There were 13 games this year. This is a year where I start to see more and more that I’m familiar with, yet the top 3 are still fairly obvious. Hopefully it won’t become too hard restricting myself to just 3 a year, but…well, I mostly did that because of 1999, which depresses me, so I won’t talk about it anymore right now!
#3 – Adventures of Willy Beamish
Willy Beamish is HARD for two reasons. One, obscure ass puzzles. This is kind of a running theme among adventure games in general. Actually, the only adventure games I can claim don’t do this are either super easy or very cleverly made, like Monkey Island 1 and 3 (yes there were a couple of off the wall ones in MI2). And of course the second reason is your trouble meter.
Little things you can do in the game will net you some sort of trouble. Now, it’s been a while, so I don’t remember if you can get away with getting in no trouble at all, but I do know that if it gets high enough, it’s game over. That means that while it may not result in an IMMEDIATE game over (which by good design standards it should), but somewhere down the road, that one niggling little thing you did will come back to bite you in the ass with a big, fat GAME OVER.
That said, this was a very fun game likened to that of being a sort of Dennis the Menace or Bart Simpson-like character and being on a crazy ass journey throughout summer. Fun, funny, very well drawn and animated for the time, and TOUGH AS BALLS, Willy Beamish is a very fun and challenging adventure title.
#2 – Space Quest 4
Space Quest 4 was the first VGA CD title I ever played. Now you might be wondering about what I said with King’s Quest 5. Well, I played that on the NES first, so technically I didn’t get the full effect of it until later. Space Quest, much like a lot of Sierra titles at the time, got its first VGA cosmetic upgrade and that meant also getting full voice overs.
This game was hilarious, but also ridiculously hard, which was a staple of the series, to be honest. The major problem with the Space Quest series is almost all of the puzzles are obscure. This is apparent for two reasons. One, even though you’ve now switched to the hand/mouth/eye/walk/etc. graphical interface, this IS the same series that had you putting a gem in your mouth, ensuring you didn’t swallow it, and climb around on ladders underground, nearly getting killed each time in a maze…so the difficulty still carries over one way or the other, either by pixel hunts, ridiculous timed puzzles, or just obscure bullshit.
OR…and this is number two…you have to use sci-fi logic, which means you almost have to be on the level of what the developer was thinking, which just isn’t fair. I don’t care HOW many sci-fi movies you’ve watched, there’s no WAY you’ll figure out some of these puzzles without some sort of assistance. This was an incredibly fun, but BRUTAL sci-fi adventure title.
#1 – Monkey Island 2 – LeChuck’s Revenge
Ha, you didn’t really think anything would beat this in the same year did you? I love this game, but looking back on it, there are a few issues I have with it. Mind you, these are nothing to get all worked up over, but it’s more or less a sign that it could’ve been better. Firstly, there’s no more insult sword fighting. That made for some especially funny dialog in the first one and thankfully it’s something that returned in the third.
Second, there are one or two obscure puzzles. When I say “obscure,” I mean it’s using something that can’t quite be described as “logic” to achieve the solution. Or rather, the solution MAY make sense, but it’s quite a stretch. Of course, it could also be that it’s using a different type of logic, like cartoon logic, for example. This is one of those “quite a stretch” puzzle solutions that annoyed the shit out of me because literally I just combined item X with scenery item Y until something worked…and the solution was just plain stupid.
Beyond that, it improves on just about everything else. The graphics are as vibrant as ever, the animations are great, the locations are varied, the music is awesome and it has this cool crossfade effect when you travel between areas. It really is a technical marvel and the story, characters, puzzles (for the most part), dialog, and pretty much everything else is just plain awesome.
This was a pretty good year for adventure games. Pretty much everything had switched to VGA by this point and adventure gaming was on the rise.
Conquests of the Longbow – The Legend of Robin Hood
Cruise for a Corpse
EcoQuest – The Search for Cetus
Heart of China
Leisure Suit Larry 5
Police Quest 3
Spellcasting 201 – The Sorcerer’s Appliance