November 30, 2008
I remember when I first set out on this Gaming Pathology journey. According to my master spreadsheet at the time, I had around 80 games in my collection that were not in the database. My MobyGames records state that I contributed 106 games in 2007 and 30 games so far in 2008. Yet, my spreadsheet currently reports that I possess around 110 unentered games. Therefore, I recently resolved to not purchase anymore games until I have made a significant dent in the unentered games in my stock. And then there’s all the screenshot recon to be done!
So I have been reorganizing my computers recently. Most notably, I have decommissioned my Windows XP machine that was my central hub for this Gaming Pathology experiment. In its place, I have created a Windows XP VMware session on my Mac Mini. VMware Fusion for the Mac is supposed to have some nifty features for emulating DirectX so that gaming in a virtual computer won’t be such a drag. However, the virtualization program was quick to tell me that my budget-minded Mac Mini, with its economy class Intel graphics chipset, does not necessarily support all the latest and greatest features.
Somehow, I don’t think that this will be much of a problem given the types of games I often play, the bulk of which seem to be based on Macromedia Director. In fact, I thought I would eschew covering a new game for the time being and try one that I have been wanting to play for awhile: The Lost Island of Alanna, a Cherry Coke promotional game.
Unfortunately, as a result of my recent attempt at a full-on Mac conversion, I am still at a loss with regards to a decent graphics workflow. At the same time, I am also fighting with the newer image capabilities of the WordPress blogging software driving this site. Please accept this single screenshot that highlights what happens when running this 1998 vintage title on Windows XP without setting the compatibility mode to Windows 95:
X, not marking the spot in the cola-themed adventure
As mentioned, this game came out in 1998. I was excited to snatch this up for cheap on eBay, even though the game has a decent entry already (refer to said entry for better screenshots, which do not vary significantly from the ones I could post). I should have read the MobyGames entry a little more thoroughly. It seems that this game was heavily dependent on materials available at a now-defunct cherrycoke.com URL. I can certify that the game’s eponymous island is pretty much impenetrable without the clues on that website. The Wayback Machine doesn’t help much since I can’t find any front pages for the site that mention Alanna.
Again, though, I should have done a little more homework before my purchase, for there is a complete walkthrough available, listed through MobyGames. Not only that, but the walkthrough author saw fit to post an entire copy of the game at the top of the walkthrough. So, by all means, download it and give it a whirl, especially if you thought Myst was an unparalleled masterpiece.
While the walkthrough reveals every single detail needed to complete Alanna, it also contains a specific deep link into the old Cherry Coke website. This is invaluable for web forensics via the aforementioned Wayback Machine and thus I was able to locate the original online companion materials for this game. Behold: The Standlake University of Cultural Anthropology project on Alanna.
The Standlake University research notes appear eerily authentic. This represents a marvelous impersonation of a dry, boring academic website. Keep in mind that there are some people who believe that video games are supposed to be fun.
I’m ecstatic to report that I finished this adventure game, including the sliding tile puzzle, and I am unashamed to admit that I followed the walkthrough to the letter. I wasn’t going to bother until I noticed that the walkthrough actually had a 71-step process for solving the sliding tile puzzle. The same website, apparently specializing in adventure game walkthroughs, even has software for solving sliding tile puzzles.
- Myst, Alanna’s most obvious influence
- Taco Bell Tek Kids– now here’s a company that knows how to do promotional tie-in video games
Posted by Multimedia Mike under Adventure Games,Licensed Schlock,Windows Games | Comments (0)
November 9, 2008
I actually decided to explore some other sections of my favorite thrift store. In particular, I wanted to see what kind of sweat shirts and hoodies were on offer. My motivation for doing so was the recollection of a conversation with a coworker long ago who appeared one day in an apparently never-been-worn sweatshirt from some obscure university.
Me: Nice sweatshirt. Where is that school located anyway?
Him: I don’t know.
Me: … so… how did you come to obtain that article of clothing?
Him: I found it at a thrift shop.
Me: I certainly respect that.
So I raided the clothing items and oh, wow! There is some fun stuff in those racks. Some shirts for a random security service. A long-sleeve shirt with a patch that apparently proudly certifies that the wearer is ISO-certified. A sweatshirt that simply, humbly, and rather quizzically says “Crate & Barrel: Safety 2002″.
But the crowning piece was a hooded sweatshirt for a varsity cheer squad. The back had a Tinkerbell character talking some smack about how the team fully intended to dominate Nationals ’06. And you know I would have paid the 3 dollars for the item if it wasn’t 2 sizes too small for me.
Hey, if I’m going to buy any of these clothes, they’re going to be things I can wear. Honestly, I could start an entire other blog documenting the strangest thrift store finds. The only problem is that, while the cost would be negligible, the storage requirement for all of this junk would not be.
Posted by Multimedia Mike under The Big Picture | Comments (1)
November 3, 2008
I sometimes need to remind myself that, when I have some time to play a game, I don’t necessarily have to play a game that is not yet in MobyGames. I have an impressive backlog of games that are already in the database but just require screenshots. So in the interest of screenshot recon, I played 3 completely unrelated titles whose records just needed a few screenshots for posterity.
The first is G-Nome. It made me realize that the only thing that could possibly frighten me more than a real-time strategy game, complexity-wise, is a mech simulation. Perhaps Steel Battalion was onto something when they opted to package a gargantuan custom controller with their game. My only guide to the controls was the configuration screen, which went on for pages. I got just enough of an idea, launched into a training mission, and then backed out to study up on more controls. Unfortunately, I am ill-equipped to play G-Nome as it appears that the game requires most of the keys of an extended keyboard, including the keypad. I have an abbreviated, laptop-style keyboard for my desktop (hey, my cat needs the extra space on my desk for sleeping).
So I did not collect too many screenshots for G-Nome. I was able to figure out how to make my mech walk, turn, and shoot. I found the base, or something, shown below since my radar seemed to think it was a target. All the shooting in the world didn’t elicit a reaction.
It’s mildly disheartening to realize that I’m woefully out of my element when not playing a very simple game. So let’s move on to another game in the popular (because there is more than 1 title) Let’s Ride series of equestrian simulators (not to be confused with the Time To Ride series), Let’s Ride: Friends Forever. In the last episode I covered, I couldn’t find anything more to do than tend to my horse (as a girl) and race around the same 3 darn barrels. At least in Friends Forever, the series has expanded to include a male player character. Regrettably, there is even less to do in this version. I’m not even sure if it’s possible to mount the horse:
A game like this features braindead simple controls on which it tutors you every step of the way. When it came time to go outside with my horse, it was not at all obvious how to mount the horse. So I can only conclude that doing so is impossible in this game. Indeed, the entire game appears to revolve around caring for your horse and prepping it, and yourself, for the equestrian beauty pageant. The things I put up with for this gaming project.
After all that, I thought maybe I deserved an enjoyable, action-oriented gaming experience with another recent acquisition called Dead Reckoning. You would think I’d learn by now that all the good games are already in MobyGames along with lots of illustrative screenshots. I pegged this as a Descent clone and I was right, though this game is grievously unfit to carry on the legacy of that series.
The object of each level appears to be to play a 3-on-3 death match against a squad of blue fighter craft. You are the leader of your red team and can give orders to your wingmen. I won a few rounds through no fault of my own.
The graphics are busy yet uninspired and the play control is awkward. Maybe I’m being too hard on it and should do better to consider the period. However, the period excuse won’t work for the awful music. Have you ever opened a creative program, like a music editor or painting program, and starting toying around? Would you ever submit that first round of experimentation as a finished, commercial product? I ask because the music reminds me of someone’s first session with a computer music program, toying with every effect and stereo position without regard to sanity.
I caught this item in the stat screen for the Beetle fighter craft:
I guess I assumed that the people who made The Last Starfighter would have some kind of trademark or other intellectual property protection on the term “Death Blossom”.
Posted by Multimedia Mike under Action Games,Girlie Games,Windows Games | Comments (4)