Monday, 1 November 2010

CaptainD's Top Ten Adventure Games

This is a slightly unusual list in that, while it is full of adventure games that I loved, I have also made sure that I don’t choose any games in the top ten adventure game list already written by Gnome.  This created some slight difficulties as there were games on his list that I would otherwise have included on mine.

Gnome chose:

1. Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge
2. Gabriel Knight 3: Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned
3. Grim Fandango
4. Day of the Tentacle
5. Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars
6. The Secret of Monkey Island
7. Zork
8. Sanitarium
9. King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow
10. The Longest Journey

So, my choices (in no particular order)…

The Curse of Monkey Island (LucasArts, 1997) – always my favourite Monkey Island game though I dearly love the first game, the combination of cursed-treasure plot, cartoony graphics and devious puzzles easily overcame even the slightly annoying verb-coin interface.  Look!  A three-headed monkey!

Broken Sword 2 (Revolution Software, 1997) – though I love the first game, really liked the third (yes, despite all the crate arranging!) and... well, the fourth had impressive visuals... the second Broken Sword game, with its majestic music, diverting puzzles and constantly changing scenery, is my firm favourite of the series.

Operation Stealth (Delphine Software International, 1990) – become a James Bond-like character in this excellent spy thriller adventure game.  In addition to the normal adventure game features you’d expect, you also get a whole range of cool gadgets to play with.

Zak McKraken and the Alien Mindbenders (Lucasfilm Games, 1988) – this was the game that really first engendered my love of adventure games, along with The Secret of Monkey Island.  The daft plot about aliens using the phone company to take over the minds of humans, the ability to play multiple characters, the dry humour throughout, being able to take over animal’s bodies temporarily, long conversations with the guru in Katmandu, solving riddles on Mars, witch doctors who love golf, the ability to travel all over the world, even the maze sections (which I generally hate) – it all added up to a great game that took me two years to complete.  Not to forget the greatness of nose glasses, of course.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Graphic Adventure (Lucasfilm Games, 1989) – strangely not all that many films get turned into adventure games, but the third Indy film got two games – an arcade adventure (which was okay) and this, which was awesome.  It introduced a few extra ideas that maybe didn’t quite work – the fighting mini-game for instance – but you could usually get round those if you solved other puzzles.  Trademark LucasFilm Games humour, great graphics and a storyline that followed the plot of the film well while stamping its own style on things made a really great game.

Discworld Noir (Perfect Entertainment, 1999) – the third Discworld novel introduced us to the Disc’s first (and possibly last) Private Detective.  I like it more than the earlier Discworld games because it’s got more originality and the “smellovision” feature when you become a werewolf is an innovative feature.  Perhaps a little too wordy in parts, but it brought Discworld to life in a way the the previous two Discworld games, good as they were, never got close to doing.

Sam and Max Season One (TellTale Games, 2006-7) – TellTale Games brilliantly reinvented Steve Purcell’s madcap freelance police and, despite the fact that seasons two and three have also been brilliant in their own way (and the third season boasts far superior graphics), the first season has a certain charm that isn’t matched by the others. A real joy to play from start to finish, and the first season has one significant advantage over the second and third - it has an extra episode.  The "Abe Lincoln Must Die" episode is priceless.

Tales of Monkey Island Season One (TellTale Games / LucasArts, 2009) – Well, who would have thought that TellTale Games could manage with Monkey Island what they’d done so well with Sam and Max? Somehow, they did it – creating a series that was true to the spirit of the original games but carved a unique identity of its own.  The finale of season one was a great pastiche of the end of the The Secret of Monkey Island.

Journey to the Moon (The Adventure Company, 2005) – called “Voyage” outside the UK, this too Jules Vernes’novel “Around the Moon” as its basis.  The moonscape is brilliantly envisaged, and though some of the puzzles are perhaps unfairly difficult, this is the best first-person adventure game I can remember playing.

The Dig (LucasArts, 1995)– Perhaps not spectacularly good compared to other games mentioned here, but The Dig was a wonderfully atmospheric adventure game.  A nice sci-fi storyline and some good characterisation made this one really enjoyable.

CaptainD's PC Gaming Blog


gnome said...

Excellent list there Captain D. And Operation Stealth you say eh? Have to finally give it a go.

Igor Hardy said...

A very interesting list Captain D with some real surprises.

I must say I tried Operation Stealth, Zak McKraken and Last Crusade, but after a while gave up each of them due to annoying dead-ends, unforgiving deaths, illogical and mundane puzzles (losing your money in Zak - GAH!), as well as the lack of good music.

Strangely enough, I much prefer Sierra's EGA adventures to early LucasArts efforts, though from the time of the 1st Monkey Island on I'm a devoted LucasArts-fanatic.

Jonathon Wisnoski said...

Loved Journey to the Moon and The Dig is one of my all time favourite games.

Will have to try Discworld Noir, as I have heard good things about Discworld, but sadly have never tried anything from it.

gnome said...

@ Jonathon: Discworld Noir is simply fantastic. Easily the best Discworld adventure to date.

CaptainD said...

Gnome - I have to say that it's many years since I played Op Stealth, and I have to admit that I wasn't particularly good at it, but it made a lasting impression on me!

Igor - That probably explains why it took me so long to complete Zak! I guess I just loved the humour and that overcame all the mazes and things that I didn't like much. I also liked the way that unlike many adventure games, in Zak there were often two different solutions to problems. As above with Op Stealth... maybe nostalgia is playing its part. It probably wouldn't have made my top ten if I hadn't also been avoiding Gnome's choices - Grim Fandango, Day of the Tentacle and Secret of Monkey Island for instance are all adventure games that I like more than Op Stealth. I've always liked LucasArts adventure games more than Sierra's though, which probably accounts for a lot of it.

Jon - ah, good to see someone else appreciated The Dig - you very rarely see it mentioned on top ten lists but I really enjoyed it. I think you'll like Discworld Noir... in fact I'm tempted to get hold of it again!

Igor Hardy said...

Well, I tried to play those 3 games not that long ago - my experience might have been different 10 years earlier as I don't have the patience I had once. Still, I much prefer the classic text adventures or graphic ones with a parser - I'm somehow more tolerant to design flaws in old games when I at least have a parser to have fun with.

Admittedly, dead ends while annoying present some interesting design opportunities too.

CaptainD said...

I was playing Ghost Pirates recently and wondering how many bits that annoyed me about it (though it's good fun overall) were common features in games I've mentioned here as classics. Perception does change over time - both your own expectations and the game market in general.

It might also have to do with WHEN you got into adventure games - for me it was the 16-bits and the LucasFilm Games releases, the Sierra games largely passed me by and I've never really been able to get into text adventures.

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Miss Jones said...

I could not agree more on you list.
But what about the myst series?

CaptainD said...

I've gotta be honest, I never got on with the Myst games myself!

Jonathon Wisnoski said...

I never really got on too well with Myst myself, having missed 2 and 3 (considered the best of the series I believe).

But realMyst did make it into my top ten adventure games (

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