Saturday, April 30, 2011

Back to the Future: Double Visions PC/Mac Out Now

Back to the Future: The Game: Episode 4: Double Visions is out now for the PC and Mac.

The game will be also be released for the PlayStation Network and iPad at a later, as of yet unannounced, date.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Hector Episode 1 on PC and Mac now

Hector Episode 1: We Negotiate With Terrorists, Straandlooper and Telltale's raunchy 2D adventure game is now out for PC and Mac from the Telltale Games Store. The iPhone version is already available at the iTunes store, and the iPad version will be released soon.

The season contains three episodes. The remaining two episodes will be released in the Fall.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Jurassic Park: The Game Delayed Until Fall


Jurassic Park: The Game, Telltale's upcoming episodic adventure game set after the first Jurassic Park film, has been delayed until the fall in order to refine the game mechanics and to make a better game experience, as well as to have the computer and console versions release at the same time (PC and Mac were originally scheduled in April, the console versions were always scheduled for fall).

The game is no longer available for preorder on Telltale's website, and everyone who already did preorder will get a refund plus a non-expirable coupon code for one Telltale game.

The full explanation can be read at the Telltale blog.

Grim Fandango is now completable in Residual

After almost 8 years of development, Grim Fandango, the first 3D adventure game by LucasArts is now completable in Residual, the 3D adventure game engine based on the 2D point-and-click adventure game engine ScummVM.

This makes Grim Fandango compatible in modern versions of Windows (for which it was notoriously difficult to do with the native executable), as well as Linux, MacOS X, and Amiga for the first time ever.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Original Broken Sword in Director's Cut at GOG.com

The Broken Sword Director's Cut at GOG.com now has a bonus added in. After numerous fan requests, GOG.com announced back in January that the 1996 version of Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars is included as a bonus free of charge to anyone who purchases the Broken Sword Director's Cut from GOG.com for $5.99.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Frasse and the Peas of Kejick Bug Fix Update


Frasse and the Peas of Kejick, the freeware adventure game by Trumgottist, the current lead developer of the open source adventure game engine SLUDGE, has been updated.

This version fixes some problems people have been having with the game, notably a Windows-only bug where large scenes would start to shrink.

The game is available to play on all platforms supported by SLUDGE: Windows, MacOS, and Linux.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Back to the Future: Double Visions Out Next Week

Back to the Future: The Game: Episode 4: Double Visions will be out next week for PC and Mac, according to this tweet on the Telltale twitter page.  The PSN and iPad versions will be out at a later, as of yet unspecified date.

The Dream Machine: Chapter 1 Review

The Dream Machine is a five part episodic adventure game by a Swedish development team called Cockroach. It is made with clay and cardboard, and is only available through flash capable browsers. The first episode is available to play for free, with the remaining four episodes available at cost per episode or in a bundle.

The graphic style of the game is quite stylish, and the character design is fairly reminiscent of Grim Fandango.  You can tell a lot of care went into creating the game's world, as each location is hand-crafted but looks spectacular.  The first episode takes place immediately after a new couple's first night in a new apartment, and takes place completely in the apartment building.  The game is short, and there isn't a lot of variety in the backgrounds, but they are all done well.

The music isn't memorable, but it is suitably moody and fits the atmosphere of the game.  The sound effects are all done well, from the footsteps to the crackling of electricity, and they help to add to the atmosphere as well.  There is no voice acting, which is a shame, but for a game that exudes character as much as this game does, it's by no means a deal breaker.

The puzzles in this episode aren't too difficult, and are comparable in difficulty to the later episodes in Telltale's first two Sam & Max seasons.  There is only one puzzle that needs logic beyond the "use object on another object" type of puzzles, and even that puzzle can be solved by trial and error.  The puzzles do adhere to sensible logic though, and the puzzles that are there are done well.  There just aren't many puzzles in this episode, and the game can be completed in under an hour, even on the first playthrough.

The Dream Machine: Chapter 1 is a short adventure game, but it has a great deal of charm that makes it worth playing.  The cardboard and clay art style is presented in a very visually pleasing way.  It lacks voice acting, but the story is compelling enough to make up for it.  The game makes you want more by the time it reaches the end, which comes all too soon.  In the end though, since this episode is free, I can't help but recommend it to everyone.  It exudes a charm that overcomes it's short length and low budget roots.

Final Verdict:

3½ out of 5

Back to the Future Episode 3 Coming to PS3 on May 3

Back to the Future: The Game: Episode 3: Citizen Brown is coming to the PlayStation 3 via PSN on May 3rd.

You can read my review of Citizen Brown here.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Back to the Future Episode 2 Now Available on iPad

Back to the Future: The Game: Episode 2: Get Tannen! is now available on the iPad through the iTunes store.

You can read my review of Get Tannen! here.

Hector: Episode 1 PC & Mac Available for Preorder

Hector: Episode 1 - We Negotiate with Terrorists, the formerly iPhone and iPod touch exclusive game developed by Straandlooper, has migrated to the Telltale Tool, and is now up for preorder for PC and Mac through the Telltale Games store.

The price is $9.99 (USD), and includes Puzzle Agent as a preorder bonus. The game is the first part of a three episode series. The remaining two episodes will be released in fall 2011.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Telltale to Release Law & Order: Los Angeles

Law & Order: Los Angeles is the newest game to be announced by Telltale due to their deal to create games based on NBC Universal licenses. The game is slated to come out before the end of this year.

Puzzle Agent Out On North American PSN Today

Telltale's puzzle adventure game Puzzle Agent is out on the PlayStation 3 today, coming with today's PlayStation Network update for $9.99, and is coming to the European Playstation Network soon.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Broken Sword II: Remastered Now Available on PC

Broken Sword II: Remastered, the updated version of Broken Sword II with new close-up art and new interactive sequences in the same style as the Broken Sword Director's Cut is now available for PC from DotEmu and GamersGate.

It is also available for the iPod Touch, iPhone, and iPad from the iTunes store.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

LucasArts is one of the five possible publishers coming to GOG.com

GOG.com held a press conference where they stated that one of five major publishers will be releasing 25 games on the site this summer, and they are close to signing deals with two others. The publishers in question are LucasArts, Microsoft, Square Enix, EA and T2.

Hopefully it does end up being LucasArts, as most of their adventure games have been out of print for around a decade, and could certainly benefit from a digital re-release.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Stacking gets it's first DLC with The Lost Hobo King

Double Fine's puzzle adventure game, Stacking, for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, has received it's first downloadable content in the form of The Lost Hobo King.  Charlie travels to the Hobo kingdom where he must help Levi the Hobo restore the Hobo kingdom by reforging the Lost Hobo King's Crown.  The quest is available for $5 through PSN and Xbox Live Arcade now.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Citizen Brown Review

Citizen Brown is the third episode of Back to the Future: The Game, the five part episodic adventure game by Telltale Games.  For the first time in this series, the episode takes place in only one timeline, an alternate timeline where Hill Valley has become a strict land ruled by order and discipline.

The game continues to shine in the areas where the previous games have excelled. The art style once again works well, and the new Hill Valley contrasts greatly against both the Hill Valley shown in the previous episodes of the game, as well as the Hill Valley of the movies.  The town is recognizably the same, yet also very different, much like the alternate Hill Valley shown in Back to the Future II.  Unlike that Hill Valley though, this one is neat and clean, which was a wise choice since that cleanliness fits the art style of this series perfectly.

Once again the voice work shines.  Doc and Marty are voiced excellently once more, and AJ Locascio gets to flex his ability as an actor with a duo role as both Marty and of one of Marty's highschool acquaintances.  Even though it's an alternate reality, it was still great to see Marty socializing with his peers, since not much of that aspect of teen life was shown in the movies.  The greatest addition to this game, in my opinion, was Marty's girlfriend Jennifer, who is voiced by Claudia Wells, the original Jennifer from the first movie.  They have digitally altered her voice to sound like she did when she was a teenager, and they did a great job.  She sounds just like she did in the film.  As I said before, I enjoy Andrew Chaikin's wimpy Biff, and since this alternate Biff fits that bill, he does the job well.  The rest of the cast performed just as well, including some new takes on some previously introduced characters, as well as a character which was only just briefly seen in the first film.

The music is wonderful as always, and the musical cues and sound effects from the movies are used to great effect here.  The issues I had with technical side of the sound has finally seemed to have been rectified here, as I played the game twice and didn't notice the characters calling Marty the wrong name this time.  He was called by the name I chose in my first playthrough of the first episode consistently.  I also didn't encounter any lipsynching glitches in this episode either.  This seems to be the most polished episode thus far.

The puzzles have improved, and fan feedback was taken into effect.  There are no repeats from puzzles from previous episodes here (the Einstein sniffing puzzles are thankfully behind us now it seems), and the puzzles that are there require a bit more thought.  The game is still easier than most Telltale games (especially at this point in the season), but the game no longer seems to hold your hand for each puzzles unless you have the optional hint objectives turned on.

Citizen Brown doesn't have any time travel, but nonetheless it features the best story of the season so far.  It also seems to be better play-tested, since I didn't encounter any bugs or glitches in this episode.  The voice acting is excellent as usual, the art is wonderful, and the musical score and sound effects are used to great effect.  It is most certainly the most polished episode of the series so far.  The game's main drawback is still the puzzles.  They are more difficult than previous episodes, but they are still easier than other Telltale games, especially considering we are now at the middle of the season.

Update: 12/1/15: Since I wrote this review, a remaster called the 30th Anniversary Edition has been released. The improved textures aren't really that noticeable, however they also managed to get Tom Wilson to reprise his role as Biff. I originally thought that Andrew Chaikin was fine in this episode, as he does wimpy Biff well. However, Tom Wilson manages to have a variety in the performance of even a pacified Biff.  He really helps to convey the creepiness of the Citizen Plus program.  Plus, of course, the few instances we get to see a tough Biff work a lot better with Tom Wilson's performance. If you've already played it, it's not really worth picking up again, unless you're a big Back to the Future fan.

Final Verdict:

3½ out of 5

Friday, April 8, 2011

Shadows of the Vashta Nerada Review

The final episode of Doctor Who: The Adventure Games series one starts right where the last episode left off.  But, does it continue on the high notes hit with the previous episode, or does it fall flat?

I was excited about this episode when it was announced.  The Vashta Nerada are among my favorite Doctor Who monsters, and their television story, the two part episode "Silence in the Library" and "Forest of the Dead" was one of the most nerve wracking episodes I've seen.  The creatures are shadows who lurk in the darkness, feed on the living, and can possess the suits of their victims alowing them to move about in a zombie-like fashion.  They are unbeatable, with only light as their weakness.  This seemed like a great idea for a video game, and one that would make great use of the stealth gameplay introduced in the first episode.  In reality, it comes close to my expectations but it's let down a bit by it's seemingly rushed state.

The story is great, and is one that could have easily have been told in the television programme.  The voice acting has been getting better with each episode, and it is very good here.  Only a scene where the Doctor and Amy were laughing felt forced this time, the rest of the voice acting flowed naturally.  The new characters are voiced well as well. I especially liked the supercomputer, who the Doctor bonded with after he made a funny remark about the computer's mundane duties. The music and sound effects are excellent as always.  The score from the main series is used here to great effect as usual.

The whole episode takes place in an underwater facility, but there is surprisingly a great deal of variety in the locations.  The episode takes place during Christmas, since the BBC wanted to launch both the television christmas special "A Christmas Carol" and this video game episode on the same day.  So, when you're running throughout the tunnels, you'll find rooms decorated with Christmas decorations along with the plain blue-grey rooms. 

The fact that this episode was out in time for Christmas is the main reason it failed to live up to it's expectations.  The game felt rushed.  There were actually parts of the game where I fell through the floor and respawned at the entrance of the room.  I didn't encounter any game-breaking bugs, but it's a shame that bugs as serious as this crept up into an otherwise fun episode.  There also weren't a lot of puzzles this time around, and the ones that were there were repeated often.  The game mostly was comprised of the stealth-like gameplay where the Doctor and Amy had to keep out of the shadows.  I found this gameplay fun, if a bit overused, but I would have liked to have seen a variety of puzzles beyond the door puzzles that we've seen before.  The last episode had a new puzzle that brought used the fun facts in gameplay.  It would have been great to have seen something like that here as well.

The story part of Shadows of the Vashta Nerada is a great continuation of Doctor Who: The Adventure Games.  The gameplay is a bit of a mixed bag though.  The puzzles are overused, and consisted of mainly door puzzles we've seen before.  The stealth gameplay was fun, but it too became a bit tedious with overuse.  The bugs present in this episode are the biggest concern.  While none of the bugs were game-breaking, they were enough to take me out of the game.  If you're a Doctor Who fan, Shadows of the Vashta Nerada is worth playing, but the fact that the game feels rushed makes it difficult to recommend the game to anyone else.

Final Verdict:

3 out of 5

Monday, April 4, 2011

Get Tannen Review

Get Tannen is the second episode in Telltale's Back to the Future: The Game, an episodic adventure game series that chronicles the adventures of Marty and Doc after the Back to the Future movies.  This episode takes place immediately where the last episode left off, and manages to capture the charm of the first episode while having a bigger story and beefier gameplay.

The art style is really starting to grow on me by this point.  The style seemed to fit the game in the first episode, but here it just shines.  We finally get to see the underbelly of the prohibition era Hill Valley, and with that comes some interesting new locations and new characters.  The models of the new characters are great, and their personalities would be right at home in one of the movies. I really enjoyed the character of Trixie Trotter, and it was great to see Jennifer's relatives visited in a Back to the Future story for once. 

The voices are all great once again.  The new voices fit their characters and don't feel forced, and Marty and Doc sound great as usual.  We get to see Biff as an antagonist in this game, and it feels a bit jarring at first that he still sounds like wimpy Biff.  The feeling was short lived for me however, as I realized that this is an alternate Biff from the ones we've seen, and his character changes make sense for him to be a bit of a wimp.

As for the music, the main Back to the Future score is still used here as it was in the first game, and once again it is used remarkably well.  Beyond that, Back to the Future always has music playing from the era that Marty finds himself in, and this game doesn't disappoint there.  Trixie Trotter sings various musical numbers when she's on stage, and I enjoyed each one of them.

The puzzles are still easier than usual, but they are improving.  I particularly enjoyed one puzzle that was an homage to a puzzle in Monkey Island 2, and required thought rather than just the usual object clicking.  The one thing that I didn't like in this episode was that some of the puzzles seem very repetitive by now, which was a trait that also kept Doctor Who: The Adventure games from being as good as they could have been. The Einstein sniffing puzzle were fun the first time, but they were brought back several times in this episode, and they just feel overused now.  This game also suffers from the same animation and script glitches that the first episode had.  I liked the idea of the characters calling you by the name you chose in the first episode, but since I played through the first episode twice and chose a different name the second time, the characters will alternate between those two names in this episode rather than staying consistent.  These glitches didn't keep me from enjoying the game, but they were definitely a minor hindrance.

Get Tannen keeps the tradition of great storytelling and excellent music and voice work that Telltale is known for.  Unfortunately, the game suffers from some repetitive puzzles and a few annoying glitches.  They aren't bad enough to stop anyone from enjoying the game, because the excellent story, voiceovers, and music make up for it.  Telltale's games have a tendency to improve from the third episode onward, so hopefully in the next episode the puzzles and presentation will match the bar set by the story and sound teams.

Update: 12/1/15: Since I wrote this review, a remaster called the 30th Anniversary Edition has been released. The improved textures aren't really that noticeable, however they also managed to get Tom Wilson to reprise his role as Biff. The authenticity of having Tom voice Biff works really well especially in the alternate reality where we get to hear the tough Biff.  The danger of the scene really works a lot better when you have the angry tones that Tom Wilson does so well.  If you have yet to play the game, pick up the remastered version if you can. If you've already played it, it's not really worth picking up again, unless you're a big Back to the Future fan.

Final Verdict:

3 out of 5