Shadowgate revisited

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I love Kickstarter. There’s something about playing a role in helping artists realize their dreams that’s empowering for all parties involved. And as Jason Scott pointed out in Juiced.GS, the small amounts that backers pay can make the difference between something existing and something not.

For retrocomputing enthusiasts, Kickstarter further represents the potential to resurrect many of the elements of our youth. We grew up playing electronic games on personal computers, many of them in franchises that have seen a resurgence in popularity thanks to crowdfunding. Now we can revive yet another one with this latest pitch:

Dave Marsh and Karl Roelofs, formerly of ICOM and now of Zojoi, look to reimagine their classic point and click adventure, Shadowgate. Rather than a direct sequel, this version of Shadowgate will update the old puzzles as well as implement many ideas Marsh and Roelofs have had while designing and porting Shadowgate over the years. The new game will also include both an original soundtrack as well as Hiroyuki Masuno’s NES composition.

They’ve set a modest goal of only $120,000 — heck, that’s half as much as some cancelled old-school games get on Kickstarter. They met half their goal within the first week of their one-month fundraising term — and since 90% of Kickstarter projects that achieve at least 30% funding prove successful, this progress bodes well!

The most popular reward is the typical $15 for the Mac or PC version, though if you want a tablet edition, that’ll cost you $60. Unless you want your name included in the game’s end credits, a better deal is to wait for the game’s release before buying it for iOS or Android.

Shadowgate, set in a fantasy world of dragons and magic, was one of my first encounters with the genre when it was ported from MacVenture’s 1987 Mac version to the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). I revisited it on the Game Boy Color a decade later and am hard-pressed to justify the low score I gave it. In 2006, I played the GBC game again, this time on the big screen, courtesy the GameCube’s Game Boy Player adapter. I and a friend who was new to computer and video games had a great time spending several hours discovering the solutions to the mystical puzzles we encountered. Remembering that happy experience, I’ve gladly become a Kickstarter backer of the new Shadowgate.

Looking to explore the Shadowgate world around this game? I have fond memories of the young adult novel, Before Shadowgate — but can we pretend the game’s TurboGrafx sequel, Beyond Shadowgate, never happened? Instead, check out Maelstrom’s Mansion, a free online adventure that’s as unforgiving in its deaths as Shadowgate ever was.

You’ve played the game — now wear the shirt!

UPDATE: In the creators’ AMA on Reddit (they answered my question), they acknowledge that there are free, Java-based versions of Shadowgate. Want to play the original? Check it out online!