Eurogamer Retro: Zak McKracken

By John Walker on March 8th, 2010 at 10:30 am.

Sigh, more rendered cutscenes.

As you know, I’m first with the comment on all the big games of the day. Which is why Eurogamer now carries my ruthless breakdown of LucasArt’s Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders. In case you remember when it first came out, and in case you think gaming is a modern pursuit, let me offer you that slightly sicky feeling in your stomach: this game came out twenty-two years ago. I went to it remembering it as brilliant. I came out realising it was full of brilliant ideas, but not a brilliant game. Clearly others disagree. Let’s fight. But most of all, this was, to my mind, intended to be a piece celebrating my dad’s friend Ted. I hope I managed that.

“I wonder if I’m getting stupider. Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders came out in 1988, when I was 11 years old. It seems impossible to believe that at the age of 32 I can have become worse at games. And yet while my memories of playing Zak Mak when it first came out are extremely hazy, I certainly don’t remember getting stuck quite as often. What I do remember is that I really enjoyed it. I’ve since been told by those who should know that this cannot possibly have been true. So I’ve gone back to find out.”

Continues here.

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70 Comments »

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  1. pistolhamster says:

    I see just a blank page when I click continues here? Loved Zak, was hard to play when a young boy that had just begun learning english a few years before. But graphical adventures were SO much more approachable than text only!

    There was a precursor to both this and Maniac Mansion: Labyrinth, based on the movie from the mid-80s. The one with David Bowie in it. This game went from text-only to a graphical game build with the same SCUMM engine, or an early version of it. That game was BRUTAL too.

    • John Walker says:

      Odd – the link’s working fine. Maybe go through eurogamer.net front page?

    • pistolhamster says:

      Some local blocking shenanigans is afoul here, I can’t even see Eurogamer.net. Please do not adjust your sets.

  2. the wiseass says:

    I’m absolutely sure I have become worse at games. As a kid I had infinitely more patience while playing a game and even the toughest challenges did not turn me off. Nowadays I throw in the towel way too soon. As a kid I was also more forgiving, I was able to enjoy most games despite their flaws but now… now even the slightest bugs or gameplay issues tend to piss me off.

  3. the wiseass says:

    I’m absolutely sure I have become worse at games. As a kid I had infinitely more patience while playing a game and even the toughest challenges did not turn me off. Nowadays I throw in the towel way too soon. As a kid I was also more forgiving, I was able to enjoy most games despite their flaws but now… now even the slightest bugs or gameplay issues tend to piss me off.

    You know what else is starting to piss me off, the RPS spam filter that deletes your messages because it thinks they are spam as soon as you try to fix your spelling errors. Please make this go away :(

    • Xugu Madison says:

      I think it’s a lot to do with the fact that as a kid, I had more free time, or more accurately less demands on my free time. Now I’ve got much more competition for my time, there’s much less of a compelling argument to stick with something that’s frustrating me.

    • LionsPhil says:

      @Xugu: Not least from all the other games which you could be spending your precious free time on, and the increasing ease with which you can switch between them, or just give up and get help.

      When it’s taken ten minutes to load a text adventure from cassette tape and the Web hasn’t been invented yet (and it’s not as if you have a modem to go dialing into a BBS anyway), what else are you going to do?

    • Xugu Madison says:

      @Lions Oh good grief, I’d forgotten the fun of finding something to do while you waited for your entertainment to load… and the various loading schemes (ranging from the BBC Micro’s simple counting up, to the ZX Spectrum’s flashing madness at the edges of the screen).

      I do not miss the old days of gaming…

    • Clovis says:

      Ya, as a kid I beat Ninja Gaiden (NES). Today, I don’t think I could get past the first level.

      Of course, why would I want to try?

    • James G says:

      I miss how a game can no longer take up what feels like months of my life. I remember being involved with a game for what felt like years, and now I no longer have the patience. It surprises me how long some modding communities stick around. I can imagine it can be quite depressing when you finish your Magnum Opus only to realise no one plays the damn game anymore.

    • disperse says:

      Of course, emulated NES games have the advantage of quick save and quick load slots. Although I played Ninja Gaiden for hundreds of hours as a teen I only beat it with the assistance of an emulator after college.

    • bill says:

      I don’t know if i’ve gotten worse, but i think (as others have said) my patience has decreased. I also think that maybe i’ve lost some of my childhood sense of wonder, discovery and illogical thinking.

      I’m not sure it’s exactly true that games have gotten easier. Games now often have way more complex in some ways (controls, etc..). Games back then might have been less polished, but you could pick them up and know what to do quicker… now there is a lot more assumed knowledge and skill. (who didn’t spend their first time with mouselook runing around looking at the floor or ceiling? )

      One important difference is that back when i was playing Indiana Jones adventure games it was THE ONLY game I had. So I could spend 3 months finishing it without problems. These days I have a big pile of unplayed/finished games, and keep getting more in sales. Plus i have a 3 second attention span…

  4. pimorte says:

    I haven’t played the game, but I think I should point out that in some parts of the USA you can put mail in your own mailbox, raise a little flag on the box and the postie will take it for delivery later.

  5. RodeoClown says:

    You used the kazoo to wake the bus driver?
    I used the hockey stick (I think). And then the bread.

    I liked that there were multiple solutions to things, and I hated the mazes.

    I have a copy here, but alas, it uses 3.5″ floppies, and I have no machine which will accept that kind of meal.

    • Premium User Badge

      drewski says:

      I wonder if Just Cause 2 will be available on floppies and, if not, why not.

    • LionsPhil says:

      @drewski: The irony is, given how games these days want to redownload themselves almost in ther entirity as part of either idiotic DRM or grossly inefficient autoupdates, you could probably just stick enough metadata to add a Steam entry and bootstrap this process on a floppy and not make a damn bit of difference to the gamer’s experience.

      Except for having to find a floppy drive. And getting that lovely retro buzz. KA-CHUK-CHK-CHK-CHK-CHK-BZZZZERT-CHK-CHK-CHK-CHK-BZZT-CHUK.

      (Aside: I love that Eurogamer seem to think this is a preview or something. “Are you excited about Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders on PC?” Um.)

  6. Ed Burst says:

    I got stuck on this game on the Amiga, standing in a dark cave trying to read some carvings. Years later, I looked it up on a walk-through. The solution was something illogical like…
    Get on an plane and go to the bathroom. Stick toilet paper in the plughole ant turn on the taps. The bathroom will now flood; there is no way to make it flood without putting toilet paper in the plughole.
    Go to the other side of the plane while the stewardess is distracted by the flood and microwave an egg. While she is distracted cleaning the microwave, go through a random stranger’s suitcase. No-one other than the stewardess will care. She is watching this suitcase like a hawk all the time when she’s not cleaning the microwave, even when mopping up the bathroom. This suitcase, which is on all planes, contains a cigarette lighter (and, presumably, nothing else). This is the only source of light you can get at this point in the game.

    • Ozzie says:

      Yep, I played the game up to this point, then I grew frustrated that I couldn’t find a simple lighter! Or just a pair of sticks…really, there’s a store in Zak’s home town, why couldn’t I buy a lighter there? Gah…adventure logic…

  7. dingo says:

    The best thing was the petrol on Mars.
    When you clicked on it it would say something like “This is for some other game.”

    The “other game” was Maniac Mansion where a chainsaw was found without petrol.
    Tons of people were looking for petrol but there was none found making the chainsaw a famous “red herring”.

    • jarvoll says:

      Wasn’t there a reference to this in Doom 3? I seem to remember a room full of chainsaws, from which the player may take one as a weapon, and a note in the warehouse manager’s log saying “What the hell would we need chainsaws for on Mars?” OK, so it’s not to do with missing fuel, but… seems similar.

    • Premium User Badge

      HermitUK says:

      More to do with the Chainsaw in the original Doom, I think. Since yeah, it’s odd that a petrol powered chainsaw is on Mars. Where there are no trees.

    • Premium User Badge

      drewski says:

      I figured that was an in-joke reference to the original Doom (set on Phobos…another place with no plant life) having chainsaws.

    • Cinnamon says:

      This game predates Doom by about 5 years. It’s a reference to Maniac Mansion.

    • Adam Whitehead says:

      I think they were saying that DOOM 3 had a reference to ZAK and MANIAC MANSION, not vice versa which would be of course chronologically challenging.

      Although I have seen various explanations for why you could need a chainsaw on Mars, such as if you ventured into the polar regions (people use chainsaws to slice up ice blocks in the Arctic and Antarctic). Less explicable is why a Mars mission needs a minigun (as seen in the film ARMAGEDDON).

  8. Cinnamon says:

    I remember this as a very hard game as it was made before Loom and Monkey Island tried to make things more accessible. And yes, using a kazoo to attract a dolphin had me stumped for a long while and I think I might have ended up having to look up a solution.

    It was also one of the few Lucasarts adventures that dealt with more adult characters and situations. Even if it was silly and parodical it wasn’t expecting us to be amused only by references to Star Wars and Indiana Jones.

    I disagree that Zak didn’t have a personality. Personally, one thing that I don’t like about some modern adventure games is the tedious business of having to click on everything to mine all of the occasionally amusing soundbites that have been recorded. I would rather have Zak’s occasional sardonic aside to the camera.

  9. Richard Clayton says:

    Nice write-up John. You’ve captured my feelings about the game pretty well.

    I played the game as an adult and found it tough and oddly illogical at times. I completed it in the end by using GameFAQs or similar.

    A shame really. I tried playing it again earlier this year (without the guide) and found myself out of money and lost without the relevant objects needed.

    I am very fond of the “safe” adventures that came after (the one’s that adhered to Ron Gilbert’s and others adventure game best practices). However there is something about Zak that makes you feel like you are in a much more open world with more possibilities for solving the puzzles. Unfortunately as you say this freedom is not rewarded but often gets you stuck.

    It is very difficult to play the game after playing adventure games that promote and encourage exploration and experimentation and that provide that guiding hand.

    As for being worse at games, I suspect you are right! My 8yr old son played through “The Secret of Monkey Island” with minimal assistance. I was very, very proud!

    I still have a fondness for Zak – there is so much to like. But it is unforgiving. With game logic to warn of death (rather than dying) and more easily sought funds and no puzzle dead ends it might have been a very different game. Ambitious stuff though!

  10. Hippo says:

    I used the knife to wake the bus driver (by tapping it on the door). I found most solutions to the “wake up the bus driver”-puzzle quite logical, really. Just do something that makes some noise, and it’s solved.

  11. Xercies says:

    I had the same problem when I replayed Monkey island, before i used to get through it several times easily(the amount of times I played it probably burnt the puzzles onto my brain) but when i played it recently the easiest puzzles stumped me and I had to go to Gamesfaqs. Maybe walkthroughs are spoiling it for us, or as we get older we get weaker and go to the answer to easily and when were a child we actually stick at it.

    • Ginger Yellow says:

      Likewise. I remember on my first playthrough of SOMI only getting properly stuck near the very end. But playing the special edition recently I resorted to a FAQ on several occasions, and not just because I was lazy. I genuinely had no idea what to do.

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      Playing the special edition of The Secret of Monkey Island recently after a Steam sale purchase I found the opposite. It felt far too easy at times. I did play through it a fair few number of times on the Amiga about 20 years ago since there wasn’t a save system as far as I remember so maybe the puzzles & sword fighting responses are ingrained into my conciousness or something.

  12. Risingson says:

    It’s maybe the weakest of all the Lucasfilm/arts classic adventures. Though it is nowadays forgotten, those guys didn’t always have a winner in adventures: this and Maniac Mansion are way poorer than their following games, and I think that worse than the competition at the time.

    • MWoody says:

      While I’ve not played McKraken, I’d say Maniac Mansion was far SUPERIOR to pretty much every adventure game that succeeded it, for one reason: nonlinear problem solving. Later LucasArts and Sierra games would boil down to a series of puzzles completed in order in exchange for bits of story. Do this, then go do that, then go do that, etc. At best, they might let you change around the order in which you do things, but you’re always going to end up in the same place.

      Maniac Mansion, meanwhile, had multiple selectable characters with different functions, the ability to switch between people on the fly, real-time action with NPCs tracked as they moved about the mansion, multiple wildly different endings… It was a template for a genre that never materialized, as later games would opt instead to expect a player to play every single little bit before reaching a predetermined end with a set character.

      Day of the Tentacle and later LucasArts adventures were hilarious, with memorable characters and plotlines. But that shiny veneer, much as it pains me to say it, hid a dumbed-down gameplay mechanic that would eventually, once the clever writing wore off, leave the adventure game industry all but dead.

    • Risingson says:

      Having many paths is not something positive if the rest of the game isn’t at the same level. Look at Lure of the Tempress, which has the most powerful engine of its generation, but which failed because it just wasn’t interesting. Maniac Mansion was full of dead-ends, had nearly no clues, always punished the player and gave us little rewards, and well, wasn’t as well written as the rest. It’s not a matter of visuals, it’s just that an adventure game is, at heart, storytelling at the most pure form. Multiple Paths? Ok, you can give me that, but FIRST is a good puzzle design and good writing.

      Moreover, it’s funny how all you people forgot about Indy3, who had lots of multiple paths.

  13. LionsPhil says:

    Zak’s an interesting oddity from before LucasArts found their feet. Having played it after the standard list of classics (DoTT, S&M:HtR, FT, blah blah blah), it’s quite weird to have one with such hit-and-miss humour, and the ability to make the game unwinnable.

    Hah, looks like you’ve said much the same things. And, er, your screenshot captions appear to have been shuffled. I’m pretty sure biplane is not yak.

  14. Sly Boots says:

    I loved Zak Mac at the time, but I tried playing a few years ago when I rediscovered my Amiga 500 in my parents’ loft. I didn’t get very far as it was nowhere near as much fun as I remembered, as well as being bloody hard and unforgiving.

    The best thing about it, though, was the fake newspaper you got with the boxed copy, full of silly National Enquirer-style stories about two-headed squirrels and an operation to put a zip into your stomach so you could remove the food after you’d eaten it – and thus eat what you like and still lose weight.

    I remember being about five or six, and as a prank hiding my parents’ daily newspaper and replacing it on the doormat with the Zak Mac one instead. For some reason, they weren’t fooled.

  15. Dean says:

    John, please say more about the connection to Defying Gravity. Or do I just need to go back and replay Zak?

    • John Walker says:

      It’s more the pre-story of Defying Gravity, really. There are two people sent on a mission to Mars, initiated by messages from an alien species that communicated to them, in order to find something important. When there, they get into trouble that can lead to their being stuck on the planet. When I put it like that it sounds vague, but the vibe was oddly similar.

    • jarvoll says:

      I realize I could get the answer to this from Wikipedia, but the prospect of looking it up scares me for a reason which should be obvious from the question: Isn’t Defying Gravity one of the most famous songs from the musical Wicked?

    • jarvoll says:

      Ah, ninja’d. It seems I both was wrong and have admitted some rather embarrassing knowledge, all at once. Well done me.

  16. Melf_Himself says:

    “without any narration, nor in fact any means of making the narrative clear to you as it’s happening, he’s a blank, dull vehicle.”

    I always found this weird, unexplainable charm in the seemingly “blank” way that those heavily pixellated adventure game characters of yore would react to various situations. It somehow always felt as though there was a certain underlying humor that just doesn’t come across with games that have more than 16 colors. Monkey Island was the best for this, but Zak McCracken had it as well.

    I’m sure I never even came close to finishing the thing. When I saw your introduction I was totally tempted to go back and replay it to prove you wrong, but by the end I realized that now that my gaming pallette has grown, there’s no way I can go back.

  17. LionsPhil says:

    You know, I’d love to see a retrospective of some of the less obvious ancient adventures. Delphine Software need more love. (Hell, I’m impressed Westwood got a mention at all.)

    If only because I want to see John’s reaction to trying to get past the wolf in Future Wars. >:D

  18. Premium User Badge

    c-Row says:

    Anonymous Coward said:
    I used the knife to wake the bus driver (by tapping it on the door). I found most solutions to the “wake up the bus driver”-puzzle quite logical, really. Just do something that makes some noise, and it’s solved.

    Though I think this is one of adventure games’ most obvious problem. Why not simply knock on the window with your bare hands?

    • LionsPhil says:

      Probably for the same odd reason many FPS games won’t let you make melee attacks without first picking up something to hit people with. (Hell, perennial PCG Top 100 favourites Deus Ex and Half-Life both fall into this category.)

  19. Dominic White says:

    There are games where fond nostalgia proves horribly unfounded, games where it’s just as you remember it, and games which have actually gotten better over time.

    This, along with many, many PC games from the 80s to early 90s, fall into Category A. When you stumble back upon the Category B, it’s a pleasant surprise, and Category C games, well, they just won’t die.

  20. Bib Fortune says:

    Has anyone noticed that the tree in the first screenshot of the article ( http://www.eurogamer.net/gallery.php?game_id=8368&article_id=1001210&position=4 ) is the same tree that compared in Loom (a subsequent adventure game by lucasarts)?

  21. MacQ says:

    About that getting stupider at games with aging. Ditto. :D

    … or are new games making us stupider?

  22. terry says:

    I didn’t have the foggiest idea what I was doing in this game – I just remember flying from airport to airport and the Hare Krishna guy and those screechy MIDI sorta-strings. I think I liked it, but I don’t know why exactly.

  23. Helm says:

    Zak’s not very user-friendly yes. Now perhaps, revisit The Longest Journey and it sequel with similar sobriety! They might be easier to play but that doesn’t mean they’re very good.

    • Cinnamon says:

      Zak will not the respect that Longest Journey gets because the modern narrative is that adventure games are only about the story and being easy and fun. Dreamfall only shows that this narrative of what adventure games are is so ingrained that a game can be shockingly bad as long as it is a pushover and has good enough production values in the content. I have iconoclastic tendencies though so I’m perfectly happy to bash my head against tricky nonsense puzzles while hating games with over long voiced monologues and no good gameplay.

    • John Walker says:

      No – the astonishing stories are what make TLJ and Dreamfall so very good.

  24. Pseudonym says:

    (Spoilers ahead, if you plan to play the game)

    My favorite thing about Zak was that you played a reluctant tabloid writer who did not believe in anything his paper printed, and that in the course of the game every single urban legend that is fodder to those tabloids turns out to be true.

    The Bermuda Triangle, the face on Mars, two headed squirrels, and my absolute favorite, the fact that the leader of the aliens is Elvis, or an impersonator there of.

  25. john t says:

    God I love that game. One of the formative experiences of my life. I really wish someone would make a sequel to it.

  26. Smallfry says:

    Zorflick! I’m surprised to hear some people say that Zak is one of the worst LucasArts adventure games! In my opinion, their top 3 games are Maniac Mansion, Zak, and Day of the Tentacle, and Zak may be my favorite (although DoTT is not only fantastic, it’s aging much better). I mean come on… the aliens (“I think you’ve been standing next to the machine too long.”), the guru, switching between 4 player characters, the crystals (LOVE the crystals), all the interesting places you go (especially Mars)… more than make up for the mazes, the huge number of items, the dead-ends (those are the worst), and some of the more illogical puzzles.

    I just think that the mentality of gamers has changed. We’re lazier. We don’t pay close attention and thus miss the subtle yet critical hints that games like Zak McKracken give us. And then we go online to GameFAQs after being “stumped” for 5 minutes.

    • Risingson says:

      No, dear, it hasn’t to do anything with that. I’m talking about story, dialogs, puzzle design and general atmosphere. Indy 3+4, the classic Monkeys, and so on are just in another plane of reality regarding this.

  27. awaret says:

    It would seem that most don’t have a stomach for older games any more because modern games are too easy. Games of old were things that you couldn’t play in an afternoon or a week, and chances are you’d get stuck for a long time whether because of a bizarre and obtuse puzzle eluding you or dying half a million times to some tiny, pixellated monstrosity with a taste for your blood. Old arcade games were the epitome of hard, and guess what? Most gamers can’t stand Nintendo-hard games without getting into a hissy fit or running crying to GameFAQs. Arcades are dying a long, slow and painful death — not only because you can’t sit on your pillowy arse in your own living room to play it and end up wasting fistfuls of quarters but because today’s gamers have gotten used to much, much easier fare. Gaming is mainstream these days because developers have made an effort to make video games digestible to a much wider audience, and it wasn’t just Nintendo’s recent doing either. They stuck games like Zak McKraken and the Alien Mindbenders and Contra into a blender and feed the resulting goop to you through a straw! Sticking to the food metaphor, modern games are more equivalent to spongecake with strawberries and a side of ice cream compared to older games, which might be more likened to not-as-popular, acquired taste items like beef jerky (still tasty)… or those thousand-year eggs. Ugh.

    Admittedly, Zak McKraken was one of those games where no-win scenarios existed and that in itself was frustrating. You could screw yourself over so badly that you’d have to start over. Most infamously, the most common of Zak McKraken’s array of personal Kobayashi Maru simulations occurred very near to the end of the game. You might forget some little doodad sitting halfway across the solar system that you’d absolutely NEED to continue, yet be completely unable to go back and get it. LucasArts subsequently recognized this flaw and most of the rest of their old adventure titles subsequently became a good bit more well-thought-out… but with Zak, the damage was already done.

  28. LionsPhil says:

    Yes, but now that games aren’t relatively rare and (so) heavily constrained by tech and developer time, they don’t need to stretch their longevity out by making you have to play them over and over from the beginning until you brute-force a solution that doesn’t get you stuck.

    Don’t confuse hard (fine) with irritating and arbitrary elongation (bad).

  29. Igor Hardy says:

    I tried very hard to like (or at least finish) Zak, but I just couldn’t. Despite intriguing concepts I felt like the most important thing for the creators was to make me suffer. A bit like Legend of Kyrandia 1, although that one actually made me obsessed over its sadism.

    • LionsPhil says:

      LoK, sadistic? That game’s pretty merciful—I don’t think it’s possible to get into an unwinnable situation that lasts for more than a few moments, like if you stupidly dither about in the Serpent’s Grotto.

      It /does/ have some wonderfully animated deaths, but the peril is usually obvious in advance.

    • Premium User Badge

      James G says:

      Actually, it is, if you eat both of the apples before requiring one. While many objects seem to re-spawn more or less randomly, the apples never seem to.

      Also, I think its possible to head across the ocean without a couple of the objects you’ll need on the other side.

  30. bill says:

    someone said:

    As others have said, you need the newspaper. The puzzles are a lot easier with it. I run Zak-site.com and you can print off a copy there. Zak is the greatest game I ever played, and inspired me to become a game developer. Regarding specific complaints: (1) deaths are not random: you have to do something extremely foolhardy like not refilling your oxygen despite repeated warnings. (2) The storytelling has a lot more depth than other LucasArts games (it’s all based on the real world, real ethics and and real people). The things you complain of – e.g. suffocating Zak – are more evidence of this. If you tape someone’s head inside a fish bowl without any oxygen, what do you expect? :) (3) Yes, you can ‘lookAt’ stuff – it’s called ‘what is.’ (4) When Zak says “I should make a copy of that map I saw” and there is paper and a crayon are nearby, how is that “riddled with problems”? (5) you don’t need to restart the game after being trapped in the prison. Just wait and the aliens will set you free. You can then get your stuff from their cupboard: there are at least two ways to sneak past them. (6) The mazes are not identical – each has unique characteristics so you never need to get lost if you pay attention. E.g. different colored objects, different numbers of doors, different symbols over doors, etc. (7) The mazes aren’t pitch black if you turn on a torch. My recommendation is for anyone playing the game to get a hold of the original newspaper, with all the clues – or be prepared for some lateral thinking. :)

  31. bill says:

    It’s interesting that the retrospective and comments make it sound much more interesting than most point and click adventures to me. The fact there are multiple solutions, and that your actions have later consequences seems like something even modern games haven’t really managed to do.

    the “only one solution” thing, and the “click on everything to get a comment” thing are the reasons I stopped playing adventure games. so this sounds like an improvement.

    though i’m sure if i actually play it then i’ll get frustrated within 10 minutes.

    • Risingson says:

      Improvement? IMPROVEMENT? WE play adventure games, among other things, for having a description on everything! I mean, it’s like saying that a Flight Sim is an improvement as it has less keys to use, or an RPG is improved because it doesn’t have that annoying statistics like int, con and so on.

      You just made me remember Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon, the Larrys, Police Quest games and Freddy Pharkas. Those games had ART in their many descriptions. ART, I tell you.

  32. GameOverMan says:

    I played this game a bit on the C-64, but my english reading comprehension wasn’t very good at the time and I was put off by its multi-disk nature. Some years later I tried it again on the Commodore Amiga and managed to finish the adventure after a few days of solid playing. I only got lost (literally) in the maze and had to look up some tips in a magazine, ACE (Advanced Computer Entertainment) IIRC, although it could be another one since I was an avid gaming magazine reader at the time. Lots of them accompanied me during my gaming sessions, including, of course, Amiga Power ;)

  33. Sad but true says:

    After years and years of tutorials, flashing item outlines, consoles, hand holding and just generally growing older and therefore less eager and curious, we / you are simply too darned cuddled to properly suffer through REAL gaming genius anymore.

    Also, imho, it shows how little friend oriented we are anymore. It is ironic that in an age of a million online “steam friends”, “facebook buddies” etc and whatnot, you are no longer sitting down with a friend to talk about how he used the butterknife to dig at that one place and thereby made it worth 1500$ instead of a tenner or two, making the initial travelling costs FAR less dangerous and enabling more boo-boos along the way.

    We used to be gamers among gamers, now we all sit in our rooms and use instant messengers to talk to the guy living a glance down the road away.

    We’re dumber, lazier and more isolated while being told (and maybe sometimes even feeling) the opposite.

    Let alarms sound.

    • Risingson says:

      Homosexuals also have something to do with it, I’m sure. But that’s a good one.

      – King’s Quest 3, best game ever
      – Not true
      – NOT TRUE? You lazy gamer!

  34. Adam Whitehead says:

    ZAK is excellent but insanely difficult. I remember getting through the game several times, getting about as far as two-thirds before doing something that rendered it incompletable. I buckled and ordered the official hint book from LucasArts and managed to finish it, but some of those puzzles were insane.

    It’s a great game with some great references (a 2001 monolith is on Mars and turns out to be a drinks machine), but I’ve rarely played a game more obtusely difficult. It even outstripped contemporary Delaphine games like FUTURE WARS (which was also awesome).