Most of the attention nowadays is aimed at the next generation of consoles. It is easy to overlook the platform that has been around since the beginning; the PC. Consoles have come and gone along with a healthy dose of my leisure hours, but it is the PC that played host to some of my longest and strongest game addictions. Ignoring the edutainment I found at school, my first home gaming computer was a Macintosh LC. For those of you unfamiliar with this beauty, it came hot off the line with a 16mhz 020 processor, 2 MB of RAM, and 256k of VRAM. The price tag: $2,500.
Over the next few weeks I am going to looks back at some of the great PC games (and hardware?) that robbed me of my free time and left their mark on the future of gaming. This will no way be a comprehensive list, but more a retrospective of the some of the classics that may be lost but should not be forgotten. I hope to update the list often as time permits.The Secret of Monkey Island (1990)Why it was great:
A top-flight adventure game from the days when story and style mattered more than the numbers of shaders a game uses; lots of pirates.
The late eighties and early nineties were the halcyon days for the point-and-click adventure games. The SCUMM engine was king, being the force behind many of the classics like Day of the Tentacle, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and Maniac Mansion to name a few. These games showed us that you can interact with anything via a short list of commands (Push, Pull, Open, Close, Take, Talk, etc.). You could say that these games were the evolution of the text-based adventure; sharing the same gameplay structure but with some graphics slapped on and no typing. Though everybody probably has their favorite adventure games, Monkey Island is the one that sticks out in my head.
The atmosphere of the game was great. The music was catchy and fit the images very well. The art was great and really allowed you to get immersed in the world. It always seemed to be nighttime, and the doors and windows would spew an inviting orange light out into the street inviting you to keep playing and poking around. The main character Guybrush Threepwood was different from most other video game protagonists in that he was part klutz, part idiot, part hopeless romantic, but completely sympathetic at the same time. It definitely preyed on my nine-year-old’s desire to be a pirate. All the characters were memorable and still seem more human the one of the drones walking around the streets in Oblivion, for example.
The game was not without its frustrations. Like many of its contemporaries, it was very easy to get stuck in the game. These games would not hold your hand and would contain some painfully unobvious puzzle solutions. This would sometimes drive me to call up my buddies who had beaten the game or one of the ubiquitous tip lines that existed in the day. It was always satisfying when you did figure something out though, and then you could be the expert that your friends hit up for solutions.
In summary, the game struck a great balance of interaction and story and had very few weak points. It somehow managed to be serious enough to be immersive and yet comical enough to be one of the funniest games ever made. Sword fighting was done by leveling insults at you opponents, ghost pirates were stopped by root beer, and Q-Tips opened magical doors. The game even featured meta-humor, often poking fun at other LucasArts titles or even its own game mechanics. It did not take itself too seriously and was better for it. It is a fine example of the art
of making video games.Runners Up:
Indiana Jones, Day of the Tentacle, Space Quest, King’s Quest