Friday, March 1, 2013

Hillsfar: Final Rating

 
Hillsfar
Westwood Associates (developer), Strategic Simulations (publisher)
Released 1989 for DOS, Amiga, Atari ST, Commodore 64; 1990 for PC-98; 1992 for NES
Date Started: 27 February 2013
Date Ended: 28 February 2013
Total Hours: 8
Difficulty: Moderate-Easy (2.5/5)
Final Rating: 31
Ranking at Time of Posting:  43/86 (50%)

I'm a little annoyed that I didn't play Hillsfar before Curse of the Azure Bonds. I had this idea that it was unrelated to the Gold Box games, but after playing it, I realize it was definitely meant to fall in between Pool of Radiance and Curse. I'm particularly upset by an anonymous reader's comment that completing this game produced a few more journal entries in Curse. I looked through the journal entries and found a few candidates.

Granted, these NPCs show up in these places regardless, but it still would have been nice to have this extra flavor.

Knowing all of this makes the game feel more like what it is: a brief diversion in between two superior games, providing some additional context to the region and some additional experience points. You could run your entire party through the guild quests, one by one, and end up with an exported Pool party a level higher when they start Curse.


Neither fish nor fowl, Hillsfar was the first attempt at a Dungeons & Dragons game by then-unknown, Westwood Studios. Hillsfar was basically a series of mini games masquerading as a role-playing game. The story was simple enough; you played a wandering adventurer who came to the town of Hillsfar in search of wealth. When you arrive, you're stripped of your armor and equipment and need to use all your wits to escape from the town. In the process you'll go through many arcade game challenges, including riding on a racing horse over hurdles, an archery shooting gallery, one-on-one arena combat, and picking locks using a full set of lockpicks. While some of the games were fun, none of them could hold a player's interest that long and most ended up giving up on a failed experiment.

The game feels very much like an "experiment." What's all the more striking is that I don't think any of the innovations in Hillsfar lived beyond the game, which is too bad. It would have been fun to see the lockpicking mini-game, for instance, employed in the context of a true RPG. In the Gold Box games, when you want to pick a door or chest lock with a thief, you just choose "Pick Lock" from a menu, and a random roll determines success or failure; adding the mini-game as an option would have been a lot of fun; alas, we had to over a decade before we saw a lockpicking mini-game again (unless someone did it before Oblivion), and it wasn't as good.

The best part of the game. Fast-paced and challenging.
 
Or consider the way the game seamlessly blends action and attributes in the archery mini-game. You have to carefully control your aim by using keypad to nudge a constantly-agitating crosshair while simultaneously timing the firing. A character with high dexterity gets a crosshair that shakes much less than a character with low dexterity. A similar combination of action and attributes governs arena combat and lockpicking. I think that horseback riding is all action, though.

All classes have to prove themselves in the archery mini-game at some point.

The main interface is also a step up from the Gold Box series, supplying a top-down navigation map while still offering a first-person perspective. This is yet another element that wasn't transferred to later games. It really is too bad that these innovative elements weren't employed in the context of a better RPG.

I started a second game with a magic-user character because I wanted to see how the quests and games differ. They don't, really. Neither magic-users or clerics cast a single spell in the game (except goofy ones in taverns), and the only thing that varies among classes is that non-thieves don't have lockpicks. I think magic users can use the "Rod of Blasting" my thief kept finding to clear out obstacles on the horseback trails.

The one thing that changes for the classes are a few silly options in the taverns, none of which amount to much.
 
To compensate for the lack of lockpicks for non-thieves, such characters are frequently solicited by thief NPCs, who will join (and thus allow access to the lockpicking mini-game) for half the discovered gold. Although a good idea, the artifice simply conspires to ensure that every player has essentially the same game regardless of class, with the exception of the specific guild-based excuses for breaking into various buildings and riding to various places on horseback.


I thus didn't play very far with my magic-user, but I did take several minutes of annotated video to give you a sense of how the game and its mini-games operate. I'm curious about your reactions to this. I've moved into an office that produces an annoying echoing effect when I record things in it--at least until I get more stuff on the walls--so I thought I'd try an unnarrated video with more text annotations instead. It takes longer to make than voice-over recordings, but I imagine it might be easier for some of you to watch.



A quick GIMLET, then:

  • 3 points for the game world. The game basically "fits" in theme and setting between Pool and Curse, but although the manual sets up an intriguing story about a city under the grip of a tyrant, the gameplay makes essentially no use of the story. The iron-fisted rule of Maalthiir is simply an excuse to have no weapons or magic in the game.
  • 2 points for character creation and development. Like the game's back story, character creation is just a bunch of sound and fury, signifying nothing. Your character class determines only what guild you join; gameplay is otherwise the same. This means that dexterity and strength are going to be the two paramount attributes for any character, regardless of class: you need them to dodge traps, force locks, and perform well in arena combat. This is one of the few RPGs in which a magic-user with an intelligence of 5 could still succeed wildly. You get experience for quest completion and arena combats, but so little that my multi-class fighter/thief didn't rise a level during the game.
  • 4 points for NPC interaction. There isn't much of it, but you do get wandering salesfolk, informers, guild masters, waitresses, and bar patrons. There are no dialogue options among them, nor many choices to make, but these interactions do help teach you about the game world and advance the plot.
  • 2 points for encounters and foes. There are essentially neither in the game, with the exception of the arena combats. But the game does do one thing well by having bar patrons talk about the foes you'll be facing in the arena, offering tips to help you plan a combat strategy.

 
  • 2 points for magic and combat. There's no magic. The limited combat in the arena is action-oriented: a series of feints, blocks, and attacks from the right, left, or forward. We've had action combat before--Drakkhen, Galdregon's Domain, and Times of Lore among them--and in general I've given these games low ratings for lack of tactics. The mini-game in Hillsfar is a little better than these, but overall this is one of the few RPGs in which combat doesn't play a major part in the gameplay.
  • 2 points for equipment. One of the few RPGs in which your character doesn't carry weapons or armor. The equipment you do have is limited to healing potions, knock rings, lock picks, and Rods of Blasting--all designed to make the mini-games easier.
  • 3 points for the economy. You get gold from chests and quest completion, and the gold is necessary to keep a good supply of your limited equipment items, plus buy bits of information from NPCs on the street or in taverns. There's a bank where you can store it to protect yourself from the occasional thief or guard that steals it all. I would say that the quest rewards provide too much, making it unnecessary to explore random houses for it, but if the game had forced me to do a lot of that, it would have just annoyed me.
  • 3 points for the quests. I have to say, I'm a sucker for the "guild-based" quest system where you show up, get an assignment, complete it relatively quickly, and turn it in for the next quest. It takes even a boring game like this and propels it forward briskly. We've only seen such a system with a few other games, like Star Command. Unfortunately, there are no role-playing choices to make and no alternate outcomes. The game does a reasonable job mixing and matching its limited gameplay options in its quests.

If it was lying outside the chest, why did I have to open the chest to find it? This game's insistence on tying almost all quest-based progression to chests is a little absurd.
 
  • 5 points for graphics, sound and interface. All okay. We've exited the "bloop" era for sounds, and effects like arena blows and galloping horses sound realistic, but there are very few of them in the game. The graphics are pretty and the limited controls are easy to master. I liked the map/first person split screen while navigating the town. The only place I really had any kind of problem was in the arena, and I'm willing to admit that I'm just not very good at that style of combat.
  • 3 points for gameplay. Though boring, trite, linear, and repetitive, the gameplay has three things going for it: it's pitched at a good difficulty level, it offers some minimum amount of replayability for different classes (if you really care to see what all the guilds have to offer), and it doesn't last very long. When a game isn't very good, it can only be redeemed by not wearing out its welcome.

As you can see, Hillsfar doesn't excel in any area, and the final score comes to a measly 29, the lowest I've given a non-1970s game since Don't Go Alone. I'm going to us my "bonus" category to bump it up to 31, though, to recognize the innovations in the mini-games. I did enjoy the challenge that lockpicking and archery provided, at least, and I have a regard for games that show me something new.

Ads for the game emphasized it as a stopping point between Pool of Radiance and Curse of the Azure Bonds. I can't think of many other franchises that allow you to transfer characters in and out of such different games.

Computer Gaming World reviewed Hillsfar in the same September 1989 issue as Curse of the Azure Bonds. Reviewer Roe Adams also praised the lockpicking mini-game, noting that the game provided "the best simulation of thieving skills ever done in any medium," and that "the satisfaction of ripping through a 6-tumbler lock is unparalleled"--before stating that "alas, the rest of the game fails to even remotely come up to this caliber of design." He loathed having to return to camp--requiring at least two horseback rides--to save the game--and concluded the review with a sensible bit of incredulity: "Imagine the absurdity of doing mage or cleric quests without being able to cast any spells at all!"

The developer of Hillsfar, Westwood Studios, has a spotty history with me. They were responsible for BattleTech: The Crescent Hawk's Inception, which infuriated me with its ending, and Questron II, which I felt was too linear and outdated. But all three games have a few things in common: an emphasis on graphics and not on gameplay; unimportance of combat; and a very short playing time. I'll run into them again later this year with The Mines of Titan and in coming years with Circuit's Edge, DragonStrike, and the Eye of the Beholder and Lands of Lore series. Here's hoping their approach improves.

Now, after a brief detour, it's on to a game that I've really been anticipating: Starflight II.

66 comments:

  1. Please someone correct me if I am wrong, but didn't "Lands of Lore" include some sort of lockpicking minigame?

    Fair GIMLET, by the way.

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    1. PetrusOctavianusMarch 1, 2013 at 8:04 AM

      I played Lands of Lore recently, but I can't recall any lockpicking minigame. You just used the lockpicks on the chest and if your character' skill was high enough it opened, sometimes after repeated tries.
      Maybe in LoL2 or 3?

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    2. I was wrong. The game I had in mind was "Betrayal at Krondor", which you pointed out in your comment below.

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    3. Even in BaK there wasn't really a minigame as such, just a screen where you choose from among the keys you carry the one you want to try on the lock (wrong keys have a chance of breaking).

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  2. PetrusOctavianusMarch 1, 2013 at 7:50 AM

    Both Wizardry 6 and 7 have the lockpicking mini game.
    And Betrayal at Krondor has the Moredhel Wordlock chests. I can almost guarantee that you will love them.

    "Sleep everyone" in the tavern, eh? Add a word, and it would have been just like modern BioWare games.

    As for Westwoord Associates, their games tended to be pretty and accessible, but not very deep. I recently played Lands of Lore and it was easily the best looking game so far on my chronological play list, but I found it lacking compared to Dungeon Master, Chaos Strikes Back and Black Crypt. Still, a fun game, though.

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    1. Good to know about those games. I was relying on my own experience and MobyGames's Gameplay feature: Lock picking category, both of which are apparently incomplete.

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    2. Yes - I was going to mention that about Wizardry 6 + 7. Its fun, but it can be a lethal as Wizardry 1.

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    3. And I was going to mention it about Betrayal at Krondor, and forgot about Wiz 6-7.

      Both games do it differently, though:
      - Krondor makes you solve riddles.
      - Wiz 6-7 has your party using skills and/or spells to try to figure out the letters in the name of the spell with which a chest is trapped. If you guess wrong, the spell goes off in your face.

      Regarding Bethesda's lockpicking minigames: I hate the Oblivion lockpick minigame, as it feels like whack-a-mole. The Fallout 3/NV one is tolerable, since you're effectively just trying to find a sweet spot within a limited number of tries. I had a little trouble with the Skyrim one, which I think was more similar to the Fallout one, but probably because I haven't played it enough to get used to it.

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    4. As far as lockpicking mini-games I think the ones in Thief 1+2 are the best.

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    5. PO: "I recently played Lands of Lore and it was easily the best looking game so far on my chronological play list, but I found it lacking compared to Dungeon Master, Chaos Strikes Back and Black Crypt. Still, a fun game, though."

      It's going to get a higher score than any of those here through because unlike the other games you listed, LOL has shops. :P

      I've played LOL a lot recently too, because it works on ScummVM and by coincidence the user interface is almost perfectly suited for a touchscreen, so it's a great thing to put on your mobile phone and pass the time waiting for a bus or something. I just wish using potions didn't require a right-click on the character's face - it's the only place in the UI where the right mouse button is used and without it, the interface would be perfect for a touchscreen.

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    6. The more recent JRPG-inspired game Anachronox has a very nice lockpicking minigame where you have to guess the combination one digit at a time. For each guess, it will tell you with the length of a bar how far off you are, so you can learn how long the bar looks when you're one off and accurately guess again quickly to get through several digits within the time limit. Increasing the lockpicking skill increases the time limit, allowing longer combinations to be feasible.

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  3. I enjoyed Eye of the Beholder 1 & 2 (2 is arguably better than Dungeon Master, but DM fans are superfans) and Circuit's Edge is really interesting. Dunno about the other two.

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    1. PetrusOctavianusMarch 1, 2013 at 8:15 AM

      "Better" depends on what gameplay aspects you value more.
      I value good level design and and a "dynamic" dungeon more than story, NPC interaction and nice graphics, for example, so for me DM is a better game than the EOB games.

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    2. I also prefer DM to EOB2. Both were good games and each was better in some ways, so it's legitimate to prefer either. (Indeed if you are really into the AD&D stuff you might even prefer EOB1 to DM. Personally I think that all things AD&D, except maybe a few monsters, should be left to the PnP-ers, and computer games should strike their own path.)

      One thing that always riled me about EOB, having played DM first, was the way missiles only appear in the centre of a square. If you are in a corridor watching something fly past at the end, it just flashes once. In DM there are four sub-squares in each square, and missiles pass through two of them, so a flying missile has a clear direction even if you can only see one square. A small thing, but it added a lot to immersion.

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    3. I'll never admit this if you ask me in person, but I too enjoy EoB2 more than Dungeon Master. This is mostly for superficial reasons - it's prettier, has varying sets of wall graphics and so on, and still has good enough puzzles and such, being the best game in the EOB series. It also has what I think is the better user interface, with weapons used with a right-click instead of a separate "attack" button (EOB copied this from Captive) and because the inventory screen doesn't cover the viewport, picking up arrows and such after combat is more handy.

      EoB2 of course had the advantage of being made on massively more powerful hardware on a larger budget, and it still couldn't duplicate all the things DM did (if you try to drop a monster into a pit in any of the EOB games, they will just goofily levitate over it), and there is this weird lag in combat in EOB games like the computer can only resolve one attack at a time and has to stop and wait for the current one to end, little annoyances like that, so I recognize DM as the far more impressive technological achievement and, of course, the prime source of innovation. There is a reason they're called "DM clones" instead of "EOB clones" after all. But I like actually _playing_ EOB2 more than DM.

      Except for those transforming maze sections. F*ck those things.

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    4. I don't have a dog in the race between Eye of the Beholder and Dungeon Master (the real time nature of both is not what I want in a party based dungeon crawl), but I just wanted to say that I think D&D, at least in 3rd-and-onwards editions, actually belong on the computer and -not- on the tabletop. Why? Because both 3rd and 4th edition D&D represent very robust tactical combat systems, but the combats in question tend to involve a lot of math, bookkeeping, and time on the tabletop and the ability for individual player characters to interact and, y'know, actually do stuff, are relatively limited. And D&D of whatever ruleset has fairly minimal support for the actual roleplaying that makes tabletop play worthwhile. So they make for fantastic gaming on PC where you can have a full party under your control simultaneously and the computer tracks all the math and stats, but roleplaying opportunities are going to be limited to the preprogrammed setups built by the designers. And on tabletop you're better off with any number of other systems. (For D&D style play with rules built around supporting narrative roleplaying instead of massive combats, I personally would recommend Dungeon World.)

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    5. At risk of taking this even further off topic;-
      It's not aways the game system, it's the players. At one point I used to play with a DM who was a pain in the arse when it came to the DM-screen. When he quit I asked him why he put up such a fight whenever people wanted him to roll in the open. His response: 'God does not play dice.' - He didn't actual own a d20, he just rolled a decoy d6 and made it all up on what he thought would be best for everyone.
      15 years later, his campaigns are still the fairest, most exciting, and most entertaining I've ever taken part in.

      Computers do the number crunching better than humans, they DM like a rules lawyer, and they suck at narrative. The latter could be blamed on attempts to imitate other, more static mediums. Games (and gamers) are often quite capable of creating their own story if you'll just take your hands off the wheel and let them drive.

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  4. Interestingly, when I played this game in my youth, it was the archery minigame that ruined it for me. IIRC, some of the quests require that you beat a certain number of levels at the archery range, but I had already beaten a bunch to pad my gold supply, resulting in me being unable to beat enough more levels to move on the the next step in the quest. That or my mouse was too jittery, not sure which.

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  5. As others have noted, Westwood titles get much better in quality in the coming years, though they never were world-beaters in the RPG genre.

    Eventually they made it big with Command & Conquer before getting bought out be Electronic Arts and losing much of their soul under the iron fist of Malthiir... er... EA.

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  6. Congrats! Always wanted to play that one, but as with Bad Blood, never did.

    The lockpicking does sound wonderful.
    However, I like the one on the Console Version of Assassins Creed 3 best. You have to use two thumbs AND rotate :D

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  7. Is it my imagination, or is that city map a copy of Skara Brae from the original Bard's Tale?

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    1. Skara Brae shows up in Bards's Tale, the Ultima series, and Ultima Online, but not Hillsfar. The map is similar looking, but it isn't the same.

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    2. There's a Skara Brae somewhere in the Might and Magic series too isn't there?

      Skara Brae is actually a real place too. It's a Neolithic settlement on a Scottish island. The one in bards tale is based on a fictional version of Orkney.

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  8. I also remember the lock picking mini-game to be very fun. So much so that I'd break into houses just to have that experience.

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  9. Personally, I don't like it when character skills become minigames requiring player skill in RPGs. Unless it's an action game where your skills are all portrayed as minigames, just let me do that abstractly.

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    1. Agreed, for the most part. I too feel that the lockpicking in Oblivion is pretty weak. However, I did enjoy the trap-disarming system in Quest for Glory IV, probably because it wasn't too annoying (and the difficulty was variable if you really just wanted to blaze through it without any action or puzzle bits).

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    2. I agree. I am almost ideologically opposed to mini-games in RPGs. I have no problem with the mini-games in Mass Effect because you couldn't increase your hacking skill through leveling (If I recall correctly... there might have been a "different" hacking skill that allowed you to "charm" robots.). But in Oblivion and Morrowind, you were able to invest talent points into your lockpicking skill - and then the minigame made them irrelevant. I liked the probabilistic lockpicking of Morrowind more.

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    3. It feels like a mod could have made the lockpicking in Oblivion and Skyrim a little better. The trick was to make it hard enough that it wasn't a COMPLETE waste to invest points in the skill. They could have done this by making lockpicks much rarer or the result just slightly harder to achieve. It's only irrelevant because they made the system a little too easy and lockpicks a little too plentiful.

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  10. I used to really want this game when I was younger. I'm glad I never got it though, that gameplay video was seriously boring (due to the source material, not the video creator).

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  11. Damn, now I feel an urge to play through Pool of Radiance again, but this time also play Hillsfar, then Curse.

    Must resist!

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  12. Looking forward to Starflight 2. I still have the original box and contents for the 5.25" VGA DOS version (as I do for the EGA version of SF1). I got each of them when they were still fairly new, but didn't manage to "beat" them until probably at least the mid-90s when it was easier to get walkthroughs for hints.

    Was going to babble on some more, but I'll save that for the first SF2 posting :p

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  13. Westwood do get a lot better;-
    EOTB 1 & 2 are solid, uncomplicated dungeon crawls.
    WOTES (1992) is far better than that awful gamespy article suggests. The interface and pacing is slick, it's got free roaming exploration elements, hidden areas to find, and it's probably one of the best examples of faithful D&D on a console.
    Lands of Lore is probably the high water mark. Although one sections difficulty varies between passable and murderous depending on what you did up to 3 hours ago.

    ....and then they worse again (LoL2), and again (LoL3).

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    1. Warriors of the Eternal Sun? I loved the hell out of that game. It's my favorite Genesis game, and probably my favorite console RPG as well. The bad thing about it is that I grinded way too much, making the final boss a cakewalk. I was all, "That's it?!?" Then they gave you codes to bring your characters into a follow-up game, but that never happened. Very underrated game.

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    2. Personally, I blame my irrational fear of the Azcan temple for all my unnecessary grinding. I still fire it up now and then when I want simple, hassle free adventure rpg. It was good enough to convince me to buy a genesis back then.

      (SSI continually fumbling the AD&D ball, and Origin releasing an ultima bug fest worthy of Obsidian may have helped.)

      There's also Order of the Griffon (TG-16). but that's the ugly twin brother of WOTES.

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    3. Westwood made WotES? That explains a few things. Like how they got away with directly ripping off dungeon graphics from EOB1.

      I kind of dig WotES too, mainly because it's one of the few serious attempts to make an original western-style RPG on a 16-bit console (most WRPGs for those were just direct ports of computer titles, ranging from strictly inferior (Ultima 7 on SNES) to actually surprisingly good (Dungeon Master on SNES)). More than that, it's one of the few games that used specifically a D&D license and system, instead of AD&D.

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    4. I'm glad to hear good things about WotES. I didn't have a Genesis until recently and really don't know what to expect from the exclusive titles I've never heard about. I've played very little of Order of the Griffon, but it doesn't seem too bad.

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    5. Order of the Griffon isn't bad, it's just something I'd be hesitant to call good.

      If you are checking out the genesis rpgs; Shadowrun is as good as crpg style games got (at least in my opinion). - It's nothing like the snes version.

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    6. I think it's the SNES version of Shadowrun that I played. It bored me to tears for an hour or two, and then I gave up. I'll have to try the Genesis version, thanks! I had no idea they used the same dungeon graphics in EotB1. Of course, I played WOTES when it was released (and not since then), but I played EotB for the first time last year. I remember being intimidated by that temple too. It was crawling with lizardmen, am I right?

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    7. Nope, that's the swamp dungeon. The temple's the multileveled one full of boody traps and secret doors.

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    8. Hmmm, okay. Well, it has been about 20 years since I've played it. I still remember the gravestone with the reference to Silence of the Lambs.

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    9. Yes, I've heard it said that Shadowrun on the Genesis is the best computer RPG on a console. It's still some time away, and I still need to find a copy of the game. It isn't too expensive on ebay, but I'm getting them in order and am a bit past my budget for now. I'm saving up for a 3DS w/ video out at the moment.

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  14. I gave Starflight 2 an hour or so in advance earlier today. I got it (along with the first instalment) from a sale in GOG.com some time ago, with the idea of playing at the same time as you blog it. I'm unlikely to have the time to play it properly, but taking a peek should give my reading experience some more depth.

    I've played EOBs 1 & 2 and they're good, perhaps I'll give them another go once you reach them.

    --Eino

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  15. sorry if I am nickpicking but I found small error. According to wikipedia and mobygames Hillsfar was released for NES and not SNES.

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  16. So the unanimous verdict so far on YouTube is that my text-based commentary is worse than a voice-based commentary. I'm still not sure it doesn't work better when you look at the game embedded in the blog, though (which is really the way it's supposed to be viewed).

    Basically, there are three approaches I can take to videos:

    1. Don't do them at all. People visit to read about these games, not watch them.

    2. Do them with voice commentary, thus providing an alternative to the text-based blog.

    3. Do them with text commentary, thus supplementing the experience of people who visit primarily to READ my reviews.

    Any comments? I'm trying to decide how I'll approach these in the future.

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    1. I'd vote #1 - I generally don't bother to watch your videos and it'll be a long time before you hit RPGs that are all that interesting to watch played in real time. So it doesn't seem like it's really all that worth your time.

      That said, if there's something that happens that you just -have- to capture in video...

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    2. #2, definitely. It's impossible to watch without commentary, because most people won't just sit there watching it anyway. No matter how you make it, it's not going to be interesting to stare at until it's over, and your text-on-video approach forces the reader to stare at text he's finished reading long before you decide to move to the next text block.

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    3. I like #2 as well, which is probably what you'd expect. You have a good voice for narration, so that definitely helps.

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    4. All right. Well, no one's speaking up for #3, so I'm glad I only got the trial version of that software. Thanks!

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    5. Videos in general are problematic in the office where I do most my slacking off, er blog reading, so I don't check any over 3-5 minutes. That said I hope you are not putting some great content in these and I am missing out on more addictive goodness.

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    6. I don't think I put much in the videos that aren't in the text reviews. But let's face it: CRPGs are in-motion games, especially as we get into this era of better processors, memory, and graphics. Sometimes, you just can't convey the essence of a game with static screenshots, or even brief animated GIFs. I sometimes feel like my reviews aren't complete unless I have a chance to demonstrate aspects of the game in motion.

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    7. Why don't you use youtube captions to provide subtitles for those watching at work, in addition to the voice section?

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    8. As someone with many deaf friends I would always say any captions are welcome.

      That being said how much work is it to add them to a youtube video? Would addict have to transcribe everything or just correct what the voice recognition gets wrong?

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    9. Have you ever watched a video with the automatic captions on? There are more wrong words than correct ones. In fact, they may have done away with that because it just wasn't working. It was funny as hell though. So Chet would have to add his own captions.

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    10. I suspect it'll be a huge pain in the neck to get the timings right and whatnot, but I'll explore it next time I do one.

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  17. Er... Why is your Cleric an idiot?

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    1. Since there are no spells in the game, it doesn't matter if a cleric has low wisdom or a magic user has low intelligence (unless you're planning to export the character to Curse of the Azure Bonds). Strength and dexterity are the most important attributes for any class.

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  18. There's a pretty good lock-picking mini-game in "Return to Krondor".

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    1. I agree that it's a pretty good mini-game and it does open locks, but I wouldn't call it "lock-picking." Maybe I'm misremembering though.

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  19. The Thief series also involved lockpicking minigames. Not really RPGs as there's very little character development and are very linear, but definitely has a lot of role-playing opportunities and a great story and is far more interesting than run-and-gun shooters.

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  20. As shown in your video some places you can enter for treasure actually have people in them. Very funny to watch how they just sit around doing nothing while you rob them blind.

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  21. So I just read about my first rpg, which I played before I knew what an rpg was. And I have to tell you that I loved this gane as a kid, played for hours on end. And surprisingly, I still love it. I bought it today because of how much you talk up the gold box ganes and hillsfar came with them on gog. Now, while I love this game, I still agree with everything you said about it. I love the mini games, especially the lock picking but its not much of an rpg. In fact I remember turning down buying Pool of Radiance a long time ago because I thought it was the same game play wise so I didn't see the point. I was very wrong so thank you for showing me the gold box games, and keep up the awsome blogging.

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    Replies
    1. I like your attitude: love a game for its flaws and all. There might be better titles out there, but if you get a thrill from playing this one, I'm certainly not going to tell you that you're wrong.

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    2. Obdurate Hater of Rhythm GamesSeptember 1, 2015 at 1:49 PM

      I agree: Sometimes you can love a game despite its many flaws, like the Mother series, Citizens of Earth, Ultima 4 and 7. all of Shiny's games, Steve Meretsky's games, Two Brothers. There are some games that are more or less perfect, like Mario Galaxy, Deus Ex 1 and 3, Zelda: A Link between Worlds, Superhero League of Hoboken, the first Gabriel Knight until the ending, the first Quest for Glory, most of the Space Quest and Leisure Suit Larry games, Bionic Commando, Day of the Tentacle, Super Meat Boy and Mega Man 9--but these games are rare and precious. You have to take the good with the bad.

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    3. Obdurate Hater of Rhythm GamesSeptember 1, 2015 at 1:54 PM

      I also feel some games are underrated: Necrovision, Predator, Breakdown, Cursed Mountain, Cryostasis--they generally get poor reviews, but I love them.

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