Adventure Game Field Guide, Pt 1

Monday, May 25, 2009
I knew this day would come. Monkey Island may very well be coming to a console near you. I'm not the first on this site to say it's about goddamn time, and I'm certain I won't be the last. This game has been a long time coming, as previous posts of mine have pointed out quite clearly.

Hiro said earlier that the Adventure genre was past it's prime. I beg to differ, good sir! The genre is alive and well, though the years have seen it fade from the public eye. The adventure game as defined by the early SCUMM set may not be as common these days, but they do indeed exist.

I have recently taken it upon myself to find and collect for you, dear somnambulant thrall, some of the best modern examples of these games. Hopefully, these will tide you over until our favorite pirate adventurer returns.

First and foremost, get yourself a copy of SCUMM VM. Available for Windows, Linux, Mac, and pretty much every piece of electronics ever(seriously, you can even get it for modded Wii, Gamecube, PSP, even your old Palm Pilot), SCUMM VM offers fans of the old SCUMM adventures a chance to play them on their home computer and laptop. It's essentially an emulator that keeps these games running in line with today's machines. The best part about it? It's free!

You can get the necessary data files for the old lucasarts games all over the vast intertubes. I grabbed most of mine from old copies of the games I had laying around. Yes I still have most of my old adventure games. I'm just that awesome.

If you already have SCUMM VM, and you should if you write for this blog, there are a few other interesting options out there. Head over to Steam and you'll find a couple Sherlock Holmes games, chief among them Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened, which has you on the trail of a Cthulhu cult. The game is very detail oriented, with many pieces of evidence so small you'll walk right past them five or six times before discovering them.

As an example, I gathered various clues to a kidnapping at the scene with the aid of my trusty magnifying glass and brought it back to Baker Street. Sitting down at Holmes' desk I put various samples under the microscope, examining rope fibers and pulling stained samples out to dissolve and analyze. Once all the evidence was collected and examined, I was put in the shoes of Watson to answer a question posed by Holmes. I was asked that based on the evidence we had collected, where was one of the kidnappers from? I thought the game glitched out when no choices appeared in the dialogue box. Much to my amazement, I found I actually had to type in my response.

Also out there is Scary Girl, the bizarre flash based game that took various forums by storm a while back. I haven't played a lot of this one, but it's got a the right flavor and art style to remind you of the later Monkey Island games.

Adventure games still roam the wilds. They are an elusive beast to be sure, but when you capture a good one, you'll never forget it. Good adventure games make me happy. They can make you happy too, you just have to find the right one.