Ever since I went to New Haven, Connecticut a few years ago and discovered the city has it’s own style of pizza, I’ve been a huge fan and eat it every opportunity I can. If you’re unfamiliar with New Haven-style pizza, it’s a coal fired Neopolitan pizza. There’s a place near me that makes this style of pizza and it’s very good, but not quite as good as the places in New Haven, and I haven’t found anywhere else that does it so every time I’m in the area to visit family, I must get pizza.
Anyway, now that I’ve tried all the big pizza places in New Haven, here’s my ranking that no one asked for. There are no losers in this list because they’re all very good.
Another thing I’ve noticed is that two of these places offer pizza with potato on it (mashed potato at Bar, almost a scalloped potato at Sally’s). They’re both very good but it’s not something I’ve seen elsewhere.
Anyway, I just needed to document my love for this pizza somewhere
I’ve been adding a lot of things to MobyGames lately after initially noticing a couple of things missing in my local games community and now it spiraling into me adding stuff from Steam Curator pages and lots of smaller adventure games and interactive fiction, and now I have Some Thoughts
MobyGames is the one I decided to focus on, despite being owned by Atari, since it has the most games and is the one that games historians seem to look at the most. For example, here’s a recent comment from someone at the Video Games History Foundation on cohost after I posted similar thoughts there.
“For the study we’re doing with VGHF, we picked MobyGames for that reason. Even then there’s still some pretty big holes; there’s like 1600 GB/GBC/GBA games in MobyGames and they’re missing another 200. But it’s the best for what it’s covering, for sure. (For comparison, IGDB has 290 C64 games, MobyGames has over 5000)”
That said, MobyGames isn’t perfect either. It’s going through a redesign right now that’s introduced some bugs, which will eventually get fixed but has made contributing harder at the moment. It’s a headache to credit people, especially when the person has used various names or isn’t using a legal birth name. They’re working on improving this too but at the moment it’s still annoying. It also takes forever to approve new game entries. I know it’s all volunteers but man, the current wait time for approving new game entries at MobyGames is estimated at 5 months?
IGDB seems to move much faster and has more entries for games on Itch but also doesn’t seem to have credits for very many games and has some inconsistency with multiple entries per game, etc. There is a process for removing duplicates but it basically requires contacting an admin. And as mentioned before, it’s just missing tons of older games. So maybe there’s just no ideal games database and everyone is doing the best they can with what we got. I’m also not really thrilled about them being owned by Atari and Amazon either.
There’s also more specialized ones like IFDB and the one on AdventureGamers.com that aren’t owned by a big company but again, specialized to just one genre. There’s also the Giant Bomb one but I don’t really think people should invest more time into that one with it being owned by Fandom now, especially when they seem to be letting go of everyone.
I still think people should contribute to these places though, it doesn’t have to be MobyGames. I’ve been adding info from the Michigan game dev communities I’m involved in and there’s just so much missing, so I imagine there’s a lot of stuff other people here know about that isn’t being documented and it would be nice to have more info about these games preserved. There’s just so many games, especially on Itch, that haven’t been documented at all.
A few months ago I thought it would be funny to do a ton of reviews of FMV games in the form of a Leonard Maltin review guide and make it into a zine. Then after a day or two I got bored of the idea and moved on. Who knows, maybe I’ll come back to the idea. I’ve certainly played enough games for me to review. There’s also a lot of caveats with this kind of thing like “what is a FMV game?” and a medium like video even being considered a game genre in the first place. The format these reviews followed as the game title, year, the number of stars out of 5 that I would give it, the developer, some of the actors, and then my thoughts. Anyway, here’s my dump of reviews I had done for the zine.
7th Guest, The. (1993). 2 ½. Dev: Trilobyte. Robert Hirschboeck, Debra Ritz Mason. This game was groundbreaking when it was released but it’s hard to recommend now. Conceptually the game isn’t a bad idea, you wander around a haunted house and do puzzles, and successfully completing a puzzle means being rewarded with some fun FMV. Unfortunately many of the puzzles you are required to do require lots of trial and error or they’re just not fun to do. Maybe they were the standard at the time but mazes and sliding tile puzzles are exhausting these days. There’s a few gems in there though such as the famous cake puzzle where you need to divide a cake into equal sizes with the same number of pieces. The parts of the game outside the puzzles are charming though. Robert Hirschboeck is a lot of fun to watch in his over the top performance as the evil Stauf and the soundtrack by George “The Fat Man” Sanger remains a classic.
Book of Watermarks, The (1999). 2 ½. Dev: Watermarks. Jack Donner. This Myst-clone won’t be for most, but those that are into the aesthetics and music will find it delightful. The game has the aesthetics of a Pure Moods compilation music cd commercial from the mid 90s. Features music by Enya’s sister. The game has almost no plot so the only reason to play it is for the art and music. The game is short and the puzzles aren’t difficult, but many may not finish it because the slow player movement speed makes the game feel like a chore. This game was released in Japan only but all the cutscenes are in English so readers will be able to play it.
Conspiracies (2003). 1 1/2. Dev: Anima PPD. Agelos Vougas, Anestis Kokkinidis. In this bizarre adventure game you play as Nick Delios, a detective who exclusively wears grey sweatpants and hoodies, as you investigate a murder of a small-time crook. This case takes the player all around the world, to outer space, traveling through time, and also a concert for a Greek blues band that the developers seem to be a fan of since you must watch a music video featuring them. Doing a game inspired by the Tex Murphy series is a great idea in theory but the game fails to replicate anything that made those games fun. Puzzles are often illogical, the limited inventory space is frustrating when you need to guess what is actually needed, and the plot is impossible to understand. The only scenario where I can recommend this game is if you want to keep a walkthrough open and experience the strange fever dream that is this game.
Conspiracies 2: Lethal Networks (2011). 1 ½ . Dev: Anima PPD. Agelos Vougas, Anestis Kokkinidis. Nick Delios returns in a mystery that can’t even replicate the weird charm the original game had. The studio spent eight years working on the game but all of the issues that existed in the original game return. The only improvements that make it into the game are some minor visual updates. I suppose it’s impressive that even with the big time gap between sequels, even though the game itself is only set a few months after the first, they were able to get the actors to return.
Contradiction (2015). 4. Dev: Baggy Cat. Rupert Booth, Paul Darrow, Anarosa De Eizaguirre Butler. In Contradiction you play as Detective Inspector Jenks, who is investigating the murder of a young woman in a small town in England. You explore the town, asking the residents questions about her and other conversation topics. During these conversations, you will be able to snip together pieces that form a contradiction and confront the people about them to learn more. The highlight of the game is the performance of Detective Inspector Jenks, wonderfully played by Rupert Booth. While most performances in the game are fairly grounded, Rupert’s performance is over the top, in a way that’s reminiscent of Nicholas Cage, but never gets annoying. It’s such a joy to watch him talk to other characters who almost seem like they’re struggling to comprehend the behavior of such an unusual person. Of course, none of this would matter if the gameplay was bad, but the gameplay loop of asking people questions and using that info to find contradictions works very well. I would love to see a sequel.
Dancing for Cats (2021). 5. Dev: Jonny Hopkins. I may be slightly biased because this game features my cat, but I think you could make a strong argument that this cat-focused rhythm game is the best game of all time.
Devo Presents: Adventures of the Smart Patrol (1996). 1. Dev: Inscape. Jamie Rega, Gerald V. Casale, Tom Finnegan. Even hardcore Devo fans will want to stay away from this mess. Interesting visuals can’t make up for the dull puzzles, flat humor, and a frustrating timer that makes this game a chore to play. Stay away but do check out Inscape’s other games. Fans may at least enjoy hearing some new music by Devo as well as muzak versions of their classic hits.
Killing Time (1995). 2. Dev: Studio 3DO. This horror FPS has good ideas but poor design makes it a boring experience. If Trilobyte decided to make a FPS instead of the 7th Guest, it would be like this, a shooter with puzzles in a fairly open world with lots of FMV. The FMV scenes are integrated with the world, meaning you walk up to nodes and the FMV of ghosts starts playing without it going into a cutscene. Weirdly enough, when they decided to bring it to PC and Mac, instead of just porting the 3DO version, they remade the game so the levels are better designed, and added a couple new weapons too. Unfortunately the FMV is lower quality and they made the enemies bullet spongy so neither version is ideal.
Myst (1993). 4 ½. Dev: Cyan. Rand Miller, Robyn Miller. The game that helped start the multimedia revolution holds up better than most of the games that followed it. Exploring the various worlds is still a joy, with the exception of one or two parts, and the game is nowhere near as difficult as I remember it being once you figure out the gameplay loop. The performances by the developer are a campy treat and serve as a nice reward for making progress in the game. Go with the most recent Myst remake if your computer can run it.
Pyst (1996). 1. Dev: Parrot Interactive. John Goodman. This parody of Myst is awful. None of the humor in the game works. The premise of the game is that the island of Pyst, a parody of Myst island, has become a tourist destination that has been trashed by all of the visitors. You flip through a series of postcards containing photos of locations from Pyst island, and click around to discover animations and jokes. None of it works. Even the appearance of John Goodman does nothing. The only redeeming feature of this whole debacle is the Making of Pyst video which is an amusing fever dream. A special edition was followed a year later that featured teasers for some of their upcoming games, including an unreleased parody of the Myst sequel Riven called Driven where the joke seems to be that lots of cars exist in the world.
Riven: The Sequel to Myst (1997). 5. Dev: Cyan. Rand Miller, John Keston, Sheila Goold. Cyan builds on what they established with Myst to deliver one of the best in the genre. While the worlds created in Myst are a joy to explore, every island in Riven feels as though it could be a real place, including the puzzles which feel like tools in a functioning world and not just puzzles for the sake of having obstacles. It is one of the finest examples of worldbuilding in games. The acting is also a big leap over the performances in the original game. My only complaint is that it’s a little too difficult.
She Sees Red (2019). 3. Dev: Rhinotales. Veronika Plyashkevich. She Sees Red is an interactive movie about a detective investigating a murder inside of a nightclub. Each playthrough of the game is about 30 minutes long and you are expected to play through the game a couple of times to learn all the pieces of the plot. I thought the 30 minute runtime for a single viewing was perfect and really appreciated being able to skip scenes I’ve seen before. Like a lot of FMV games, there are Good and Bad choices but you’re not given any insight into which one leads to a more favorable outcome and unfortunately the writing is often much better in the Good choice. However you’re expected to explore all of these choices to figure out the entire plot. Despite the occasionally inconsistent writing, most of it is pretty good regardless of the decisions you make. The acting is enjoyable as well, especially by the lead actress.
Space Ace (1983). 1 ½. Dev: Advanced Microcomputer Systems. Space Ace is the second game by Don Bluth Productions. Just like Dragon’s Lair, it featured animation being played from a laserdisc. Space Ace introduced a few innovations to the laserdisc game format. Unfortunately the game still suffers from the same flaws that Dragon’s Lair has. There’s only one correct action during almost all sequences and failure to do the action leads to you repeating the same series of quick time sequences until you press the correct series of buttons. This forces you to focus entirely on looking for flashing yellow spots on the screen instead of being able to appreciate the incredible animation by Don Bluth Productions. It feels like a big disappointment compared to the interesting variety of creatures you find in the castle from Dragon’s Lair. Much like Dragon’s Lair 1 and 2, it’s more fun watching Space Ace be played than to actually play it.
Under a Killing Moon (1994). 4. Dev: Access Software. James Earl Jones, Brian Keith, Russell Means, Margot Kidder, Chris Jones. This soft reboot of the Tex Murphy series delights with its futuristic noir setting, puzzles, and performances. The frequent tonal shifts and hammy performances may be off putting to some but I found it charming. The controls may take some getting used to but it’s an interesting approach to navigating an adventure game and I came to appreciate it by the end. Puzzles are mostly good too but players will be frustrated by the cliched shredded paper puzzles and stealth section.
Yeli Orog (2018). 3. Dev: Yeli Orog Games. A first person horror adventure game that might be worth checking out if you want something about an hour long. The game is a slideshow like Myst but uses video to show leaves moving in the breeze and waves crashing on the shore to make the scenery feel more alive. Most interactive items are either highlighted or glowing, eliminating the need for pixel hunting. Despite the short length, the ability to save would have been appreciated. Yeli Orog is about a bizarre stone tablet written in the Celtiberian language found during an archaeological dig. The game is at its best when it’s focused on horror and surrealism and drags when it’s trying to explain the lore. The FMV looks great. Aside from a puzzle near the end that I found frustrating, most of the puzzles felt fair and the game moves quickly. It’s free!
Here’s some very brief thoughts on games that came out in January that I really enjoyed
Luckily, My Arm is a Shotgun
This is a new game by the developer of The Chameleon where you play as a little dude on an island trying to escape. You explore the island in search of parts for your boat and shoot monsters with the shotgun arm mentioned in the title of this game. It’s a fun, cheap game that’s available on Itch. Weirdly enough, it reminded me of Ocean’s Jurassic Park game from the early 90s. It’s much better than that but the way some parts of the island were designed looked somewhat like that. Who knows. I should probably just stop thinking about bad games from the 90s with great soundtracks.
WASTE EATER is a short (10 minute) interactive fiction game about rebuilding the world after the apocalypse and is both melancholic and hopeful. Since it’s so short I don’t want to say much about it other than I thought it was great and moving, and people should check it out.
Boundless Dungeon of Sexual Misadventures
I was a fan of the developer’s previous game Some Sword / Some Play and was excited to see her create a tabletop game. It uses a tarot deck to provide prompts for writing sexy stories and I thought the mechanics to inspire writing were cleverly designed. As you can probably guess, both games mentioned here are adult games and not safe for work.
Tachyon Dreams 3
This is the third game in a trilogy of adventure games by an adventure game dev Cosmic Void. I’m a fan of the Tachyon Dreams trilogy because it’s strongly inspired by the classic Sierra games from the 80s which were graphic adventures but used a text parser for commands, like the early Space Quest and King’s Quest games. However, the parser is better designed than those and adventure game designed has improved so much by then so it’s fun to revisit that style of adventure game design without the frustrating parts. If you are looking for more games in this style, I also recommend Snail Trek, which is available on Steam, and this list of parser graphic adventures I put together on Itch
This is a spoiler-free guide for people who wish to check out the game The Legend of Kyrandia, a point-and-click adventure game developed by Westwood and released in 1992. This is not a walkthrough and is just meant as an intro to the game to help people get started playing it. Before Westwood became famous for developing RTS, they made games in a variety of genres like RPGs and adventure games. One of their series before creating Command & Conquer was the fantasy series Legend of Kyrandia. The first game was released in 1992, with the sequels The Legend of Kyrandia: Hand of Fate and The Legend of Kyrandia: Malcolm’s Revenge released in 1993 and 1994.
Why Should I Play It?
If you’re an adventure game or Westwood fan and have an interest in its history, I think it’s worth checking out. Just as a heads up, the game has some dated gameplay mechanics like being able to softlock, when a player can get stuck without knowing it and has to restart the game or load a save before they took an action that made the game impossible to complete. It also has a maze that goes on for way too long and I would maybe recommend just using a walkthrough to power through it. I still find the game charming though. The art and music are great and it has some fun characters like the antagonist Malcolm.
How Do I Get Started?
It’s easy to get the game running on modern computers. If you already own the game, you just need to copy the files to a directory and open it with ScummVM. If you don’t have the game, you can buy it on GOG.
Tips for Playing The Legend of Kyrandia
There’s a few things to keep in mind while playing the game that will help you avoid most of the headaches people can run into with this game.
Make a Map Mapping everything is essential while playing this game. The game has a lot of rooms, with a few of them not having anything to interact with. It’s not a bad thing, it’s to help show off the game’s great pixel and add to the atmosphere, but it does make the world a little harder to navigate. Each room has a name so for my map I just wrote the names in boxes and had them connect to each other and it wasn’t an issue for me. There’s also a gigantic maze at one part of the game and a map is required to complete it.
Save Often You will want to save frequently and create a lot of save files. There are points in the game where you can mess up and will be unable to complete the game so you’ll want points you can return to if that happens. There’s also a few points where the player can die and a reload is required. I would also save before you use items since there are some parts where using an item incorrectly results in it getting destroyed. You’ll probably know when an item wasn’t used correctly and have to reload.
Item Management You have a limited inventory space and the game will give you a few items you never use. This isn’t too much of an issue but still something that’s good to know. Just make sure you know where items are when you drop them, in case you need them later.
Turn Walk Speed to Max Eventually you’ll get bored of your slow walk speed, especially with the frequent empty rooms, and wish you could walk faster. Luckily the game provides this option and it’s easy to change in the options menu.
Issues with the game aside, I’m having fun playing it and hope you’ll consider joining us in the Adventure Game Club discord this month to play through the game and discuss it!
This is the first in a series of guides about how to get into older games. There’s plenty of walkthroughs for older games but often I’ve found myself wishing for videos or guides that just told me how to get started playing a game, what patches I should use, what versions of the game are the best, and tips for playing the game. There’s no spoilers in this guide and it’s just to help new players get started. I hope to do these for a lot of old games I enjoy so other people can check them out as well.
What Is Colossal Cave Adventure?
Colossal Cave Adventure is a text adventure game released in 1976 and is one of the first adventure games. It was later expanded upon in 1977 by Don Woods and this is the version most people are familiar with. Players explore a cave system in search of treasure, all while learning spells and encountering fantastical creatures like a giant snake and dragon.
If you’re an adventure game or interactive fiction fan and have an interest in its history, it’s worth checking out. The game mostly held up for me once I realized it’s a game that requires multiple attempts, just like a roguelike, and I learned to really enjoy mapping everything as I explored the caves. For a long time, it was considered the first adventure game and has inspired many game designers like Roberta Williams, creator of King’s Quest and recently remade this game as Colossal Cave, and inspired games like Rogue and Zork.
How Do I Get Started?
The version I recommend is the 350-point version found on the Interactive Fiction Database titled Advent.z5. It’s free and easy to get running. Once you have it downloaded, you will also need something to run it. There’s a lot of applications that can play interactive fiction and text adventures, but one I enjoy using is Gargoyle. It’s free and easy to use. You just open Advent.z5 and it will start running.
How Do I Play Text Adventures?
Personally, I wouldn’t really recommend Colossal Cave Adventure as someone’s first text adventure. There are games built for introducing new players to the genre that also happen to be better games as well, like Emily Short’s game Bronze. That said, here’s some tips for getting started playing text adventures. Text adventures are controlled by typing in commands and seeing what information the computer returns. Commands generally include directions like North, South, East, West, Up, and Down, which can also be shortened to the first letter. As well as examining and using objects, and checking your inventory. I would also recommend this video for more tips on playing text adventures.
Tips for Playing Colossal Cave Adventure
Mapping everything in Colossal Cave Adventure is essential. It is impossible to keep track of all the rooms and some early text adventures had parts where movement between rooms isn’t what you would expect. There are parts of the game where if you go East to a room and then West, you will not end up in the room you started in. The game will ask you at the beginning if you want instructions and it’s important to say yes. The game deducts a couple points and will make it impossible to get a max score, but it gives you important information for solving a puzzle and doubles the amount of time you can keep your lantern on in the cave without having to get batteries. Keep in mind when playing CCA that it is a game meant to be attempted multiple times, like a roguelike or learning how to speedrun a game. Your lantern may run out and while you can get batteries, you must complete some steps to do that and may run out of time. This sounds like a tremendous headache but restarting a text adventure isn’t a big time sink like it is in graphical adventure games and should only take a minute to get back to where you were with a much more optimized path.
That all said, it was still one of the first ever adventure games and has a few illogical puzzles. Consider playing with a friend over something like a Discord voice chat. Older text adventures seem to work best when sharing ideas with others and working together to solve puzzles. Understandable, getting someone else to play a 50-year-old game may not be feasible so if you’re playing alone, just a reminder that it’s ok to look up hints when you feel like you’re stuck.
I enjoyed playing this game for the first time ever a month ago and I hope you’ll consider trying it after reading this guide. If you still have questions, leave it in the comments and I’ll get back to you. I also run a monthly adventure game discussion club Discord and we would be happy to help you there as well!
One of the goofier things I do on social media is run an account called Computer Store Visuals. It is an account where I post pictures of computer stores, mostly old ones, that I’ve found on the internet and have saved. I suppose I could make some sort of intellectual explanation why I do it, like I’m trying to preserve a part of computer history that’s disappearing. I guess that’s maybe true, but I mostly do it just because I like to look at old computer stuff. I don’t think things were better back then (they weren’t), but I do have fond memories of going into my local computer stores and picking up games and I have fun doing it so why not. It’s a fun excuse to post goofy pictures too. Once active and surprisingly popular on Twitter, I’ve moved it to Cohost and Mastodon after Twitter was purchased by Elon Musk and instantly became less usable.
One of the stores I had a fascination with was my local CompUSA in Novi, Michigan. It was where I went to get most of my games from the beginning of the 90s until it closed in 2007. There weren’t many photos of it that I could find online except some posted in a Facebook group for employees from this store. I saw that the Facebook group is now gone, motivating me to write one of the silliest things that will be on the website. Here is a tribute to the CompUSA in Novi, Michigan and possibly the only existing photos of this store online.
My first memories of the store are of seeing the game Superhero League of Hoboken being demoed on one of the computers when you entered, looking at the shelves of games, a demo of Prince of Persia 2 playing on a monitor, and a customer asking an employee if they had Leisure Suit Larry. It was also where I first saw games like Doom and picked up most of my adventure game collection. Whenever we went here, my dad would usually walk off to look at the computer magazines and books that were located at a section to the immediate right when you walked in, while I would run over to the computer game section on the left, try whatever game was being demoed that day, and then check out the aisles of games. The store also featured its own Edutainment area that had computers loaded with educational software and games for kids.
This was also the only time I ever tried the infamous Zelda games for the Philips CD-i, since this was the only store chain that seemed foolish enough to stock them and even have a demo station to play the games. Even at the time I didn’t enjoy them and was baffled by how a Zelda game could be so bad.
The store itself was in a shopping center called the Novi Town Center which also featured a Borders bookstore and Egghead Software, making it a nerd shopping utopia for me for most of the 90s.
For the last five years of the store, it was clear to even teenage me that the store was struggling. The industry had changed a lot and sales of boxed computer games weren’t as great in the early to mid 00s, even before Steam came along. CompUSA also waited too long to push their online store and had tried to pivot to being more like Best Buy, but with little success. The chain eventually closed in the late 00s and computer retail stores mostly don’t exist in the United States except for Micro Center and some smaller stores.
But I still have a lot of fond memories going there to pick up computer games and trying out the latest software at their demo stations. As promised, here are the only images I could find of the store. If you have any of the Novi, Michigan CompUSA, or the Borders and Egghead Software that I mentioned in the article, I would love to see them. If you would like to see more pictures of computer stores, I also post on Cohost and Mastodon.
This first batch is a set of photos from a Halloween party and people working at the store during Halloween.
These next two photos are of an employee that would intentionally make a mess while eating powdered donuts and apparently also walked around the store like this and would offer some to customers.
I have no context for the rest of these photos and they’re the only other ones I could find for this store.
Happy New Year! 2023 has barely started and there’s already so much I’m excited to play this year and thought I would write about some of them. As usual with these sorts of lists, there’s going to be so many games I just forget to list. Some of my favorite games are those that come from nowhere or are games made by single developers so this will probably actually not even be close to what my favorite games of the year are. Some of these games are available on other platforms but because of my unusually specific interests, all of them are on the PC and most are adventure games.
She Dreams Elsewhere
She Dreams Elsewhere is a surreal RPG with a stunning art style. The art and creature design look wild and I’m looking forward to exploring this world when the game comes out.
Tactical Breach Wizards
Tactical Breach Wizards is the newest game by Tom Francis, designer of Gunpoint and Heat Signature. It looks to be a fun tactics game with a fantasy influence and the screenshots showing off dialog indicate that it has the same humor his earlier games had.
Acronia is a queer DOS game inspired by Apogee-era shareware games such as Duke Nukem 1 and BioMenace. I loved the alpha version of the game that is available on their Itch page and hope that we see a full version released this year.
The Crimson Diamond
The Crimson Diamond is a point-and-click adventure game strongly influenced by Sierra’s 1989 adventure game The Colonel’s Bequest. I’ve been following the development of the game for a while now through the developer’s weekly dev streams and the demo on the game’s Steam page and everything indicates this should be a great mystery to solve.
Super Space Club
Super Space Club is a chill arcade space shooter. I really like everything about the presentation of the game and there’s a demo on Steam too.
The Drifter is a point-and-click adventure by Powerhoof, developers of games like Crawl. This is their first commercial adventure game but they’ve done a few short, free adventure games that I’ve enjoyed. It’s developed with their Unity plugin PowerQuest and it’s nice seeing another tool pop up for adventure game developers as well.
Exophobia is a Metroidvania FPS inspired by FPS from the 90s. I enjoyed my time with the demo when it came out. I don’t know if the Blake Stone series was an inspiration for this game but it reminds me of that era of FPS instead of most of the retro FPS revival shooters that seem to be inspired by ID Software and Build-engine games.
Rosewater is the next point-and-click adventure by developer Grundislav Games. It’s a western set in the same universe as their previous game, Lamplight City. I’m excited for the diverse cast of characters, focus on multiple solutions, and love the rotoscoped animations.
Frogsong is a cute action-adventure where you play as a frog named Chorus and need to explore strange lands so you can save your village. I really liked playing the demo with my daughter and we’re both looking forward to the full game scheduled for release early this year.
SKALD: Against the Black Priory
SKALD is a party-based rpg inspired by 80s CRPGs. I haven’t played the demo yet but I really like how it looks, I’m interested in the setting they’ve been showing off so far, and as a fan of the era of games that inspired it, I’m looking forward to seeing how they modernize that style of game.
As a longtime fan of Cyan and the Myst games, it is always a huge delight to see them create new adventure games. I was a big fan of Obduction, their last game that was set outside of the Myst series and this is looking great as well. The game was designed for, but does not require, VR devices and after playing their Myst remake in 2021, I would say they have a very good grasp on how to design games for virtual reality.
Old Skies is the newest game developed by point-and-click adventure game studio Wadjet Eye Games. While they’ve produced other adventure games in recent years like The Excavation of Hob’s Barrow, this will be the first they’ve developed since Unavowed. The time travel premise sounds like a lot of fun and it features great art by Ben Chandler.
Hellscreen is a fast-paced FPS set to enter Early Access early this year. The game has a novel mechanic of having a rear-view mirror to help you see what’s happening as you fight. I really like the use of color and cosmic horror theme.
Agent 64 is a new FPS inspired by Rare’s classic N64 games Goldeneye and Perfect Dark. I think it emulates the style of those games perfectly and the demo, which is available on the Steam page, was a lot of fun.
Thirsty Suitors looks like a very stylish adventure game with a fun variety of mini-games to keep players engaged and as a fan of the writers involved, I’m sure the story will be a delight to follow as well. A demo is available on the Steam page.
I loved the original version of this game that appeared in the 2020 AdventureX game jam and this looks like a nice remake of that game with improved graphics. I’m interested in seeing how they expand the story as well.
I was a huge fan of Hypnospace Outlaw so it’s a delight to see that we’re getting two games set in that universe coming out this year. Slayers X is a FPS with numetal vibes that seems to be inspired by Build-engine era FPS, games like Duke Nukem 3D and Blood, that is “designed” by Zane, one of the characters from Hypnospace Outlaw. I enjoyed the demo and I’m looking forward to playing more.
Dreamsettler looks to be closer to a sequel to the original game but this time inspired by early 00’s internet. I’m looking forward to exploring that world again.
Llamasoft has been delivering bangers for over 40 years now and this looks like another one. Akka Arrh is a remake of a prototype of a game that was never released until it was leaked very recently and has everything you’d expect from a Jeff Minter game like bulls, audio samples, and bright, flashing colors.
Gobliiins 5 is another entry in the adventure game series created in the 90s by Pierre Gilhodes and Muriel Tramis. Coktel Vision developed the three games in the 90s with Pierra developing a 4th game in the series in 2009. While I bounced off Gobliiins 4 because of its dull 3D graphics and puzzles (which I heard improve later in the game), I am hoping this is a return to form. I already think the return to 2D graphics is an improvement and it’s fun watching the game get developed in Adventure Game Studio through its Kickstarter updates.
[I] doesn’t exist
[I] doesn’t exist is a text adventure in the spirit of games like Zork but is aimed at being more approachable by having beautiful pixel art and a conversational approach to interact with the game instead of the traditional approach of using a specific set of verbs. Commercial text adventures are rare today so it’s exciting to see this being made.
Nighthawks is a RPG written and designed by Richard Cobbett (Sunless Sea/Sunless Skies) with art by Ben Chandler (Technobabylon, PISS), and produced by Wadjet Eye Games. From following the Kickstarter updates, the worldbuilding seems like a lot of fun and it should be a pretty lengthy game.
Captain Disaster 3
This year we should see the third game in the Captain Disaster series. The first two games were fun sci-fi adventures and I’m really impressed by the improvement in art style in the screenshots that have been posted so far.
Little Nemo and the Nightmare Fiends
Little Nemo and the Nightmare Fiends is a 2D platformer based on the Little Nemo comic series. I think the art is fantastic and as a fan of the character ever since I played the NES game many years ago, it’s nice to see another video game being made starring the character.
A Long Journey to an Uncertain End
A Long Journey to an Uncertain End is a sci-fi management sim where you recruit a crew for your ship and take jobs to keep ahead of your abusive Ex. I like the art and it looks very gay.
Wonky Works is the newest game in development by ondydev. I don’t know much about it but I’m a fan of the developer’s previous games like Tres-Bashers and Binky’s Trash Service
Tachyon Dreams 3
The Tachyon Dreams games are a series of short, comedy sci-fi games influenced by Sierra’s graphic parser games from the 80s like Space Quest. I had fun playing the first two games and it was nice that they were available as Pay-What-You-Want so I’m looking forward to another one. The third game is planned to come out at the end of January or early February.
Sam & Max Season 3 Remaster
It’s not really a new game but I’ve enjoyed the remasters of Telltale’s Sam & Max games by Skunkape. They make the games look like how I remember the game looking and not how they actually looked, and are generally hands off with the content of the game, only making small changes to parts where the humor has not and other small enhancements. The Sam & Max series got better with each season so I’m looking forward to revisiting the best one Telltale made.
A Highland Song
A Highland Song is a new adventure game by Inkle, creators of games like 80 Days and Overboard. I really enjoy the setting and beautiful 2.5D art, and my enjoyment of Inkle’s previous games make this an instant purchase for me when this comes out.
El Paso, Elsewhere
El Paso, Elsewhere is a third-person shooter by Strange Scaffold where you fight werewolves and vampires in a massive hotel. In the early 00’s we had a wave of shooters utilizing features like Bullet Time and diving while shooting after the massive success of Max Payne and then getting dropped completely so it’s exciting to me to see a game revisit this era of action games.
Incubus – A Ghost Hunter’s Tale
I’m a fan of Darkling Room’s Dark Fall series of adventure games and this looks like another fun ghost hunting adventure by the developer. Ghost hunting isn’t something I follow or know anything about but I still think it’s kinda fun getting a peek at that community through these games. I think it looks nice for a game by a small team and I will always get excited by the addition of FMV to adventure games.
After a long period of development, Nightdive’s remake of System Shock is finally coming out soon. The game has run into its issues, it had to make the switch from Unity to Unreal, switch art styles, and reduce its scope, but the game is shaping up to be a solid remake of the classic. With System Shock 3 seeming like it’s no longer in development, this might be all we’re getting from the series for a long time.
Amanita Design has been designing point-and-click adventures for decades so I’m very interested in checking out Phonopolis when it comes out. The game looks like a drastic departure in style from their previous games but the stop-motion animation style they’re going for in this game looks cool to me and I’m interested in seeing how moving to 3D changes how they design adventure games.
Alone in the Dark
Being a fan of Alone in the Dark is the video game equivalent of being a Weezer fan. There hasn’t been a good entry in the series since the first game and even that one gets harder to recommend to people because of the gameplay mechanics aging poorly over time. However, this one is a remake of the first game, set in the early 1900s, and has two playable characters again so could this finally be another good Alone in the Dark game? Maybe?
ScummVM support for Director
This is not a new game but it’s very important to me. ScummVM has been working on adding support for games made in Director for a long time now and maybe this is the year where we finally see it implemented. Imagine a future where you can play Bad Day on the Midway without having to fire up a virtual machine running Windows 95.
This is a repost of a Medium post I made about two years ago. I haven’t used the account then so I’m removing it but thought I would copy this post. Since then I’ve done a zine and more co-op bundles and this is something I’d like to revisit again.
About a week ago a bundle I helped organize, the Locally Sourced Spring Bundle, was launched. I was inspired by the Indiepocalypse series of indie bundles and was trying to think of a way that something similar could be done for Michigan’s indie game development community through Locally Sourced, a group I co-founded to help promote indie game development in Michigan. The bundle started with a tweet in mid-April asking if people would be interested in submitting tiny games for a collaborative bundle on Itch.io and quite a few developers were interested. Developers had about a month and a half to create small games and by the deadline date we had 13 new tiny tabletop and video games by indie developers in Michigan. Product pages were created for each game by their developers and then I created a co-op bundle containing all of the games on Locally Sourced’s Itch page. The bundle was launched at noon on May 15th.
At this time the bundle has sold 53 copies with an average buy price of $15.56, exceeding the $13 price point of the bundle. According to the anonymous feedback form I sent to the developers, the bundle did as well or better than expected and everyone said they would be interested in doing another one, so I consider the bundle a success. At least one developer released their first game, a few more made their first commercial game, and for some others it was their most commercially successful game on Itch. I feel like a big issue in indie games right now is that developers are pressured to make their games free or Pay What You Want so it was nice to see game developers receive some compensation from their work, even if it wasn’t a ton.
Still, I made a few mistakes and learned a lot during the creation of this bundle. Here’s some of the things I learned and hopefully it will be use of you when you make your own:
1. Itch.io is the best place to do bundles with game developers. It also has huge flaws
I went with Itch.io to create this bundle because there really isn’t another place that’s as developer friendly. The co-op bundle feature allows you to easily create bundles by adding games by other developers and quickly launching it once they approve. It’s still tremendously flawed and created the bundle was a frustrating experience.
Ideally I could create a single product page like the Indiepocalypse bundle, and have equal revenue sharing to everyone who submitted a game. Itch does not allow this. If I wanted to have a single product page, I would have to keep doing paypal payments to each developer so they would get the money they are owed.
To avoid this headache, I figured a co-op bundle would allow them to have the money go directly to them, with the bundle being priced that each developer would receive $1 for each bundle sold, so $13 for a bundle with 13 games. Unfortunately this is not how Itch does sharing for their co-op bundles and I didn’t realize this until the day of.
Itch relies on percentages, so if I have 5 games in a bundle then each developer gets 20%, great! There is no way to divide 100 by 13 with whole numbers. Itch doesn’t allow for numbers like 7.69% so most developers were getting 8% and a few were set to 7%. Because I didn’t want the people at 7% to get paid less or to pay them what they were owed out of my own pocket, I added an old game by me to the bundle so everyone could get 7% and I get 9%, and in a couple of weeks I will Paypal each developer an equal percentage of what I get. So I probably could have just done what Indiepocalypse does and I have one product page and pay everyone later, but I wanted people to start getting paid right away and I figured a co-op page is more transparent, which is important to me when some random goofball on the internet is asking people to make new games and submit them for a weird experiment he’s doing online.
With future bundles I’m going to cap the amount of submissions at 10 people so everyone just gets 10 percent and I won’t have to fight with Itch with weird tricks to make sure people get paid.
2. Having a mix of tabletop and video games helped sales
While I don’t have any real proof of it, I think that having a combination of video game and tabletop rpgs helped sales of the bundle. Pulling people in from different communities allows for a much greater reach and led to the bundle being marketed towards video game and tabletop communities. I would strongly encourage you to work with game developers outside of the medium you create in. You’ll be marketing your game to people who normally wouldn’t see it and there’s so many great people making games in different mediums. Having 13 people from multiple game communities, plus the Locally Sourced social media feeds, all yelling about how you should check out a games bundle turned out to be pretty good for sales.
I also liked including tabletop rpgs because I’m so desperate for people to be exposed to TTRPGs that aren’t D&D.
3. Having it be a bundle focused only on Michigan developers also helped sales
While restricting it to only Michigan people maybe limits the pool of people that can submit a game, I think it greatly improved sales as well. This is all probably pretty obvious info but people were excited to support game developers who were local and it meant I could also post about it on places that normally wouldn’t care, like LinkedIn, and get a couple of sales through there and also discover that one or two people I used to work with are now interested in game design. You really shouldn’t just interact with game developers around you just for your own benefit, but it turns out that spending over a year helping out other local game developers and doing community building in your area means that people are happy to help you out when you need it.
If you live in an area that normally isn’t associated with game development, I would strongly encourage you to do that community building. It’s been one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done.
4. Having a lot of new little games for a low price was a successful combination
Last fall I used Locally Sourced to create a bundle of 5 games I loved for $15. It sold a total of 5 copies. The games are great so it’s not the fault of those, but I think the price point was too high for people to see it as an impulse buy and the games were already out for a while so most of the people in the Michigan games community probably already had them. By having a bundle that’s a little cheaper and includes a lot more games that are brand new, seemed a lot more eager to pick this one up, even if the games in the bundle were substantially smaller.
What are other things I would do differently?
Ultimately I think the bundle is a success and I’m already planning on how the next one will go with some changes in mind. I made some mistakes like not being specific and telling everyone to price their to be more expensive than the bundle so people will look at that instead. I don’t think it affected sales of the bundle but I should have been more clear. It also sounds like some of the developers wanted a theme, so I might alternate between a theme and not having one, because there’s also people like me who don’t want one. I’ll also be more clear about how developers can collaborate with others in the discord or even just use the channel for testing or to bounce ideas off each other. Most importantly I want people to have more time. It was meant to be a month for a game jam game that would be the size of something created during a weekend jam, but more time is always appreciated by game developers.
I hope this write-up was useful and it inspires you to start a co-op bundle with other game developers.
One of the things that has helped keep sanity the last few years with the whole pandemic and all has been organizing the DOS Games Jam. The DOS Games Jam is a casual game jam I’ve been running twice a year since the beginning of the pandemic that is focused on celebrating games from that era by making new DOS games and games for modern computers inspired by that era. It’s important to me that the game jam is as stress free as I could possibly make it; there’s no voting, required theme, it’s a month long and often gets extensions, and people can start development before the jam officially starts. I guess it could be argued it’s not much of a game jam if it’s this casual but I’ve never been very comfortable with how many game jams force people to crunch.
If you ever wanted to start making DOS games but didn’t know how to get started, here are some tools that could help:
PunyInform is a library written in Inform 6 which allows people to create text adventure games / interactive fiction to be played on 8-bit computers as well as newer platforms.
LoveDOS – A framework for making 2D DOS games in Lua.
dos-like is a programming library/framework, kind of like a tiny game engine, for writing games and programs with a similar feel to MS-DOS productions from the early 90s. It’s technically not for making DOS games, just games that feel like they’re from that era, but it’s very cool and I’m putting it in the list anyway.
jSH is a script interpreter for DOS based operating systems like MS-DOS, FreeDOS or any DOS based Windows (like 95, 98, ME).
If you have game development questions or just want to talk about DOS games in a welcoming and inclusive environment, consider joining the DOS Shareware Zone discord
With the most recent jam wrapping up just now, I thought I would highlight some of my favorite games from previous jams. I had to leave a ton of games I really like off this list or else this writeup would go on for forever. If you’d like to see more, check out the page for the newest jam, which has all the entries for this jam and links to the previous jam pages.
SlipSpeed is a futuristic racing game for DOS and Windows that looks a little like the classic Micro Machines game for the NES but with hover cars. The composer for the game also co-hosts the lovely DOS Game Club which had me on as a guest to talk about the game jam. It also exists in a big box physical version. If you bought the Indie Bundle for Palestinian Aid you already own this game.
Death Taxi 3000
Death Taxi 3000 is a game like the Crazy Taxi series where you pick up passengers and drop them off at different points in the city all while trying to save time by taking shortcuts and avoiding obstacles. While the full version of the game is on Steam, the shareware version is for DOS only.
Neut Tower is a puzzle game for DOS and web browsers about escaping an office tower after an earthquake. It reminded me of puzzle games I used to play on shareware compilation discs in the 90s.
Super Spray n’ Slay 3D
Super Spray n’ Slay 3D is a surreal FPS for modern computers where you play as a maid cleaning up a hotel. During the 90s there were a lot of FPS doing unusual concepts after Doom came out and this feels like something that would fit in along that group.
One of the fun things about the DOS Games Jam is seeing how people revisit concepts tried in games that never took off for various reasons. I really like the adventure game Kalevala because it uses the ellipsoid aesthetic that obscure DOS game Ecstatica used but hasn’t been seen since then.
Acronia is a platformer game inspired by DOS platformers like Duke Nukem and BioMenace. It’s currently in an alpha state but I couldn’t be more excited for the full version based on my experiences with this early version.
The DOS Games Jam isn’t just for computer games. ASCII Delve is a solo tabletop rpg inspired by Rogue and it’s fun seeing how tabletop games can use aesthetics and ideas from older computer games when so many of those were inspired by D&D.
The Anarchic Kingdom
The Anarchic Kingdom is a strategy game for DOS where you play as a lord building up your kingdom and attack other lords. I also really enjoy Cyningstan’s other games and recommend Ossuary as well
SpaceButton is a text adventure that can be played with just a single button. I thought it was a well-designed text adventure but what I really loved was its focus on accessibility. The web version even has screen reader support.
Cats of Broombas
Cats on Broombas is an adorable puzzle game for DOS where you guide cats around on Roombas to gather all the stars on a screen. I thought the puzzles were well designed and not frustrating, and loved the EGA graphics too. I hope we eventually get a full version.
Hopefully you discover some cool new games and consider looking at some old games for new ideas to try putting in your next game!