Welcome the third installment in the Great Gaming Throwdown. My estimable opponents, Soul Kerfuffle and The Philosophy of Time Travel have already shared their thoughts, and it is time for mine.
5. Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards
You're lying if you say you didn't give in and furiously abuse yourself at least once while looking at the covers of these games in the Sierra On-line brochures that came in your King's Quest games. There were chicks with huge boobs in tight, low cut tops. At 13, that is all you need. Of course, if you actually got a copy somehow and played it, you were probably disappointed, and know that this game is extremely tame by today's standards. Even so, you'll get a good giggle if you go play it now. Completely and utterly tongue-in-cheek, totally unable to take itself seriously, this game would never be made today in the same way. I read that a sequel is in the works, but I'm guessing it'll just be lots of pixel porn. And hey, remember, I am very okay with that...but the lightheartedness about it all is just not something that would happen today. And that's a shame.
4. King's Quest V: Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder
This was the first King's Quest game that I actually owned, and I have quite a soft spot for it still. I fired it up a little over a year ago after finding it for download and enjoyed the hell out of finding the damn tambourine and helping the ants and spying on the bandits. Just a great game all around.
3. King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow
Everything about V is doubly true about VI. Never did play VII or VIII. Not sure I want to, given what I've heard. Like the above game, I grabbed it and fired it up last November. If you'll allow me to get just a wee bit maudlin for a moment, it was right after my dad died, and I needed something to put me in another world for a while. This game did that, and I literally played it for 24 hour straight, start to finish. I didn't quite get a perfect score, though; missed it by 1. Still, the game helped me escape for a while. Isn't that what games are for?
Bonus points if you know who the principal antagonist, Abdul Alhazred, is named after. No fair looking it up.
2. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Graphic Adventure
Most games tied to a movie are going to disappoint. This one did not. One of the things this game did better than any other adventure game was give you multiple ways to achieve a desired end. For example, to get on the Zeppelin, you could just buy tickets. If you hadn't accumulated enough cash, you could fight the ticket-clerk. Unfortunately for you, he was a Bronze Medal Winner in Welterweight at the 1936 Olympics. Of course, you could bypass the Zeppelin entirely by stealing a plane, if, all the way back in Venice, you'd read the right book that gave you the necessary instructions for starting one. You could save the Grail and return it to the Knight. Hell, you could save Elsa if you were quick enough. The game had almost endless replay value.
Check out some videos here and here. The last one is of Indy fighting Biff the Nazi, who was impossible to defeat in a straight fight. Which is why you'd get him drunk by filling some giant trophy with beer from the castle's kitchen. See what I mean about it being a great game?
1. Conquest of the Longbow: The Legend of Robin Hood
Robin Hood is one of those legends I just seem to have grown up knowing. I couldn't point you to the book or movie or show or toy that started it. I just knew it. And invariably, almost every movie, or novel, or game that attempts to retell it fails. There have been valiant efforts, but none of them really worked the way I wanted them to.
But this game is the Robin Hood legend. It really is. This game is every Robin Hood movie, novel, RPG, and video game you've ever wanted rolled into one. Robin Hood engaging in quarterstaff fights? Check. Sneaking into the archery contest in Nottingham in disguise? Check. Affair with Maid Marian? Check. Merry Men, including Will Scarlett, Little John, Friar Tuck, Much the Miller's Son, and Alan a'Dale? Check, check, check, check and check. Evil sheriff and corrupt bishop? Check. Stealing from the rich? Check. And so much, much more. The game is framed around raising enough money to ransom King Richard from the Holy Land, but there are subquests and side-plots galore. You can go play Nine-Men's-Morris, an ancient ancestor of games like checkers, at any time, and you have to, at one point. And there is a sliding scale of variable endings. If you've been an evil bastard, when Richard gets home, he'll hang your green-clad ass. If you've been good, but not great, a position as King's Forester, but no marriage to Maid Marian for you. And that's only if you live through the game and get to the end with enough coin to free Richard. It's very possible to die in all manner of hideous and awful ways.
I cannot emphasize enough that no modern game is ever likely to come close to the depth and scale of the Robin Hood legend that this game did, and it was made in 1992. Do yourself a favor, and go download it. You won't regret a second you spend playing it.
Worst Adventure Game Ever:
Loom: Yeah, I know people just slob this game's knob when they talk about design and the kinds of things Lucasarts was doing in the late 80s and early 90s. Granted, Lucasarts was doing some fantastic stuff, but don't give me an epic fantasy about a magic weaver named Bobbin who plays magical tunes on his distaff. There isn't enough wtf to describe the inherently ludicrous and pussified premise of this game. Stupid, stupid, stupid. If I wanted to play a weaver I'd go play some flaccidified (yeah, it's a word) diceless RPG called Peasant: The Quest for Subsistence about the trades that dirty, ugly, diseased, shit-covered illiterate peasantry took up in order to move their life along till its inevitable and hoped-for conclusion. Piece of crap.