DREAMM 3.0 is Looking for Testers

DREAMM, the Lucasfilm Games emulator created by Aaron Giles, is looking for testers for version 3.0. It adds support for the following games:

  • PHM Pegasus (1988)
  • Battlehawks 1942 (1988)
  • Strike Fleet (1989)
  • Pipe Dream/Pipe Mania (1989)
  • Their Finest Hour: Battle of Britain (1989)
  • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Action Game (1989)
  • Night Shift (1990)
  • Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe (1991)
  • Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis: The Action Game (1992)
  • MasterBlazer (1992)
  • Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom (1989)
  • Super Star Wars (unreleased prototype) (1989)
  • Star Wars Chess (1993)

If you want to check it out, you can download it here.

Indie Game Roundup (Jan. 05, 2024)

Happy new year! Even with the holidays and everything lately, a lot of great stuff came out this week. If you recently released something that you want included, always feel free to send me an email or message me on social media (see About page) to let me know it’s out.

DOS Games Jam
The most recent DOS Games Jam just concluded and a lot of great games have been made for it. I enjoy doing these since they’re so casual and there’s no ranking involved. I was especially excited to see that a holiday version of Stair Quest was made.

retro looking top down view of a house by the water

Hexany’s Roguelike Tiles
Hexany’s Roguelike Tiles is a really nice looking batch of tiles released under a Creative Commons license for anyone to use. I just thought they looked nice and thought it should be included.

a metal sphere navigating a maze

Spheroid
Spheroid is a puzzle game for the Commodore Amiga where you move a metal sphere around a maze and get to the exit. The Amiga was my first computer so it makes me happy that Itch has an active Amiga game dev scene on there.

a glowing yellow pepper outside in a park?

Dead Drop
Dead Drop is the 19th game in the Carol Reed series, a series of first person point-and-click mystery games. I haven’t played any of these (I will fix that this year!) but I heard they’re solid games. I just enjoy that the games are exclusively available for sale from the developer’s site and nowhere else. It reminds me of the 90s/early 00s era of buying indie games.

Word Thirds
Word Thirds is a new game by John Passfield, of Halloween Harry and Flight of the Amazon Queen fame. It’s a puzzle game on the iOS app store and Itch where you make as many six letter words with letter tiles as you can within sixty seconds. I’m awful at word games but it’s a fun game.

No Escape Essay Pack
This is a bundle of writing about games that includes three issues of the No Escape magazine as well as some essays. It’s a great way to support one of the best sites out there, No Escape.

glowing white butterflies over the water

BlueSuburbia
BlueSuburbia is now on Steam. I’ve mentioned the game before but previously it was only on Itch. This demo is a first person interactive fiction where you explore poems through immersive environments. I believe it was built in the Unreal Engine but it does some really cool stuff like having playable Bitsy games inside the game.

Happy 30th Birthday to Doom!

Yesterday was the 30th anniversary of the release of Doom, one of my favorite games. A lot of neat Doom related events happened.

There was a reunion of John Carmack and John Romero where they reflected on the game. You can watch that on Twitch.

John Romero’s megawad SIGIL got a sequel. You can download both for free here but there’s also an option to purchase a version with new music as well.

screenshot of Evilternity 2 of some sort of temple at dusk
Screenshot from Eviternity II of the map Quetzalcoatl by Dragonfly

The megawad Evilternity also got a surprise sequel that contains 36 maps. As the page states, DSDA Doom and GZDoom are both good ways to play these new maps.

If you’re looking for more Doom to play even after all that, there’s the 2023 Cacowards, which highlight great maps and mods that came out this year.

RealMagic

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.

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 Itch.io 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 Itch.io. 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.

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.

Recipes on Itch.io

A really neat thing I wanted to do a shout out to is all the recipe collections on Itch.io. Since it’s a site focused on games but supports other things, I think it’s cool that people are using the Books section to upload their recipe zines. I made a collection here that you can check out to find some of them. There’s a wide variety of themes, one is paired with a tabletop rpg and others are inspired by video games. You can find more by checking out some of the tags on Itch like recipes, food, and cooking.

It’s not on Itch but I also wanted to mention Alpha Chrome Yayo’s album Let’s Get Cookin’, which also features a cookbook as part of the purchase on Bandcamp. It’s a good album and I just like seeing people finding unique ways of distributing recipes.

The 1994 DOS game Pizza Connection/Pizza Tycoon also came with a recipe book of pizza recipes and it’s also part of the download if you get it on GOG. More games should come with recipes. Even the ones that have nothing to do with food.

Modding Music in ScummVM

A nice little feature I’ve discovered this year in ScummVM is the ability to replace the soundtracks of some games with other versions. The ScummVM website mentions it but I didn’t know of it until I saw that George Sanger, also known as The Fat Man, started selling soundtracks of his games on Bandcamp that also included files for ScummVM that allow you to listen to a higher quality version of the soundtrack of games like Putt-Putt Saves the Zoo while you play. It’s been really nice listening to these while revisiting the games with my kids. The soundtracks you can do this with are currently:

cover for the Putt Putt Goes to the Moon soundtrack, showing a top down view of Putt Putt driving across the surface of the moon
Cover of the Putt-Putt Goes to the Moon soundtrack

But I would also encourage you to check out the other albums on his Bandcamp page because there’s a lot of great stuff on there.

Tom McGurk has also rereleased his soundtrack for Spy Fox 2, which comes with files for ScummVM.

Another place where you can find mods for game soundtracks is through the ScummVM Music Enhancement Project by James Woodcock. The project is focused on recreating midi soundtracks of games at a higher audio quality level and isn’t trying to do an “improved” soundtrack or make any drastic changes, and the site is very open about how they are a big fan of the original soundtracks and are just doing it as a fun personal project. Also from reading this post about The Gene Machine, it sounds like he gets permission before releasing an enhanced soundtrack. I think they’re really neat and will have to use them when I replay some of these games. You can check out a video doing a comparison of the original and new Beneath a Steel Sky soundtracks here:

Currently the games supported by the ScummVM Music Enhancement Project are:

It sounds like there’s an enhanced soundtrack being made for Simon the Sorcerer 2 right now, so be sure to follow the project for future updates.

The ScummVM website also links to ways to replace the Loom soundtrack with your preferred version of Swan Lake and building a talkie version of the original Monkey Island 1 and 2 using the voice acting from the special editions. I just think it’s really nice that these things exist when we revisit some of our favorite games.