Over the years I’ve made my peace with those quirks in my nature that out me completely as a ‘nerd’, or if you prefer a ‘geek’. The funny thing is, those qualities were dormant for years, rearing their heads on occasion, but never firmly pushing me over the edge into that [previously scary] territory wherein being a geek/nerd/gamer was completely socially unacceptable.
I’m kinda glad that geek is chic these days. I feel less weird about the fact that I spent all day yesterday afternoon watching end to end episodes of ‘The Guild‘ while my nose was completely buried in ‘The Room‘.**
It’s on the basis that it’s the top game for iPad in 2012 that I downloaded the Room yesterday. And it’s worthy of the title. So worthy I played it all the way through over a number of hours yesterday afternoon, and loved it so much I reset it and played it all the way through again this morning.
I love it because it takes me right back to those early days of computer gaming that first pegged me as a nerd/geek/gamer way back in the early 90s. It has puzzles, teasers and all the tricks that are completely absorbing (not to mention stunningly beautiful graphics that blow you away on the retina iPad) and is absolutely my favourite kind of computer game. Which leads me to reminisce for a minute or two about those other computer games that have captured me over the years…
Initially it was those early DOS games… such 8bit goodness in video and sound!! Aaaah, the memories…
The first one I came across (read fell in love with was) Hugo’s House of Horrors, followed by Hugo 3 Jungle of Doom (Suzy, I remember playing that with you for some reason…). It wasn’t until much later that I found Hugo 2:Whodunnit and played it on some DOS emulator… well and truly after its first release… still very clever even when it was long passed over as archaic!
Where in the World is Carmen San Diego was one of the first games I played on Windows. Very early Windows and it was the highlight of one of my babysitting gigs… the kids I looked after owned it so it was a great day when I got to go over and hang out with them… playing Carmen well and truly into the night hours after they’d gone to bed! My favourite things.. mystery and international travel… all in one wee game. I’ve never seen it in the years since.. is it still out there??
Somewhere in the middle of all this, I was introduced to the Neverhood (I think it was my brother-in-law who found it). Gosh, whenever I pull this disc out I get nostalgic for all the kids I’ve introduced it to over the years, it’s another game that could use an outing on the iPad. It’s just so flipping awesome… if only because it’s completely built in claymation and follows an everyman hero through a journey to save his world. It’s perfect for adults and children and if you have a chance, and the right equipment, you should definitely try and get your hands on it.
I think I hit a bit of a lull after that, I moved north, didn’t have access to games or a computer other than in the context of work so I didn’t pick up any kind of games again until 2000 when I was introduced to the LucasArts games by the geek I was nannying for. He hooked me up with some great games that his kids and I played through (not sure who was the bigger kid at that point) and through them I fell in love with the Myst, the Monkey Island Series and with Grim Fandango (see below). They introduced me to this whole genre of adventure games and I was hooked and for as long as I have had a computer… (which he generously hooked me up with as well (nerd, built one for me from spare parts. Genius)) these have been my games of choice. None of this First Person Shooter malarkey, just good old fashioned brain bending puzzles!!!
Once I had a machine of my own I picked up the early Monkey Island games, Secret of Monkey Island, Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s revenge, The Curse of Monkey Island, the aforementioned kids and I played Monkey Island 4: Escape from Monkey Island together, and my nephews and I are slowly working our way through Monkey Island 5: Tales of Monkey Island whenever I go back to NZ.
I’m doing my best to turn them into game nerds too… much to their parent’s chagrin.
[as an aside... I also got into SimCity and Caesar IV - but only lasted as long as it took to build a city that would then need strategic defense... Then it got boring.]
Grim Fandango would pretty much be my hands down favourite of that era, as much as the Monkeys are cool, Grim just tickled my sense of humour and my style. It’s another adventure game but one whose look and feel is straight out of film noir though is set with themes, figures and motifs from Aztec belief in the afterlife (underworld, day of the dead… sounds dreadful… really is awesome – geek much?). The game play is set around Manny Calavera, a courier who shuttles people from death into the afterlife, the class of the journey determined by the deeds of the deceased while in the land of the living. You kinda have to be there, but I have an old windows machine and a copy of Grim that I pull out every couple of years, just for the hell of it. It really is a great game!! Wonder if it, like the monkeys, will get another life on the iPad… (fingers crossed).
The other game series I was introduced to in those nannying years was MYST, an absolute classic of the genre and still really highly regarded as one of the better puzzle adventure series out there.
I played MYST 1 with those aforementioned kids and went on to play Riven, Exile, Revelation and End of Ages (still haven’t finished that one). They’re incredibly challenging and these days, due to time constraints I never really can sit down and just play through, even with a walkthrough to speed things up. But they are beautiful to look at and so, so cleverly put together.
There are elements of the Room that remind me of playing that first MYST game, the puzzles are challenging but accessible, there is no need to be jumping back and forth to guides to get where you need to go, just a bit of patience and some lateral thinking.
Finally, I was outed as a gamer to one of the pastors in my old church, also an unashamed PC gamer who loves Adventure Games like I do… he handed me down a bunch of his old favourites, some I’m still yet to get through but among them are Schizm, Mysterious Journey 1&2, and Riddle of the Sphinx (aah, Egypt and adventures, what’s not to love!).
I never got into consoles, have never owned a Nintendo DS or any of those other ‘gaming only’ type devices, I suspect that what would happen if I did is that I’d lose myself in games never to be found again, or, if my iPhone habits are to be believed, I’d spend a fair bit of cash on games that I get sick of before I complete them leaving it like my iPhone, cluttered with unused apps that will likely never see the light of day again and no small amount of money wasted…
As it is, if companies keep cooking up games as good as the Room then I’m satisfied the genre isn’t going anywhere yet, and if we’re lucky Adventure Gaming will have a whole new renaissance and a whole new crop of young adventurous geeky followers… stuff it, let’s just say ‘young at heart’ adventurous geeky followers…
I shall unashamedly name myself among them.
**As an aside, for those who are uninitiated, ‘The Guild’ is a web tv series made by uber chick geek Felica Day which has run for 6 seasons and which celebrates all things MMORPG (massive multi-player online role playing game – think World of Warcraft).