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Zomb's Lair - Reviving Old Classics

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This is a side project I've been working on for the last couple days, inspired by people like Biffman 101 of The Collection Chamber. The idea is to setup some older DOS/3.1/95+ games, create some artwork for them, and package them up in a nice, modern installer package with desktop and/or start menu shortcuts just like any modern PC game (which, of course, can be imported directly into LB as well). Everything will be configured beforehand so you just run the installer and you're good to go!

My policy for these will be that I'll only be doing games that aren't available on digital storefronts like Steam and GOG - those options are already there for you if you want to play those games - these are for games where no such option is available and your only choice is to buy it off a guy on ebay (assuming you have a disc drive) or download an iso (either of which also assumes you know your way around DOSBox, in the case of DOS games).

I've done a few so far, but I've got a big list of stuff that I want to cover.

Zomb's Lair (website)

Full list of currently completed games

This post is getting a little unwieldy, so new additions will be noted in this thread with links to the relevant page on zombs-lair.com but won't be listed below. Below are the first 20 packages that were completed.

5a82153906f75_SplashScreen.thumb.jpg.d8515232a63662614b0e5b445ed6236c.jpgDreamweb.gif.74568af82bf5bc5a382dd3ec29b8431c.gifDreamweb

Genre: Point-And-Click Adventure / 3rd person
Developer: Creative Reality
Year: 1994
Platform: DOS
Emulator: DOSBox 0.74
WikipediaDreamweb
Special Notes: pdfs of the "Diary of a Madman" and the manual are included - both are required in order to be able to operate the main character's network terminal in his apartment - page 12 in the manual, and the last page of the diary, specifically.

Editorial Comments:

Spoiler

Dreamweb is a unique game - it has a story that's equal parts simple and impenetrably opaque, an unusual aesthetic, great music, and one hell of an atmosphere.

 In a basic sense it's similar to other item-based point-and-click adventure titles in that you find objects in the world and combine them with others to solve puzzles, but it was unusual in that you could pick up nearly anything in the game world, often with little indication of which ones might be important (though in some cases multiple items could be used for the same task). Obviously this can make things more complicated when you're dealing with a game designed around taking X and combining it with Y, but it also makes it more realistic in the sense that, in the real world, there wouldn't be a big glowing indicator that "Hey you need this thing!" and you're just as capable of picking up a coffee cup as that illudium q-36 explosive space modulator.

 It has some extremely violent sequences as well as a very small amount of nudity in all its tiny pixel-art glory (which was later censored in the CD version), both of which were fairly unusual and controversial for the time. Something that stuck out to me at the time was just how vastly different the tone of the game was from many other point-and-clicks I'd played before - I was used to things like Lucasarts and some of Sierra's work like the Space Quest series which were very funny and light-hearted and this was like the polar-opposite of that; and it pre-dates things like Harvester, Phantasmagoria, and I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream. It has this consistently crushing sense of dread... it's wonderful.

 It's not a perfect game by any stretch, and it's quite short, but there's really not much else quite like it - it's one I still come back to relatively frequently just to get absorbed in the atmosphere again.

Splash.thumb.jpg.f504d979ae43fb8a46de2d7b3b775f77.jpgFuture_Shock_(smaller).gif.2d4be9112155e96c85b5c1751adf1549.gifThe Terminator Double Pack (Future Shock and Skynet)

Genre: FPS
Developer: Bethesda Softworks
Year: 1995 (Future Shock) / 1996 (Skynet)
Platform: DOS
Emulator: DOSBox 0.74
Wikipedia: The Terminator: Future Shock / The Terminator: Skynet
Special Notes: Includes both Future Shock and Skynet, and an optional graphics patcher for Skynet to enhance the visuals if you so choose (the standard visuals are present by default).

Editorial comments:

Spoiler

I think that in a number of ways Bethesda's Terminator games are as much a precursor to Fallout 3 as their Elder Scrolls games and the Fallout series itself. They're not RPGs, but the levels are quite large and open and you can go in and out of buildings as you're exploring (and exploration is a very large part of the experience) - this doesn't sound like a lot, but it was actually fairly unusual for first person shooters of the time - many were considerably more narrow when it came to level design.

Future Shock was also one of the first examples of true texture-mapped 3D environments and mouselook control - Quake didn't come out until the following year. The controls feel great even now, which is something that can't always be said of games of this era (other than simple point-and-click affairs).

It's really atmospheric, with dark, demolished cityscapes to explore as you try to avoid (or confront) various robotic enemies. The sequel, Skynet, is also quite good and much in the same vein, but they've replaced the sprite-work in briefing segments with some extremely schlocky FMV sequences which are hilariously entertaining, but not necessarily an improvement.

Bethesda also made Terminator: 2029 and Terminator: Rampage prior to these but, honestly, neither of those are very good (I think Rampage is especially poor) and, in my opinion, aren't worth your time. These two still hold up well even today though.

Splash.thumb.jpg.0a27587bdb8dd56605c24c38c3ba6f32.jpgRama.thumb.gif.1cb25492f59f034193548fb084f81597.gifRama

Genre: Point-And-Click Adventure / 1st person
Developer: Sierra On-Line
Year: 1996
Platform: DOS
Emulator: DOSBox 0.74
Wikipedia: Rama
Special Notes: Due to size constraints for the installer package, this one requires you to manually move some files into the installed directory - place the contents of Rama Discs.zip in the "Disc Images" folder and you'll be all set. Also note that the game  is spread across 3 discs - when prompted to change discs, press Ctrl+F4 to change from disc 1 to 2, 2 to 3, and 3 to 1.

Editorial comments:

Spoiler

Rama is based on a combination of Rendevous with Rama and Rama II by Arthur C Clark (mostly from Rama II) - and was actually co-written by Clark and Gentry Lee who he co-wrote Rama II with.

The premise is that a giant alien cylinder just appeared above earth for unknown reasons and you're a researcher sent in to explore it and discover its origins, purpose, etc. You're actually a replacement member for one of the researchers that died mysteriously. I think the setup here is awesome. When the game's building on that premise, it's great. Exploring, talking (well, more like periodically listening) to the other members of the team, taking in the sights... it's all thoroughly absorbing. When it gets into Myst-style puzzle solving, it can be hit and miss.

I love Myst and Myst-likes, and I love sci fi, so this probably appeals to me more than some, but this style of game isn't for everyone. That said, I've played many games in this particular style, and I think it's one of the better ones, at least from this time period. The production values are quite high too, and it has a fantastic soundtrack.

Splash.thumb.jpg.a2490c9946d8826789b797ff25000927.jpg5a86f03e6e5c8_JourneymanProjectTurbo.gif.c015f48310c2bb765efeeebc0ed5bda6.gifThe Journeyman Project: Turbo!

Genre: Point-And-Click Adventure / 1st person
Developer: Presto Studios
Year: 1993
Platform: Windows 3.1
Emulator: DOSBox Daum
Wikipedia: The Journeyman Project
Special Notes: Because this is running an instance of Windows 3.1 within DOSBox, you'll need to press Ctrl+F9 to quit - Esc will just exit back to the 3.1 desktop. Also note that the TSA door code near the beginning of the game is 6894895.

Editorial comments:

Spoiler

This was one of my earliest experiences with this style of game - the "Myst-like" as it came to be known - and in fact I played it prior to playing Myst. Myst is most definitely the better of the two, but this one still really wowed me at the time. It seems absurd now, but it was one of those "So this is what games can look like?!" moments.

The story involves time travel, which I'm admittedly a sucker for - even if it usually amounts to plot holes that don't make a whole lot of sense - and you're basically a timecop tasked with ensuring the safety of the timeline. Don't get me started on the idiotic concept of linear time that has a delay in altered past events reaching the present, despite that trope being used countless times over the years; but I digress...

The game takes place right on the cusp of humanity's induction into the interplanetary collective known as the "Symbiotry of Peaceful Beings", but one man has other plans and is using time travel to make them a reality, and you have to stop him. It's an interesting enough premise, and it was an excuse to let them make some pretty neat (for the time) animation sequences, which is essentially what most of the game is - walk around, find some items to use on other items, and watch some animations. It doesn't sound like much now, but it stood out at the time, and I think it's interesting as a sortof curio piece, if not exactly the best this genre has to offer.

Splash.thumb.jpg.cbef70a04bb10d27877d3252b1aa9078.jpg5a86f20f5bfb7_BladeRunner.gif.6baa92f419a0a607b4c7410606632aed.gifBlade Runner

Genre
: Point-And-Click Adventure / 3rd Person
Developer: Westwood Studios
Year: 1997
Platform: Windows
Emulator: None
WikipediaBlade Runner
Special Notes: Okay, so this one has a potential snag - you need to have some type of disc drive visible when the game starts otherwise it will crash. It doesn't matter whether that drive is physical or virtual, mounted or not, but it needs to be able to see it. If you have DT or VCD you can have virtual drives visible at all times, even unmounted, and it'll work. If you don't have any dedicated virtual drive software or a physical disc drive and you're on Windows 10, you can mount a disc image - any disc image - and a drive will then be visible which will allow Blade Runner to work. I'm investigating whether or not it's possible to make the built-in virtual drive visible at all times, even while unmounted, in Windows 10. Currently, however, you need to have some type of disc drive visible in order for the game to work. Old games are really stupid about this kind of thing some times...

Editorial comments:

Spoiler

Blade Runner is, very likely, my favorite point-and-click adventure game of all time. That's significant given that it's a genre for which I have a great deal of affinity and am very well versed. It certainly doesn't hurt that it's based on my favorite movie of all time, but to chalk it up to nothing more than that would be doing it a complete disservice. It's also, to my mind, probably the best movie-based game ever, even though it's not directly based on the movie and is more of a parallel story.

It does many unique things, both for the time and even for today. Some characters appear in different places or react differently in every playthrough. Some events progress in real time, regardless of your actions or lack thereof. There are thirteen different endings based on your actions throughout the game - you're able to make a number of decisions that will have a very dramatic impact on how the story plays out. Whether characters are humans or replicants also varies per playthrough; and you get to use the Voight-Kampff machine on them just like in the movie.

It's highly atmospheric, again like the movie, and the amount of clearly painstaking work that they did to replicate some of the locations which are absolutely cluttered with detail is kindof amazing; especially if you're a Blade Runner nut like me and can recognize how well they managed to pull that off. The soundtrack, too, does a great job of mimicking the film's score, which is one of my all-time favorites - they're actually recreations for the game, not just direct rips of the original audio, and they did a great job of it.

I really can't gush about this game enough. It's really really special and absolutely worth your time, especially if you have even a small amount of interest in point-and-click adventures and/or Blade Runner. Highly recommended.

HeavyMetalFAKK2Cover.thumb.jpg.6d6c090344719cead78fd12726d1575a.jpgHeavy_Metal_FAKK_2.gif.246cc0a5ca0895022c1db7dccb367694.gifHeavy Metal: F.A.K.K. 2

Genre: Action Adventure / 3rd Person
Developer: Ritual Entertainment
Year: 2000
Platform: Windows
Emulator: None
Wikipedia: Heavy Metal: F.A.K.K. 2
Special Notes: The game has been patched to run in 1920x1080 resolution. If you wish to change to a different resolution, edit the "config.cfg" file in the "fakk" subdirectory and change the "seta r_customwidth" and "seta r_customheight" values.

Editorial comments:

Spoiler

Heavy Metal F.A.K.K. 2 is actually quite good, despite being based on a not-so-good movie (I love the original Heavy Metal, but Heavy Metal 2000... ehhh... ). It's made with the Quake III engine, which was pretty popular at the time, and hasn't necessarily aged particularly well in terms of model complexity, but it's very colorful, has lots of great explosions, particle effects, etc. and has some great looking locations. It also still plays very well; minus some of the platforming which is a little clunky but, thankfully, forgiving.

It has a really neat dual-wielding feature where you have the ability to choose the specific weapon to be used in each hand, and then use the left mouse button to attack with the left hand and the right mouse button to attack with the right hand. Running around in a skimpy outfit murdering aliens with a pistol in one hand and a fire-sword in the other is a great time. There are some platforming and puzzle elements, but nothing revolutionary. Overall though, it's a genuinely fun little action adventure romp that I think is, sadly, often overlooked. 

DarkSeedCollection.thumb.png.52b4602517395598ddb367c07c64f9af.png5a86f361caae9_DarkSeedII.gif.de75991928e65b4de1ec62a1a07971ad.gifDark Seed Collection (Dark Seed and Dark Seed II)

Genre: Point-And-Click Adventure / 3rd Person
Developer: Cyberdreams
Year: 1992 / 1995
Platform: DOS / Windows 3.1
Emulator: DOSBox 0.74 / DOSBox Daum
WikipediaDark Seed / Dark Seed II
Special notes: Press Ctrl+F9 to quit Dark Seed II - quitting the game normally will just exit back to the 3.1 desktop.

Editorial comments:

Spoiler

I'm a big fan of H.R. Giger's artwork and have been for many years. A lot of that probably started with Dark Seed (though Alien is another obvious one that comes to mind) which I played before I even knew who Giger was. If you're not familiar with this work (though you might be and just don't know it), you're in for a treat - it's an extremely distinct style that manages to be simultaneously beautiful and grotesque. Giger provided the artwork for the "dark world" sequences in the games, which gave them a great otherworldly and frequently disturbing feel.

The original game was one of the first to use a "high resolution" 640x350 mode, due to demand by Giger who was unsatisfied with the standard 320x200 resolution. Unfortunately, this meant the color palette had to be dialed back from 256 colors to 16, but the good news is Giger's work is often practically monochromatic anyway. That said, the visuals of the first game obviously haven't aged nearly as well as the sequel.

The gameplay and writing (of both titles) are, if I'm being honest, certainly not the best the genre has to offer. Both games are undeniably propped up by the strength of Giger's artwork, which turns some otherwise standard point-and-clicks into something worthy of a bit more attention.

DrownedGodCover.thumb.png.f5973bc2927a904d03bca1ea053a9478.pngDrowned_God.gif.217892b3f1a58d2347839694f3322db2.gifDrowned God

Genre: Point-And-Click Adventure / 1st person
Developer: Epic Multimedia Group
Year: 1996
Platform: Windows
Emulator: None
Wikipedia: Drowned God
Special notes: None

Editorial comments:

Spoiler

This is actually filling a request by @Bobinator so I don't have much to say about it yet. He mentioned it to me, and I'd never heard of it, so I watched some videos and it looked right up my alley. I figured it was worth checking out. I'm sure I'll have more to say once I've played more of it, but it seems like an interesting first person adventure game with some really trippy visuals and bizarre, esoteric writing.

GunmanChroniclesCover.thumb.png.c8875006f23872bf0b0d7022237f3ab5.pngGunman_Chronicles.gif.189945a5547fab4b81bcddc74b4eccee.gifGunman Chronicles

Genre: FPS
Developer: Rewolf Software
Year: 2000
Platform: Windows
Emulator: None
Wikipedia: Gunman Chronicles
Special Notes: The intro cutscene may have some artifacts at the very beginning but it should go away after a couple seconds.

Editorial comments:

Spoiler

Gunman Chronicles began, much like Team Fortress, Counter Strike, and Day of Defeat, as a Half-Life mod that garnered enough attention to warrant a standalone retail release. Unlike those titles though, Gunman Chronicles seems to have mostly faded into obscurity over the years, which is a damn shame because it's a damn good game.

The story is fairly ridiculous, but that doesn't stop it from being an enjoyable ride - it has a wide variety of levels and enemies, and the weapons are unique in that they have several different firing modes and a number of ways to customize them to your needs. The writing, though often silly, seems to be fairly tongue-in-cheek and is pretty humorous.

You fight aliens, robots, space cowboys, and dinosaurs; what's not to love?

LogicalJourneyOfTheZoombinisCover.thumb.png.44552f5a589a79756c44719499fc8613.pngZoombinis.gif.058c4737d937eff719452c039099ae27.gifLogical Journey of the Zoombinis

Genre: Puzzle / Logic
Developer: Brøderbund
Year: 1996
Platform: Windows 3.1
Emulator: DOSBox Daum
WikipediaLogical Journey of the Zoombinis
Special Notes: press Ctrl+F9 to exit the game - quitting normally will just exit back to the 3.1 desktop. Keyboard shortcuts in-game for save and load are Ctrl+S and Ctrl+L respectively.

Editorial comments:

Spoiler

I'm not normally one for "edutainment" games, but Logical Journey of the Zoombinis is actually really good; probably because, despite the edutainment marketing, it's much more about logic, puzzle solving, and pattern recognition than your typical edutainment title. It can actually be quite challenging and will undoubtedly leave you scratching your head on occasion.

It's very well animated, with all the various Zoombinis scurrying about and a variety of strange creatures blocking your progress. The narration and voice acting are outstanding as well. It's lighthearted, sure, but it's also extremely charming.

Don't let the the kiddie look scare you off - this one's absolutely worth your time and is highly entertaining even as an adult.

CompanionsOfXanthCover.thumb.png.5a1f15f5a88af9955fac1acc58789dbd.png5a8b8bed8837d_CompanionsofXanth.gif.6b665f6d34334bb2459b384388de5580.gifCompanions of Xanth

Genre: Point-And-Click Adventure / 1st person
Developer: Legend Entertainment
Year: 1993
Platform: DOS
Emulator: DOSBox 0.74
Wikipedia: Companions of Xanth
Special notes: Companions of Xanth makes good use of MT-32 audio, so if you have Munt installed and want to use it, edit the dosbox.conf by going all the way to the bottom, and in the autoexec section, change "xanth" to "install", then start DOSBox.exe and set the music to MT-32 audio. Then change "install" back to "xanth". Also, don't forget to set the "midiconfig=" value in the .conf to whatever it should be for MT-32 on your system - you can check your midi device numbers by opening a standalone DOSBox prompt and typing "mixer /listmidi". Most people don't use things like Munt or VirtualMidiSynth, so I have to create these packages with that in mind - they use Sound Blaster by default.

Editorial comments:

Spoiler

I'm a big fan of Legend Entertainment's adventure games. Death Gate is definitely one of my all time favorites. Two other similar games that shared the same engine are Companions of Xanth and Shannara. Neither of these are quite as good as Death Gate, but they're still fairly entertaining.

Xanth is based on Piers Anthony's Xanth novels, so if you're at all familiar with Anthony's writing style and humor, you'll be right at home with Companions of Xanth - it contains the same liberal use of puns and goofy shenanigans. If you're not familiar with Anthony's work, an in-game book called the "Com-Pendium of Xanth" can help bring you up to speed; though this isn't necessarily required in order to enjoy the game on its own.

Xanth is fairly short but it's a fun time if you just sit back and have fun with the goofy characters and writing. The only major complaint I have is that they pulled a real tease in the introductory segment of the game - you're given the option to choose one of the eponymous companions to go with you on your adventure, but truthfully it's just the illusion of choice because selecting any but one specific character will result in your death in the first room. I'm not sure if this was always the plan or if it was done for budget reasons, but it's kindof disappointing that they feed you this illusion that you get to make a seemingly important choice when it turns out you really don't. Other than that though, it's actually a fun, campy little romp.

PerihelionCover.thumb.png.3f26086391ed2e4b437dd0a72e06bc42.pngPerihelion.gif.3b095c552e71fb5dd26902b6d5f0ea7d.gifPerihelion: The Prophecy

Genre: RPG
Developer: Morbid Visions
Year: 1993
Platform: Amiga
Emulator: FS-UAE
Wikipedia: Perihelion: The Prophecy
Special notes: This is the WHDLoad version so no disk swapping is required! Just start the game and go - play, save, load, etc. press F10 when you want to quit the game. Save games are not stored permanently for WHDLoad games if FS-UAE's menu (F12) is used to exit the game. Save states are enabled, but your mileage may vary - standard in-game saves are more reliable.

Editorial comments:

Spoiler

15 years before Fallout 3 did green, Perihelion: The Prophecy did orange.

Perihelion is a strange and interesting game. I very rarely hear it talked about by practically anyone - even Amiga enthusiasts. It was apparently made by only 3 people; a considerable feat given the quality on display.

It's highly atmospheric with great sound and visuals (if, admittedly, a bit heavy on the orange). The interface takes some getting used to, but it's not too bad once you're over that initial hurdle.

It's not a perfect game - some things can be a bit on the unintuitive side, a number of things simply aren't explained (even in the manual, which is included and worth looking at), and like many games of this era they sortof just throw you into the deep end from the beginning, which could be understandably off-putting to some people. I would definitely consider it a hidden gem though. It's an interesting bit of obscurity that's worth taking a look at.

CommanderBloodCover.thumb.png.c5fd02199f2751e829b1dd416fbd8bbf.pngCommander_Blood.gif.4223bbbb510d5a085e22f7c5029fca1f.gifCommander Blood

Genre: Adventure
Developer: Cryo Interactive
Year: 1994
Platform: DOS
Emulator: DOSBox 0.74
Wikipedia: Commander Blood
Special notes: none

Editorial comments:

Spoiler

Commander Blood is an extremely weird game. You'd think it was actually made by aliens. The reality, which is both believable and explanatory, is that is was made by the French. I have a real soft spot for Cryo. They made quite a few interesting, unique, experimental and often flawed games; and I'd say Commander Blood sits squarely in the center of that description. It's the sequel to the considerably better known Captain Blood, which was equally unique if not quite as weird.

You're the commander of a space ship called the Ark, and are on a mission to transport an 800,000 year old alien named Bob Morlock (who spends most of his time in cryo sleep, though you can wake him up for a quick chat now and then) through a series of black holes so that he can go back to the beginning of the universe and see the Big Bang. I'll let you process that for a moment.

In order to accomplish this mission you'll have to travel to various planets and interact with various alien species in order to try and chart your course (you don't know where the black holes actually are).

Like most of Cryo's previous efforts, artistically the game is quite impressive and full of weird touches like your shuttlecraft... thing... somehow being connected to some kind of dolphin... thing. I... don't know. It's French.

Say what you will about it, but I'd challenge anyone to play this and make the statement "Yeah I've played something very similar to this before," (unless it was maybe another Cryo game). It's not quite as good (or coherent) as Dune or Lost Eden, but you'll be hard pressed to find much else like it.

AlienLegacyCover.thumb.png.ac176fcb9d0368187b23dca63538c1d2.png5a9030852d5ea_AlienLegacy.gif.734957bf87c490912a8c5ecd9a167bf1.gifAlien Legacy

Genre: Strategy / Management
Developer: Ybarra Productions
Year: 1994
Platform: DOS
Emulator: DOSBox 0.74
WikipediaAlien Legacy
Special notes: none

Editorial comments

Spoiler

Alien Legacy is a criminally underrated game. It bears some similarities to games like Starflight and Star Control (and, to a lesser extent, some childhood favorites on the Commodore 64 - Psi-5 Trading Company and Supremacy). Personally, I like it more than Starflight and put in the same neighborhood as Star Control II; which, if you're familiar with Star Control II, you'll understand is a pretty astounding statement considering there's a good chance you've never heard of this game.

It combines exploration and colony management overlapping a very interesting, albeit slow burning, story. You take the role of the commander of a long-range seed ship called The Calypso, which carries a cryogenically frozen crew who may just be humanity's last hope for survival given that things on Earth aren't going so swell. No pressure.

Things start slowly in Alien Legacy but get progressively more and more complex as you expand your colonies across multiple planets. You’re able to use transportation vehicles to explore the surface of planets to find resources and remnants of past civilizations and various anomalies. It may not sound that enthralling on paper but it really is - exploring and making various discoveries on these alien planets and using them to research advanced technologies is really great stuff.

Alien Legacy really makes feel like a stranger in a strange land, on your own and far removed from home. Thankfully, you're surrounded by helpful advisers that can give you suggestions to better improve your colonies. I think Alien Legacy does a better job than many games in this genre in helping you have a good idea what you should be doing at any given moment; especially in the beginning where they really help ease you into your role.

If you have even a passing interest in games like Starflight or Star Control, you should really check out Alien Legacy. It's thoroughly engrossing and absolutely worth your time.

5a90fb538fb68_3DUltraMinigolfDeluxe.thumb.png.f795b78cc68968ec383065387547229e.png5a90fb7e7f2e6_3DUltraMinigolfDeluxe.gif.276aca942c79b724cdeae96325dcdd14.gif3D Ultra Minigolf Deluxe

Genre: Sports / Minigolf
Developer: Dynamix
Year: 1998
Platform: Windows
Emulator: None
Wikipedia: None
Special notes: 3D Ultra Minigolf Deluxe is picky about folder names in its path not being too long - if they're too long all the graphics in the game will be black making it unplayable. "3D Ultra Minigolf Deluxe", for example, is too long of a folder name, which is why the default path used has it named "Minigolf Deluxe". If you start the game and everything's black, it's because one of the folders in the path to the game has too many characters.

Editorial comments

Spoiler

3D Ultra Minigolf was a childhood favorite of mine - my parents and I would duke it out on a regular basis, and had a blast doing so. Many nights were spent cheering as we one-upped each other.

Minigolf (the real thing) is a great time, and while no video game can truly replicate that experience, 3D Ultra Minigolf does an admirable job simply because of how fun and charming it is. There's a very wide variety of courses, from the typical Windmill up through absurdities like a moon base, and everything in between. There are often multiple ways to get to the hole, and usually a shortcut or two in each level - some hidden, some not. There are some nice extra touches too, like special animations that play when you beat a course with a hole-in-one.

There's a lot to enjoy here. The Deluxe version includes an extra nine holes for a whopping 27 levels! 3D Ultra Minigolf is a really fun, constantly smile-inducing time that's really worth a look, especially if you have a couple friends or family members to play with.

ElviraCollection.thumb.png.1914a2d160fe0900030bf76dcd73bc7b.png5a92303291524_ElviraCollection.gif.03c15a09857fbd15c985cb81db10f90c.gifElvira Collection

Genre: RPG / Adventure
Developer: Horrorsoft
Year: 1990 / 1992
Platform: Amiga
Emulator: FS-UAE
Wikipedia: Elvira / Elvira II
Special notes: This is the WHDLoad version so no disk swapping is required! Just start the game and go - play, save, load, etc. press F10 when you want to quit the game. Save games are not stored permanently for WHDLoad games if FS-UAE's menu (F12) is used to exit the game. Save states are enabled, but your mileage may vary - standard in-game saves are more reliable.

Editorial comments

Spoiler

I love schlock cinema, and have since I was a kid - my Dad raised me on MST3k, Godzilla, string-touting UFOs, and cheap Kung Fu flicks. It's no surprise then, that I'm a big fan of Elvira, mistress of the movie macabre. And macabre is certainly an accurate description of these games.

It's a bit of an odd juxtaposition between Elvira's goofy, schlocky, double entendre-laden remarks and the extreme violence taking place in the game, but that's really right in keeping with Movie Macabre; I could understand how it might seem incongruous if that's something you weren't familiar with though. In any case, Elivra: Mistress of the Dark and Elvira II: The Jaws of Cerberus are some genuinely interesting RPG/adventure hybrids that shouldn't be dismissed simply because they have the name "Elvira" in them.

The combat takes some getting used to, but is fairly simple once you get the hang of it. Outside of combat, you spend your time exploring, finding items, and solving puzzles. There are moments where they reminded me of Shadowgate in that, like that title, death is swift and frequent; though in this case that typically also entails some particularly brutal imagery.

The graphics are quite nice considering the release date. Some locations fare better than others, but the violence is consistently good and gruesome. The music in the Amiga versions is excellent and wonderfully moody. It's considerably better than the DOS versions; so Amiga is definitely the way to go here.

Both the RPG and adventure elements are lighter than in more singularly focused titles, but they're combined in such a way that's rather unique. They're definitely worth a look.

5a9496be88573_LostFilesofSherlockHolmesCollection.thumb.png.fa2f8620583ac495179f9d1b20395a1a.png5a9496d8e7d00_SherlockHolmesCollection.gif.95792712c5b70fe2c07337a262ee6aa3.gifThe Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes Collection

Genre: Point-And-Click Adventure / 3rd person
Developer: Mythos Software
Year: 1992 / 1996
Platform: DOS
Emulator: ScummVM
Wikipedia: The Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes
Special notes: The soundfont FluidR3 is also included to greatly enhance the music. Osprey's music looping patch has been applied to Serrated Scalpel (so that music repeats once the song ends).

Editorial comments

Spoiler

Who doesn't love a good mystery?

Mythos Software's pair of point-and-click adventures based on the world's most famous detective are excellently crafted, thoroughly enjoyable murder mysteries that are overlooked far too often. It's a shame that Mythos weren't more successful as I can tell you I would've been an avid fan if they'd put out more titles like these - their only other game is an odd edutainment named Bodyworks Voyager: Missions in Anatomy - but alas, this is all we've got.

Both titles have wonderfully cluttered locations full of various things to investigate, as is fitting of Holmes stories, have nice music and graphics, and they do an admirable job of translating the spirit of Doyle's writings into video game form.

I think Serrated Scalpel is probably the better of the two, at least in part because the traditional sprite-work has aged better than the popular at the time but now extremely dated look of digitized actors-turned-sprites (ala Phantasmagoria, Dark Seed II, etc.) that's employed in Rose Tattoo. That's not to say that Rose Tattoo looks bad, it just isn't as appealing (to me anyway). Rose Tattoo is a full talkie and, thankfully, relatively well acted, whereas Serrated Scalpel just has brief moments of speech.

The puzzles in both titles are often challenging, but we'd expect nothing less for Mr. Holmes. I'd say they're quite enjoyable overall and none of them are too ridiculous when it comes to adventure game puzzle logic.

Overall, these are two great adventure titles that should not be forgotten and are absolutely worth your time if you're a fan of point-and-clicks or even just a fan of Sherlock Holmes stories in general.

SpaceshipWarlockCover.thumb.png.67d81322f8835cbd3b4e29f6b6c7368b.png5a975ab2c8f80_SpaceshipWarlockv3.gif.d73240be655473cdb60916eb29f25cd6.gifSpaceship Warlock

Genre: Point-And-Click Adventure / 1st Person
Developer: Mike Saenz, Joe Sparks
Year: 1991
Platform: Windows 3.1
Emulator: DOSBox Daum
WikipediaSpaceship Warlock
Special notes: Press Ctrl+F9 to quit the game - Esc will just exit back to the 3.1 desktop. Click near the top of the screen to access the file menu for saving/loading games. You'll need to then click the Drives drop down and select the C: drive (it defaults to D:, which is the virtual disc drive), before saving. The C: drive it shows isn't your actual C: drive, it's [wherever you installed the game]\Spaceship Warlock\HDD. Also keep in mind that the save names can't be over 8 characters.

Editorial comments

Spoiler

I can't decide if Spaceship Warlock is pure genious, the result of some kind of insane fever dream, or just completely bonkers. It's extremely weird whatever the case.

When you consider that it was made by two guys in 1991 - two years before games like Myst and Journeyman Project - it's actually pretty damn impressive. Doing some research on it, it would seem that it was actually a pretty big deal and fairly successful on Mac, where it was originally released, It didn't see a Windows release until 1994, which is probably a significant factor in its relative obscurity.

The game itself is... well it's odd. It's quite short if you actually know what you're doing - probably about an hour or so. But uh... therein kinda lies the problem. Spaceship Warlock suffers from "Let's try to figure out what not-obvious thing they want me to do now"-syndrome. I'm all for games not holding my hand - I think modern games have a bad tendency to do this far more than is needed - but Spaceship Warlock takes that one step further by giving you very little indication of what you're supposed to be doing in even a vague sense or how to go about it even if you knew. This is primarily due to the text-parser elements, which have had the tendency to be frustrating since their inception. Don't feel too bad if you end up consulting a walkthrough.

All of that said, it's very impressive graphically (for the time) and has this really unique vibe that honestly doesn't feel much like anything else I've ever played.

It's an interesting bit of gaming weirdness for sure.

Ripper.thumb.png.a1203a61c917137851a608ab8f38cb7a.pngRipper_(smaller).gif.df33a762ad6df4c97b44883d3b4dbe66.gifRipper

Genre: Point-And-Click Adventure / 1st Person
Developer: Take-Two Interactive
Year: 1996
Platform: DOS
Emulator: DOSBox
Wikipedia: Ripper
Special notes: Ripper spans six CDs, but I've setup the configuration and ini files to have access to all six at once - what this means is that the game will still prompt you to change discs on occasion, but all you need to do when this happens is press "continue" and you'll be able to continue on, no muss, no fuss!

Editorial comments

Spoiler

I'll admit it - I have a serious soft spot for live-action FMV-heavy games. I realize that they're mostly considered an extremely dated relic of a bygone era at this point, but something about them - when done well, which I'll admit was a bit of a rarity - is really charming to me. Ripper is not an "FMV game" but it is a very FMV heavy adventure game, somewhat reminiscent of Tex Murphy titles.

You play the role of news reporter Jake Quinlan, following a story on a grisly series of murders by a mysterious figure who calls himself The Ripper. Jake has the unfortunate honor of being The Ripper's personal pen-pal - receiving messages from him after every murder which are then printed in the "Virtual Herald" (it's the future after all, and adding "virtual" to anything makes it sound futuristic). While this is a boon for Jake's career, the horrific nature of the crimes makes it a heavy burden.

Gameplay involves navigating around environments, gathering clues, talking to other characters, and solving puzzles - pretty typical, serviceable adventure game fare. There are also some fairly poor "action" sequences, which generally amount to rail shooting, that I could have lived without. Luckily they drape all this in a fantastically moody atmosphere and a genuinely interesting story. Some of the puzzles are admittedly pretty damn obtuse though. It's worth mentioning that the person who ends up being the Ripper can be one of four different characters, which is determined at random in each new playthrough - I thought this was a pretty neat touch.

If I were to hazard a guess, I'd say that Take-Two spent a lot of money on Ripper. The production values are very high for a game of this type and from this period. They hired an impressive bevy of famous actors to fill various roles in the game - Paul Giamatti, Karren Allen, Burgess Meredith, John Rhys-Davies, Scott Cohen and, front and center, Christopher Walken. The acting is all thoroughly enjoyable (notice I didn't say "good"), albeit in a campy, pulpy, kind of way; which is primarily the result of the writing. Walken, as usual, just absolutely chews up the scenery every second he's on screen. Maybe I'm just weird, but I found it extremely difficult not to have a giant smile plastered across my face every time he was speaking. The only complaint I have on the production front is that the music (barring the hamfisted but not terrible use of Blue Oyster Cult's "(Don't Fear) The Reaper") is non-descript to the point of being practically non-existent. Most of it is rather boring, looping clips that are only a few seconds long. It's background music that truly sounds like background music.

The only seriously major complaint I have with the game is that the animations for moving between areas are obscenely slow and, worse, unskippable. What I find doubly ludicrous about this is that... the one thing you can skip? Dialogue scenes. You know, the one thing you wouldn't want to skip. When you add in the occasionally unintuitive zig-zaggy nature of some of the navigation points, it's an extremely odd and unfortunate design choice.

That said, Ripper is, overall, a well-made, entertaining, and gripping adventure game that's worth checking out. It's campy as hell, like some lost 90's Saturday night sci fi horror flick, but that's a big part of the charm.

Chasm-TheRift.thumb.png.65f31ea57939ee290a0f1ad00f7d2a7f.pngChasm_-_The_Rift_(Optimized)_v2.gif.c83db7ca301539317ea4f20ba2c88cd4.gif

Chasm: The Rift

Genre: FPS
Developer: Action Forms
Year: 1997
Platform: DOS
Emulator: DOSBox 0.74
WikipediaChasm: The Rift
Special notes: Includes the addon levels and level editor. The game has been patched to run at a high framerate at 640x400 resolution (double the base resolution).

Editorial comments

Spoiler

Quake is likely my favorite pure FPS of all time. I see it as the ultimate evolution of the singularly focused shooters of that era - Wolfenstein, Duke, Blood, Doom... Quake is the culmination of the design philosophies present in those legendary titles; and what a glorious thing it is.

Is Chasm: The Rift the long-forgotten cousin of Quake? Well, no... but it manages to scratch the itch better than most.

Graphically it obviously has some similarities to Quake. Enemies and environmental textures are generally more detailed than in that title, but level design is considerably worse, with a lot of narrow corridors and otherwise confined locations that pale in comparison to Quake's big playgrounds. There's a distinct lack of the verticality that set Quake apart from so many of its contemporaries. I suspect this is the result of engine limitations. While it's obviously a step beyond Build-engine shooters, it's still actually 2.5D, just with 3D models for enemies and some environmental elements plopped on top - vertical mouse movement yields a skewed perspective similar to what's seen in those games and can be a little distracting. It's actually kindof amazing how well they managed to fake it though, really.

Sound is pretty solid overall, with music being nice and atmospheric (though it's hard to compete with Trent Reznor) and decent (but not amazing) sound effects.

Chasm's unique addition to the genre was the ability to individually dismember different body parts from enemies - something that'd be front and center in titles like Soldier of Fortune (and, much later, Dead Space) but was practically unheard of in 1997. Enemies will actually keep fighting with whatever they still have at their disposal if you blow off their weapon arm. This is actually pretty awesome to behold, and can actually add an interesting tactical element to the shooting. There's a pretty solid array of weapons to choose from, ranging from standard shotguns and machine guns to more unique offerings like a saw blade launcher.

Chasm isn't Quake, but it's actually very solid. Check it out!

 

More to come! :)

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@Zombeaver I appreciate the work you are doing here...great project! Tried out Heavy Metal this morning and it works great. 

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Heavy Metal looks pretty cool got it running on my HTPC last night never even heard of it before so thanks for hooking these up for us.

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Thanks for doing this @Zombeaver exactly the sort of thing I'm looking for, a nice simple way to set up DOS games for someone who knows absolutely nothing about it.

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19 minutes ago, DOS76 said:

Heavy Metal looks pretty cool got it running on my HTPC last night never even heard of it before so thanks for hooking these up for us.

Heavy Metal's a neat little game. Those Quake III engine games haven't aged super well (although Anachronox is still one of my all-time favorites and they did some pretty magical things with the Quake II engine), but it's really colorful and pretty smooth to play at least. It's got some neat aspects to it like dual-wielding a mix of weapons of your choice and then using the left and right mouse buttons to control the left and right weapons. Also, Julie Strain provided the voice for her character in the game :)

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I'm going to start adding some brief editorials for these just to give people a better idea of what they'd be getting into and why (I think) they're worth taking a look at. I added one for Dreamweb, and I'll try to do something for the others today.

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Sadly, Blade Runner would not work on my system either but I knew that by reading your comments that it may or may not work on certain systems. I do use Windows 10 so that may be why. I am going to try when I get home to try to run it in Windows 7 compatibility settings and see if that helps.

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Honestly I'm not sure what to make of that. It works on my primary PC, but didn't on another, and Neil tried it on his and it didn't work either. I went back and tried some alternate patches and even some different installer versions of it and it continued to fail on my office PC and continued to work on my primary PC. If it were something within DOSBox it'd be a lot easier for me to try and diagnose but being that it's using a ddraw wrapper it's not so easy (especially since I can't replicate the issue on my primary PC). The main thing that the installer is doing is 1) installing it in a way that bypasses the game's built-in installer, which no longer works on modern versions of Windows and 2) using a ddraw wrapper so that it'll actually play on modern video hardware. So far I'm 1 for 4 out of test cases though :(

It did "work" in the latest development version of ScummVM on my work PC, but it was very buggy. I think they've got a long way to go. Hopefully that'll get improved over time and then I'll just remake the pack to use ScummVM instead, that shouldn't be a problem at all.

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Yeah I tried all 3 of the .exe files in Windows 7 compatibility mode with no luck I'm afraid.

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Ah HA! Did a lot more sleuthing and thanks to some testing by @neil9000 I figured out the problem with Blade Runner! Old games are so stupid sometimes...

Basically the game freaks out if it doesn't see some type of disc drive - any type of disc drive, whether virtual or phsyical. If you don't have a physical disc drive - which is becoming more and more common these days - or a virtual drive, it crashes on start; but it just so happens that I have a Blu Ray burner and DVD-RW drive on my PC (as well as a DT virtual drive)... where it's been working... If you have Daemon Tools or Virtual Clone Drive or equivalent (I use DT myself) you can have a virtual drive at all times, whether mounted or not. I know that Windows 10 has a built-in mounting feature, but by default it makes the drive disappear when unmounted - I haven't figured out if there's a way around that yet, but I'll keep looking.

Essentially the fix is that you have to have some type of disc drive - whether physical or virtual - that it can see when you start the game. You can have something mounted - anything - and it will work. You can have nothing mounted and so long as some type of drive is visible it will work. If you use DT or CVD you can have them visible at all times whether mounted or not, and it should still work fine. I'll do some more research on if there's a way to keep 10's built-in virtual drive visible even if unmounted.

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I have never heard of those, i just youtubed them and they look good, Dark Seed 2 looks very good graphically

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3 minutes ago, Porl Hendy said:

I have never heard of those, i just youtubed them and they look good, Dark Seed 2 looks very good graphically

This is why I like this project, Games I have never heard of, made easy for me to use if it tickles my fancy. :) 

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I've updated the package for Drowned God so that it no longer requires compatibility mode to be set by the user. You're able to force these settings for specific programs via command-line, so I created a .bat that does this for you and is used in the start menu/desktop shortcuts. Now you just install and start! This will be good for future projects as well, as the same concept can be applied for any other native Windows games that require compatibility settings to work.

Also, thanks to @Bobinator, @Lordmonkus, and @DOS76 who have helped me with some Windows 10 testing since I'm on ye olde Windows 7 :P

Gunman Chronicles will be up next.

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