Telltale's Great Adventure Bundle 2010
Telltale has a little bundle on at the moment, collecting together six adventure games, and giving 25% of the price away to a series of charities. Which seems like a jolly decent sort of thing to do. It's The Great Adventure Bundle 2010. The quality of the games in the deal are mixed. None is exceptional, and one is dreadful. However, it's for a very reasonable price at $20. It contains: Penny Arcade Adventures, The Whispered World, Jack Keane, Puzzle Agent, King's Quest Collection, and if they sell 5,000 bundles, Sam & Max Season 2. For two more days.
The Whispered World comes so close to being great, but sadly fall short in a few key ways, not least the puzzles. I reviewed it for Eurogamer, and gave it a 6. However, this is a great way to recommend it - at full price it was one for those feeling forgiving. Here in this collection, you absolutely should, because it has oodles of charm.
The King's Quest Collection contains a mixture of absolutely classic Sierra adventures, along with some real turds. This pack doesn't contain the eighth game, but heck - it's seven games right there.
Penny Arcade Adventures of course never really took off, and with the second episode selling a third as many as the first, the third episode was canned and the series cancelled. However, they're a novel twist on adventuring, bringing in aspects of RPG, and containing a great deal of Penny Arcade's sense of humour.
Puzzle Agent was an experimental pilot project by Telltale, attempting to create a game in the style of the DS's Professor Layton series. Unfortunately, while the presentation was lovely, the puzzles are mostly rubbish, as described in my review there. Very simplistic, very repetitive, and often better placed as distractions in a children's wordsearch book rather than a game clearly aimed at adults.
And Jack Keane. Here's my review of that. It's a comedy puzzle game which isn't funny and has terrible puzzles, surrounded by some really troubling xenophobia.
Sam & Max Season 2 clearly divides opinion. I would say that the enormous step up in quality shown by season 3 somewhat vindicates my hefty criticisms of the first two runs, obsessing on unlikeable characters, and stuck to a limited format. However, clearly a million billion people disagree, and the run proved very popular. All five episodes will be in here, if they only manage to sell a lot more copies.
So, well, it's not the most inspiring collection. I'd say the flawed but adorable The Whispered World for $20 is a decent price on its own, and getting seven King's Quest games in the deal isn't half bad. My real concern though is that Sam & Max season 2, which makes the $20 a really good deal, isn't looking likely to be included. The lot separately would cost you $120, so it's economically rather impressive.
And of course $5 of that goes toward one of five charities, and you get to choose which. You could donate to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Leukaemia and Lymphoma Society, Child's Play, the World Wildlife Fund, or Nyota e.V.
1,509 copies have sold so far, which doesn't send a lot the charities' way just yet, but there's two days left on the offer. So if you fancy any of those five games (or arguably 11 games) for the price of one, it seems like the ideal way to get them. But I express a little concern at the site's claim that it's "6 games for $19.95" when one of those games will actually be included should they suddenly sell another 3,500 copies in the next two days.