Do it yourself, Foster. I’m just a cleaning droid, remember?

I sometimes forget things. Important things. Such as how I used to love point-and-click adventure games during their golden era of the mid-nineties. At least it was the golden era for me. At that time, my gaming ambitions were severely restricted by my parents who did not exactly see the practice of hunting for pixels as a very fulfilling pastime, and as a consequence, my choice of games was also quite limited. I can still vividly remember one demo CD that I cherished so much that I probably finished all of the sharewares on it without ever being able to so much as get a glimpse of their respective full versions. There is no way for me to accurately recall what was on that disc, but The Dig, Beneath a Steel Sky, Full Throttle, Alone in the Dark, Big Red Adventure and Little Big Adventure were definitely present. In other words, the ones that have flayed my mind until this day were the heavily story-driven adventure titles.

Hello, Joey

Thinking about it now, it is difficult to comprehend to what level the imagination of a 9-year-old was enthralled by a space vessel landing on an asteroid, or a survival story in dystopian, post-nuclear Australia. These playable demo versions of games were able to get an extraordinarily strong grasp on me considering they would probably have taken an adult 15 minutes to finish and at that time I could hardly understand any of the complex nuances in the plot, nevermind the subtle humor. What I was competent at, luckily, was pointing and clicking. There are some layers of reasoning there that I can only try to understand in this day and age. Where did my enthusiasm stem from? Why do I fondly remember these games almost two decades later?

Maybe it was the sense of accomplishment from being able to gradually advance despite having to ask for help at each difficult word. Maybe it was the fact that I loved to be alone and solve puzzles. Or maybe the gray box sometimes referred to as a computer was all it took to keep me interested. In any case, that lone demo CD, which has now been lost for more than a decade, provided me with some everlasting gaming memories.

We will leave no crevice untouched!

Nowadays, I suffer from saturation fatigue. New gaming titles come and go constantly, and they are all offering tremendous amounts of playing hours, additional accomplishments, downloadable extra content and improved graphics. What a load of crapshaith. I’ve slowly come to realize that these are the exact things that have been pushing me to turn away from newer games in the first place. It makes me feel old when admitting to it, but I would rather play classics from the ancient days, when Fragilis sang and Saxaquine of the Quenelux held sway, when the air was sweet and the nights fragrant. I don’t want to partake in games that take me forever to complete, because there is simply no time for that anymore. Or even if there were time, my conscience would not allow me to waste hundreds of hours on a single game. By nature, I tend to go around every nook and cranny to make sure I haven’t missed any content in a game. This leaves me with a huge dilemma when playing newer adventure or role-playing titles with infinite playability and a throng of repetitive achievements to strive for. It’s far more rewarding – and cheaper – just to ignore the newer produce and regress back to childhood.


Naturally, the golden memories effect applies, and I abide by the theory that everything was better when you were 12. But this does in no way diminish the legitimacy of playing old classics. I recently saved Union City in Beneath a Steel Sky and jumped straight into Flight of the Amazon Queen afterwards only to crash… in the Amazon. By allocating a couple of hours to playing classics on a virtual machine, I can relive great stories from the best days of SCUMM games without worrying about graphics or computer requirements while avoiding the need to pour my entire life essence into the gaming process.

Be vigilant.


P.S. Beneath a Steel Sky has also been remastered for the iPad, iPod Touch and iPhone, so anyone even remotely interested in puzzle adventures should go pick it up for a fistful of virtual dollars.

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