Wednesday, March 23, 2011

They beep, they beep again..they`ll be here...

An old friend is just about to knock on your door..and he is furious because you`ve forgotten all about him...long ago.

Until the new post, play with this:

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Tales from Bavaria with Mr. Gabriel Knight

When people ask me how I learned English, I proudly point out computer games, adventures mainly, as the single source of my achievement. Because Mr. Potter, our English teacher in middle school, probably was a garbage collector in his country, and definitely not a professor. He was mumbling about last days soccer game at his table usually. I remember the color on his face the day Galatasaray won over Man United, poor bastard. He always looked like he had suicidal tendencies, probably dead by now.

Anyway, here is one of those games that helped me achieve what Mr. Potter couldn`t: GABRIEL KNIGHT : THE BEAST WITHIN 

The game was released for PC and Mac in 1995 from Sierra, a once-triumphing developer and publisher. And guess what, it was produced entirely in full motion video. So imagine a low-res video that your old webcam used to shoot, it looked like that. 

Except the fact that the guy looked like he was floating on a still picture instead of stepping to the ground, it was marvelous for the time. Phantasmagoria looked somewhat better than this, but it was mainly because that game was shot in darker places, where you could not see the details. This guy tried harder, shooting things in Schwarzwald of Germany, where everything looks green. And because of all the videos, the game came in 5 CD-ROMs, or 3456 floppy disks.

The storyline weaved together a werewolf story and some Bavarian history with some sexual intrigue. Our guy, Gabriel, inherits a German castle in Bavaria, Germany and the legendary title of Schattenjaeger (means shadow hunter, unlike English, I learned proper German at school) comes together with the castle. 

A small girl gets killed in the village and the villagers give the task of investigating this to the Schattenjaeger, well to us. The catch is, they believe that the killer is a werewolf. We are not alone though, we got our Asian helper Grace Nakimura all along our quest. Along six chapters Gabriel and Nakimura conduct their investigations separately until the very end, where they join forces together and kill the bastard.

I remember the ending of the game being very difficult and was timing based, chasing a werewolf in a Wagner opera. It felt creepy at the time, may look ridiculous now - time is a bitch when it comes to technology. 

pics and additional info from retro-roms.blogspot and wikipedia

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Start wearing purple for me now

This is not an old game. It`s a very new game, the one I`m still playing. The name is Kaptain Brawe: A Brawe New World. However the genre is old.

Old but gold. Hail to the one of the best genres of all gaming world: point`n click adventure. Kaptain Brawe`s similarity to Monkey Island series cannot go unnoticed; it`s so obvious that it`s almost disturbing. Nevertheless, there are some aspects making it somewhat different than the Lucasarts blockbusters.

First of all, the developer is a Croatian guy named Petar Ivancek, who actually has some weird accents and letters on his name that I wasn`t able to type with my keyboard. I like weird last names though, adds character. ehm.

Anyway, instead of the islands of Monkey Island, there are planets in Kaptain Brawe. It`s a fine, mildly funny, very well illustrated adventure, which has a fine pace and leveling system that goes from veeery easy to a what-the-hell-should-I-do-now type of difficulty. Nothing to pop your veins out though - there are hints for sissies that pick casual over hardcore gameplay in the beginning of the game.

One of the fine aspects of the game is the balanced length of the dialogues. No dialogue or monologue gives you an headache. Long dialogues are usually used as a bad trick to make short adventures longer. If it`s short, it`s short - there`s no need to turn it to a nightmare full of "eerr..what about Cortez? When did you meet him?" kind of lines. It`s short but to the point.

One drawback (or a plus for people like me) is the lack of voice acting. Everything you need is on your screen and all you hear is some effects and Eastern European tunes in the back. I say it adds character, but hey, I think weird names are cool too.

I`m not going to talk about the plot; it`s fun, the characters are funny, everything is in line with what you expect from a game like this.

I have nothing more to add - just go and play this one now; nicely done Petar (dude, his name is not even Peter, it`s Petar. ooh, he`s goood).

The game is available on Steam; pics from

Friday, December 17, 2010

Alone in the Dark, it is.

Fear of the dark. I have a phobia that someone`s always there. That`s what Bruce Dickenson said about being alone in the dark in 1992, exactly when Infogrames launched the epic video game "Alone in the Dark".

It`s also exactly when I got the game from our neighborhood`s game store, which proudly sold solely pirate (meaning illegal, not jolly roger) games. Back then, on the Asian side of Istanbul we had this game store - The guy was recording games to floppy discs from his extremely illegal hard drive. He got himself a Mustang through the investments of people like me.

Anyway, I played this game, and played once more. Honestly, I usually don`t play games twice, especially the ones with a plot (as opposed to racing, soccer etc). And I never ever play again, if the game has a horror aspect to it. See, that`s my thing - I`m a jumpy guy, I get easily scared in horror games.

Above is the reason why I played the game twice: It was my first game that I could choose one of two characters! Edward Carnby, or Ms. Emily Hartwood. Nothing changes depending on the character, but still!!

The game is set in 1924 in Louisiana. A classic, yet cool haunted mansion story. It`s mainly an adventure game with some fighting aspects built into it. What you fight against are zombies, other supernatural enemies, rats etc. But the main trick of the game is the changing camera angle. 

The camera angle changes as you move within a room, adding a cinematic feel to the game. Items and characters in Alone in the Dark are three-dimensional, rendered upon a two-dimensional fixed background. A good example of adapting to a more realistic world! Mixing polygons and 2-D prerendered background images required a fixed camera angle back then, which designers used to their advantage to create dramatic scene setups appropriate for a horror-themed game.

Similar to Veil of Darkness, one of the scare elements of the game is the lack of technology - poor sounds and irrecognizable faces of monsters. Aahh, sweet times. 

Have you ever been alone at night
Thought you heard footsteps behind
And turned around and no-one's there ?
And as you quicken up your pace
You find it hard to look again
Because you're sure there's someone there...fear of the dark.

images by

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Panzer Misery

This one comes for my brother, who sacrificed his most wonderful years of youth and freedom to little mean hexagons.

It was mid-to-late 90s, (which means either 96 or 97, I don`t know why I wrote it like that) our 486 SX-25 endured a serious fire in our living room, which turned everything in the room into ashes and rubble. Well, except our Samsung PC. It`s 14-inch screen turned into a black can of soda, the floppy drive boiled and squirt itself out the case. But the PC, the motherboard and everything attached to it, survived. So did we, thanks to the best dog in the world, Archie.

 *not actual PC

I guess the fire wasn`t the best thing for our family`s finances, we had repaired only the fundamentals of the PC. As a result, it turned into a toaster looking thing, pitch black - and the best part: it did not have a on/off switch. We turned it on by plugging, and off by pulling the plug. Exactly like a toaster!

Panzer General came into our innocent lives at this very troubled time, when we had very few luxuries. The game was developed in 1994 by SSI, which was acquired by Mindscape, which was then acquired by Mattel, which is now owned by Ubisoft. Ha!

Panzer General is the book definition of turn-based strategy, staged in WWII. Sounds like a cool idea, maybe if finishing it didn`t take as long as the war itself. 

The formula of the game is very simple: pick a side (axis or allies), develop a strategy (just for fun, it won`t work anyway), and attack your enemy one tank (plane, cruiser or soldier) at a time. The game then multiplies, divides, takes derivative of the 15th permutation of your army`s strength and decides whoever wins that attack. At the end you probably lose that battle for a reason you don`t understand, because the AI in the game is a nasty, mean whore which manages to surprise you every time.

I remember my brother playing the game for 14 hours straight, inhaling the soot out of the computer`s loud fan. But the problem wasn`t the hours, or the smell of 15000 matches burning at the same time. It was the miserable fact of losing the game 90% of the time, since the game`s AI is...well, see the previous paragraph.

Talking about this game is like telling you about a bus that never hit you. My aim is to give you happiness and joy because you never had to play this game and live in peace, probably never aware of this. 

Let this nightmare of hexagons perish in the lost pages of time, just like the world war II itself. Amen.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Ken sent me

80s. Aaah, 80s. Beautiful, colorful, tasteless, exaggerated in every sense. Time of Robocop, MC Hammer and Thundercats. When people thought leather miniskirts and padded shoulders are the path toward being sexy and cool.

That`s exactly when we`ve met Larry Laffer, or the legendary Leisure Suit Larry. Being the lovechild of the talented Mr. Al Lowe and Sierra Interactive, Larry`s first and most acknowledged adventure - Land of Lounge Lizards - came out in 1987.

Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of Lounge Lizards is the first game of a 6-game series, which went worse in every game, and never could get the same popularity of the first game. Even the remake in 1991 (and re-release in 1997) of the original version was not as popular as the original, where you typed in (not clicked) your commands for Larry.

Perfect, original, creative: You had to go into the bathroom, sit, and try to figure out the nasty carvings and posts on the walls to get the password "Ken sent me", run and tell the bouncer at the back of Lefty`s bar for a night in the arms of a wonderful pixelated prostitute. ..or something like that.

The most important part was the text-adventure style commands, where you can tell Larry to do even most ridiculus, unacceptable things, and Larry would give you a hilarious response, even if it`s not the right action to do.

The way you type your commands are like : "Open door", "Dance with the woman in red shirt" etc. So you can be as creative as you want.

I remember falling in love with the 16-color lady at the back of the bar like it was yesterday. I was trying all the curse words I`ve heard in English to find a funny comment, or maybe an easter egg (usually some sex related graphic or comment), cleverly hidden in the game by the programmers. The keyboard of my 386(sx 25) probably knows the darker side of my adolescence better than anyone else.  

80`s had a weird approach to sex, money, humour and fashion. And funny enough, Larry is one of the best 80`s experiences you can get now.

I say put on your white sneakers, tight light blue jeans and go back where everything was 16-color CGA. If anybody asks, say Ken sent you.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

I haaaveeee theee pooooweeeeerrr !

Let me tell you this: This game is the jewel of Amstrad. Coming out right at the golden age of gaming, it is one of the first games made from a movie. A bad movie, to be fair. It is He-Man: Masters of the Universe, in 80s technology, and 80BC`s taste of entertainment.

First, I want to give you a quick walk-through of the Loading screen. The tab on the left and bottom is your HUD, which will remain there from the loading screen till the end of the game (almost like a gamewatch). The HUD contains a compass, your life and weapon gauges, a "chord" indicator and your score. The image depicts you, as legendary Dolph Lundgren. Could you recognize the guy at the back? He is one of the greatest villains of all times. He is Skeletor!

Here on the left you can see the title screen, which evidences the effort and time put into this masterpiece. It really is a masterpiece. You`ll understand why.

Your in-game info and mission is given by the beautiful and talented Teela in a pop-up window. It may look more like a passport picture of a eastern European transvestite, but she has vital information for your game...well actually no, she has not. Because whatever you do, everything is the SAME in this game. Nothing ever changes. Even the gameplay screen remains the same.

Basically, what you do is wandering around bunch of corridors, which literally feels like Eternia. When you enter a new screen, you`ll notice that it`s the clone of the previous screen with new enemies scattered around the black parts of the screen. The bad guys are from Skeletor`s army, they are the little mighty pixel people flying around.

These sneaky and very dangerous people throw small dots at you, but do not fear - you can do the same. You`ve got to make sure that no small dot hits you. I believe these are laser beams, which confused me a lot for many years. Thinking about the whole concept of He-Man, I don`t remember He-Man`s sword (THE power sword) was able to blast laser. But hey, who am I to judge the successful designers at Gremlin Interactive.

In this picture above, you can see He-Man going after a chord, while the bad guy relentlessly fires his fearsome dot at him. 

The informative gameplay immediately lets you know that you, He-Man, found a chord. You know, that happens in Eternia.

In case too many small dots hit you and the number over the small head in your HUD drops to zero (your lives), you lose the game. Game over. Skeletor and his army of pixel people have won and became the masters of the universe. Shame on you!