486 or possibly a 386 but that’s about as close as you’ll get to Apple II era hardware. The game is slightly different from the Apple II version as it has color and basic midi as well as a title change to Ultima 0. It also plays much better and smoother then the original version. There is an unofficial bootleg port of Akalabeth though floating around on the internet that I’ve read will work on 8088 hardware for those interested.

akab4Playing the Ultima Collection version of Akalabeth on my Dell Dimension Pentium II PC.

Ultima Fan Upgrade Patches

That normally would be all I had to say about the Ultima Collection but I think its worth getting into the subject of fan upgrade patches. Generally I’m very picky about upgrade patches, After all why would I bother playing on original era hardware if I wanted anything but an “original” experience but in the case of the Ultima Collection I think the upgrade patches may be worth checking out for a few reason.

First off keep in mind that the Ultima 1 was not released for DOS until 1986 as Ultima I: The First Age of Darkness. This means that the first Ultima was actually released AFTER Ultima II through IV. This can be fairly jarring to retro computer game enthusiasts that are playing through the games in order as the 1986 DOS release of Ultima I was improved over the original and displayed in EGA graphics (as opposed to the rather ugly CGA of Ultima II & III DOS ports) and makes the earlier released Ultima II and III feel like pretty massive steps backwards.

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Ultima I from the Ultima Collection on my 8mhz 8086 machine

Ultima II released for DOS in 1982 especially looks bad in CGA in my opinion. There is also a map related bug in all CD versions including the Ultima Collection that makes the game unbeatable. Add this to a number of other bugs and I would say the DOS version of Ultima II included in the collection is unplayable. Thankfully an unofficial fan patch was made that converts the game to EGA but also corrects the map bug along with many other bugs.

Even being unofficial I would call this fan patch essential. It not only makes the game winnable but the EGA makeover brings the game more in line with the 1986 version of Ultima 1. Just compare below.

u2cgaOriginal CGA version

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So does the upgrade patched version still run on original hardware? Absolutely.

I applied the patch prior then transferred the patched game to my 8mhz NEC V30 system and it ran without any issues. Interestingly enough though the patched game does seem to have some issues in Dosbox. The bump up to EGA does create a little more processing overhead so a 4.77mhz 8088 may run it a little slower then normal. As I stated I played through the entire game on a 8mhz NEC V30 machine and everything played just fine. I would recommend playing on such a machine or perhaps a 8088 or V20 in turbo mode (7.16mhz or 10mhz). You may need to split the game over several 720kb floppies if your transferring by that method as the file is a good bit larger then Wizardry.

The patch is available at The Exodus Project

The next fan patch I want to talk about is the upgrade patch for Ultima III released in 1983. This patch also works just fine on actual hardware. The U III patch fixes multiple bugs as the U II patch did but also introduces a wider degree of video modes for EGA to VGA and emulated color composite. The VGA mode looks pretty good but I stuck with EGA as to stay closest with the spirit of the era this game came out (even though EGA did not come out until 1984).

Another very cool feature this patch implements is music. The DOS version of Ultima III lacked any music, likely because there were no real PC sound cards to speak of in 1983. Computers like the C64 on the other hand had sound hardware built in and thus had music in there respective versions. What this patch does is take official Ultima III midi tunes from the Commodore 64 and Apple II versions and add them to the DOS port creating whats probably the definitive version. I have a sound blaster 1.5 installed in the machine running this game and it sounds great.

Speaking of CPU. Ultima III was ment to run on a 4.77mhz 8088 and the original CGA unpatched version runs fine on one but the EGA and sound of the patched version again take a toll on the CPU. With the patch installed I would definitely recommend a 286 running at least 10mhz. Even my V30 PC at 10mhz seemed just a little off and to slow so I had to install the game to my 20mhz 286 that downclocks to 10mhz via a turbo button.

The patch for Ultima III is available at The Exodus Project

There is an upgrade patch for Ultima IV but as of now I have not attempted to try it. This patch also adds music and this time upgrades the graphics to 256 color VGA. I don’t really find this patch nearly as necessary as the earlier patches and when I get to Ultima IV I probably will decline to use it.

This patch though unlike the others WILL NOT work in true DOS but requires Windows or DOSbox. well….sort off. There apparently is a pached version of the patch that does work in DOS but I have not tried it myself.

Ultima IV upgrade patch

Patched version of patch for real DOS mode play

Finally there is a upgrade patch for Ultima V which only adds music from the Apple II, Commodore 128 and Amiga versions to the DOS version. Again I have not tried this patch but it should work under true DOS.

Ultima V upgrade patch

And that concludes our look at the Wizardry Archives and Ultima Collection. Thankfully for us retro PC enthusiasts we do have a means through them to play these convenient collections of some great classic CRPG’s on real era hardware.

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Well, this will be my first scripted video review. Don’t fret though as I stated before I am not switching to all video but I am possibly staying video only for game reviews. This video review is for my annual Halloween special. This years game review. Beast Busters, the 1989 arcade shooter from SNK.

Happy Halloween!

UPDATE! I’ve tweaked the script and added some screenshots to also make the review into a good old fashioned article for those that prefer the written things in life, or that hate my voice.

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well, its that time again, October and we all know what that means. a shoehorned Halloween themed game review for my otherwise hardware centric blog and now blog slash YouTube channel. I mean unless anyone out there knows of a Halloween themed PC I could review. I suppose i could paint a pumpkin on the side of a PC tower or something but…na. This years game  will be the 1989 arcade gun game beast busters.Beast Busters was developed by SNK and was their final game before the Neo Geo.

Beast Busters is generally referred to as an Operation Wolf clone with zombies and that is fairly accurate.The zombies in Beast Busters aren’t even your common mindless flesh eaters but are gun toting, knife flinging, motorcycle riding soldiers of the undead. This doesn’t help at all in dispelling the clone stigma.

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The Beast Busters arcade cabinet allowed for three players and featured uzi gun controllers for all three players. Unlike many arcade games of the late 80s and early 90s Beast Busters was not ported to every home computer imaginable and only made an appearance on the 16 bit Amiga and Atari ST machines. The Amiga version was my first experience with the game as a child but I don’t recall ever getting past the first level due to either my incompetence on figuring out the mouse controls or my lack of a joystick I only remember I couldn’t get the gun sight to move acceptably and the game was just to much of a chore because of this despite my enthusiasm for a zombie shooter. My local arcade at the mall, Giggles, did feature the game for awhile back in the far forsaken corner and so I did get to play it in its original format some.

For this review I will be taking the unfortunate step of emulating but since I cant horde arcade cabinets and boards can be a little hard to come across I make an exception for arcade games.

The game starts off with a very vague plot about a random city overrun with the undead. You get to choose from three characters who as far as I can tell play identically in game. The names though just scream 80’s action cheese. Our hero’s go by Johnny Justice, Sammy Stately and Paul Patriot. Sammy Stately? that’s actually pretty clever. The writers must of been up all night patting themselves on the back over coming up with that one. I’m surprised we don’t get Reggie Regal and Patty Presidential as secret characters.

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Like operation wolf and other games of the genre you automatically scroll through the levels in first person blasting everything that moves. other then your standard uzi you also have a grenade button that lobs an explosive damaging enemies in a wide area on screen. As you fire you can run out of bullets. If this happens your rate of fire slows down but ammo falling from the top of the screen is pretty abundant. grenade power ups such as rockets, napalm grenades and lightning grenades are also available as well as first aid kits and according to the intro bullet proof vests though I don’t recall seeing any in my play through.

As I mentioned earlier the bulk of the beasts you will be encountering in beast busters are zombies. Unlike your classical slow moving mindless variety though all these undead are packing heat and are rearing to pop a cap off in your stately a…derriere. These zombies also drive cars, pilot boats and the football player zombies even assault you from the air while being lifted airborne by what looks like undead owls. There are other enemies though as you traverse this city of the damned. zombie chihuahua dogs, sentient piles of scrape metal and aforementioned owls. The real highlight is the sometimes downright bizarre midboss and boss beasts. Some are fairly mild on the oddness chart such as the first boss, a switchblade flinging zombie punk rocker who transforms into a fire spitting dog mid fight. other not so odd bosses are a gang of zombie bikers and a pair of blue uzi toting zombies that look like a amalgamation of Jason Vorhees and Blaster from Mad Max and Thunderdome. some of the bosses get really…really odd. we have a river blob midboss that has the most serine look on his face.

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He doesn’t even come close to the level boss though which is a floating eyeball encased within a sphere of finely toned naked blue men. As you inflict damage the hunky blue heart throbs fall off into the murky depths exposing the lurking horror within.

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One boss battle also has you waiting your aim as you shoot this mad scientist type as he holds onto a hostage. after he dies you have to fight a second form which kind of looks like……..well I’m not really sure what it looks like but I find the dance like motion it continuously makes kind of disturbing. The boss that takes the cake though is without doubt the monster car. Later in the game your fighting in a parking garage when your suddenly attacked by a rocket launcher equipped jeep. not to strange yet right? how about as you damage the jeep parts start falling off revealing a disgusting jeep monster hybrid. The tires have claws, eyeballs look out where the headlights once were biological goo ozes out of the shattered windshield and a vicious fang filled mouth is where the front grill once was. The car not only serves as the levels midboss but also the main boss as it pulls itself up somehow on your elevator at the end of level for a final showdown. All and all its a pretty silly boss battle but definitely memorable.

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The final level is nothing but a boss rush and ends up being pretty unsatisfying. The final boss himself though is a snarky looking mad scientist type in a techno eyeball throne. After dealing with his throne you get to face his true form. a cycloptian flying brain, because….obviously. even after slaying the eyeball brain things arn’t over yet as the final battle is against what I assume is some kind of alien machine bristling with weapons.

The ending is a bit lack luster but what can you expect from an arcade title. as your victorious dude bros celebrate amid the ruins a giant spaceship slowly descends and cue cliffhanger ending.

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Visually the game isn’t horrible, at least the arcade version is not. there is some sprite scaling that goes on in a few levels as you go down a street or hallway though the effect is nothing to write home about.The environments are destructible is some places though obviously nothing like today’s games. The subway train in the first level can be shot up pretty thoroughly and I always enjoyed blasting fire hydrants in the street stage.

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So what did I think of this game? Beast Busters is ultimately a fun but silly game. I never took the element of horror far enough for my tastes and in stead went in a more silly direction with simply taking gun wielding solders as enemies and giving them an undead sprite swap. Some moments are almost inspired, again in that silly kind of way such as the monster car boss and the floating eyeball surrounded by naked blue hard bodied zombies. Its certainly not the prettiest game but its fairly short and does not overstay its welcome making it a nice burst of short Halloween fun.

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Usually I’m not one for indie games and turn my nose up at anything without a physical copy but lately Ive relaxed my stance a little. This has led me to a 2000’s series of indie point and clicks known collectively as the Blackwell series which focus around the character Rosa who is a burgeoning medium and has to put the dead to peaceful rest along with the help of Joey, a ghost from the 1940’s that is somehow attached to her. As always in these articles SPOILER ALERT!

The first game in the series from 2006 is the Blackwell Legacy which mostly serves as an introduction to the series and its characters.

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The plot of Legacy is that your “crazy” aunt has recently died and you as her only real family is dealing with the death when you start to get crippling headaches. You soon learn that the “power” your aunt had of talking to ghosts has now transferred to you which included Joey the aforementioned ghost from the 40’s whom is attached to you. The goal is to then unravel a series of mysterious suicides involving three college girls

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This game actually really excited me upon hearing about it and its collective series. The idea of the whole ghost thing and the artistic esthetic of the game really made me want to try it out. This is a point and click so there is no text parser and runs like many point and clicks from the late 90’s. The game starts out with you as a local news writer are investigating the suicides by going to the college dorm and questioning who you can find. everyone is voice acted and the acting for the most part is pretty well done for a indie title. Some sites have brought up the fact that the Indian character, your neighbor, sound very American and that’s true but it never bothered me. maybe shes just an Indian that grew up in the US and dresses in her ethnic clothing, its possible.

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The art style is nice but the thing that really bothered me was the character portraits as there is some color limitation. In the game in general you cant tell but you get a distinct “256 color” look with the portraits. The puzzles are pretty simple, were talking Hugo’s House of Horror simple, maybe even simpler as they mostly just require you to talk to everyone and run back and forth multiple times talking to NPC’s. Important names or ideas are placed in a notebook item and you can click on two separate notes to see if there’s a correlation. Its a neat idea but sometimes progression is simply checking all combinations. No puzzle in Legacy held me up for more then a few minutes. As far as items go there’s not very many in the game. Actually when I said the game was in introduction to the series I meant it. I went in for some reason expecting a full blown adventure game but Legacy can be completed in two hours or so much like the Hugo games.

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In the end though I wanted the game to be longer because I was enjoying the experience. Thankfully they are a series of games and as I’m doing here you can think of them as one whole as they also be acquired together cheaply off a service such as Steam. As I quickly progressed though the game I found the girls were being harassed by a character they inadvertently summoned via Ouija board known as “The Deacon”. I was fully expecting some sort of showdown with the villain but in the end things take a different tone and its more about just helping him pass. After that the game just sort of ended and you get a scene on a bridge and then credits which as I said had me just kind of blankly staring at the screen as I felt the game had just started.

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The second game, a prequel is Blackwell Unbound was released a year later in 2007 and follows your aunt in the early 1970’s.

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Unbound is a better game. overall it was about the same length though maybe a little bit longer as in 2 1/2 to 3 hours long. Like the first game there doesn’t seem to be any way to die only get stuck if you cant figure out where to go or what to do next though like the first game puzzles aren’t hard, maybe a little trickier then the first game but I was never held up for more then a few minutes on any part of the game.

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Unbound follows Lauren as a spiritual medium working “cases” to free lost spirits. Overall I think I liked Unbound’s Lauren a little more then Rosa. The game revolves around two “cases” your currently working on which can be done in either order as far as I can tell or at the same time. The first case involves a female ghost at  recent torn down buildings construction site and the second involves a ghostly jazz musician that plays nights at Roosevelt Island. Solving puzzles is the same fair for the most part as in going back and forth locations, talking and re-talking to people of interest and comparing clues in the notebook. There are a few inventory puzzles but they all make sense and aren’t to difficult. Instead of a computer to look up information now you have a phone book where you have to look up numbers of names you discover on clues such as paperwork or hints in photo’s which I found pretty fun.

There sort of a main protagonist this time with a crazy lady known as “The Countess” who you find out is also a medium who has lost her spirit guide. In the end there is a brief showdown but as far as I could tell you cant die even if you sit and let her straggle you.

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Also of important note, this time around you can control Joey the ghost directly and doing this is important to progressing as Joey can see things at different angles, pass through solid walls and physically interact with other ghosts. There’s also no portraits in Unbound but to be honest I didn’t find myself longing for the sometimes color limited images. Overall I liked Unbound. I liked the overall tone and music better then Legacy as well as the plot. The puzzles while by 80’s and 90’s adventure game standards are incredibly easy they were still fun and at least seemingly required a little more thought and detective work then the first game….a little.

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The third game in the series released in 2009 is Blackwell Convergence.

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Right off the bat you can tell the production values of Convergence are above the previous two installments. The art is better looking, the sound and just the overall presentation is superior to the previous games. Despite the improved visuals the length and structure of the game is on par with Unbound. With the game taking about three hours total to complete, maybe slightly more of less depending.

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This time your back to more modern times and again playing as the character Rosa Blackwell. You’ve grown to accept your role as a medium and are now regularly working cases with your ghost familiar Joey, whom as in the previous game you can change to and directly control. The story arch from Unbound clearly relates to Convergence as you soon work to unravel a string of mysterious deaths all involving choking or attacks on the neck and as you uncover more clues the deaths seem to lead back a local investment fund company. The plot is still advanced mainly by going back and forth and talking to various people with a simple inventory puzzle thrown in here and there. The idea of story is far more important to the Blackwell series then solving puzzles. Your computer is back as a means to find information complete with email (or Bmail as its called here) and a internet search engine which you need to use several times to find things like information and addresses. Its a pretty neat thing and more interactive then simply clicking on the computer and searching prewritten things from your notepad. There are even a few puzzles that require you to “hack” into others Bmail accounts.

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As the plot moves forward you eventually uncover that the protagonist from the previous game, “the Countess” is behind the killings and is now in unstoppable ghost form. Like the first game its uncovered that she is linked to a certain individual and whomever he writes about the ghost must kill, though this time the murders are intentional this time. There’s also a rather metaphorical theme going on with all humans being linked together and the past shifting of the Countesses links.

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Blackwell Convergence is another easy short and sweet point and click experience in the series but admittedly sweeter then the previous games. I did have a few issues with the improved graphics in consistency as in there were some parts that seemed overly pixelated and at other times it looked like Vaseline was smeared on my screen. On that note though Character portraits are back from the first game and they look good with no color limitations present. So far this was my favorite game and it seems the series keeps progressing and improving itself so I was really looking forward to the fourth installment.

 

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The forth game in the series Blackwell Deception was released in 2011

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The style of Deception is very similar to the previous game except somehow the character sprites come off worse in my opinion then in the last game. I thought it may have to do with my settings but my resolution and settings were set exactly as they were in Convergence. Rosa’s sprite is especially bad compared to the previous game in my opinion. The backgrounds and environments are as good if not better though.Length wise the game felt to be overall a little longer then the previous games coming in at maybe four or five hours but this may be because of the increased emphasis on puzzles which I’ll talk about shortly.

One thing I like about the Blackwell series is that as its timeline moves forward so does Rosa’s means of clue gathering. Its a small detail but I like it. for example Unbound which took place in the 1970’s had you using the phone book as a means to find things like addresses. In Legacy and Convergence you had to also return to you apartment in order to use the internet on your desktop to look up information. In Deception the process is made far more convenient as you now possess a smart phone which acts as your internet link and notepad.

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And speaking of notes the process of looking at and linking clues in your notebook to form new clues is back.

Deception takes place seemingly not to long after convergence. Your still a medium working to free lost souls from their earthly shackles. After a sort of introductory mission involving a ghost on a yacht your pulled into a larger conspiracy involving the death of a reporter friend and subsequently the deaths of several linked people he was investigating.

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One thing I liked about Deception is its increased focus on puzzles. Like the other Blackwell games there are no scenarios that result in death and thankfully as far as I can see no “dead man walking” scenarios where you get yourself in an unwinnable situation but the puzzles in Deception are more numerous and a bit harder then the ones found in previous games, at least I found this to be the case. There were actually a few moments in Deception that I really had to think and it took me a little bit of time to solve as opposed. Don’t get me wrong, these aren’t mid 90’s puzzles that are either illogical or hair pulling difficult but they add a nice low level challenge that I felt was lacking in the other games.

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As the game unfolds I learned of the mysterious deaths of two young women. On further investigation it is uncovered that they were victims of a man named Gavin and that a strange secretive cult exists that knows much about the spirit world. Gavin acts as the main protagonist in Deception much like the Countess did in the previous installment. In the end its not really made clear what he is but its stated that hes over 200 years old and he has prolonged his life by “feeding” off peoples positive energies. The end of the game results in a battle against Gavin as he attempts to manipulate and drain Rosa of her energies.

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In the end I think Deception is a solid game. slowly uncovering the large conspiracy gave a sense of greater purpose that I found very motivating in moving the plot along. Again Deception builds on the previous games and comes out ahead of what preceded it.

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The fifth and final game in the series is The Blackwell Epiphany released in 2014

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Epiphany is in my opinion the jewel in the Blackwell series crown. This game truly felt to me like a full retail release and could of easily been a retail release from the late or mid 90’s. The graphics are great and the story ties things up rather nicely making this my favorite of the series. One thing to note though the game does not act as a continuation of the events of the previous game, Deception. At the end of that game your given the impression your going to hunt down and expose the “vampires” like Gavin whom you faced previously. Epiphany drops that plot though the events are refrenced many times in the game.

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The game starts off as the others with solving cases involving spirits except this time your working off the books with the detective from the previous game. All is going as usual when a man is shot in front of you and then he soul is seen being torn apart. Epiphany is noticeably darker in theme from the previous four games exploring topics such as suicide, child death, drug use, domestic abuse and prostitution. The game also ties a lot of loose ends giving us more background on Joey via flashback segments to the 1920’s.

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The game controls very much as the previous game did and I really enjoyed the puzzles as well as the mystery of the story and attempting to uncover why these souls were being wiped from existence and how they were related. Again your phone plays a dominate roll in searching for information on the net as well as serving as a notepad. Epiphany also felt a little longer then the previous games. Not by to much but perhaps lasted me a good five to five and a half hours and features many locations from a church to a police station and various homes to a mental ward at the end.

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As the game progressed I learned of the “Grace Group” a self help group whose former members were all dying and being torn apart in the spirit world. This group was led by a mysterious Benjiro whom nobody can seem to remember. Further investigation led me to a priest who was once a member of the group and who was bonded with Madeline a very old spirit whom formally guided the “Countess” whom was the protagonist in Convergence and Unbound.

After A time its uncovered that Madeline is actually behind the deaths and has gone mad after serving unappreciated and unrewarded as a spirit guide for generations as well as being abandoned to the void for over fifty years by her previous host.After possessing Rosa and then being forced out I ended up in a mental institution seemingly facing the same fate as my aunt and grandmother as the universe fills my head.

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At this point I discovered the spirit of the elusive Benjiro whom apparently was another spirit vampire experimenting with none fatal ways to feed and thus the grace group was formed. Also I learned that a tear was forming between worlds cause by Madeline who was attempting to find peace by destroying herself but taking the entire City of New York with her.

After an escape from the hospital and a final confrontation with Madeline ending in victory I as was pretty surprised when the main character Rosa dies and as a last act uses her new found and fleeting powers to return Joey to flesh. The the game ends on the bridge with a now mortal Joey dumping Rosa’s ashes into the river mimicking the beginning of the first game.

blkep19Why does he remind me of a down on his luck Leisure Suit Larry here?

As I already stated I really liked Epiphany. The puzzles and scenery were good and it had a great story to go along with it. I enjoyed figuring out the puzzles to unravel more of the plot. Though the game did suffer from the same weakness of the others which was the constant back and forth between locations and talking over and over again to characters. I also enjoyed the darker more adult themes of the finally as well as the grander consequences of failure.

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Blackwell Series overall

With the exception of the last game the games overall don’t really feel like full fledged games mostly due to length but if played as a whole the Blackwell Series becomes a 15 plus hour game featuring a unique plot and ideas and a overall excellent adventure game experience. The first games are a little rough in terms of polish but its kind of fun to play through and see how they evolve. There was never any way to die, run out of time or end up in “dead man walking” situations which does make the game feel a little easy compared to more hard core offerings of the early 90’s and 1980’s (though I can ALWAYS do without dead man walking situation) but I did appreciate the fact that all of the puzzles made logical sence and I did not have to seek help once while playing the entire series though I will admit two or three puzzles did have me stumped for a good five to ten minutes. and another one of two I had to sleep on before I came up with an answer to progress. The entire series id currently (2015) available via Steam.

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Why am I clumping Hugo II and II together when Hugo I got its own article? Because I want to.

SPOILER ALERT!

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Hugo II: Whodunit or Hugo’s Mystery Adventure Is the second entry into the Hugo adventure game trilogy released in 1991. I’ll be playing the enhanced Windows version with a added mouse interface and midi music. Well Hugo II is the second game ive played in my Adventure Game Time series and I almost gave up at one point but luckly I endured and I did complete this one. First off on a technical level this game is very much like the first game in the series with no noticeable game play improvements. The art style is basically the same. One thing I will say is that this game is a little bit harder then the first game, though not for the right reasons, and it is longer with several more screens then the first game had.

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One of the first things to notice is that after playing a brief opening as Hugo your placed into the character of Penelope, Hugo’s girlfriend for the bulk of the rest of the game though they game would be no different if you played as Hugo himself except for maybe the groundskeeper wouldn’t hit on you. The plot is that after the events of the first game Hugo and Penelope are in England visiting uncle Horus when Hugo goes missing and Penelope witnesses uncle Horcus death and sets off to find Hugo and solve the murder mystery. The problem for me is the setting just feels a little pedestrian and boring compared to the haunted house theme of the original and I never really felt drawn in. The game takes place on the estate and the lavish grounds area complete with annoying hedge maze and underground caverns.

hugoii6I think this looks like a digitized image converted to EGA

The game started off easy enough and I found no real difficulties. Like the first game the logic and inventory puzzles are for the most part logical and with a little thought most can be easily overcome. The hedge maze isn’t all that difficult either and I found all the items needed within with just wondering and no real map making. I did quickly come across some sections that nearly ruined the game and something I tend to find infuriating in an adventure game and that is sections that require almost pixel perfect navigation to get through. Even worse is that it almost seems like the results of your navigating these sections is random and that following the same path will at times get you through and at other times end in your death and a restore. The collision detection is just terrible in these spots. The first section is a lawn filled with killer venus fly traps (it was a coincidence the day before I bought 2 fly traps for the apt.). Anyways you need to navigate them to retrieve a magnifying glass item but till almost the end of the game I thought you needed an item to get through since I failed to be able to navigate around the plants multipal times. I only finally made progress by complete luck and getting through these parts requires a lot of saving and restoring as you go. The second section like this is when your attempting to cross a bridge and if you touch the edge you drop your matches into the river and soak them, thus destroying a vital item. I’ll get to the third instance in a moment.

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There are some interesting parts such as running into that old man from the first game that asked all the trivia questions before you could proceed. I cringed when I encountered him but lucky a lesson was learned from the first game and Penelope simply bashes him over the head and knocks him out. Another section sees you entering a phone booth and transporting to another planet where you have to figure out how to kill a Dalek or “robot” as the game describes it. The Dr. then grants you a “Sonar Scewdriver” as a reward. The problem here is its easy enough to figure out how to kill the Dalek but if your not familiar with the Dr. Who series you have no idea when to use the screwdriver. As a nerd I had a general idea of Dr. Who but never watched the series so I was at a loss. I had to text my friend who was a fan (since my rules forbid googling) and asked what the screwdriver does on the show. Apparently  it does many things but chiefly among those things seems to be it opens doors which is what this one is used for later in the game.

hugoii11My first encounter didn’t turn out well

There’s also a path you must follow with a poisonous snake on it. You cant avoid the snake and you will get bitten. After this you have a limited amount of time to figure out how to treat the bite. I kept dying at first because I lacked the item needed but after going back I found it and its not hard to figure out. Again, that’s a good point about this game is the puzzles are mostly logical. Getting back to the third instance of bad pixel perfect movement. The part that almost led me to give up on this game is I had come to a point that I could not seem to proceed. I knew there was a door I had to get past and I knew I needed the Genie to help me. I knew he needed a moldy banana and I knew that the banana was on the other side of a chasm. The problem was I had no idea how to cross it.

hugoii16me crossing said chasm

Now after attempting to use every item in various ways I noticed an obscured lower section and I’ve seen this trick of the hidden way before so I attempted to cross, fell, and died. Tried again with the same effect. I also tried auto navigating by licking on the banana but Penelope just walked in a bee line to her death. I really rattled my brains here until again by accident I discovered there was a way where I suspected to cross. Why she didn’t make it the other times I first attempted this I have no idea but it almost cost me the completion. After this you make your way back into the house, solve a few more puzzles that lead to recovering evidence and then the police show up. I did enjoy that when all the suspects are gathered the snake from earlier as well as Dr. Who are there. in the end you find out that no one actually murdered uncle Horus and what you really witnessed was the practicing of a play. “What a Twist!” as Mr. Shyamalan might say.

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And that’s basically it. There’s a brief section at the end before the big reveal where you have to figure out how to escape a laundry room that Hugo had accidentally trapped himself in the whole time that was fun. The whole game is also filled with Red Herring jokes that can invoke a smile. So did I enjoy this adventure? not really. This game was a challenge at points but it was a challenge for the wrong reasons. The sections requiring the pixel perfect movement were infuriating. The game is longer then the first game but not by much and I completed it in a few hours. It would of been probably an hour less then that if it wasn’t for the stupid chasm section. Even though the first game was much shorter and less of a challenge I enjoyed it more and also the theme and atmosphere of the first game appealed to me more.

on scales from 1-5

difficulty – 2 (for the wrong reasons)

Plot – 2

Playability –  3

Characters – 2

Graphics – 2

Sound – 1 (2 for the windows version)

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And now for the final Hugo III or Hugo’s Amazon Adventure.

hugoiii1Someone needs to tell Mr. Gray either that there are no elephants in South America or that the there is no Amazon in Africa.

Hugo III takes place after the events of Hugo II with Hugo and Penelope flying home when their airplane crashes in the Amazon. Soon after the crash Penelope is bitten by a rare spider and your tasked with finding and retrieving water from the magical spring, the only the thing that can cure the spider venom. First off the scenery and mostly outdoors areas is a welcome change of pace and the jungel setting is rendered fairly well. Its mostly on the same level as the other two games but at least Hugo is wearing a nice safari outfit now instead of his bizarrely colored wardrobe from his other games.

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If you experienced Hugo I and II then the third game is mostly the same experience. I don’t have very much to say about this game since despite the setting its very similar to the previous games. This game though is very very short and would take an average person and hour or perhaps two to get through. Its roughly the same length as the first game but it actually felt a little shorter to me but then the old mans riddles section made the first game feel longer to me then it actually was. Also as the previous games the puzzles are all pretty logical and relatively easy to figure out. The only section that stumped me for awhile (meaning roughly 30 minutes was figuring out that there was a witch doctors hut in town. Once I figured this out by going east once in the native village I was captured by the witch doctor and stuck in a cage. figuring out how to escape I think was probably the most challenge puzzle in Hugo III and I could see how someone may not figure it out. It involves making a voodoo doll of the doctor out of molding clay that you had in your plane. I spend a good 20 minutes trying to figure something out when I decided on a strange impulse to say “make mask of doctor with clay” which triggered Hugo making an effigy of the doctor instead. From this I figured out the rest and soon after he was incapacitated.

hugoii8ew-E ew-ah-ah ting tang watta watta bing bang

Other then the witch doctor section it was all rather simple deducing. Thankfully the mistakes of the past two games were not repeated and Hugo III lacked both trivia questions and sections that force you to make pixel perfect navigation. There were no hidden passages behind rocks either for once. The old man does make an appearance though at the very end but really he only serves as a means to make sure you have the magic water before you can return to Penelope.

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 Even though I preferred the theme and setting of the first Hugo I would say that technically this is the best game of the trilogy. The puzzles for the most part make since and it lacks the annoyances of the previous games such as the trivia questions, hidden passages and difficult navigation sections. The game is though awfully short which is a shame as it would of been nice to see this on be a little longer. One thing to note is there is actually a little side quest involving obtaining the old mans crystal ball that was dropped behind a boulder. You don’t need to do it but if you want the maximum points you need to.

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on scales from 1-5

difficulty – 2

Plot – 2

Playability –  3

Characters – 2

Graphics – 2

Sound – 1 (2 for the windows version)

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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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nsflyer

I came across Night Slashers as a young man at a local amusement parks arcade. I was immediately captivated by the amazing horror atmosphere and game play. Night Slashers is a 1993 Arcade release from Date East which has as far as I can tell no ports to any other system. The game is your basic beat-em-up where you scroll from left to right beating the hell out of everything in your path. What sets Night Slashers apart from other games is its excellently executed horror theme featuring various monsters such as zombies, werewolves and vampires. The game also has a pretty high gore level for the time as well as a pretty excellent sound track. There are two versions of this game, one released in Japan and then an oversees version with the various censoring that I’ll get into.

The plot of the game is pretty sparse as to be expected from a arcade game and especially a beat-em-up. The world has been overrun by the undead. Zombies, mutants and monsters of all sorts have overrun the earths armies and mankind is being slowly eradicated with only a few remaining outposts.

First lets take A look at our three intrepid hero’s which are all selectable playable characters. The “Night Slashers”, yea, sounds more like a trio of serial killers then monster slaying hero’s.

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Christopher is a Billy Ray Cyrus look alike vampire hunter, hes the most balanced character.

Jake is a reject from a failed 80’s hair band that happened to have giant cyborg arms. hes the slow powerful one of the three.

Hong-Hua is the fast and agile female character that every beat-em-up of the era required.

The version I’ll be reviewing here is the Japanese version since I feel it is the superior of the two as far as atmosphere goes. Mostly they are identical games besides some superficial censoring. The oversees version had the gore turned down and most of the blood was colored from red to green. It doesn’t really effect much as far as game play goes but the over the top horror atmosphere takes a hit from it. other changes include missing between level cut screens and the censoring of the character Christopher’s move. In the Japanese version when he ends his attack he flashes a cross but in the oversees version the cross is changed to a blue gem. A lot of Japanese companies were concerned with offending anyone in America back then so this kind of censorship was very common.

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Another change involves when the game prompts you to continue moving to the right to progress through the stage. In the oversees version its just a “GO” arrow but in the Japanese version the arrow flips over and reveals “TO HELL”, pretty clever.

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The game itself has a good variety of creatures pulled from the stock of usual suspects. Zombies, werewolves, vampires giant executioners, mad scientists, golems, elementals. Everything is nicely animated with werewolves starting out as normal looking young guys standing around in jackets before transforming into leaping werewolves and vampires looking appropriately vampireish. The highlight though is the horde of zombies. we have regular guy zombies, fat man zombies, armless zombies and my favorite the decomposing skeletal zombies that heavily remind me of “Tar Man” from Return of the Living Dead.

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Blood is everywhere, intestines hanging out, bones poking through its just very nicely done overall.

Theres also these guys that I guess are psycho’s with knives and hockey masks. They move around swiftly and do these sliding kick moves. I guess their undead though since if you look when they move their arms you can see ribs showing.

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Dispatching any of these creatures results in lots of gore and bloody piles of body parts. Here is just a sampling of the death animations.

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Bucking the trend of many games of this genre at the time there is an almost complete lack of any weaponry laying around to be used which is a shame because the nature of the game could of really benefited from it. From time to time you get knives, swords, fireball globes and brief cases to throw but its mostly a one time use weapon and is never very interesting overall.

So the game starts out with a brief summery about how the world has been overrun by monsters and the undead. At least in the English version. Since I’m playing the Japanese version I can just assume the text is basically saying the same things.

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Japanese for “BRAINS!”?

The game starts out with your group assaulting an undead overrun hospital that apparently has been taken over by a mad scientist as a base for his inhuman experiments. This stage is possibly my favorite and really sets the tone for the game. The stage starts with you driving a kick ass 80’s style van straight through the front gate, over a horde of zombies and into the side wall. The hospital itself is nicely done and full of nice disturbing backgrounds like a caged area with humans crowded in and trapped presumably awaiting to be experimented on by the mad scientist. You have elevators that bring more zombies down and body bags that roll off the morgue shelves releasing even more undead.

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I should also add that the stages to this game are in general pretty short but most do involve a sub boss fight sometimes right before the main boss battle. After a brief tour through the hospital you come across the very mad scientist. He always looked like Egon to me from Ghostbusters. I guess he took the breach of the containment unit pretty hard this time.

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He first shows up riding in on a gurney slashing a zombie to bits with a knife/scalpel before a brief exchange of words and then a battle. Most boss and sub boss battles end with a particularly gory finish for the defeated monster and I’ve attempted to get screen shots of boss and said death together. You should be able to click on any of the images for an enlarged image. Directly following the death of the doctor you are greeted by the stage boss, a somewhat appropriate Frankenstein’s monster. The monster is well done and busts from his gurney in order to kill you. His death animation is particularly well done with a melting off the flesh to a skeleton that collapses to a pile.

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The second stage is a creepy fog filled forest. This stage keeps up the atmosphere of dread as your assaulted by continuous hordes of foes.

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After battling your way through the forest you come across a stage coach and a vampire who you suspect may be behind the recent apocalypse. Before taking off in his ghostly carriage though he tells his weird ass hunch back and Satan possessed Pinocchio puppet to murder you. The way the hunch back skips across the screen as well as the puppet is just genuinely creepy. You know when you see a doll and your thinking “that’s one creepy ass doll”. That’s this doll.

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This fight is followed by a chase where your running to catch up to the carriage while werewolves are attempting to stop you. Apparently its common for monster hunters to be able to run at the same speed as a horse. Very handy indeed. Finally after NOT catching up to the carriage you come to a graveyard. The graveyard is pretty small and just has a handful of oversize generic R.I.P gravestones that fade away and turn into zombies if you touch them. It just feels like a wasted opportunity here as a great place for more atmosphere. The boss of this level is a golem. Hes actually pretty plain and boring.

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I do have to say though that with his one eye kind of bulging out like it does he always reminded me of a rock golem version of Popeye.

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Two things I need to point out at this point. One is the two mini games that you get as the game goes on in between stages. The first involves stepping on zombie heads as they emerge from the ground and the second is a zombie toss / zombie bowling where you try and toss a zombie into other zombies lined up like pins at a bowling alley. The highlight of these games is the zombie crowd watching in the background. Theres even a lady who has torn her head off. Their all in various states of decay. Along with the zombies there’s also bizarre adds plastered up like one for “Doctor Rippers hospital” who is the mad scientist of the hospital you just razed.

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Next are the well done cut screen between stages that attempt to move the plot forward.

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I love his vaguely disinterested pose and smug look here. I attempt to duplicate this look every time I drink a glass of red wine.

Anyways stage three is the head vampires castle and is filled with elevators, guillotine traps, hooded giant executioners and of course more zombies.

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The mini boss is a ghostly knight and that smirking sword in a room with a few destructible Greek busts followed immediately by a battle with the head vampire. When you kill him he turns to stone and then to a pile of goo before the sun rises.

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So with the vampire lord dead the world is saved and all is well……or not. You learn that the main menace is far more powerful so its off to South America. This stage is extremely short and takes place amid some Aztec themed ruins. There is no mini boss just a short stroll to the stage boss which is actually a pair of predators dressed as Mexican wrestlers? I dunno, its probably supposed to be demon Aztec shamans or something.

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Stage 5 takes place aboard a large transport aircraft. You have discovered the source of the worlds evil and attempt to reach it but on the way your plane is assaulted by undead, or perhaps you stowed away on a plane of undead going to the island since your plane is stocked to the brim with monsters?

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The fighting eventually leads to the roof of the plane where regardless of massive wind sheer and low oxygen you battle it out with a palette swapped undead knight just like the one you faced at the vampires castle as well as another aircraft that drops off mutants before you board it.

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On board the second aircraft you meet the stage boss. A mummy. It was inevitable, you cant have werewolves, vampires and Frankenstein’s monster and not have a mummy. Though two things always came to mind with this boss. One is that he moves and fights like some professional MMA champion fighter with his fists up and his sidestep moments. Second is he always felt so misplaced to me here on a plane. It just feels like despite the cliche of it he would of been better faced in a tomb or a destroyed museum level or  something and that’s were I find one minor fault with this game. It seems after the first few stages it just kinda drops the ball on the overall horror atmosphere. Don’t get me wrong its still really good but I always wanted more and felt they could of pulled off so much more in that specific department.

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The next and final stage takes place on a secret military base on a remote island. This is where whatever is causing this is based. Military experiment gone wrong is also cliche but in this case I like it.

When you crash land on the island base your faced with a sort of initial mini boss in the form of a Vietnam era ghost helicopter. Its somewhat transparent and you can see the dead and rotting corpses of the pilot through the cockpit and another dead soldier in the cabin. It fires at you with a nose cannon while creatures continuously attack from the sides. How to kill a ghost helicopter? punch it of course, that technique seems to work for a lot of things…..ghost helicopters, evil arch mages. When I was a kid playing this game this boss always stood out to me. I loved it and I don’t know why its not the most amazing boss in the game but it defiantly helped me remember this game as a kid.

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After this fight we enter the base proper and are faced with a sort of boss rush, or a part of a game where you have to face previous bosses one after another. Now if we follow the code of classic horror video games we can easily reach a logical conclusion of whose next. We’ve faces zombies, mad scientists, werewolves, vampires, golems, Frankenstein’s monster, the mummy…whose left? Medusa…well that’s a good guess but no. DEATH of course.

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Death tells Christopher to “talk to the hand”

Also following the nature of horror video games (I’m looking at you Castlvania) we realize that Death himself is NOT behind the undead hordes and he is just playing second fiddle to a even more powerful entity…..the cyber devil! I don’t think that’s the main villains name, its actually King Zarutz. So after Death in the form of the Grim Reaper (what other form would he take) reveals his place in the scheme of things you release him from his shame by…punching and kicking him to….DEATH. He likes to hold his scythe out and spin around like a bozo. Its a little silly but hard to avoid.

Shortly after this fight we finally meet the dreaded cyber devil, err King Zarutz. Well technically he is a cyber devil I really don’t know since its not clearly explained. I always just assumed he was a military experiment of some sort..sort of like DOOM where hell was accidentally accessed…I don’t know

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He’s not really all that impressive or gory. To be honest he was kind of a anti climatic moment. He does employ this shield that surrounds him and hurts you a lot which is really really annoying but then I’m sure he was designed to eat quarters.

Once you defeat him the base begins to self destruct and as you run to escape the flaming ruins the remains of king Z float at you. At least there’s no timer here forcing you to escape or defeat him in a specified time, I usually hate those.

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That’s pretty much It. You escape the base, It explodes and you go home. All the undead go back to being dead and everyone is happy.

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Each character has their own ending showing what they end up doing after saving the world but none of it is anything spectacular.

So overall what do I think of this game? Does it hold up from my childhood memories? well, yes. The game is just good. Even with my trivial gripes the atmosphere is pretty unique and done well. The characters all play well and have a variety of moves. I personally would of liked to see more. I wanted more levels like the first one depicting a ruined civilization overrun by monsters. I wanted usable weapons and monster placement that made more sense and just a longer overall experience would be nice as this game can be finished quite quickly. Despite that its still a great early 90’s beat-em-up and if your a fan of that kind of genre you need to check this game out.

Now normally things would end here but it seems someone was standing over my shoulder as a youngster reading my thoughts as I played this game because some years ago someone created a homebrew mod of this game that other then being unpolished and unfinished made Night Slashers everything it could of and should of been. That game is Night Slashers X

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Night Slashers X is a homebrew remake of the original Night Slashers by BonusJZ for openBOR. openBOR is an open source game engine. Its free to download and its kind of like a program that people can write games for and then play them with the program. There’s versions of it for many consoles and computer types. I actually had somewhat of a hard time finding a version and then the files for NSX itself that worked and even then I think my version may be a Beta since it crashes/ends on stage 3’s ending. I don’t know if this game was ever finished but I can say that what has been done turns Night Slashers into everything I ever wanted the game to be. There are now usable weapons, more enemy’s, a combo system, level rearrangement to make more sense, branching levels and all the stages have been touched up giving an even greater horror feel. Also bodies of enemies you kill do not flicker and fade away so at times you end up with piles of dead around you. The game does “barrow” spites from other games but for the most part its done well and only clashes with the art style of the main game rarely.

The first change you will likely notice is a bit of fan service as the conservatively dressed Hong-Hua has been replaced by the busty blond Jasmine. If your wondering her sprite is taken from the Japanese game Kurokishi from Guardians: Denjin Makai II.

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Asia’s most revered martial artist huh? I can probably think of two more reasons shes revered in Asia…….the fact shes the youngest graduating student of Tokyo University and her great contributions to preventing the spread of the Asian bird flu in China.

No, its her boobs.

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Another funny thing is that in all the between stage cut screens we still see Hong-Hua.

The touched up levels are really well done and add a lot from the original. More blood has been added. The numbers on the elevator in the hospital level light up as the elevator changes floors. Crows peck at the flesh of lying corpses and In certain areas you get lighting effects such as In the fight with Frankenstein’s monster.

Images from original on left and remake on right.

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There’s also a great variety of weapons added that can be found in random barrels. Grenades, chainsaws, shotguns, assault rifles and battle axes. Its really adds a layer of fun that was missing in the original. Another great aspect is branching levels such as In the hospital stage (now stage 2) where you can enter the elevator to reach the mad scientists secret laboratory complete with giant computer terminal and a new battle where he uses a potion to transform into a monster. One highlight is the return of that kick ass 80’s van and a drive through a ruined city. If this game was finished and polished and the sprites taken from other games done with original art this game would be beyond a doubt the definitive version of Night Slashers. Here’s some images of the game showcasing some new levels, monsters and weapons.

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(The above monster really clashes with the games art style and that’s one problem you encounter time to time with this homebrew. The creature is a boss from Kishin Douji Zenki FX: Vajra Fight on the PC-FX)

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prehistoric isle flyer

Prehistoric Isle in 1930 is along with Time Pilot one of my favorite and earliest game memories. The game is from 1989 and features a biplane from the 1930’s being sent to investigate an island in the Bermuda triangle where shipping has been vanishing. Being a kid at the arcade this game always grabbed my attention with its colorful graphics and interesting theme. It kind of reminded me of one of my favorite movies growing up which was about a world war I German U-boat that gets stranded on a dinosaur and cave man infested island. The game play is fairly standard for a horizontal shooter but features the interesting mechanic of “pods” that act as power ups. You have your standard shot but when you get a pod power up the pod makes your standard shot more powerful. Also you have the ability to rotate the pod around your biplane changing its power depending on its position. For instance if in front of you it powers up your standard shot, angled diagonally in front of you it arcs bombs, directly above or below and it fires a sort of energy blanket and if placed directly to the rear of your plane it lays mines. Other then the theme it was always the variety of dinosaurs and monsters that grabbed my attention from giant bugs and cavemen to skeleton pterodactyls. There were also nice details for the time such as the cavemen grabbing onto your wings and weighing you down or flying under waterfalls and feeling the pressure of the water forcing your plane down.

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before each level your shown a little map of the island and where you will be on said island. The game isn’t overly long and can be completed in something like 30 to 40 minutes or less but the levels are interesting and varied from jungles to underwater to the open skies.

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The first level takes place in the jungle where you face various dino’s as well as cavemen that emerge from huts and leap up to latch onto your plane and drag it down. This stage like many feature a mid level boss as well as a level boss.

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The first two bosses you encounter are a Brachiosaurus that lunges out at you with its long neck and an Allosaurus. before each boss encounter your greeted with a large “CAUTION!” on screen as well as the bosses species and length and weight stats. Its ultimately pointless but its a nice little touch for introducing the boss.

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The second level mixes it up a bit sending you high up above the island where you battle various flying enemies such as pterodactyls and cavemen latched onto giant bats.

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This level features no mid level boss but does have a huge pterodactyl as the level boss. Besides his standard fireballs that he fires at you he also creates mini tornadoes with his wings that grab your plane and fling it around the screen possibly right into a fireball or the giant flying terror.

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The next stage takes you back down to the island. This stage is a little bland and seems to take place in rocky canyons over small lakes and in caves.

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The bosses of this level are a little strange. The first one is even introduced as “unknown dinosaur” and looks like a some kind of flying green whale covered in giant pustules. The main boss is a giant insect that splits into smaller and smaller versions of itself as you weaken it.

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The next level is my favorite of the game and sees your biplane transform into a submarine and go underwater off the islands coast fighting various undersea prehistoric monstrosities.

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The mid level boss is a giant prehistoric turtle that fires baby giant turtles at you.

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This level features some neat details such as the wreckage of all the ships that have gone missing in recent years. In one section of the stage as you begin to descend deeper into the depths a wrecked ship from above floats down and two heads and necks of the Brachiosaurus boss you faced earlier bust out of the wrecked ship and attempt to grab you. The effect used to create the dinosaurs neck is admittedly sort of cool for the time and its nice to see it used again.

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The boss of this stage is a giant nautilus type monster that uses the same effect that the necks used for its to grasping tentacles. If you to happen to get grasped by one of the tentacles you are dragged to the mouth where you are chewed apart and pieces of wreckage are spewed out.

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The final stage takes place in what appears to be a volcano but overall is not very interesting.

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Your mid level boss is an angry Stegosaurus that jumps around and knocks stalactites on you. The “veggie” eating dino’s out for your blood and kind of the whole vibe I get from this game does kind of make me think of the island from King Kong, well at least the original version.

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The final boss is actually kind of silly. Its a Tyrannosaurus but all you get to fight is his head as he comically bobs back and forth across the screen. I understand the fight is supposed to give you an impression of his massive scale and the bobbing is to awkwardly simulate his walking but it all just kind of comes off as comical. He breaths fire and gives off a Godzilla roar as well.

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Defeating this final boss grants you an ending cinema and a job well done…and a horrible death. yep, that’s right, after defeating the fearsome and awkward Tyrannosaurus you dock with your mother aircraft which is then promptly attacked by a flock of pterodactyls and destroyed, your dead, the end…oh sorry. SPOILER!

I really enjoy this game. For the time it was released the sprites are nice and the levels and enemies are varied. I really enjoyed the theme and it made me feel like I was playing an interactive version of some of my favorite movies as a kid such as The Land That Time Forgot/The People That Time Forgot or exploring the dinosaur island from King Kong. As far as I know this game was never ported to other systems outside of the arcade. I think there was some kind of digital download version for the PSP but that’s really no different from just running the game on an arcade emulator. There was in fact a sequel created in 2000 by the title Prehistoric Isle 2 but in my opinion the game is horrible. The premise is okay and involves you flying either a Soviet Hind or American Apache helicopter against invading dinosaurs and rescuing civilians but the game turned out bland and lacking any charm the original had. Most of the enemies aren’t even recognizable dinosaurs but just generic monsters, most of the levels are pretty boring. The game is done in a sort of 3d style that has not aged well and that I find generally unpleasant.

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This 1982 Konami game from the golden era of arcade games is possibly one of my favorite games of all time for just some quick game play and nostalgia. Playing this game is also one of my earliest memories. There are several versions of this game from a Colecovision port to an Xbox live digital download with enhanced graphics but otherwise identical game play. For this article though I’m only going to refer to the original arcade version as this is the version I am most personally attached to. One of my early memories is going to a diner? bar? pool hall? I don’t exactly remember but back in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s almost every place had an Arcade machine. even grocery stores and pizza parlors. anyways I remember going into one of these places with my dad and seeing this machine in all its upright arcade cabinet glory. He gave me a few quarters and I immediately went over to Time Pilot. I didn’t have many quarters and I wasn’t very skilled so I didn’t last long but I simply loved this game. Maybe the aerial time jumping appealed to the military historian inside me or maybe it was the simple but fun lateral and vertical game play but I really liked this game. It was played from a side view yet it allowed you to scroll endlessly in any direction which was kind of novel since many shooters were either vertical or horizontal scrollers. Basically the point of the game is your a modern fighter jet and for whatever reason your jumping through various time periods in aviation history and destroying a number of airplanes of that era until you come to a Boss aircraft, defeat it and you jump to the next more advanced and thus difficult era. There are also parachute guys that you can grab for points, remember when points mattered? The game only has five era’s but they are varied and interesting. Years later on visiting the arcade at a local amusement park me and my best friend spent a lot of time on this game, though its meant for one player at a time we would designate one of us to fire the gun and one controlling movement. Our system kind of worked and I remember having a lot of fun and spending a lot of time on the game.

The first era you begin the game in is 1910 where you face biplanes that occasionally fire bullets at you as well as lob bombs

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The boss of this era is a blimp. All the bosses essentially operate the same as they fly across the screen and randomly fire bullets at you, never deviating. The general tactic is to line up behind them and fire away.

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The second era is 1940 and here you face two types of standard enemy’s, a typical WWII mono fighter plane that fires bullets and larger bombers that fly across like mini bosses and fire at you. I get the impression these planes are more plentiful, fire more often and are slightly faster then the 1910 era but I have to say those random bomb lobs for the previous era sometimes surprised me.

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The boss of this era is a larger bomber. according to Wikipedia its a B-25 Mitchell….so apparently your attacking the Americans or Canadians in this era…..as well as the B-25 being an extremely early version or a prototype since the B-25’s first flight was 1940 and did not enter service until 1941…but i ridiculously and nerdily digress. Time Pilot is not a game based on absolute historical accuracy.

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The third era is 1970 where you are confronted by helicopters this time. They fly around firing bullets at you but as a twist they also fire off guided missiles that attempt to follow you but luckily their not very hard to avoid and they can be shot down.

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The boss of this era is a large tandem rotor helicopter that can really only be a CH-47 Chinook. Its a big helicopter so it makes as a good boss though in actual use the Ch-47 is a utility helicopter and its usually unarmed…its also another NATO/JDF aircraft. I’m starting to think the time pilot is actually a Soviet tossed about through time as the side effect of a failed 1980’s communist time machine experiment. So hes just randomly dropping in on these eras and blindly attacking the Americans with his future jet. Also he apparently missed the history lesson on WWI and II. Though the players jet on the promotional art looks like an American F-4 Phantom II.

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The forth era places you in 1982 OR 1983 if your playing the Centuri distributed USA release. Here you face jets just like your own which are fast and fire bullets and more homing missiles at you.

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The big boss of this stage is just a large jet bomber that acts just like the other bosses. Wikipedia claims that this is a B-52 (again an American plane) but really it could be anything. I mean to me it kind of looks like a really big WWII nazi ME-63 Komet rocket fighter.

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The final era takes us to the distant future of 2001. What was it with the year 2000 that everyone thought we would either be dead or suddenly horribly technologically advanced. Remember when Gateway was called Gateway 2000 because it sounded futuristic? Those were awesome PC’s though. Anyways this era takes place in deep space with an asteroid field in the background and your facing stereotypical flying saucer UFO’s. They fire two kinds of energy bullets at you but really its just bullets and missiles with a fancy look to them.

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The boss of this era is a large mothership UFO that seems to take quite a few shots before exploding. I’m guessing all these flying saucers are piloted by Americans or capitalist aliens.

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In typical fashion for the era upon defeating the mothership the game loops you back to the starting era and everything is a little harder and so on and so on. I just really love Time Pilot or as I’m starting to think of it “Time Pilot: Red Scare!”. I always find myself coming back to it through the years. It was a success in its day and I think it holds up as a fun as well as timeless game. There was a sequel of sorts, Time Pilot ’84 but this game is nothing like the original. It sort of has time jumping but I dont even recall if its on earth as all the stages are samey looking future places. Its just overall a mediocre game in my opinion. As I said there have been recent updates to the game and even spiritual successors (Time Ace, Nintendo DS) but I would love to see a true sequel with more eras and detailed enemies.

*NOTE TO READERS* I’ve copied this article to my other site “Random Battles: my life long level grind” where I find it to be more appropriate. I may delete it from this page entirely in the future. If your interested in RPG’s and my thoughts on various ones as I attempt to complete as many as I can before the Grim Reaper finds me please check it out.

 

Well I said to myself when I started this blog “no game reviews”. Its just way overdone and usually done somewhere by someone else much better then I could do it. You have written reviews, game faqs, wiki articles and video reviews from a slew of people on everything from obscure DOS games (as one may expect here) to great and horrible console games. I simply felt there was nothing I could add. Then I decided….who cares, I need filler sometimes anyways. I’m pretty confident this isn’t going to make up any bulk of content here but I figured I would do a little write up on a game here and there if it happened to tickle my fancy. So without further delay, The Elder Scrolls: Arena

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I Just recently completed this computer RPG and for people who do not know this is the 1994 first entry into the Elder Scrolls series whom most recently (when this was written) released Skyrim. Now I could write several pages on the background and controls and world of this game but that information is already out there. If your interested in details, history and all that feel free to Google the game as there is a lot of information on it. I’m just going to briefly go over my experiences with the game.

This game as I said is a DOS RPG and for the platform of DOS its a pretty demanding game. Your going to want to play it on a faster DOS machine (preferably a Pentium) if you want the smoothest results though it claims to work on a 25mhz 386 with 4MB of RAM. The biggest problem with this game is it requires a lot of conventional memory to run. Over 600k. now conventional memory is the first 640k of memory and usually DOS and all your programs like the mouse controller and stuff gets loaded in there. Generally when I load up a fresh install of DOS I have 550ish of conventional memory available but usualy simply running the memmaker command will free up over 600kb and create enough space to play games like Arena. load as much as you can to HIGHDOS (this may help) and lower your LASTDRIVE letter under the confg.sys file. Anyways without getting to technical its really not that hard to get it running though this game does seem to come up often as a difficult game to get running correctly (and this includes in emulators like DOSBOX). I did fiddle with running this game in an emulator (shame on me) but never got it to run right but I had very little problems installing and running it on the real deal. The most common issue when trying to run this game is “not enough conventional memory” error followed by the “not enough EMS memory” error. The answer to these is to free up more conventional or EMS memory.

The computer specs. I used to play this game were: DOS 6.22, Pentium 200mhz MMX, 128MB RAM, Trio64V2/DX, Sound blaster 16 with a NEC XR385 for general midi. and I played it on a CRT flat screen (not flat panel) computer monitor. The general midi in this game is nothing fantastic. I actually played the game on an AWE32 prior to getting a midi card and it pretty much sounded the same.

I had very little trouble running the game on this machine (besides the regular Arena issues) and game play was pretty smooth throughout. One issue I noticed though was movements of NPC’s in towns were very fast. Kinda like everyone was chugging Red Bulls and Speed. After doing some research I discovered this was more or less normal for the game and did not effect game play except for making townspeople look ridicules at times. I did find a video of a game running slower NPC (None Player Characters) animations but I noticed the sound was a bit staggered and off so I think It was running to slow. The hyper NPC animations effect nothing as I said and did not effect my player or monsters.

Speaking of speed. This game is an experiment in frustration. Every thing, even on a fast PC is slow when it comes to switching screens, loading, saving, and entering exiting buildings and changing dungeon levels. Even looting corpses is painfully delayed and you do all these actions a lot. Basically you need eight staff pieces to create a staff to kill the final boss. acquiring every piece goes like this.

Find specific province then town then person via asking around. Said person gives you quest for item and asks you to retrieve item in exchange for location of dungeon that has staff piece. – Dungeon Crawl – return to town, repair armor/weapon/rest – return item get staff piece location – Dungeon Crawl – go back to town repair armor/weapon, rest. Repeat 8 times then do last dungeon. To its credit the dungeons are a little varied but the process is still monotonous and soul crushing. The dungeons are also sprinkled with riddles you are required to answer to get to key items. Of course these days you can just look up the answers on the internet but I strived very hard to figure them out and it was a sort of fun distraction from “open door, kill monster”.

And then we have sweet character creation.

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My character is a spellsword or a mage/warrior. Being able to only wear lighter armor but having the ability to use magic. In this game having spells like Passwall and Heal is a real life saver. I also try to make my characters look like Rambo if he was in a rock’in 80’s metal hair band whenever I can.

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Sweet. I like to pretend when hes not slogging through dungeons hes playing with his band Cold Slither in some tavern rocking out sweet Bon Jovi power ballads.

So if you do decide to take on this game and see where more recent games like Morrowwind, Oblivion and Skyrim got their beginnings there’s two screens your going to be seeing a lot of.

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First you have this douche. Every time you die he pops up and gives you some speech about how you have failed and he will reanimate your corpse to serve him. Believe me you’ll be seeing him a lot. So much in fact even though you die quite often it took some time to get this image because I was so trained to immediately hit enter when this screen poped up I kept skipping it when I died. If there’s any tip anyone can give its to SAVE OFTEN AND USE SEVERAL SAVE SLOTS. Speaking of the last guy, Jager Thorne or however you spell it. Really your supposed to avoid him and grab the mithral key then open the sealed room and smash his life gem but you can also defeat him in combat and take the key off him. Naturally I wanted to defeat him but no matter how hard I tried and prepared my character I couldn’t seem to hurt  him. Finally though I discovered if I de-equipped my sword he could be fairly easily punched to 0 HP. Go figure.

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And this is the second sight you’ll see pretty often. You cant avoid it, it simply happens. There’s an error with the game that leaks memory and eventually at some point your bound to get this error and a game lock up. Sometimes it takes hours and sometimes not. It didn’t occur so much to be infuriating but it is another reason to SAVE OFTEN. Keep in mind I had 128MB of RAM installed. Well over 600k of conventional memory and plenty of EMS. Having high conventional memory helps lesson this error. Also try to make sure you have the latest version of the game. Ver. 1.07. My CD version that I bough new at Electronics Boutique in the mid/late 90’s was already patched to this version. Besides this error The game was mostly stable for me. I had one random computer restart and maybe two random game freezes through the whole experience.

The monsters are pretty varied for this game and the world is massive but there is one particular monster that not only frustrated the hell out of me but just freaked me the hell out.

MEDUSA!

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These have to be one of the worst monsters in the game. They paralyze you as a ranged attack then move in and quite literally B%#ch slap you to death with odd spastic slaps and that disquieting buck toothed face. I think those are supposed to be vicious fangs but I just cant help imagining these things living in run down trailer parks in the deep south with a piece of straw dangling between thier two last good teeth on their days off from dungeon patrol duty.

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How that face haunts me. And if that’s not enough.

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If being slapped to death by Salley-May Medusa isn’t bad enough you have to be subjected to their green saggy terribly pixelated boobs. Actually they kind of look like man boobs. Like being constantly flashed by the corpse of Jack Nicholson.

So in the end did I have fun with the game? Well, sort of. I defiantly wouldn’t recommend it to most people unless you really love old school repetitive dungeon crawlers. It is pretty unique for its time with a huge world and it can be sort of charming in a way. The riddles add a nice change of pace but ultimately are just an inconvenience if you plan to just use a FAQ to get answers. The sequel, The Elder Scrolls: Daggerfall is next for me. I can only pray the Medusa all stayed home after a hard weekend of off-roading and hard core Pabst Blue Ribbon drinking.

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