Game Review: Don’t Fire Until You See The Yellow Of Their Niblets (1999, Dan Shiovitz)


“There is a sharp hiss, as if millions of kernels cried out in pain and then were suddenly silenced. And then it arises — dear god, it arises. Something like Venus arising from the waters, or your fat Uncle Albert arising from his arm-chair, the Yellow Beast of Corn draws itself up from the pile of stalks. The broom drops from your nerveless fingers as you contemplate the apparition that has appeared before you. “Why me, why now, why here?” you can’t help but ask yourself, even knowing that the question is futile. To kill, to kill, that is the purpose of the Nibleted One, and anyone in its path will perish.”

Don’t Fire Until You See The Yellow Of Their Niblets by Dan Shiovtiz

In this text adventure game, you are working the night shift at Big Foods Super Market.  You have just finished sweeping up the produce aisle and you are looking forward to finally getting off work when suddenly, the Yellow Beast of Corn rises up, looking to destroy you.  This may be because Big Foods has started receiving it’s corn from The Dark Brotherhood instead of Pete’s Produce Wholesalers.

You have three directions in which to run and two aisles in which to hide.  Each aisle features a different way to kill the Yellow Beast of Corn but you’ll have to figure it out quick.  Take too long and the day crew will only find a few pieces of you left in the morning.

Don’t Fire Until You See The Yellow Of Their Niblets is a game that was specifically designed to be played in less than a minute.  Figuring out how to destroy the corn monster is not difficult.  Instead, the challenge is making sure that you get to the aisle with enough time left to put a plan into action.  It’s a fun game and you may have already guessed that it’s not meant to be taken too seriously.

Don’t Fire Until You See The Yellow Of Their Niblets can be downloaded from here.  You’ll also need a TADs interpreter to play the game, which can be downloaded, for free, from TADS.org.

Video Game Review: Vacation Gone Away (2002, Milibus)


Vacation Gone Awry is an old-fashioned text adventure where you wake up on the first day of your vacation in Germany and you discover that your family has disappeared!

Searching your three-room cabin doesn’t do much good.  Your wife and your daughters are nowhere to be found.  Even looking under the bearskin rug doesn’t reveal the trap door that I had been led, by years of playing text adventure games, to expect.  Finally, I went outside, got in the car, and decided to just drive away.

Right, it’s not going to happen.  Your family may have abandoned you but you abandoning them is not an option.

If you do go back to the cabin, you will eventually discover what has happened to your family.  Like many of the puzzles in Vacation Gone Awry, the solution to this problem is to specifically look at everything.  That may sound easy but the cabin is do detailed that it can be easy to get distracted.  I wasted ten turns in the cabin’s bedroom, trying to open my wife’s makeup bag before I finally accepted that it wasn’t an important clue.

Once you discover what has happened to your family, you are free to once again get in your car and attempt to drive into town.  However, while driving, this happens:

It seems that aliens have accidentally lost a piece of their spaceship and now a group of research scientists are on the verge of opening it up and killing everyone in the vicinity, including you and your family.  You have no choice but to make your way through a blizzard, find the research station, and stop them!

Your enjoyment of Vacation Gone Awry will depend on how much patience you have for searching locations and solving puzzles.  This is one of those text adventures where no door can simply be opened.  Instead, you have to figure out how to unlock it.  Finding the solution will often depend on not only carefully reading the descriptions of the location but also taking a closer look at things that you may have already examined.  Especially when compared to more recent works of Interactive Fiction, Vacation Gone Awry is puzzle-driven instead of plot-driven.

It’s challenging but, if you’re a puzzle person, there is enjoyment to be found in the game.  Vacation Gone Awry is available for free on several sites.  I played it at the Internet Archive.

Good luck saving your family!

Video Game Review: Hamburger Hell (1986, J.P. Jansen)


In this game, you are working in a fast food restaurant.  Your goal is to make as many hamburgers as possible.  The more hamburgers you make, the more money the restaurant makes and the more your boss likes you.

Sounds simple, right?

Think again!

In this restaurant, it’s not just about knowing when to flip the burger.  Instead, you have to climb to the top of a ladder and push each ingredient down a level, one-by-one.  (That’s you, at the bottom of the third ladder.)  Making things extra difficult is that there’s a ghost running up and down the ladders.  The more hamburgers you make, the faster the ghost becomes.  If the ghost touches you, you die.  You come right back to life the first four times.  But after the fourth time, this happens:

This is an intentionally dumb but very addictive game.  You can play it at the Internet Archive.

Eat well and watch out for that ghost!

Video Game Review: The Count (1979, Adventure International)


You have just woken up in a bed in a Transylvanian castle.  Why are you there?  You’re on a mission.  What type of mission?  It’s Transylvania and the game is called The Count.  You figure it out.  You’ve got three days to figure out how to kill Count Dracula or you’ll suffer a fate worse than death.  Make a mistake and you might become a vampire during the night.  Try to leave the castle early and you’ll get torn apart by the angry villagers.

The Count is a very early text adventure game, one of the many that was created and designed by Scott Adams in the days when having a personal computer was considered to be a luxury instead of a necessity.  The Count has everything that you would usually expect from an Adams game: minimalist descriptions, silly humor (“The signs says ‘POSITIVE NO SMOKING ALLOWED’ signed Count Dracula.”), and puzzles that often take more than one run-through to solve.  It also has a simple two-word parser that, for modern players, might require some getting used to.

Historically, The Count is important because it was one of the first games to have a fixed time limit.  Timed challenges have always been my downfall, as anyone who has ever watched me play any of Spider-Man‘s side missions can tell you.  Solving The Count is not as challenging as catching Howard’s pigeons but it will still probably require a replay or two.

Like all of Scott Adams’s game, The Count has been adapted for other Interactive Fiction interpreters and can be downloaded for free..  The 1982 re-release, which came with graphics, can be played at the Internet Archive.

 

Video Game Review: Vampiric Tower (2000, Mike Behrens)


Vampiric Tower is a simple but addictive puzzle game that I found on the Internet Archive.

In this game, you are a purple haired vampire in a ten-story, fifty-room tower.  Your goal is to go through each room and collect all of the vials of blood.  Only after all of the vials have been collected will the door to the next room open.  At first it’s simple:

Things get more complicated with each room that you enter.

For instance, in the room above, there’s plenty of blood but there’s also objects in the way.  Fortunately, you can turn into a bat and fly over the obstacles but there’s only so many times that you can transform and you always have to return to your “human” form if you want to collect the blood.  You can push the obstacles out of the way but, if you’re not careful, you can very easily ended up locking yourself into a corner.

Each room has more obstacles than the last and you’ll have to be smart about how you use your transformation powers if you’re going to get all of the vials.

You’re also not alone in the tower.

Those jack o’lanterns may not look dangerous but get in their line of sight and they’ll kill you.

Vampric Tower is a simple puzzle-solving game but it’s also very addictive.  No sooner have you managed to figure out how to escape one room than you find yourself in an even more elaborate and dangerous location.  How quickly can you make it through the vampiric tower?  Play the game to find out!

Video Game Review: Wolfman (1988, CRL Group)


In Wolfman, you are David.  You wake up one morning in your tiny bedroom and you realize that something bad has happened.

A few commands later and you discover that you are covered in blood.

You are a werewolf!  You’ve already killed and you know that it’s going to happen again unless you find a cure for your condition.  For the rest of this challenging text adventure, it is up to you to figure out how to get out of town and find the cure.  Along the way, you will have to find ways to fight off your urges to kill.

Assuming that you get David out of the village, the game will switch gears and you’ll play from the viewpoint of Nadia, a young woman who falls in love with David and who, for David to continue on his journey and ultimately be cured of his condition, has to spend the night with David without becoming his latest victim.

If you pull that off, the game then switches back to being told from David’s point of view as he attempts to solve the final few puzzles that will lead him to the cure.

Wolfman is one of the many horror-themed text adventures that were written by Rod Pike in the 1980s.  Though the majority of the game is text, there are some graphics, mostly still shots of the werewolf’s victims.  In 1988, the graphics were considered shocking enough to get it an 18 certificate from the British Board of Film Censors.

The first challenge of playing a game like Wolfman today is getting into the right mindset to play a 1980s text adventure.  The game’s vocabulary and list of commands is impressive for 1988 but still extremely limited when compared to what we are used to today.  I spent several turns trapped in my bedroom and growing increasingly frustrated until I finally realized that the game considered “look” and “examine” to be two very different commands.

Once you get passed that, though, it’s an engrossing, well-written, and challenging game, one that puts you right into the mind of both a werewolf and one of his potential victims.  It’s available at the Internet Archive.  And, if you’re like me and you usually have to cheat to solve the puzzles in games like this, a walk-through is available here.

My 12 Favorite Trailers From E3


Last week’s E3 saw the release of too many trailers for me to share them all in just one post but I would like to share the trailers for 12 games that I am especially looking forward to.  In alphabetical order, these are my 12 top trailers from this year’s E3:

  1. Anthem

2. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey

3. Beyond Good & Evil 2

4. Call of Cthulhu

5. Control

6. Cyberpunk 2077

7. Doom Eternal

8. Ghost of Tsushima

9. Marvel’s Spider-Man

10. Resident Evil 2

11. We Happy Few

12. Wolfenstein: Youngblood