Monday, December 3, 2012

Game 78: Don't Go Alone (1989)


When I heard that Don't Go Alone was a horror CRPG, I got excited. I've played plenty of fantasy RPGs, science fiction RPGs, and post-apocalyptic RPGs, but never a horror RPG. I was envisioning something creepy and atmospheric, like Alone in the Dark or The 7th Guest but with attribute scores and random combats. But it turns out that Don't Go Alone is a reasonably boilerplate dungeon crawler with horror-themed grafts. You've got a series of mazes, but in a mansion rather than a dungeon. You fight enemies, but they're ghosts and slimes and such, and instead of damaging your hit points, their attacks raise your fear score. You don't cast spells; you mix chemicals into various "formulas," and they deplete your "concentration" rather than mana.

My party squares off against a "presence."

All my Googling has failed to produce a manual for the game, but various online sites say that your quest is to rescue your grandfather from the clutches of an ancient demon at the top of a haunted mansion. Yes, your grandfather. Look, when my grandpa was alive, I loved him as much as you love yours, but you have to admit this is a rather weak premise for a main quest. Did the developers think that rescuing...I don't know...your girlfriend from an ancient demon at the top of a haunted mansion was too cliched?

I suppose it would be annoying to fight all the way to the top and find out he wasn't.

You play the game with four characters: an adventurer, a technician, a chemist, and a psychic (read: fighter, thief, priest, mage), which is reminiscent of The Dark Heart of Uukrul. During party creation, you can choose from among 4 predefined characters for each slot, but it's not much of a choice. Almost all of the categories have one individual with manifestly higher statistics than the others, and the only reason not to choose him or her would be because you don't want to look at that portrait for the next 14 hours.

Choosing the adventurer. Is there some reason I wouldn't choose "Dan," who has higher everything than anyone else except one point of intellgence? Because I don't like mustaches?

For a game set in modern times, the lack of diversity in character creation annoyed me a bit. Out of 16 potential characters, all except for one are white, and the one exception is an American Indian in the "psychic" category. I kid you not, you can tell he's an Indian because he's wearing a headband with a feather sticking out of it--you know, the way all Indians did in 1989. I think maybe a "special topics" posting about this is in order. (And no, despite his name, "Diego" is not Latino.)

Anyway, after specifying the characters, you can change their names, but you don't have any other customization options. You begin in the front hallway of a haunted mansion. The graphics feature occasional cobwebs and exposed plaster on the walls, and the same four portraits repeated over and over.

Elvis about to grab a candle, I guess.

The interface is very basic, almost entirely using the four arrow keys, with occasional forays to the menu up top. You encounter some creatures randomly, some at fixed locations, and the ones at fixed locations appear to immediately respawn. Combat consists of only three options--attack, prepare a formula, or flee--and only one character can act at a time. You can fight an entire combat with just one person or switch among them. You often have to switch when someone runs out of concentration or his fear gets too high, rendering him unable to act. (In case it's not clear, it's bad when the "F" column goes up, but bad when the "C" column goes down.)

Isn't it enough that we killed it? Do we have to know about its "horrible agony"?

You can slay enemies in combat, at which point the party gets a pool of experience, divvied in part by how many actions the character took in combat (something else the game shares with Uukrul). There are two ways the enemy can win, and in neither of them does anyone "die." If the combat goes on too long, your foe snatches something from your backpack and disappears; if all your characters' "fear" score goes too high, you get randomly teleported to another part of the dungeon. To be fair, this is almost as bad as "death" in many other games, because given the size of these levels, it could easily take you 20 minutes to navigate back to where you where when you "died." I'd almost rather it forced me to reload.

The game's version of "death."

After combat, you can wait for a while, during which "fear" diminishes and 'concentration" goes back to its max level. There's a minor chance of a random encounter while so waiting, but generally speaking if you can survive one encounter, you can rest up to perfect health before the next one.

My adventurer wets his trousers.

The characters start out with some hand weapons like Swiss Army knives and "armor" like boots, and you can find more at fixed locations in the mansion. There are a lot of special items, like different types of gemstones, flashlights, and strings of garlic, and without the manual I'm not entirely sure what to do with them.

My technician's statistics and gear.

The spell system is theoretically the most original part of the game. Yes, they're technically called "formulas," but really they're spells--or perhaps you can explain why mixing zirconium, xenon, thallium, and sodium (the "Ocularium" formula) shows me a map of the level without any magic involved. There are between 20 and 30 spells in the game, divided into different levels, and you have to find the book associated with the level (e.g., "Chemistry, Vol. 3") to use it. Everyone starts out with Level 1, which includes spells that protect against fear, restore concentration, show the automap, tell you some information about your equipment, and cause a few points of acid damage. The formulas use real elemental symbols, but beyond that the originality ends. You carry an unlimited supply of each element (the number of spells you can cast is limited only by "concentration"), and you don't have to figure out how to mix them together: you just select the appropriate combination from a list. You can only have one spell active at a time, and you can't change it in the middle of combat.

Selecting a spell. Somehow, tungsten, oxygen, and carbon come together to dispel invisibility.

The maze itself is standard dungeon-crawling fare, with one-way doors, hidden doors, locked doors, keys, and random teleporters. Secret doors are clued with messages about winds and such, and you have to pay attention because they only appear once. The two levels I've explored already are very large, maybe 100x100, although of course not all that space is used.

The automap for one section of Level 1.

If there are any special encounters or NPCs, I haven't come across them yet, although you do occasionally get taunting messages from (presumably) the ancient demon.


On Level 1, I had difficulty with a couple of fixed combats with unique creatures not found anywhere else on the level: a "rock creature" and a mummy. Once my characters reached Level 2, the rock creature wasn't so hard, but the mummy wouldn't die even after I grinded against the rock creature until all my characters were Level 3. I eventually left it alone and moved on.

The undefeated mummy.

Level 2 started with a spirit voice warning me "beware of shifting walls," and indeed the level was full of one-way doors, but there was always some path to get me back to the beginning, and without much trouble I explored the whole level, including an area of darkness (a flashlight dispelled it) and a room that seemed to have no exit (there was a secret door) and caused fear with every step. There were some decent equipment upgrades, and my characters got to Level 4. Perhaps I'll return to Level 1 and take on that mummy again.

If I ever explore a haunted mansion, I'm going to take better weapons than this when I enter. I'm not going to trust I'll find them along the way.

Overall, with the simplistic interface, basic gameplay, and inability to die permanently, it feels like a game for novices, or perhaps children. It was developed by Sterling Silver Software, which otherwise never developed a CRPG (they specialized in sports games, particularly golf) and published by Accolade, which otherwise never published a CRPG. The developers, Lee Actor and Dennis Koble, have games like PGA Tour Golf and Hard Drivin' to their credit (no other CRPGs). It was a weird one-shot for everyone involved.

This is not the type of game I'm likely to stay with until the end, but I'll see if anything interesting develops within the six-hour window. If anyone's got an old manual around, I'd love to see it.

Moving on to Level 3. Wait...this is a mansion. How much sense does it make that the levels are going DOWN?

Just an amusing side-note: most people who know me say that I'm as least responsive to authority as is possible without becoming a total anarchist (an unemployed anarchist at that). Anytime someone tells me that I "have" to do something, I've apparently retorted "the only things I have to do are pay taxes and die" so often that people just say it along with me, in unison. My wife got me a GPS for Christmas a few years ago, and I had to give it up because I was always getting mad at it for telling me where to go. I mention this because this game strikes a visceral piss-me-off chord every time I start it up. "Screw you; I'll go alone if I feel like it!" I keep yelling at the game. Yeah. So. Probably more than you needed to know.

87 comments:

  1. Well, hey, we couldn't let you have two good games in a row.

    Also, I'm sad to say that the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemists had to assassinate the authors of this game for revealing that chemists can actually do magic.

    More seriously, that isn't how chemistry works, and I can spot problems with pretty much every formula onscreen.
    The first one looks reasonably sane, it is all metals.
    The second one: Argon is fine, but oxygen never exists on its own, it always exists as O2. Also ceasium lights on fire and/or explodes when it touches water, for example, the water in air. Also, no way is Argon going to react with those two under any conditions you can reach in a haunted mansion; it is a freaking nobel gas. I'm not sure anyone has reacted argon yet with anything, no matter how crazy the conditions.

    Sodium metal is more stable, so it can exist in air. Xenon is possible to react with other things, but not without a lot of special equipment. Also, I'd be willing to put money on the line it has never reacted with Thalium and Sodium. The only things I've heard of it reacting with are fluorine, oxygen, and florinated organic compounds, and I'm not sure if that has been published yet.

    Florine exists as a diatomic, oxygen exists as a diatomic, and potassium lights on fire with contact with air.

    Um, the last one sounds plausible except for the whole oxygen should be diatomic. I can't say if it would work off the top of my head, but most metals oxidize, and often you can burn carbon in a pure-oxygen environment to do it.

    Can you guess what type of degree I'm two exams away from completing?

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    1. Good luck with your accounting exams!

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    2. There's argon fluorohydride, but it decomposes at -246 C.

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    3. Maybe the trick is to get a degree in magichemistry instead of that boring physical science stuff. Come on, man, revolutionize cartography with a whiff of Xenon!

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    4. Anonymous: Thank you. I know there aren't any helium or neon compounds, and I know there are xenon and kyrpton compounds, but I couldn't remember about argon.

      One of my profs is a noble gas chemist so I have heard more about it then most people.

      Nate: I have a nice bath here that will give you magical powers. It is a fun solution call aqua regia.

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    5. Thanks Anonymous, I was going to suggest Fluorine since it reacts with practically anything

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    6. Except for Neon and helium. It has been tried.

      If you want to see something scary look up how to make F-O-O-F. Also think about how much electron density is between those oxygen.

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    7. If this gets funded, I'm totally adding it to my list for 2013: http://szdecastell.com/educ471/?p=755

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    8. Guess it's not getting funded. Oh, well...

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  2. I remember this game, although I never would have known by the name. The screenshots brought back some vague memories though. I honestly don't think my friend and I got very far (it was his game if I recall correctly). He also tried this game called Escape From Hell which is coming up in 1990; I think we thought it was cool because we were 14 year old boys, but as a game it wasn't very special.

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  3. About the mummy, conventional wisdom is that fire is a good weapon against totally dehydrated enemies.
    Do you have access to any fire spells?

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    1. I don't think so, but in any event I don't think this game is sophisticated enough to recognize the "type" of damage something is doing.

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  4. LOL, you sure you're not a xivilai? Lore has it that they hate being told what to do! :D

    In all seriousness, I saw this game when It first came out, and wanted it badly. I only had c64, alas, and the game was only PC (maybe apples of various sorts too). Right now, I don't feel like I missed anything.

    I think with the chemistry spell thing they were trying to have a magic system that seemed like it could be part of 'real life'. I think they'd have been better off looking at books about Ceremonial Magic and Wicca and basing something of those.--Nyx

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    1. Yeah, Chet and I probably wouldn't get along so well in real life, me being a dirty democratic socialist and all.

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    2. My resistance to authority doesn't really influence my political outlook, probably because that type of authority is too remote.

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    3. "I mention this because this game strikes a visceral piss-me-off chord every time I start it up. "Screw you; I'll go alone if I feel like it!" I keep yelling at the game."

      Dude. Chill.

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  5. Always nice to see these odd, mostly forgotten games that at least I have never heard of before. Despite my feeling that this isn´t the best CRPG of 1989, it is still interesting to see this fresh approach and the slightly original settings.

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  6. "and published by Accolade, which otherwise never published a CRPG."

    They later published Star Control 2 and 3, both Elviras and Waxworks, although none of those are standard CRPGs. Last three were by Horror Soft, but I don't think they have any connection to this.

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    1. I would also count Accolade's Third Courier as CRPG eventhough for some reason Mobygames don't. Not that it being exceptional for any other reason than cold war era spy genre.

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    2. I don't have Star Control on my list; should I? What about The Third Courier qualifies it as a CRPG?

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    3. I took the liberty of looking up The Third Courier. From the screenshot, there are some stats present, and the protagonist is at level at that point. That's one or two of your criteria right there Sorry, I don't have those memorized, but I know that character development via skills/stats is one of them.

      http://www.myabandonware.com/media/captures/T/the-third-courier/the-third-courier_9.png

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    4. So far as I know, the Star Control games are not RPGs.

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    5. About The Third Courier -

      Character creation process which loosely defines the personality traits you gain by levels with experience points.
      Changing character traits affecting you success at tasks (mostly in combat, though).
      Different weapons and gadgets.
      NPCs you can interact in limited manner (bribe, threat, talk, show passport, take photos to check data at computer afterwards).

      But basically, your dungeon is Berlin, orcs are obnoxious drunks and drug dealers (or soviet border guards depending which side the wall you are), chain mail is made of kevlar and magic sword is called UZI.

      As I said, nothing exceptional, but rare genre.

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    6. Oops, that second sentence in the first comment should read "the protagonist as at level 1 at that point." I also neglected to mention the experience points, but they're plain to see in the screenshot.

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    7. Star Control 1 is a two player Asteroids type shmup, however Star Control 2 is at least as much an RPG as Starflight was (not to mention one of the absolute best videogames of all time).

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    8. Yes. You should skip Star Control 1, but if you do not play Star Control 2 I will hunt you down and kill you in your sleep. And you will deserve it.

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    9. I tried playing Star Control 2, but couldn't get past the ultra twitchy space combat.

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    10. Star Control 1 & 2 are already on master game list.

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    11. Indeed. I could swear they weren't there yesterday, but maybe I had a typo in my search. The Third Courier just went on, too. Man, I'm never getting out of 1989 at this rate.

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    12. Crud, sorry, but I've got to start being more subtle when I edit the matrix, people are starting to notice.

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  7. "Did the developers think that rescuing...I don't know...your girlfriend from an ancient demon at the top of a haunted mansion was too cliched?"

    That or they thought that three men and one woman sharing the same girlfriend was too risqué. ;)

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    1. Heh! Well, in the adventure game Maniac Mansion your team of three heads into said mansion to rescue a girlfriend, but she's only really dating the main character, Dave.

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    2. More likely they figured a team of 4 women (or just a female player) going to rescue their girlfriend was a little weird, and would require a whole extra programming branch of "gender" within the game to make it girlfriend/boyfriend...and it was easier to just make it grandpa.

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    3. Which would also explain that somewhat limited racial diversity if you are all rescuing the same relative. From that we can assume that Diago is half-latino, which would make him the first mixed-race CRPG character, not counting Half-elves.

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    4. And Kotar the Indian Brave was just adopted or something.

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    5. Well, or their family just slept around a lot. Lots of half-siblings.

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  8. Racial diversity in computer games? It's pretty rare even in modern games I'd say. I imagine it was even more so back in the late 80s when the cliché of PC gamers as young, white males was true or at least truer than it is today. Games featuring white player characters, preferably male, was and still is a form of catering to your highest (perceived) market group.

    Personally I haven't really given it much thought because I live in a country where the vast majority is white, so seeing too many white people in games doesn't really stand out to me as it would to someone from a more racially diverse country. Asians and blacks are quite rare here, latinos exists only on a few TV shows or in latin music bands and the one 'coloured' ethnic group we have usually comes up in fantasy games in the form of stereotypes - wandering caravans and crystal ball soothsayers. You've probably guessed what ethnic group I'm talking about.

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    1. BTW, I suspect your "Billie" character might be Indian. Indian Indian, that is. Or maybe Pakistani or some other similar South Asian country. I think there's a Bindi (forehead dot) on the, well, forehead.

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    2. You know, you're right. I missed it, partly because there's a lock of hair obscuring it, and partly because of my color blindness. Here default name is Zoey, though. Of course, the default name for the American Indian is "Kotar," so I'm not sure these developers spent a lot of time worrying about it.

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  9. I'm not sure there are any scanned copies of the manual--I remember looking far and wide when I wrote the FAQ/Walkthrough for this game (it's on GameFAQs, when you finish or give up) and not being able to find anything. As such, I'm still not sure exactly what several of the spells do, and there are several special items I never found, but instead found a (possibly unintended) workaround for.

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    1. Thanks for popping by! I actually have been using your walkthrough--not for the walkthrough part, but for the spell documentation, which I don't otherwise have. Thanks for putting that together. In your opinion, is it worth continuing to the end? How long did it take you?

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    2. It's not really that long a game...maybe 8-10 hours, if you take your time? The game is mostly just mapping, snagging items and killing things. There are relatively few real puzzles (one or two per floor), though getting through level 10 (the final level) takes some thought and preparation. I suspect that by the time you hit your 6-hour minimum, it'll be obvious whether you want to just cruise on to the end, or thank the gods you can stop.

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  10. That wood panelling must have cost a fortune to install.

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    1. By my calculations, each floor is about 1 million square feet, and there are 10 floors. I'm pretty sure this "mansion" would be the most expensive (and thus most famous) building in the world.

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  11. I've played down to the third mansion level in this and I didn't notice it getting any more varied or better. It's got a few interesting ideas and a pretty good automap for the time, but it's not enough.

    I enjoyed the paragraph of your reaction to being told to not go alone. I bet you'd have rolled up an one character party if the game allowed for it.

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  12. Oh wow, I had never even heard of this game, I don't think I even ever played a horror RPG before.

    I really need to check this one out

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    1. If you want a better horror RPG set in a mansion, try Microprose/Magnetic Scrolls' "The Legacy".

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    2. Yup, that one is not bad. It has a good atmosphere, but is very hard. Reminded me a bit about the old point and click adventure game Uninvited, which also was very hard.
      I also think you will get more out of it you have read your Lovecraft first.

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    3. If that's the same thing as The Legacy: Realm of Terror, it's on my list for 1993.

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  13. zirconium, xenon, thallium, and sodium? That is my formula for my "Upset Tummy" potion! Come to think of it, all of these are my formulae for causing upset tummies...

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    1. Most of those would probably kill you, as there is at least one chemical weapon on that list (fluorine gas), and several toxic metals. Also several metals that would explode in your mouth when they touched water.

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  14. This is one crazy-ass mansion. I can only imagine the architectural contortions required to build something like this.

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    1. Have a look at Winchester Mystery House.

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    2. I've been there! No where as big as this mansion, but still pretty crazy. I remember thinking it would be cool to set a CRPG there.

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  15. It's no wonder these people are going crazy and seeing ghosts if they're travelling around with (and probably touching!) a basically unlimited amount of Thallium...

    No matter if they meet any demon or not, they're all as good as dead.

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    1. That should be the ending to the game: everyone wakes up in the hospital and realizes the whole experience was a set of hallucinations caused by the insanely dangerous collection of chemicals they were carrying around.

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  16. You people and your science! This is why we can't have nice things: A game tries to do something different than magic and everyone is all "That's not realistic!"

    Well no, its not, it is a game.

    @CRPGADDict: I have another one for your real life skills that CRPGs have taught me. Ironically, it was your GPS rant that reminded me.

    Using Google maps on my smart phone is almost exactly like navigating a game world using the minimap!

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    1. It's the whole probable impossibility/improbable possibility thing. A game that simply says it's about "magic," we accept. A game that pretends to be about something real, but treats it in a ridiculous way deserves scorn. The damned game has "psychics," after all. If it simply treated the spells as manifestations of psychic energy, that would be fine. Pretending that real elements interact in such a way as to produce the listed results is not.

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    2. If they'd listed 'red powder, blue powder' or something like that I'd be fine with it. However when you do something for a living it rather screams 'I'm an idiot', you know?

      Also, they aren't doing anything different. They've just changed the names of the spells from made up words and reagents to fake chemical formulea. If they'd actually had some sort of original system I'd be more forgiving.

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  17. GREAT! On to Drakkhen! It is a game I had for the S-Nintendo but never could beat. I remember it was pretty buggy for a console game and constant frustration smothered what seemed to be an otherwise nifty game.
    Nostalgia he we come :)

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    1. I find people being so eager to skip over games in a project whose intent is to document all of its kind on the platform rather unsavory, particularly skipping over less known games in favor of a more known one. There are already plenty of articles about Drakkhen; there are none about Don't Go Alone that I know of.

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    2. I like Drakkhen too and have some funny memories of it too, but I wouldn't encourage Chet to rush through this one. I see these posts as a window into games I never got to play/wouldn't have chosen for myself in many cases. So for me, it's fun to see them played out.--Nyx

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    3. I agree, keep at it! At the same time, I'm looking forward to seeing the differences between the SNES and PC versions of Drakkhen as I've only played the former.

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    4. As if my one small post in the sea of otherwise positive posts would have any modicum of influence over his decision.
      You were bored today.

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    5. If we've learned anything from Chet's post, it's that telling him to move on to Drakkhen right now will cause him to complete Don't Go Alone. So, Anon, you should be thanking Ryan for his comment. ;)

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    6. I am on the fence. One one hand, bad games can be fun to read about, by typically Chet's writing doesn't led itself to describing bad games in an amusing fashion. One the other I do like reading about every game and seeing the trends. One the other hand, I know nothing about games from this era, so even the most famous games are practically new to me. On the other hand, if I have that many hands I need to reconsider a career investigating the chemistry radioactive elements.

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    7. Not only am I not moving on to Drakkhen, I'm deleting it from my list.

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  18. Technically the only thing you *have* to do is die. Taxes are optional.

    I have a theory on why you might pick the characters with lower ability scores: it's a hidden form of difficulty adjustment. In a modern game you'd set the difficulty slider to 'Very Hard'; in this game you just pick the starting party that sucks.

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    1. I wanted to make the same comment about the taxes being optional for a lot of people (especially here in Italy), but I see that someone has ninja'ed me already :P

      Regarding the game, if you've had even a slight enjoyment for this, then you're going to love Microprose's The Legacy (1992) - similar horror theme, *much* more advanced game system and just a hugely better game overall. Being a huge fan of both horror and RPGs, I've always thought it's such a pity that the two rarely meet... or at least

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    2. Yes, the phrase is supposed to be kind of a joke. I merged Morgan Freeman's retort to Robert Guillaume in Stand By Me ("The only things I HAVE to do are stay black and die!") with Ben Franklin's famous quote about "in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes." I used to add "and I can EVADE death" at the end, but that just confused people more.

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    3. Nobody corrected me, but that was Lean on Me, not Stand By Me.

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  19. Another horror RPG you might want to check out is the Nightmare on Elm Street PC game (not the Nintendo one!). I played that back in the dawn of time, and it was actually really fun.

    You play one of six characters wandering through a surreal haunted environment, collecting weapons and fighting off all sorts of weird crap.

    It's somewhat limited in its RPG factors, but I'm fairly certain you had to collect an inventory and that your powers developed through the game levels.

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    1. Well, I looked at the description, and it sounds like it might be a CRPG enough for my list. I'll check it out later in 1989. Thanks!

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    2. I can't remember whether it had RPG elements or not, but I sure liked it a lot. When I played it for the first time (12-13 or so years ago) it really struck me for its strong atmosphere, not to mention good old Freddy which scared me to death :P

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  20. Don't abandon Don't Go Alone! Do not move on to the next game! Do play Don't Go Alone during Christmas! Do not pay your taxes before you beat Don't Go Alone!

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    1. I stayed up all night to win it, just so I could resolve the paradoxes.

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    2. I was just facetiously making fun of your dislike against being told what to do.

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  21. I don't understand the chart on that character status screen. If it's supposed to show your stats visually, why isn't that character's Int the place where it peaks?

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    1. Not to mention a line chart doesn't make any sense for discrete data like that.

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    2. It's because it includes "health" (not listed numerically above), and it's graphed as a percentage of the maximum. So my character has the max health for his level, but the other stats are well below the max of 100.

      But anonymous is right. Line graphs are only for interval or ratio data. I had the same problem with B.A.T..

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  22. Funny game, and funny comments... The poor game designers get what they deserve for giving their RPG a different angle in a lazy way. Has there ever been an RPG about completely mundane activities? A main quest about, say, doing your tax return, doing the laundry, get to work etc...? I think there's a good parody in there somewhere.

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    1. There was an Adventure game called Bureaucracy where the aim of the game is to get your bank to acknowlege your change of address.

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    2. That was one of the greatest text adventures I've ever played. Absolutely hilarious. You can't take it serious though, it's a pure parody, making fun of things like the name-giving bureaucracy, conspiracy theories and more.

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  23. > Anytime someone tells me that I "have" to do something, I've apparently retorted "the only things I have to do are pay taxes and die"

    So, is that also the problem you have with linearity in crpg? I can see you grinding your teeth every time a game tells you "Please go to cave A" when you really would want to visit Castle B first. ;)

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  24. I should probably see if this manual is still mysteriously absent from the world, given I have a boxed copy of the game myself and do enjoy being useful to the classic PC game world. Something tells me I might have dozens of manuals nobody has ever bothered to scan and put online, though... but maybe for good reason.

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1. Do not link to any commercial entities, including Kickstarter campaigns, unless they're directly relevant to the material in the associated blog posting. (For instance, that GOG is selling the particular game I'm playing is relevant; that Steam is having a sale this week on other games is not.) THIS ALSO INCLUDES USER NAMES THAT LINK TO ADVERTISING.

2. Please avoid profanity and vulgar language. I don't want my blog flagged by too many filters.

3. Please don't comment anonymously. It makes it impossible to tell who's who in a thread. Choose the "Name/URL" option, pick a name for yourself, and just leave the URL blank.

Also, Blogger has a way of "eating" comments, so I highly recommend that you copy your words to the clipboard before submitting, just in case.

NOTE: Spam has gotten so bad lately that I've had to turn on comment moderation for posts older than 10 days. I apologize if it takes a little while for your comment to appear.