Have You Played… The Dagger Of Amon Ra?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day, perhaps for all time.

Because I haven’t. And I have absolutely no idea how or why that is.

As a kid, I devoured every adventure going. If my dad didn’t buy then, his friend Ted would, and they’d swap. And by these means, I’d get my hands on pretty much everything Sierra, LucasArts, Adventure Soft and Westwood made. But to be completely honest, and I’m completely bemused by how this can be, until today I’d never even heard of The Dagger Of Amon Ra.

A Sierra game that has entirely alluded me for decades. So obviously I’ve immediately bought it from GOG, and am cooing at the screenshots that show that gorgeous hand-painted style that most reminds me of Police Quest III.

So which other Sierra adventures have I somehow entirely missed? Well, admittedly I missed most of their text adventures from the early 80s, and we can brush over the edutainment titles. But when it comes to the graphic adventures from the late 80s onward, not many. Just three. Codename: ICEMAN being one other. And perhaps most pertinently, The Colonel’s Bequest, to which The Dagger Of Amon Ra is a sequel. Both made by Kings Quest’s Roberta Williams.

I’m completely thrown! Unless a coconut fell on my head, specifically bopping out this one piece of information, I cannot understand how I missed those two games. But I’m sure going to play them now.

26 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    Drib says:

    Wonder if they were any good.

    Well, here’s hoping you have fun!

    • CaptainDju says:

      The Colonel’s Bequest has a twist that was mind blowing back in the days (at least for me): you could miss quite a lot of clues/events just by not being in the right place at the proper time.

      Similarly being in the wrong place at the wrong time could mean instant death.

      That made for a very challenging but interesting detective game which I would highly recommend to anyone not afraid of parser-based adventure games (and EGA graphics pushed to their limits).

      Codename: ICEMAN is a very different beast, if you don’t follow the procedure to the letter it’s game over, and some of the more arcade-ish parts can be a bit frustrating.

  2. unimural says:

    My understanding is that Dagger of Amon Ra wasn’t really made by Roberta, being more of a Sid Meier’s kind of deal.

    I never completed the first Laura Bow game, Colonel’s Bequest, but I remember both it and especially Dagger of Amon Ra quite fondly, even though I remember both as being quite difficult. No idea if it’s true. But I liked the real world setting, and the I liked the character as well.

    I would love to hear John’s thoughts of Dagger of Amon Ra!

    Codename: ICEMAN on the other hand I remember as rather forgettable. And annoying.

    • Ghostwise says:

      Remembering something as forgettable is no mean feat. It takes a strong, dedicated person to do that.

  3. Premium User Badge

    SoundDust says:

    Out of those three, I’d say you picked the right one to play – it’s the one I remember enjoying the most. Colonel’s Bequest was very tough to solve, as it needed several play throughs (or a walk through) to make sense of the intrigue. Codename Iceman had an interesting setting, but some of the puzzles got a bit too technical to enjoy.

  4. Premium User Badge

    Ninja Dodo says:

    I have! I played this game with my dad as a kid. It was great. Really enjoyed the mystery and atmosphere and skulking around a museum as an amateur detective, though I recall finding some of the deaths pretty scary at the time.

    Caveat: There are some unfair puzzles and a couple of nasty dead ends so I would recommend consulting a guide before playing and referring back to it if you really get stuck.

    Here’s a neat retrospective by Pushing Up Roses:

    link to youtube.com (NOTE: spoilers)

    • Peter Milley says:

      I remember some of those nasty dead-ends. Ugh. The stupid snake repellant. I haven’t wanted to smash a game more than that. “Why should I go down to the lab to refill my snake repellant bottle right now, I’m sure I can just examine this body first.”

  5. Premium User Badge

    Risingson says:

    Cmon John, if you are an adventure fan you should have read a million times that Dagger Of Amon Ra is the first solo work from Lorelei Shannon (edit: WRONG! Eating my words. Its design is from another guy called Bruce Balfour, with a curious body of work. Lorelei did write for it as Josh Mandel did). And a not very good one, as it is full of bugs. It is a very beautiful game, but that’s it.

    Forget about Codename:Iceman as well. Forget about replaying Stonekeep, btw: I tried last weekend and its interface is like hammering your fingers. Do try the Quest for Glory games if you haven’t yet, Conquests of the Longbow and Camelot if you feel confident enough with some dead ends and such, and try the Space Quest saga. SQ3 is one rare game where there are dead ends and sudden deaths and somehow you don’t feel anger at that, because it makes sense and it’s fun and every death gives you a clue.

    And of course, try all all those games with either good MT32 emulation or a good soundfont for General Midi.

    Stay away from Police Quest as well. They have nice touches but are xenophobic and misogninistic as hell.

    • kse1977 says:

      For their time, certainly. Then again you can find that kind of insensitive humor everywhere back when these games were made/written. Not excusing it, but you have to put the games in perspective. Also, Police Quest still featured some fairly cool, actual police work that you had to engage in. It was written by a former officer after all. Not sure looking at the games with today’s lens is really fair. Now if you played those games back in the day and still felt that way, well then you were very progressive for that time.

  6. internisus says:

    This game made such an impression on me as a kid that I still have dreams about it once in a while.

  7. Premium User Badge

    subdog says:

    I only had vague memories of seeing the game box on the shelves at Babbages, until reading The Adventure Gamer’s take on it Monday:

    link to advgamer.blogspot.com

  8. vorador says:

    I never played Sierra games much since my father was more of a LucasArts guy.

  9. cpt_freakout says:

    I also played this with my dad (well, more like watched as he played, but I pretended I contributed a lot), and have a few memories of certain scenes in the museum. We also used to joke about the way in which the characters would wobble when in the elevator (we lived in the 9th floor of a tower block). It was probably quite good, because my dad would just stop playing a game if it became stupidly difficult or if he didn’t like the story/writing, so yeah, you should give it a shot! You should also write about it when you do :D

  10. benkc says:

    Yes! Enough so that that screenshot gave me a wave of nostalgia.

    I was young and I don’t remember a whole lot of details but I still remember and am amused by the press pass. And I remember thinking it was good and didn’t have as many impossible-to-solve-without-a-guide puzzles as a lot of other adventure game I played back then.

    You should report back after you’ve played it, John. :)

  11. ffh1234 says:

    I remember this game fondly, although I don’t know what would happen if I played this today.

    This is the only game that had hook me all night long. I did the last part of it in a non-stop night run -I simply couldn’t stop. That talks fine of the game’s flow.

    I’m currently playing Gabriel Knight 1 for the first time. I’m enjoying the experience, great artwork and writing in an over-detailed environment. Neat.

    • kse1977 says:

      Are you playing the remade version of GK1 that Jane Jensen did a few years back? I have only played through the original, but it was a stellar game for its time. I still remember all the voodoo sayings and at least once a month say cabri sans cor.

      • ffh1234 says:

        I’m playing the old one. Superb graphics for its time. I’ve read that the remake is good too. ‘Cabrit sans cor’ it’s a wonderful catchphrase!

  12. zapatapon says:

    There was a very memorable “Low-Fi Let’s Play” of The Colonel’s Bequest published by the fine but long forgotten gaming site “Rocks, papers and shotguns”, and commented by the nice lady Leigh Alexander.

  13. Doug Exeter says:

    It was a blast to play back when even if it was impenetrable. We couldn’t even get past chapter 2 without a hint book. We tried to use it as little as possible and of course got trapped in the fucking boiler room in the last scene of the game. It had all the best and worst features of Sierra games of that time.

    Played it again last year and still holds up in its own way as long as you like the style of gaming

    • kse1977 says:

      I had the cool cluebook from Sierra for Colonel’s bequest, where the pages were obscured and your had to use a little red piece of plastic paper, like old 3d glasses lenses in order to read the clues. That game was so cool, even if a bit of an analogue to Agatha Christy, although it wore its influences out in front for everybody to see.

  14. ansionnach says:

    Eluded you or alluded to you? The Laura Bow games are pretty well-known. Will be interesting to see what you think. Could be worth publishing the review? I find first plays of old games are a good way of confronting the nostalgia that has built up around them. I played Quest for Glory (the text parser version) a couple of years ago and it was a revelation. Great game. Judicious use of text parsers could improve modern games.

    Think I have an issue of PC Review with a review of Amon Ra. What did it get? Maybe 7, possibly 8. I don’t think it was 6.

    • ansionnach says:

      Meant to say: barely played the Laura Bow games. I have a low tolerance for deaths and none for dead ends. I never look at walkthroughs and with dead ends I could be stuck for eternity. Maybe it’s not something to be proud of that you’d prefer to “solve” a puzzle by eliminating every possible game action…

  15. karyonite says:

    Hurrah! Honestly, in my opinion, the Colonels Bequest is a better game, because you have more freedom and there’s a more regular buildup of tension. It’s also a murder story – people get killed and the story progresses, regardless of what you do. It’s up to you to decide where to be and who to eavesdrop or who to talk to directly. It’s like a freeroam theater play that will get others (and sometimes even you) killed. Depending on where you are and when will you uncover certain facts, leading up to really a fantastic ending, that I can not go into unless I spoil (which I won’t do here). That’s why the game also really demands replays, to get a better picture of what happens at the house of the Colonel.

  16. Orageon says:

    Loved this game as a kid. The atmosphere, the investigation… it was sometimes pretty unsettling as well.

    But the best memory ? The bloody thumb-thick booklet with all the descriptions of Egyptian gods etc. That was fascinating and a first proper forray for me in mythology other than the greek/roman one.

    Also the music when discovering victims, is somehow stuck in my mind…

  17. Mandrake42 says:

    Quite a good series, though some of the puzzles can be quite obscure. I remember having to buy the hint book for these as they could really stump you and the internet was yet to be invented.

  18. Einsammler says:

    “Dead things are everywhere.”