Saturday, May 29, 2010

ScummC Source Code

Update: January 20, 2014: Disregard this, The ScummC website is back.

Since the ScummC homepage and SVN repository is down, I thought I'd upload the sourcecode for those who want it. For those who don't know, ScummC is a set of compilers and tools that let you make games for SCUMM (version 6, as in Day of the Tentacle and Sam & Max) with a C-like scripting languge.

It should be noted that the sourcecode can't be compiled out-of-the-box on any Windows compiler (this includes MSVC, MinGW, and Cygwin). I tried to get it to compile for MinGW, but it was beyond my skill level.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Deals on LucasArts and Telltale Adventures!

There are a few deals going on for LucasArts and Telltale adventure games. First of all, there's the Complete Collection of Sam & Max,which includes all three seasons of Telltale's Sam & Max games.  It is $49.95 for a limited time, which is 50% off the price it would be if you bought all three separately.  This offer ends on June 2, 2010.

The LucasArts Adventure Pack, which includes Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and Fate of Atlantis, as well as Loom and The Dig, is also on sale for 50% off. The game is $4.99, and the offer is available until Friday.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Reality 2.0 Review

The fifth episode of Sam & Max Season one continues where the last one left off, bringing more much needed freshness to the season.

In this episode, Sam & Max must enter a virtual world to try to stop a plan for world-wide hypnosis.  The locations finally get a much needed update, since each real life location is given it's virtual doppleganger in the virtual world.  The running jokes are still here Sybil still has a new job, and Bosco is still paranoid as ever.  His avatar in the virtual world is a delight though.  I enjoyed Max's quips about him.  The Bosco-tech device they're given is also one of the funniest this season.

This episode shines in it's new characters.  The C.O.P.S. are definitely the highlight of the episode.  I'm not going to spoil who they are here, but I will say the loud, large one rightfully became a fan favorite.  He doesn't say much, but his vocal delivery is hilarious.  The voices of each of them are performed by Jared-Emerson Johnson, who also composed the score for this season.  There is a really funny musical number performed by the C.O.P.S. here, which can be heard through dialog options and then later over the credits at the end of the game.


The greatest part about this episode, and the reason it's still one of my favorites, is that it is full of video game parodies and references.  Sam & Max in a virtual world lends itself to video game humor, and you'll find references from everything from the 1970's to the present, from adventure games, to platform games, to RPGs.  There is a really funny sequence at the end of the game that I don't want to spoil.  But if you were a fan of adventure games in the late 70's and early 80's, you'll love it.  The video game references also lend themselves to video game music parodies, and Jared Emerson-Johnson does a great job with that.  There are new songs here that sound like they could have been delivered through 8-bit video game machines of the past. 

The puzzles here are also really enjoyable, and many of them are memorable even years after playing them.  The difficulty level has been raised in this episode too.  The paint puzzle was the first time I had to consult a walk-through during all of my playtime of the episodes of this season. 

Abe Lincoln Must Die was the high point of the season at the time of it's release, and Reality 2.0 has it beat in every respect.  The locations were given a much needed face-lift, and the new characters are among the most memorable of this season.  There are so many jokes, parodies, and visual gags, it might be worth playing through more than once.

Final Verdict:
4 1/2 out of 5


Episode Four ReviewEpisode Six Review

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Doctor Who Gets Four Episodic Adventure Games

Sumo Digital is bringing the popular long running BBC science fiction series Doctor Who to the PC and Mac in a four part adventure game episodic series.

According to the BBC, the first episode will be titled City of the Daleks, and will be the first time the doctor visits Kaalaan, the Dalek capital city.  The game will follow the current Doctor, the eleventh, and his companion Amy Pond.

The episodes will be free, with the first episode scheduled to be released on June 5, 2010.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Complete Gabriel Knight Collection Sale at GOG.com

The Complete Gabriel Knight promo is going on now at GOG.com. All three games are on sale for the combined price of $12.57. If you already purchased one or two of the games and would like the rest, the game(s) you already own will be deducted from the total price!

Abe Lincoln Must Die! Review

The fourth game removes the feelings of deja-vu, and brings the series to new heights.

In this episode, the duo must investigate a situation where it seems that the president of the United States has been hypnotized. Things don't turn out the way Sam & Max expected, and soon an emergency election for the president of the United States is launched. The giant statue of Abraham Lincoln has been brought to life, as the general feeling is that the original Abe is the one man who the public would never vote against. Sam & Max need to stop this, so it's decided Max has to run for the president of the United States against the giant Abe Lincoln.

The new location of the White House is a lot of fun. Telltale has also thrown in an Easter egg in this location, so feel free to try to find it if you like. It's a pretty clever joke. The previous locations still are the same, and the running gags are still here, but thankfully the locations now have different descriptions for the objects you select. So, the feeling of deja-vu is lessoned a lot with this episode. The funniness factor is also upped a lot here. The running jokes with Sybil's new jobs were becoming tiresome, but her new job here and the lines written for her were pretty funny. Bosco is still imitating accents from other nations (poorly). His actor always gives a great performance with the lines he's given, and they are funnier here than ever.

The last episode had excellent music, but this episode tops that one in every regard. The musical number in this one is even more brilliant than the last, and is so catchy it will be stuck in your head long after you've played. It's an excellent bit of absurdity that fits into the Sam & Max universe perfectly. The voices are also great here. Bosco is great as always. The voices of Sam, Max, and Sybil seem to have hit their stride as of this episode. The dialog seems to flow more naturally than before, and it sounds less like Sam & Max are trying to imitate the Hit the Road characters and more like they are taking the characters in a new direction. Which is an excellent thing, since this series has a different tone than LucasArts' game, so the different interpretation fits well.

The writing has improved, the puzzles are excellent, and the voice actors are beginning to hit their stride. The musical number is the funniest one yet in a Sam & Max game. Now that the episode is free on the PC, this episode should be played by everyone. It's the turning point of the first season, and one of the best episodes the Sam & Max series has to offer.

Final Verdict:

4½ out of 5

Episode Three ReviewEpisode Five Review

Friday, May 21, 2010

Mystery House on iPad and iPhone/iPod Touch

Josef Wankerl ported Sierra's first adventure game, and the first ever adventure game with graphics, to the iPhone and iPod Touch in 2009. Last month, he updated the game to be compatible with the iPad Touch. The game was released to the public domain by Sierra in 1987. The iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad version can be purchased at the iTunes store for (the pretty high price for a game of this kind) $5.99.

Play Colossal Cave Adventure On Your Phone!

Rich Rutenberg has created a way to play the original adventure game, Colossal Cave Adventure, with speech recognition through your phone or through your computer. The game version used is the 1976 350 point version by Will Crowther and Don Woods.

It was built with Asterisk, which enables the game to be played with English words by telephone or Skype. An American telephone number is set up to play the game at 610-332-7236. It is only available in English now, but 45 languages are available to be translated if someone wants to tackle the 542 narrations required for each language. Rich eventually hopes that the game can be used as a foreign language teaching tool.

Asterisk has been used in the past for adventure games ZoIP is a reimplementation of Zork for phones using Asterisk that was first created in 2005. There are phone numbers for connecting to Zork here.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Tomb of Sammun-Mak Review

The second episode of the third season of Sam & Max, The Devil's Playhouse, distances itself even more from previous seasons, yet it still retains continuity. The biggest complaints fans had of the first and second seasons was that characters and locations were overused. Telltale has gone to great steps to rectify that this season. In the last episode, there was only one returning indoor location, and just two returning outdoor locations. Each of these locations was remodeled to give it a new look. In this episode, fans should be pleased to know there are no returning locations at all. Every location Sam & Max will visit in The Tomb of Sammun-Mak is new.

The game takes place in the past, set during the turn of the 20th century. The duo will not meet a lot of returning characters due to the difference in time-frame, but they do meet some. It makes sense that each of these returning characters would be alive more than 100 years ago. Each of these characters are those who did not get too much screen time previously, so you don't get the feeling of over-use when you encounter them.

The new characters are entertaining, and I'm happy to say that none of them had voice-over work that was grating. Telltale is making sure we won't get a repeat of the Soda Poppers situation this season. The music is wonderful as usual. Jared-Emerson Johnson always does a great job bringing a cinematic feeling to the games he scores. The cinematic camera angles are used to a much greater extent this episode, and the framing seems to have improved a lot since Tales of Monkey Island. The ability to click the screen rather than the character in click-and-drag mode helps a lot too. In previous games I didn't like the click-and-drag mode too much, and opted for the mouse and keyboard combination for character control. In this series, the click-and-drag mode has improved a lot. There are still situations where it is difficult to keep the mouse moving in the right direction during camera changes, but the on-screen joystick makes adjusting your direction a lot easier, and is a lot less of a headache.

The difficulty of the puzzles has increased a little bit in this episode. Luckily The hints are precise and easy to use to figure out where you need to go next, yet they don't hold your hand and tell you where to go. The psychic abilities Max has in this episode are once again interesting, and lead to some funny jokes when you use them in situations where they aren't intended. None of the previous abilities make a reappearance here. Like the locations, all the psychic abilities are new.

The plot in this episode is very entertaining, and there is a bit of a gameplay twist through one of Max's psychic ability that lets you jump back and forth through time to solve puzzles in the past with clues you are given in the future. The inventory items are not carried through to different times. You are only given what you found in that time frame or what would logically be in your inventory at that place in time. This makes the puzzles a little more challenging, and sets it apart from the time traveling Sam & Max did in Chariots of the Dogs.

Sam & Max: The Devil's Playhouse is starting to pick up steam. The Tomb of Sammun-Mak is definitely one of the duo's most interesting cases yet, and the gameplay works just as well as the story. The cinematic camera angles are used to great effect here, and the music fits the cinematic feel perfectly. The ability to jump between time periods is an excellent gameplay mechanic, but it takes a while to get used to. This episode does not quite reach the heights of the final episodes of the second season, but the season is on the right track to match or possibly even exceed those episodes.

Final Verdict:

4 out of 5

Sam & Max Season Two Now On Mac!

Sam & Max Season Two, also known as Beyond Time and Space, has been released for the Macintosh. If you already purchased the season or any of the games in the season for the PC from Telltale, you can now download the game from your games list for the Macintosh. If you haven't yet purchased the season, you can do so at The Telltale Store, and you will get both PC and Mac downloads for the same price. Also, consider adding Puzzle Agent to your cart, because you will get 50% off everything else that is in your cart, and Sam & Max Season Two is included in the deal!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Tomb of Sammun-Mak Is Out Now

The Tomb of Sammun-Mak, the second episode of the third season of Sam & Max, The Devil's Playhouse, is out now for the PC and Mac! Those who ordered the season can pick it up now. If you haven't yet ordered it, you can buy it at the Telltale Store or through Steam.

If you buy it through the store, consider placing the Puzzle Agent Pilot in your cart. You will get 50% off everything else that's in the cart with the pilot. The Devil's Playhouse works as part of that deal.

The Mole, the Mob, and the Meatball Review

The third episode of the season continues the feeling of deja-vu from the last, but still manages to be a fun game.

In the previous episode, the duo found a hypnotic bear tied to Don Ted E. Bear and the Ted E. Bear mafia. This episode sees Sam & Max traveling to the Ted E. Bear Mafia Free Playland and Casino to try to get to the bottom of the hypnosis once and for all.

The running gags continue once again, with Bosco impersonating a nation with a bad accent, Sybil taking on a new profession, and Bosco ultimately selling you a worthless gadget for a lot of money. It's only three episodes in, but it's already starting to get a little stale. The previously used locations of Sam & Max's office, Bosco's, and especially Sybil's are also becoming quite repetitive by this point. I started off liking Sybil a lot, but by this episode I'm growing a little tired of her.

Sadly, the new location is not that interesting this time around. It's fun for fans of Telltale's earliest work to see an unexpected cameo from a character from a previous game. He works out surprisingly well, and actually fits into the world of Sam & Max perfectly. He's my favorite new (to this series) character in this episode.

The jokes are a little more mature in this episode, and there is a running gag revolving some innuendo that is pretty funny. I found myself going to every character with the gag just to see what their reaction would be. There is also a play on words involving Don Ted E. Bear that I found pretty funny. The humor in the game starts out slow, but kicks it up a notch towards the end. There is a really funny sequence with Max during the final scene that actually made me laugh out loud.

The music is a shining moment here, as the music is really memorable. The shining moment is a really funny musical number that is a throwback to a scene in the Conroy Bumpus Museum in Sam & Max Hit the Road. There are actually quite a few references to Sam & Max's first video game outing in this episode, which brings a bit of continuity to the series that I'm glad to see.

Despite the tired running gags and over-used locations, this episode still has a lot of humor in it to make it worth playing. The music has never been better in a Telltale Sam & Max game up to this point, and the voice acting is excellent as always. Telltale was still refining the episodic concept at this point, and it doesn't reach the levels of later episodes in the season, but it's still worth playing.

Final Verdict:

3½ out of 5

Episode Two ReviewEpisode Four Review

Bone: The Great Cow Race Review

Bone: The Great Cow Race was the follow-up to Bone: Out From Boneville. It was meant to be the second game in a series of games that were going to cover all of Jeff Smith's Bone comics. Unfortunately, due to Telltale being unable to market the game to their target audience of children and young adults, this ended up being the last Bone game to be made by Telltale.

That being said, this game is still a very good adventure game, and is an improvement over the original in many ways. The positive things from Out from Boneville are still here, such as the nice voiceover work for the characters, including the characters that are new to this episode. Jared-Emerson Johnson once again provides the music, and he really shines here. The music in The Cow Race remains some of my favorite songs from any Telltale game.

The game raises the bar on humor here, adding dialog that is not directly from the comic, but fits the tone and atmosphere perfectly, and adds some freshness to the game. The in-jokes which reference previous LucasArts games were a staple of LucasArts adventure games throughout the 13 years they were produced. Some of those can be found in this game. While it's not a necessary addition, it's certainly a welcome one.

One of the most important improvements comes in the form of giving this game a less desolate feeling. The game is now populated with characters, which can be attributed to it's source material, but it makes me wonder if the first game should have been combined with this game in order to have a more fulfilling gaming experience.

The puzzles are even more fun this time, and the difficulty has increased a little bit, although it's clear it's still aimed low so it would appeal to kids as well as adults. Like the first game, the middle act is the most fun, but here the first and last acts are fun as well. There is also a fun puzzle involving the cow race that acts like an action sequence but is controlled entirely by inventory and dialog puzzles. It remains one of my favorite sequences in a Telltale game to this day.

This game is well worth picking up, preferably with the first game as part of Telltale's Bone game pack. Telltale showed their commitment to listening to their fans here, in that they fine-tuned the game with most of the improvements suggested on their message boards. They hadn't yet mastered the episodic format at this point, but they were clearly on the right track.

Final Verdict:

3 1/2 out of 5

Monday, May 17, 2010

Bone: Out From Boneville Review

Bone: Out From Boneville was the first adventure game from Telltale Games. They had just set up shop one year prior, immediately following the news of the cancellation of Sam & Max: Freelance Police at LucasArts. The original Telltale staff was comprised of mainly those who had worked on Freelance Police at LucasArts, and they had a lot to prove in their new venture.

While the crew had proven themselves to be capable of producing well-received adventures under the LucasArts umbrella, they had not had to run the whole show themselves. They had a much lower budget than they had at LucasArts, so they had to find a way to work within that budget. They also had formed their company on the premise of episodic gaming, a concept that, in 2005, was still in its infancy. No one had yet come up with a business model that made episodic gaming a viable commercial endeavor. Despite the legacy behind the team, the odds were not in favor of the small upstart.

They had released one game before Bone, a casual poker game that was originally a test for their in-house Telltale Tool engine. The game came out better than had been expected, and the team decided to make the game a commercial release. The game, despite not being an adventure, did alleviate a few fears. The voice acting was good, the writing was funny, the banter between the computer players was enjoyable, and the music fit the game. Even before their first adventure game release, Telltale had shown that they could do a fine job in the sound and writing departments.

But writing a small casual game was much different than writing a full adventure game, so no one knew what to expect from Out from Boneville. When the game was released, the result was a good adventure game that didn't quite reach the heights of the LucasArts adventures but was a step in the right direction.

The game was a very faithful adaptation of the first book of Jeff Smith's popular Bone comic. The characters were faithfully rendered in a 3D look that looked like the comic characters. The storyline was in-tact and just a few elements were changed to make it flow better as a game. The major change is that the snow scene is not here. The game seems to take place over the course of one day, as opposed to several in the comic. But, that change does not make the game any less enjoyable, and is really a nit-pick more than anything. I was new to the series when I first played the game, and only read the Boneville comic a few months ago. I enjoyed the game despite having no previous knowledge of the characters, and obviously the lack of the snow scene did not even enter my conciousness. Probably only the most diehard Bone fans would care about the change.

The characters are all voiced well, and the music is wonderful. The music here is by Telltale standard musician Jared-Emerson Johnson of Bay Area Sound, who has provided the music in almost all of Telltale's games.

There are a few drawbacks to the game, which are a result from this being Telltale's first adventure game. They hadn't yet mastered the concept of episodic gaming, so the game seems a bit desolate in places, and is quite short. The scene with Fone Bone traveling the mountain at the beginning looks nice, and is very faithful to the book, but as a game it feels a bit drawn out. The middle is the most fleshed out of the bunch, and, although the game is aimed at a younger audience, it includes puzzles that are pretty fun even to an adult.

Another problem that arose from this being Telltale's first adventure game is that some of the puzzles require you to do something exactly as the programmers wrote it, and what seems to be a natural solution to a puzzle won't work. Thankfully, this doesn't happen often, and when it does happen the programmer's intentions to the puzzles are pretty easy to figure out.
The game was later released in a director's cut which was created with input by Bone creator Jeff Smith. The director's cut version has since replaced the original on the site. All orders that are placed now will receive the director's cut version. The directors cut version improves on the original in many ways. The model of Thorn has been improved to more closely resemble the comic, and the actress has been changed as well. The new actress does a great job and sounds like the you'd expect Thorn to sound based on her appearance. The game has also been lengthened a little bit, since more story set-up has been added thanks to a wonderful cut-scene at the beginning and a more concise ending of the game.

I enjoyed this game despite the technical hiccups and the desolate feeling in the beginning. Once the game gets to the second act, the game becomes quite enjoyable. It's just a shame the game ends so soon. Thankfully, the length and the sparseness of the surroundings were addressed in the second game, and the price has since been lowered since it's original release. There is a bundle pack available for both games that definitely makes this relatively simple game much more worth it for the price.

Final Verdict:

3 out of 5

Tomb of Sammun-Mak Coming Later Today

Sam & Max: The Devil's Playhouse - Tomb of Sammun-Mak will be released later today. My review will be up here shortly after the release. In preparation for that, I'm going to catch up on reviewing the Tellale Games that haven't yet had a review here yet (for which there is a lot!) So bear with me as the front page gets swarmed with reviews. There will be more here after release too.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Phoenix Wright 3 on WiiWare

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Trials and Tribulations, the third game in the Phoenix Wright series, is now available on WiiWare in Japan and North America. Europe is scheduled to receive the Wiiware version of the game later this month.

The first two games in the series, Phoenix Write: Ace Attorney, and Phoenix Write: Ace Attorney - Justice for All were also released on WiiWare earlier this year in Japan, North America, and Europe. The final two games in the series have not yet been released on WiiWare in any region.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Frasse and the Peas of Kejick Special Edition

Frasse and the Peas of Kejick is now out in a special edition. This is an adventure game that is one of the best freeware adventures out there. And, now it's even better. This new release has updated graphics, music, and voices. The voices are quite good for a freeware game. They are mostly performed by non-native English speakers, but they are still mostly quite clear and easy to understand. This uses the latest version of the Sludge engine, so the game is now available for Windows and MacOS. A Sludge engine is now available for Linux too, so Frasse is playable on Linux too, but an installer is not provided for that platform. I'll post a review of the game in the next couple of days, but I've played through it and I can say with certainty that it is worth playing.

Puzzle Agent Video and 50% Off Pre-Order Deal

Puzzle Agent is now available to pre-order. If you preorder, you can get 50% off anything else in the Store if you have Puzzle Agent in your cart during checkout!

There's also a video available which includes interviews from Telltale staff and Graham Annable, creator of the Grickle world, which is the world and style used in Puzzle Agent.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Puzzle Agent information coming this afternoon

The Mystery of Scoggins teaser has now been revealed to be Nelson Tethers: Puzzle Agent. Nelson Tethers: Puzzle Agent is a puzzle game similar to Professor Layton & the Curious Village on the Nintendo DS. The game features characters designed by former Telltale artist Graham Annable.
Nelson Tethers is the only agent at the U.S. Bureau of Puzzle Investigation. He has to investigate why the eraser factory in Scoggins, Minnesota has shut down. He discovers a bizarre event has left everyone obsessed with puzzle solving, to the point where they feel compelled to solve the puzzles non-stop. Nelson must unravel the mystery by using his puzzle solving skills. He encounters elves along the way, known as the hidden people, who might hold a connection to the closure of the factory.
Nelson Tethers: Puzzle Agent is the first game to be released under Telltale's new Pilot Program. The pilot program will work like a pilot of a television series, where a game is first tested to see it's popularity potential. If the pilot is successful, a complete series could be ordered.
The game will be released this June on PC, Mac, iPhone, and iPad.
Telltale's Puzzle Agent page has been updated with a graphic telling us to check back later this afternoon. I'll update this page once the page has been updated. :)