Posts tagged ‘Lucasarts’

City of Secrets (HD for iPad)

City of Secrets (and HD) is an iPhone and iPad classical point and click adventure game presented with beautiful hand drawn art, layered 2D backgrounds and a 3D character cast, fully spoken throughout.

City of Secrets HD

The main characters you control are Rex (a little dog) and Mr Moles. Originally cartoon characters in Polish media, they have been in existence for nearly 100 years, so there’s a big back-story there for those keen enough to research it!

Various other games with the characters have been launhed on various platforms, selling over a million copies in Eastern Europe, but this is their first appearance on the iOS platform!

It’s a charming game, with a personality all of it’s own. The balance between intricacy of puzzles and accessibility is pitched about right, with the puzzles giving up a good challenge, but never getting too frustrating.

There are several methods to point players in the right direction such as a notebook containing a list of completed and ‘to-do’ tasks – and a hint system giving a written clue for the next most important task if you really get stuck!

City of Secrets HDFor more seasoned players there are numerous more subtle clues in the voice-overs and art itself, but it’s easy to miss the relevance of the spoken clues the first time around, and there’s no way to go back and read any spoken dialogue, so you will have to have your best detective head on and pay attention to really grasp it all! A notepad would be handy because it’s pretty obvious when a clue is told, but hard to remember it when it comes to the realisation of how to use it!

Most puzzles involve searching for items, sometimes combining them in the inventory, exploring the scenes and talking to the inhabitants, then using the right items to progress the plot.

The animated story is split into 5 chapters, and follows the adventures of Mr Moles, trying to save Poco Pane (the moles underground world) from being taken over by the sneaky rats!
City of Secrets HDChapters are introduced by a narrator, commenting on the action and giving context to the next scene. In some chapters control is passed to Rex the dog which gives a nice change of pace and feeds off the relationship between the main characters. In ways, it reminded me a lot of Wallace & Gromit or Sam & Max in the way the characters work together in the story, and has a lot of the quirky charm of those games, although the puzzles are more object and action led rather than talking to the right people with the correct responses so City of Secrets still has it’s own feel, with the much better option of smooth and attractive backdrops rather than slightly under-resolution 3D!

The game is crafted to work very well with touch controls, although there is usually only one context for each interaction which simplifies it, rather than in Lucasarts games where you can choose between actions for an object.

The whole game is very atmospheric and highly polished, with the artwork pulling it all together.

City of Secrets HDI understand there are going to be other episodes of the series, but there is an entire cohesive story arc contained within City of Secrets.

The stability of the game is also to be commended – never even thought about crashing. It’s also got a rock-solid load/save system, as well as automatic quick saves each time something significant happens so you won’t ever lose any progress.

I love adventure games on iPad – in my opinion they are the perfect genre for the device… It’s such a chilled way of playing that it feels like an interactive book with a life of its own! You can just pick it up and carry on with your story at your pace, in a very tactile way.


You can see the full details on their website: www.AidemMedia.com
Or download the official Press Release here: Aidem Press Release – City Of Secrets

 

www.AidemMedia.com.

My Top 10 (or so) Gaming moments: Best games of all time, on all platforms

In this list I will try to identify the 10 best games from all my years of gaming. This isn’t the same criteria as my “Desert Island Discs” list – rather these are the BEST games that stick in my memory and may not really be ones I would go back to now or ever again… but defining games in the history of games development and my interest in the evolving genres.

Let’s start at the top!

  1. Monkey Island 2: LeChucks Revenge: (Graphic Adventure by Lucasarts – released 1991 – PC)
    As eluded to in my post about Point & Click Adventures, Monkey Island 2 has all of my heart and my most vivid and undoubtedly some of the best gaming memories! At the time the graphics were beautiful, the sounds so full of soul, the story so wonderfully written, the puzzles so fun and ingenious and the jokes so laugh out loud funny – I can remember it clearly to this day! Number 1 spot with no hesitation!!
  2. AV-8B Harrier Assault: (Flight Simulator by Simis – released 1992 – PC)
    I remember getting my first analogue joystick for this game and revelling in the fluid flight simulation that is AV8B Harrier Assault. You have to take control of a huge island using your aircraft and battleships. There were 2 parts to the game – the 1st person flying/mission running/tactics – and the top-view commander strategic side of planning the missions and assigning AI aircraft to various roles and missions. You could play the game exclusively as one or the other role or do a bit of both. The frame rate of the graphics was unbelievable (only recently matched with the latest hardware, what with all the emphasis on glossy graphics and lighting effect these days) which made flying the Harrier a real joy! And the depth of the mission planning and overall “big picture” of a dynamic war effort to take control of the island (based on a real location) gave it some serious ‘stickyness’! I was hooked, lined and sinkered!!
  3. Grand Prix 2: (Racing Simulator by Microprose & Geoff Crammond – released 1996 – PC)
    This sequel to the groundbreaking “Grand Prix” by Geoff Crammond was the first racing game that suceeded in my mind at actually being a realistic simulator of F1 racing. Accurate lap times, subtle effects that car setups had, tyre degradation,  real circuits, real teams and drivers – the whole atmosphere was totally convincing. I felt like a racing driver at home at last!! Because of this game I absolutely love racing sims now – my favourite genre by far – and I couldn’t wait to get back from school to play GP1. I learned the Monaco track inside out to the point where I could do a competitive lap literally with my eyes shut for the whole lap… Dad was impressed anyway 🙂   – funilly years later I watched an F1 build up show that showed Jenson Button (I think) doing just that i.e. imagining his way around the track (like bobsleigh dirivers) and being observed by his trainer… he can imagine a lap down to something like 0.2 seconds off what he would really be doing in the race, and it’s what all the best current F1 drivers can do!!! Maybe I could have made it!! :p
  4. GT Legends: (Racing Simulator by SimBin/10tacle Studios – released 2005 – PC)
    I just adored the cars chosen to be a part of this wonderful game – classic road cars from the 60’s an 70’s (The Alfa GTA was my out andf out favourite) – with all their lack of power, or lack of chassis sophistication to deal with too much power that they had (AC Cobra  😮  ), made each one feel and drive completely differently and made it a real challenge and ever so satisfying to learn the intricacies of each car enough to master them and start winning with them. It’s the first racing simulator that I had taken seriously online, getting in so many hours practice it scares me to think about it too long ;P
  5. Midi Maze: (First Person Shooter Multiplayer by Xanth Software F/X – released 1987 – Atari ST)
    Very early multiplayer game, linked 2 (or more) Atari ST’s together with a Midi cable, and introduced the concept of shooting your friends without hurting them!! The 3D graphics were simple, but the feeling was amazing – the knot in your stomach when you know you are being chased and just need to get round the next corner to be safe for a second, then quickly double back around a column or corridor and sneak up on his behind was incredible!
  6. Battlefield 2: (First Person Shooter Multiplayer by Dice – released 2005 – PC)
    Taking Midi Maze a few hundred steps further in every way – the feeling of being part of a bigger team at work, and relying on your team mates as much as they rely on you, was again a defining moment in my gaming history. What would we have done without the Internet!!??
  7. Half Life: (First Person Shooter by Valve – released 1998 – PC)
    They all do it now, but the first time you PLAYED THE INTRO(!) of a game, then suddenly found yourself with control was a jaw dropping moment! The rest of the game just flowed on seamlessly and it was just such a well scripted, paced and superbly written experience that really did change the face of gaming for good… for everyone!
  8. Starglider: (Arcade Space Flying by Argonaut Software – released 1986 – Atari ST)
    I still clearly remember this game purely because it was the first time I heard a computer talk to me with a realistic synthesised voice!! It was quite surreal – both my Dad and I were looking around the room to see where this voice could be coming from then realised it was the game LOL!! The intro music has a girl singing “Staaaarrrr Gliiiddeeerrr” repeatedly. I don’t think the game was all that great but it still sticks in my memory 😀
  9. Turbo Esprit: (Driving game by Durell – released 1986 – ZX Spectrum)
    Basically a Grand Theft Auto style game in a huge 3D city. You had to stop the bad guys from getting out of the city by cutting them off and dealing enough damage to stop them. The sense of freedom and the fact you had to stop for petrol and repairs was interesting – I played this for soooo long!!
  10. Test Drive III: The Passion: (Driving simulator by Accolade – released 1990 – PC)
    The first game release I was excited about (or even bothered to know anything about before I saw it on the shelves) was Test Drive 3. My friend had a PC that could play it becuase at the time I only had an Atari ST and this was “next-gen” gaming, so was never to be released on Atari, but I bought it anyway so I could take it round to his house to play together. It was truly epic at the time. Full 3D free roaming world. A choice of real sports cars with 3D shapes (woohooo!) and just a sandbox approach to driving. No races, or missions, or anything really to do as far as I remember. Just driving around slowly then caning it for the fun of it!! I treated each second like a real test drive and didn’t want ot damage the cars… stopping at all the junctions, not overtaking madly – then when you let it rip you really felt the power of those supercars 😀
  11. Spy vs. Spy: (Action game by First Star Software – released 1984 – ZX Specturm)
    Absolutely desparately needs a remake! This would be amazing as a modern day multiplayer game. I suppose the nearest thing we have currently is “The Ship” (a quality mod on the valve engine) – but it’s not really the same concept at all. The sneaky sneaky, frantic split-screen action was a breath of fresh air even then. Great visual style and attractive main characters… more like this please!
  12. Syndicate: (Real Time Strategy / RPG by Bullfrog Productions – released 1993 – PC)
    One of those games that was so ahead of it’s time in its scope, features, gameplay mechanics, depth, adult themes and graphics. But what would you expect from Peter Molyneux, one of a handful of truly genial game programmers. A re-imagining of Syndicate was on the cards but seems to have been shelved – which is a massive shame as I think the theme and setting would still get all generations of gamers interested all over again.
  13. Maniac Mansion: Day of the Tentacle: (Graphic Adventure by Lucasarts – released 1993 – PC)
    It’s hard to compare DoTT to Monkey Island for me, as I have such a soft spot for MI in my heart – bu objectively I think it’s the most fun Graphic Adventure game ever made! If you are a youngster reading this… please, do yourself a favour and play it!! Dont scoff at the graphics – they are cartoony anyway so have aged very well – but you will see how games are MEANT to be done when you are sucked in to the whacky world of Bernard, Laverne and Hoagie. The underlying concept of time travel is handled so superbly it just makes me weep that with all the money and creative power we should be able to summon up these days, we seem to be going backwards in almost all areas apart from graphics and audio 😦

Please send your replies in the form below and tell us your ultimate gaming moments! I would love to reminisce and hear your stories 🙂

The Death of “Point & Click” Adventures

My fondest ever memory of gaming… Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge by Lucasarts (released 1991). The atmosphere, art style and story was (still is) incredible. I loved the 2D hand drawn art in those earlier games. They had so much more character than anything 3D shaders can throw at us.

All Lucasarts titles were top notch quality in every way, but at the age of 16 playing in my darkened bedroom, MI2 had me totally captivated!

What has happened to my beloved Point & Click games??!!

The most recent games are of course all geared up for joypad control systems. Fine… but where have the ideas gone?

The writing of any Lucasarts game was so sophisticated, subtle and most importantly just plain funny!!

The most recent Monkey Island 5 (Tales of Monkey Island) is now developed by Telltale Games as an episodic release in 5 parts, but with a cohesive storyline betwen all episodes. I have not played all the way through yet… somehow it just doesn’t feel quite right although it is of a very good standard – better than their previous games of this ilk, Sam & Max and Wallace & Gromit. It’s on my “to play” list so will report back with a mini review when I’m done.

Other more recent P’n’C games I have tried are:-

  • Ceville (a bit slow and trying too hard to be whacky)
  • A Vampyre Story (quite good story with some good puzzles and stylish 3D graphics)
  • Sam & Max season 1 (episodic approach makes the puzzles a bit too self-confined and sequential)
  • Wallace & Gromit season  1 (good fun if you like W&G – very kid friendly!)

But they really can’t compare with the Lucasarts Classics such as:-

  • All the Monkey Island games (a class of their own… well 1, 2 and 3 stand out as the best, 4 was a bit off but that was semi-3D where you moved the character with the cursor keys, so not a real point and click any more)
  • Day of the Tentacle (sublime story, amazing puzzles, original game mechanics, beautiful pace, great characters and voice acting)
  • Sam & Max Hit the Road (funny story and lines, great locations)
  • Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis (very clever mechanical puzzles, long story)
  • Grim Fandango (stunning visual art style, brilliant script, imaginative story)
  • Beneath a Steel Sky
  • Full Throttle

…I will post more detailed reviews of these at some point!

So going back to my first question… What HAS happened to Point & Click games?!

Has the audience changed THAT much? Are the development costs too high now? Have the writers all gone on holiday?

What are your thoughts?

And… what was your favourite of the pointy clicky games?