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Graphic Adventure Appreciation Thread


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Last one of these comparisons, with Loom EGA.

 

Hard dithering:

 

scummvm-190925-211852.thumb.png.045e03b53915f80c8350f3073d64db96.png

 

mdapt:

 

scummvm-190925-211922.thumb.png.8fc5364dfdf33b377407b77e3ee751b4.png

 

That's pretty damn cool. Check out the shading on the tents from the firelight - wouldn't go as far as saying it's VGA-esque, but it's certainly pushing Amiga quality.

 

Bear in mind this is only using 16 colours from this 64-colour palette:

 

1797900982_egapallette.png.b3b0d0f15af818292568578e23dc07dc.png

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Wired up my laptop to the TV, grabbed a wireless mouse, set up RetroArch with the dithering shaders, and played some Monkey Island EGA tonight.

 

It's pretty great! The Purcell portraits have more character than the VGA ones, I think. For example, Esteban, the scar-eyed pirate in the Scumm Bar who tells you all about LeChuck - in the VGA one he has his normal face, and an open-mouthed shocked face. But here the second face is a look of worried terror, and his eyes dart all over the place like he's looking for the exit. Mancomb Seepgood's gap-toothed grin is also very characterful. The dithering work here isn't as impressive as Loom, but it still makes it definitely "EGA+", and seeing it in this original form gives you a good idea of why certain colour pallettes were used (and continued to be used even in 256 colour versions).

 

The MT-32 music is wonderful too, and ScummVM lets you have AdLib sound effects at the same time. Honestly felt a bit like playing the game for the first time again, and this is a game I've played a lot.

 

Unfortunately, my playtime was cut short when I hit a ScummVM bug which seems to occasionally, but very rarely, occur with all versions of Monkey Island - the church door is already open when you visit that part of town, and if you go in, ScummVM crashes. Browsing some old bug reports, looks like I can fix it by using the debug console to change the state of a specific object from 1 to 0, so I'll carry on where I left off another day.

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Its great throwing old games up on modern big screen TVs.

Don't know if it's just my TV, but I don't seem to get many of the issues that I often hear people complaining about when it comes to displaying retro games on a modern LCD - the graphics are gloriously vibrant and detailed far better than than they used to look on my CRT back in the day. For example, I remember when I originally played Monkey Island 1, I couldn't make out the pot under the table in the Scumm Bar kitchen, on my screen, which caused me no end of headaches when I was looking for a helmet for the human cannonball scene. 

I also think playing point-and-clickers on a tablet is an awesome experience these days, particularly with ScummVM on Android. A portable ScummVM machine that I can play anywhere in the house is a true wonder of the modern age. 

 

Is there a page anywhere that shows the different character portraits in MI side-by-side?

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Interesting seeing Monkey Island again with adult eyes. It’s often held up as an example of perfect puzzle design, but a few of the early ones are pretty obtuse.

 

First, there’s the troll. The troll is basically a bunch of in-jokes that should have been cut. Ha ha, it’s like something from a King’s Quest game. Ha ha, the solution is to give him a red herring, take that Sierra! Ha ha, it’s actually George Lucas in a suit and he calls his club back with the force.

 

Problem is, none of these jokes are actually funny, it’s jarringly unthematic, and the puzzle is awful. The troll says he wants something that “Attracts attention but serves no obvious purpose”, which I guess is a reasonable cryptic for a Red Herring. But with a text based inventory, it’s just “fish” - if Guybrush looks at it, he says “I think it’s a herring”, but there’s no mention of colour. It was red when you picked it up on screen 3 of the game (unless you’re playing on CGA or Hercules), but you’ve likely forgotten that by now. I can’t remember not knowing the answer to this one, but I can’t imagine being able to work it out other than by brute force. I guess the later graphical inventory made this a bit easier, at least. 

 

Next, there’s getting past the pirhana poodles. The pirate leaders suggest drugging them. Feeding them the meat is easy to intuit, but how are you supposed to know to use the yellow flowers with it? The only hint that I can see in the game is that Otis was jailed for allegedly picking the yellow “caniche endormi” flowers. The internet tells me this is French for “sleeping poodle” - great if you know French, screwed if you don’t. Just try using everything with everything else, I guess - I’m sure that’s how I worked it out back in the day. 

 

The swordfighting is still wonderful though. Roaming around learning all the insults and ripostes is clever enough (if a little frustrating if you have them all memorised), but the way the game makes you think on your feet against the sword master is still exciting after all these years. Can’t forget the first time I challenged her, cocky from winning all my battles on the island, only for total fear and confusion to set in when she started using unknown insults. 
 

Made it all the way to Monkey Island itself now. Did my favourite little Easter Egg, using the grog to free the rat in the other prison cell rather than Otis - pointless but fun. Always loved the brief chapter on the ship - the recipe puzzle is excellent, and the hints they drop about using the cannon, just like at the circus, are just right.

 

Still generally amazed at how good the game looks. 16 colours! All the pallet choices for the backgrounds make much more sense in this context, and it’s impossible not to admire the artistry of doing so much with so little. 

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11 hours ago, Alexlotl said:

Interesting seeing Monkey Island again with adult eyes. It’s often held up as an example of perfect puzzle design, but a few of the early ones are pretty obtuse.

 

First, there’s the troll. The troll is basically a bunch of in-jokes that should have been cut. Ha ha, it’s like something from a King’s Quest game. Ha ha, the solution is to give him a red herring, take that Sierra! Ha ha, it’s actually George Lucas in a suit and he calls his club back with the force.

 

Problem is, none of these jokes are actually funny, it’s jarringly unthematic, and the puzzle is awful. The troll says he wants something that “Attracts attention but serves no obvious purpose”, which I guess is a reasonable cryptic for a Red Herring. But with a text based inventory, it’s just “fish” - if Guybrush looks at it, he says “I think it’s a herring”, but there’s no mention of colour. It was red when you picked it up on screen 3 of the game (unless you’re playing on CGA or Hercules), but you’ve likely forgotten that by now. I can’t remember not knowing the answer to this one, but I can’t imagine being able to work it out other than by brute force. I guess the later graphical inventory made this a bit easier, at least. 

 

Next, there’s getting past the pirhana poodles. The pirate leaders suggest drugging them. Feeding them the meat is easy to intuit, but how are you supposed to know to use the yellow flowers with it? The only hint that I can see in the game is that Otis was jailed for allegedly picking the yellow “caniche endormi” flowers. The internet tells me this is French for “sleeping poodle” - great if you know French, screwed if you don’t. Just try using everything with everything else, I guess - I’m sure that’s how I worked it out back in the day. 

 

The swordfighting is still wonderful though. Roaming around learning all the insults and ripostes is clever enough (if a little frustrating if you have them all memorised), but the way the game makes you think on your feet against the sword master is still exciting after all these years. Can’t forget the first time I challenged her, cocky from winning all my battles on the island, only for total fear and confusion to set in when she started using unknown insults. 
 

Made it all the way to Monkey Island itself now. Did my favourite little Easter Egg, using the grog to free the rat in the other prison cell rather than Otis - pointless but fun. Always loved the brief chapter on the ship - the recipe puzzle is excellent, and the hints they drop about using the cannon, just like at the circus, are just right.

 

Still generally amazed at how good the game looks. 16 colours! All the pallet choices for the backgrounds make much more sense in this context, and it’s impossible not to admire the artistry of doing so much with so little. 

 

I've been replaying it since we started talking about it in this thread, too. 

I've also just arrived at Monkey Island - and am scratching my head a little at what to do, as it's a long time since I've replayed it to this point (I must have replayed the Melee Island section 10 times over the years, but quite often didn't bother going all the way through once I'd scratched the itch for a bit of a nostalgic kick). 

 

Going to go back to Last Crusade after this I think, which I've never actually finished. 

 

 

 

 

 

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I think I can remember what to do on Monkey Island proper. The main thing is not forgetting the Fort exists, as it’s easy to miss on the map. 
 

I’m also curious about revisiting Last Crusade, in EGA this time. In contrast to Monkey Island and Loom, it doesn’t make much use of dithering (SCUMM couldn’t compress it) so it’ll be an interesting comparison Monkey Island - I’d imagine it’ll feel a lot more garish and 16 colour.

 

Problem is, my laptop has no numpad…

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8 hours ago, Alexlotl said:

I think I can remember what to do on Monkey Island proper. The main thing is not forgetting the Fort exists, as it’s easy to miss on the map. 
 

I’m also curious about revisiting Last Crusade, in EGA this time. In contrast to Monkey Island and Loom, it doesn’t make much use of dithering (SCUMM couldn’t compress it) so it’ll be an interesting comparison Monkey Island - I’d imagine it’ll feel a lot more garish and 16 colour.

 

Problem is, my laptop has no numpad…

For the fighting? It's been a while since I tried it, but I seem to remember you can skip the punch-ups ...

Last time I did play it was on ScummVM on a tablet ... so I assume there's a way around it. 

I remember getting stuck at the piano puzzle the last time. And having just checked, I seem to have lost my saves, so it looks like I'm starting again from scratch. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Well, that was fun.

 

scummvm-191031-224712.thumb.png.13fa1f3bd15d959270b882dd17a81372.png

 

I'd absolutely recommend any hardcore Monkey Island fan give this a go. So many things about the game's overall look just make more sense in EGA, the Steve Purcell character portraits feel much more integrated with the game (and have lots of animation!), and the dithering (with the mdapt shader) is so well done that it really doesn't feel like 16 colours.

 

scummvm-191028-223231.thumb.png.3ec277cf605c672322b136e217f70967.png

 

Always love spotting the Sam & Max cameos in the games Steve Purcell worked on.

 

Loom next!

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So playing MI again got me wondering about all the different optional paths you can take through it which influence what happens in some way.

I used to know them all back to front and think I have seen every bit of content in the game ... Now I've been reminded the dog portrait doesn't actually exist, anyway. 

 

But off the top of my head what I can remember is (massive spoilers coming if you havent played of course):

 

Not escaping from Fester /LeChuck throwing you into the dock, for 10 minutes, is the only way to die.

 

Doing the Three Tasks in a particular order gives you an extra scene between Guybrush and Elaine at the dock. You just have to not do the mansion task last, I seem to remember. 

 

Whether or not you sink your ship using the rock and catapult on Monkey Island influence how you get back to Melee Island, I seem to remember. Although I can't remember the exact details.

 

Any others? I feel sure there are some Easter eggs or optional scenes in part 4 but I can't remember them right now. 

 

 

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  • 4 months later...

So Octavi Navarro (him of Midnight Scenes and Thimbleweed Park fame) Has written a new short game. Available on Steam for free and here https://pixelshuh.itch.io/the-supper

 

Ms. Appleton was always a wellspring of kindness, until The Voice started talking to her.  It won't leave her alone. It commands her to serve a very special meal to some distinguished customers.

 

0E67ye.png

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  • 10 months later...
On 03/05/2018 at 17:48, Alexlotl said:

My list, so I don't lose it:

 

C64

Maniac Mansion

Zak McKracken & The Alien Mindbenders

 

PC EGA + Adlib

Indy and the Last Crusade

 

PC EGA + MT-32

Secret of Monkey Island

Loom

 

PC VGA + MT-32

Monkey Island 2

 

PC VGA Floppy + CM-32L (fancier MT-32 that supported WAV sound effects)

Indy and the Fate of Atlantis

 

PC VGA CD Talkie + CM-32L

Day of the Tentacle

 

PC VGA CD Talkie + General Midi

Sam & Max Hit The Road

 

PC VGA CD Talkie + PCM Audio

Full Throttle

The Dig

 

PC SVGA CD Talkie + PCM Audio

Curse of Monkey Island

 

Slowly working my way through this list! The temptation of messing with Monkey EGA with the dithering means I didn't follow strict order, but having just finished Zak McKracken C64, I'm starting Indy 3 EGA.

 

You have to admire the ambition here. Though there isn't much of it, the ad-lib music is frequently excellent, and they work wonders with only 16 colours, particularly considering that this game doesn't use dithering. Indy's walk cycle is a work of art too, although the heavy whump-whump-whump footsteps everyone makes in this game thankfully never made it into another Lucasfilm title.

 

indy.png.17a0bf3a560abe6d1f7c047790c05450.png

 

A big upgrade to Scumm here (V3) with the higher resolution menu reflecting that the C64 wasn't the original development platform! We've also finally got a Look verb, instead of read. Still a few refinements missing though - you have to manually use "What is" instead of it just being built in (great when you're trying to find three individual books in an entire library full of bookshelves), and there's no right-click action yet.

 

Finding valid EGA data files has proved tricky, though. First ones worked fine until I tried to look at the catacomb maps, then fell over. Hopefully the second set I've found will be better.

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Not very retro (2003!) but I got Syberia 1&2 on the Switch for 44p recently (thanks sale/gold points/cheap credit) and they’re really very good. Incredible backgrounds, interesting locations and story, and puzzles that actually make sense.

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On 25/01/2021 at 18:21, deKay said:

Not very retro (2003!) but I got Syberia 1&2 on the Switch for 44p recently (thanks sale/gold points/cheap credit) and they’re really very good. Incredible backgrounds, interesting locations and story, and puzzles that actually make sense.

 

Syberia 3 down from £45 to £9 today. Fortuitous timing having finished 2 a few days ago!

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I assume it would be possible to turn EGA Monkey Island into a talkie version like its 256 colour sibling?

Might give it a go as I haven’t played the EGA version (MegaCD is the closest for lower number of colours), but I’m lazy and need talkie tracks these days!

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  • 2 months later...

Finally got around to finishing Indy & The Last Crusade in EGA, as this impressively garish sunset will attest. I was stuck for ages at the biplane scene as I kept not having time to connect a numpad-enabled keyboard up to my tenkeyless laptop.

 

end.png.3abda5392fec569f9a8770889a557002.png

 

It's a really interesting, if very flawed, game. The cleverest part has to be the use of the pack-in grail diary, reference to which is required to solve the final puzzle in the game - picking the correct grail. Based on two (entirely missable!) clues earlier in the game, you can pin down exactly what the cup will look like. This has to be done by you the player, though - in the game, Indy will just say "Now THIS is the cup of a carpenter" to every one you look at. But this book is absolutely overflowing with flavour - telegrams, press clippings, notes from Henry etc - it's far more impressive and substantial a thing than it needs to be. I can see why they didn't do this again, but it's kind of a shame too.

 

Scumm really expands here into some new directions - top-down maps/mazes, the fist-based combat, and even the biplane scene, which is pretty impressively done. A real leap from Zak McKracken, although I suppose that did have you briefly controlling birds, dolphins etc. I seem to recall Monkey Island originally had ship-to-ship combat planned; it would have been fascinating to see how 1990-era Scumm would have coped with it.

 

As for the EGA version specifically, well, it's interesting - as with Monkey Island it gives you an idea of why certain palettes which persist in the VGA version were used (the library shelves and catacombs in particular). Everyone looks a bit sunburnt though, and there are a few too many occasions where people's clothes are the same colour as the scenery. But if you'd stopped me at any point and asked me to say how many colours there were, I'd probably have guessed 32, not 16, and that's without the use of MI/Loom's dithering (which only shows up briefly here, in the clouds prior to the biplane sequence) - just through masterful use of the limited palette. Given as this game is going to look pretty ugly and clunky no matter how you play it, I'd recommend EGA over VGA, just to put things in context.

 

The EGA release also has some old-fashioned clumsy copy protection (doing translations for Marcus based on codes in the manual), which I don't remember my budget Amiga version (on Kixx XL) having - not sure if that was an Amiga revision or a budget revision.

 

Anyway, Loom next - lots of groundwork to do, as I need to print out the Book of Patterns and listen to a rip of the audio drama!

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Have to admire your commitment, not sure I could play through EGA versions of games that have VGA versions available. 

 

This is a genre very close to my heart, but just don't have the time to go back to a lot of these classics. Instead I've found a great way to revisit them is to put their longplays on in the background while I'm working. 

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3 hours ago, christaylor said:

Have to admire your commitment, not sure I could play through EGA versions of games that have VGA versions available.

 

I have to say, I'm with Alexlotl here: I think the EGA-era Lucasarts adventures all look better in EGA than VGA, and I find playing their later versions to be less enjoyable, generally.

 

In the case of the upcoming Loom, not only does it look significantly better in EGA, it's a dramatically better game overall in its original floppy disk EGA incarnation than its talkie VGA follow-up: aside from the visual shakeup, the later version removed vast swathes of dialogue, many close-up shots, and the game's dynamic soundtrack - which, for a game based entirely around Swan Lake, is a bit of a blow. Oh, and it got rid of the half-hour audio drama which serves as the game's prologue, IIRC.

 

For a quick visual comparison, here's Loom's graveyard/forest in EGA:

 

Loom.jpg

Moody, evocative!

 

And in VGA:

1387655198_LoomVGA.thumb.jpg.9d01c8bce1392f2164b161a1b84fdd1e.jpg

...murky?

 

And even when the palette wasn't played with so much, I generally find the original's harsher, dithered visuals to be stronger visually; e.g. the approach to Forge:

 

EGA:

625531544_LoomForgeEGA.png.5e78800f34c590800954f80da9c0d2f3.png

 

VGA:

1161666244_LoomForgeVGA.png.b404ef4e773c4942ec7519a36240f360.png

 

It's a game where the original was designed to be striking in its choices of palette, and so the VGA version's usage of gradients to soften the imagery/simply add a broader range of colours actively subtract from the stylistic strengths of the game.

 

It's a continuing travesty that the only digitally purchasable version of the game is the VGA edition.

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On 03/04/2021 at 15:58, Alexlotl said:

Finally got around to finishing Indy & The Last Crusade in EGA, as this impressively garish sunset will attest. I was stuck for ages at the biplane scene as I kept not having time to connect a numpad-enabled keyboard up to my tenkeyless laptop.

 

end.png.3abda5392fec569f9a8770889a557002.png

 

It's a really interesting, if very flawed, game. The cleverest part has to be the use of the pack-in grail diary, reference to which is required to solve the final puzzle in the game - picking the correct grail. Based on two (entirely missable!) clues earlier in the game, you can pin down exactly what the cup will look like. This has to be done by you the player, though - in the game, Indy will just say "Now THIS is the cup of a carpenter" to every one you look at. But this book is absolutely overflowing with flavour - telegrams, press clippings, notes from Henry etc - it's far more impressive and substantial a thing than it needs to be. I can see why they didn't do this again, but it's kind of a shame too.

 

Scumm really expands here into some new directions - top-down maps/mazes, the fist-based combat, and even the biplane scene, which is pretty impressively done. A real leap from Zak McKracken, although I suppose that did have you briefly controlling birds, dolphins etc. I seem to recall Monkey Island originally had ship-to-ship combat planned; it would have been fascinating to see how 1990-era Scumm would have coped with it.

 

As for the EGA version specifically, well, it's interesting - as with Monkey Island it gives you an idea of why certain palettes which persist in the VGA version were used (the library shelves and catacombs in particular). Everyone looks a bit sunburnt though, and there are a few too many occasions where people's clothes are the same colour as the scenery. But if you'd stopped me at any point and asked me to say how many colours there were, I'd probably have guessed 32, not 16, and that's without the use of MI/Loom's dithering (which only shows up briefly here, in the clouds prior to the biplane sequence) - just through masterful use of the limited palette. Given as this game is going to look pretty ugly and clunky no matter how you play it, I'd recommend EGA over VGA, just to put things in context.

 

The EGA release also has some old-fashioned clumsy copy protection (doing translations for Marcus based on codes in the manual), which I don't remember my budget Amiga version (on Kixx XL) having - not sure if that was an Amiga revision or a budget revision.

 

Anyway, Loom next - lots of groundwork to do, as I need to print out the Book of Patterns and listen to a rip of the audio drama!

Must get round to finishing this. I got to the piano playing part in the catacombs and got stuck before. When I finally got round to going back to it, ScummVM didn't seem to have my save any more and I haven't found the energy to restart and play through the early scenes again. 

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