When it became clear that full motion video on cd-rom was a selling feature for games in the early 90’s, hardware manufacturers wanted to be a part of it as well. Sigma Designs’ RealMagic card, also sometimes known as ReelMagic, was a MPEG accelerator card that allowed users to play video up to 30 frames per second by plugging into a video card’s feature connector. While developers were initially excited to support it in 1993 and companies like Access Software, Interplay, Psygnosis, Readysoft, and Sierra On-Line announced they would create games for it, but the card only got a handful of games that support it. The card only being for a very specific niche and price tag of $450 meant the card had a short lifespan. Some of the known games that had special editions released for it include:

  • Dragon’s Lair
  • Space Ace
  • Return to Zork
  • The Horde
  • Entity
  • Flash Traffic
  • Crime Patrol
  • Crime Patrol 2: Drug Wars
  • Lord of the Rings
  • Man Enough
  • Conspiracy
  • Space Pirates
  • Return to Cyber City
  • Prince Interactive
  • The Psychotron
  • Silent Steel

There’s other games that reportedly exist for it as well that have never been confirmed, such as Gabriel Knight 1 and King’s Quest 6, although these might have just been mentioned on the demo disc. The demo disc that shipped with the card has videos on it for games that never shipped for it, such as The 11th Hour, which was an early video of the game that uses an old version of the game’s logo. If you’re interested in checking out some of these games, there is a fork of DosBox that has ReelMagic support. I wouldn’t say the changes it makes to the games will make you re-evaluate them, they are noticeable. Return to Zork features FMV of people talking instead of digitized sprites, Crime Patrol features better quality video, and Lord of the Rings uses footage from Ralph Bashki’s animated film. The Return to Zork one is fascinating because while it adds more FMV, it uses the floppy disk version’s soundtrack, which is less impressive. It also leaves in takes where actors flub their lines and ruin some of the game’s jokes, where the more mainstream release of the game would edit around those. The strangest part is that it has video of dialogue not in the other release that gives more context to some puzzles, which are one of the more frustrating parts of the game. While I can’t say I’m surprised it never took off, it’s kinda fun checking out games from childhood that are actually slightly better than how I remember them.

Retro Gaming Roundup (Nov. 27, 2023)

A screenshot from The Realm, showing various cartoon fantasy folks standing in a room

Here’s a quick collection of retro gaming things that I found interesting this last week.

The 1997 MMO The Realm is back. It was originally published and run by Sierra and the rights have been sold to various companies since then. A new publisher has gained the rights and has launched the game again. The article goes into more detail about how the previous owner mismanaged the license and what the relaunch means for the game. I’ve never played it before but it makes me happy whenever I see a MMO that has kept going even after decades.

DOSember starts next month! DOScember is an event where streamers play tons of DOS games. It’s a fun way to watch people play classic games and the people involved are very lovely.

And to end with some self promotion, the next DOS Games Jam starts next month. Come join if you want to try making a game in a casual, unranked jam. Even if you have no interest in making a game, the page for the jam links to entries from previous jams if you want to discover some new DOS games.

Indie Game Roundup ( Nov. 24, 2023)

screenshot from In Stars and Time showing the game's first person combat mode

It’s’s Creators Day, where they aren’t taking a cut from sales today. I’ve put all my paid games in a little bundle you can pick up if you want some solo TTRPGs.

Shannon McMaster has a cool and free system-neutral guide to hex crawling in time dimensions for your tabletop rpg.

Misty has a great post on Cohost about all the games she enjoyed playing while judging for the Independent Games Festival.

Hand Eye Society’s Super FESTival is still going on. Check out all the great talks and indie games going on.

Goose has made a very good demake for the Game Boy of a game they previously made a decade before for a game jam.

James Chip has a new solo journaling game set in space. It’s based off their previous game The Adventurer and seems very cool.

The results of this year’s IFComp were just announced and as usual, it’s another great batch of interactive fiction games that are worth your time.

In Stars and Time looks like a very nice time loop rpg that’s now available on Steam.

There’s a new Indie Tsushin, highlighting indie games from Japan.

Tristam Island is now open source and released under a Creative Commons license. It seems like a great reference if you’re looking to build a text adventure game in PunyInform for retro platforms.

Hand Eye Society Super FESTival

The Hand Eye Society Super FESTival, a free virtual festival celebrating the indie games community, is happening this week! There’s a lot of cool talks and games being highlighted along with a neat little virtual world to explore. Today I am on a panel at 6:30 PM ET about small press and anthology games but there’s a ton of other cool talks later this week like Julia Minamata doing an intro to Adventure Game Studio and Taylor McCue talking about creating bundles. Lots of great stuff so go check it out!

Retro Gaming Roundup

Every week I’m going to start doing a dump of links and other retro gaming related things that I thought were interesting this last week.

screenshot from Heroes of Might and Magic 2, showing a boat traveling across water.
Screenshot from the fheroes2 project

The folks at Time Extension did an interview with the people behind the fheroes2 project. Fheroes2 is an open source multiplatform project that reproduces the original game but makes improvements like support for high-resolutions, improved AI, numerous fixes and UI improvements. It just got a big update two days ago too. Fgeroes2 requires the original files, which are available on GOG.

Half-Life received a massive update for its 25th anniversary.

Mattias Gustavsson made a massive post on their blog about Drakborgen, a board game from 1985. The post is filled with lots of pictures of the game and now I really want to try it.

The DOS game Father World now has an English translation.

I posted about it earlier but Myst Online got big update for its 20th anniversary and it seems like the biggest part, an addition to the main area, was added this last Saturday and the game had an in-game celebration for it. I’m happy the game is still around and think it’s worth checking out. If you’d like to try it out, it’s available for free.

Finally, this update is more for people that live in the state of Michigan but it looks like Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum got a little bit of an extension before it may possibly get knocked down. I’m hoping that the amount of pressure that everyone is putting on the city will result in some sort of protection for the arcade or at least buy them enough time to move somewhere else, since the planned demolition would be to just make additional parking lot space for a grocery store. Unfortunately it looks like Pinball Pete’s in Ann Arbor is facing demolition and people are trying to figure out ways to keep that place alive too. It’s a rough time for arcades in my area.

Father World Receives English Translation

screenshot from father world showing a man in some kind of computer room with a large screen

The DOS game Father World has received an English patch on The game was originally released in South Korea in 1994 but doesn’t seem to have been officially released anywhere outside of the country since then. It is an action adventure platformer game similar to games like Another World, and is more focused on telling a story and exploration than action setpieces. If you want to see what the game is like, pixel_turkey streamed the game on her Twitch channel.

Half-Life Receives 25th Anniversary Update

To celebrate Half-Life’s 25th anniversary, it is free to keep on Steam if you claim it for the next few days, has received a large update, and a documentary about the game has been released as well.

half-life screenshot showing HL's original models for Gordon and Barney, a man with a big beard and a security person who looks very scared.

The update is exciting to me because it contains so much stuff that hasn’t been available for the long time. In addition to nice fixes like real widescreen support, looking better at higher resolutions, and a variety of bug fixes, Half-Life now contains content from the Half-Life: Further Data and Half-Life Uplink CDs that came out at the game’s launch to promote it through video cards, magazines, and retail stores.

Half-Life Uplink was a CD released through magazines and hardware manufacturers that contains a demo for the game with all new levels. Half-Life: Further Data was released through retail stores and contains new multiplayer maps and skins, including a fan favorite skin I used to play as, Too Much Coffee Man.

screenshot showing a skeleton and a man with really huge eyes.

There’s so other nice updates too. The game now includes the original models for Gordon and Barney from the Half-Life alpha as multiplayer skins, 4 new multiplayer maps by Valve developers, Steam Deck and controller support, and the original Valve logo video and menu from the 1998 release. Just a very nice update for a classic game that I’ve put so many hours into.

Indie Game Roundup (Nov. 17, 2023)

This week was bananas so this is a rushed collection of stuff in indie games that I really liked. This week it’s mostly focused on adventure games, since that’s a genre I’m really into in general, but also just a lot of stuff happened this week.

screenshot from The Will of Arthur Flabbington where a man is telling a psychic "and that's why I need to contact my uncle."
Screenshot from The Will of Arthur Flabbington

The Will of Arthur Flabbington is now out! This is a point-and-click adventure that originally started as a jam game for the AdventureX jam. It got a Kickstarter funded to help turn it into a full game with voice acting and from the little I played of it, seems really neat!

Lake got some Christmas DLC. I really enjoyed playing Lake two years ago and found it was exactly what I needed during a very stressful time in my life. I know a Christmas themed DLC is not going to be for everyone but I’m looking forward to revisiting the game and I think I even have some nostalgia for holiday themed games and DLC just because of the time I spent playing stuff like Jazz Jackrabbit Holiday Hare and Xmas Lemmings.

DOS Game Club just released an episode where they interview the nice folks over at Hadrosaurus Software. I really enjoyed their game The Aching and it’s nice seeing people making new DOS games getting some coverage.

This one is much more local, but the University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan University are doing a showcase of their student games on December 6 at 7pm in Ann Arbor. There’s always an incredible batch of games that come from both schools every semester so if you’re local, consider checking it out!

Excuse Me Sir is a demo for an upcoming horror game made by a bunch of cool folks. I really liked the 90s adventure game vibes it has and it’s really short and not frustrating at all, which was surprising since it’s very heavy on ways to die.

screenshot from Excuse Me Sir showing a surprised woman and her saying "Hey, who are you?" with the response options being "Can I use your phone?" and "Have you seen my brother? (Show flyer)"
Screenshot from Excuse Me Sir

Aura has a very good post on Cohost about all the games she enjoyed during the IGF judging process.

Inspector Waffles Early Days is a game on Kickstarter looking for funding to develop a physical version of a Game Boy game. I never played the original game, a point-and-click adventure for the PC, but I heard it’s very good and liked the Playdate game the developer made, which also got a physical release. I just think it’s fun seeing the Game Boy have a revival because of GB Studio and Analogue.

Midnight Margo is a new adventure game by some of the folks that worked on Whispers of a Machine, a point-and-click adventure that I really enjoyed. From the reactions I saw, the art style seems to be very divisive but I think it’s really neat. The game also seems to have some RPG elements and I think that will be a nice way to make the game stand out from others in the genre.

screenshot of Midnight Margo of a woman standing in a bar with other people
Screenshot from Midnight Margo

A demo was just released for Heir of the Dog. I believe it was originally a jam game or freeware? Anyway, I really liked the dev’s previous game Lucy Dreaming and it’s nice to see that we’ll be getting more games from them.

The Blathering Keep looks like a really fun free game by Danielle Riendeau. I haven’t played it yet but the art is really cute. I like the concept of a dungeon crawler where you’re attacked by corporate jargon, and I really like her writing elsewhere so I bet it’s a very funny game.

swanchime has a new Interactive Fiction game that looks beautiful. I haven’t played it yet but they’ve made a lot of fantastic games and zines so I’ll have to set aside some time for this one too.

Finally, earlier this week it was announced that Uppercut Crit will be going on hiatus. I was really sad to hear this because I thought it was a great place for games crit and lots of great indie game coverage. It sounds like the podcast Indie Mixtape will still be going on so be sure to follow that and consider supporting other outlets of independent games crit like No Escape, Kritiqal, Into the Spine, and all the other cool places I have listed in my Cool Site Zone.

My Favorite Adventure Game Streamers

I don’t watch streamers too often but when I do, it’s usually of adventure games. It’s my favorite genre of game and I like watching people figure out puzzles or talk about why one doesn’t work when they come across a bad one. Luckily there’s a ton of great folks streaming adventure games and this list only covers a very small amount of them. Generally I find all these streamers to be relaxing and I’m not into streams where people are yelling a lot.

Emmxyzzy – Streamer from Australia that plays MS-DOS games, which includes a lot of adventure games. They translated the first commercial Czech MS-DOS game to English, The Secret of Donkey Island.

sonneveld – Another streamer from Australia that plays a variety of adventure games, with a focus on older games. They also helped translate The Secret of Donkey Island into English.

Secret of Donkey Island screenshot showing someone looking like Guybrush Threepwood standing on some rocks

SummerB76 – Very chill streamer with a focus on adventure games but there’s also plenty of other fun streams like the ones for wine making simulator Hundred Days with her brother who makes wine in real life. Also a speedrunner of the new Colossal Cave remake by Ken and Roberta Williams.

pixel_turkey – Streamer focused on retro games, which includes a lot of adventure games. Also a great pixel artist

The Genesis Temple – Games historian that streams a ton of obscure games as well as games in other languages and live translating them as they are played.

robotspacer – Streams a variety of adventure games and has also been building an adventure game for the Macintosh using World Builder

Julia Minamata – Developer of The Crimson Diamond that streams development of the game every Tuesday night along with playing some retro games.

LotusLovesLotus – Indie game streamer that includes a lot of new adventure games and single player story-driven games.

PS_Garak – Every Tuesday night Ben, Sarah, and Grayson do a comedy stream where they play adventure games (both new and old) and go on fun tangents.

BogusMeatFactory – Variety streamer that includes playing a lot of adventure games and text adventures.

decafjedi – Streams a variety of games but plays retro adventure games every Wednesday night. Also created Stair Quest and the first Space Quest fan site.

The Obscuritory – Video Game History Foundation member and owner of The Obscuritory website Phil Salvador streams incredibly obscure games on Wednesday nights.

Grundislav – Francisco González, the developer of the Ben Jordan series, A Golden Wake, Shardlight, and Lamplight City has been streaming development of his newest game Rosewater!

ivydupler – Video game voice actress for games like Whispers of a Machine and Unavowed streams a variety of games, with a focus on adventure games and the Nancy Drew series.

Conversations with Curtis – The lead actor of the FMV game Phantasmagoria 2 started doing interviews with the cast of the game at the beginning of the pandemic, which has evolved into doing streams of the game he was in as well as other adventure games, both old and new. Highlights include his streams with the lead actress of Phantasmagoria 1 and co-host Daniel doing a ton of interviews with classic adventure game developers. It’s also just been fun watching someone who is new to games developing opinions on the genre and correct takes like new adventure games being just as good, if not better, than classic adventure games.

KeeperFX 1.0 Released

After a long time in development, version 1.0 of the Dungeon Keeper open source remake KeeperFX has been released!

KeeperFX screenshot showing the multiplayer selection screen

KeeperFX offers various improvements such as:

  • Windows 7/10/11 support
  • Higher screen resolutions
  • Modernized controls
  • Many bugfixes
  • Additional campaigns and maps
  • New level script commands
  • New creatures, textures and sprites
  • Multiplayer

KeeperFX requires files from the original games, which you can still buy on GOG.