Real-life King's Quest

July 15th, 2013 12:34 PM
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In researching last week's blog post about the history of Sierra On-Line, I came across some underwhelming reviews of the new Leisure Suit Larry for hewing too closely to the original. Apparently, critics are not enjoying reliving what passed for puzzles in 1987.

Uh-oh! That's not good. Early adventure games could be devilishly obtuse and unforgiving, as Joe Keiser of Gameological recently demonstrated. As an example of a game that isn't fair, he chose King's Quest V:

Early in the game, a custard pie can be purchased. King’s Quest V then spends hours imploring you to eat it. It looks delicious, the game says. It is the best pie you have ever tasted, the game says. There is even a puzzle where you are starving, and eating the pie will solve it. And yet once you’ve eaten the pie, you have already lost. Oh, you can continue playing, but eventually you will reach a mountain, and there will be a yeti there, and it will kill you because you do not have a pie to throw at it. Now you have to start the game over, because you did what the game asked instead of saving a pie to throw at a yeti. No one could blame you if you’ve spent the last 23 years mad about this.

This particular installment in the King's Quest franchise was never released for the Apple II, yet it's the only King's Quest I've ever played, courtesy the Nintendo version. I can therefore empathize with Keiser's frustration — but I can also laugh at it, courtesy this brilliant real-life send-up:

Whatever our memories, adventure games are making a comeback, courtesy the combination of tablet gaming and Kickstarter funding. Let's hope as good as we remember and better than they actually were!

(Hat tip to Emily Kahm)

Apple II: It's back!

May 7th, 2012 10:30 PM
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Filed under Hacks & mods, Mainstream coverage;
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An April Fool's joke on April Fool's would be too obvious — which means that Scoopertino's April 23 news report must be a stroke of absolute genius.

Quoting a fake Apple press release, this "imaginary news organization devoted to ferreting out the most relevant stories in the world of Apple, whether or not they actually occurred" proudly reports Apple Inc.'s decision to reintroduce the Apple II to their active product lineup:

Remaining true to its original concept, the new Apple II isn't exactly a speed demon. Hypothetically, its 1MHz processor would take about an hour to download an average web page. But that assumes you could actually connect the new Apple II to the Internet — which you can't.

In fact, the new Apple II is unabashedly unconnected. With no Wi-Fi, Ethernet and USB ports, there will be nothing to distract you from enjoying the best of Apple II's two dozen apps, which include a recipe manager and an electronic checkbook.

Of course, those specs describe the functionality of only an out-of-the-box Apple II; Wi-Fi, Ethernet, and USB can all be added (to various degrees) with the right peripherals and expansion cards.

Scoopertino

The report does indicate one change to the stock Apple II in the last 30 years: "Despite the retro theme, Apple has added one very handy port that allows the user to connect a turntable or cassette deck. You can’t store music in the computer, but you can use the Apple II box to store up to 150 vinyl albums or 300 cassettes." Sounds like the 8-bit iTunes that one enterprising hacker cobbled together some months ago.

It's a mildly amusing piece of news, even if it won't fool anyone. It makes me wonder if April Fool's has been an overlooked holiday among the Apple II community. I published a fake Juiced.GS press release in 2011, the same day Tim Kellers advertised the Apple II-phone — and if we don't limit ourselves to the spring, there are a number of fantastic KansasFest skits — but no other recent Apple II jokes spring to mind.

What pranks, tricks, or shenanigans shall we deviously, mischievously plot next?

(Hat tip to Steve Weyhrich)

Real-life Prince of Persia

March 8th, 2012 1:38 PM
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Filed under Musings, People;
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When Jordan Mechner developed Karateka in 1984, audiences were astounded by the fluidity and realism of his rotoscoped graphics — a technique more effectively executed five years later when applied to Prince of Persia. With the upcoming remake of Karateka, I'm left wondering just how much more realistic Mechner's work can become. Will he go for a classic, retro look; something more modern; or a blend of new and old? Comedy troupe Karahat proposes the latter with their comedy sketch, Real Prince of Persia:

This fun skit employs the cutting edge of 1984 technology, such as cardboard and rubber bands. But I'm hoping the woman in this skit was expecting to be accosted and was not an unwilling participant. The potential of invisible theater to discomfort its unwilling participants is exactly what makes me so uncomfortable about watching many of Mega64's videos.

Oh, and still wondering the correct way to pronounce "Karateka"? Don't look for answers in Open Apple #13, in which each guest and host has his own idea about how to say the game's name. Listen instead to 1:11 into Jordan Mechner's interview with G4 / X-Play:

(Hat tip to — who else? — Jordan Mechner)