Monday, January 13, 2014

Elvira: Won! (with Final Rating)

Elvira: Mistress of the Dark
United States
Horror Soft (developer); Accolade (publisher)
Released 1990 for Amiga, DOS; 1991 for Atari ST, Commodore 64; 1992 for PC-98
Date Started: 6 January 2014
Date Ended: 11 January 2014
Total Hours: 9
Difficulty: Moderate (3/5)
Final Rating: 29
Ranking at Time of Posting: 65/131 (50%)

At it's core, Elvira is an adventure game, not an RPG, and like many adventure games of the 1980s and early 1990s, it has the virtue of brevity. It took me about six hours to fully explore it and figure out the puzzles, and another two and a half hours to win it with a fresh character. I've found that this divide between learning and execution holds for a lot of adventure games and adventure/RPG hybrids. When I replayed all the games in the Zork series in the mid-1990s, they each took about a week of banging my head against the wall trying to figure out the puzzles, followed by about three paragraphs of text to actually beat the games from start to finish. A player who already knows the territory and puzzles could get through B.A.T. or Hero's Quest in 90 minutes each. When I played "The Case of the Sultan's Pearls" scenario for SwordThrust, it took me about two hours to fully explore the castle, only to find that the winning series of commands, when starting fresh, is:


There are very few straight RPGs that you could finish in such a speed run. Even if you had all the maps for Pool of Radiance or Dungeon Master in front of you, you still have to invest the time to fight the combats and build the characters.

I won the game with only 60/100 "experience points." I think the others would have come from mixing the other spells offered in the game. As I indicated last time, only a handful of spells are actually necessary to win. The others are optional and help with combat, but until you reach the endgame and know what reagents you need for puzzles, you're afraid to waste them on spells that aren't necessary.

I ended my last narrative having found all of the six keys needed to open Emelda's chest. The difficulty was finding the chest. For a while, I was stumped. I had solved every puzzle that I knew about and had visited every location that I could find. Then I remembered the cannon at the top of one of the turrets.

Lighting the cannon was the only puzzle in the game that I felt was unintuitive, and even it wasn't that bad. I first had to find a pair of tongs in the castle basement. The only problem was that every time I tried to take them, the ghost of the torturer would kill me.

The solution I came to, mostly by accident, was to put the tongs into my canvas sack. From an anonymous comment thread on my last post, I gather this was an unintentional workaround. What I really needed to do was to take the bones of the torturer (I originally thought they were from one of his victims) to the catacombs and lay them to rest in an empty coffin, then return and get the tongs. I did lay the bones to rest eventually, but I didn't tie the two things together.

Anyway, with the tongs in inventory, you can use them to remove a piece of coal from the stove in Elvira's kitchen. You take the hot coal to the cannon and use it to light the fuse. In another fun animation, the cannon blasts a piece out of another turret.

Two feet to the left and I would have blown up the chest. Then where would we be?
For reasons I don't really understand, destroying half the turret allows you to go up into it. It was blocked before. There lies Emelda's chest. You use the six keys and retrieve from it a Scroll of Spiritual Mastery and a ceremonial dagger.

After this, there was another interval in which I didn't know where to go to find Emelda. Eventually, I thought to use the "Alphabet Soup" spell on a rune stone I'd discovered in the catacombs, and it suggested there was a secret room within the catacombs. I returned and explored a bit more, and finally noticed a hole on the floor of one of the corridors. The hole was just big enough for the rune stone. When I inserted it, the floor broke apart, revealing a passage big enough to climb down.

Confronting Emelda in her throne room.
Emelda was in the room below, and she started draining my life force the moment I entered. Defeating her was a three-part process of inserting the Crusader's Sword into the stone in front of her, using the Scroll of Spiritual Mastery (which stripped away her glamour and revealed her undead nature), and stabbing her with the ceremonial dagger. The first part stumped me for a while, and it took several reloads for met to get it all right.

Some things apparently run in the family.

After my victory, the screen changed to a shot of Elvira beckoning me, and the endgame text vaguely suggested some kind of ribald reward:

Elvira beckons to her hero to follow her so that she can show you how grateful she really is for saving her from the evil powers of Emelda. Follow your mistress and collect your just reward.

It would be true-to-character if the next scene showed Elvira giving me a check for $50 and then demanding that I leave her castle. But the game isn't that witty. Instead, the credits roll and the player has the option to start again.

Overall, I feel like Elvira was a bit superfluous to the proceedings, and for a while I wondered if the game wasn't originally constructed without her. It wouldn't have taken much effort to add her to the framing story and the few in-game places in which she appears. The back story doesn't even jive with the film, really: in the movie, she inherits a mansion, not a castle; it's in Massachusetts, not England; and at the end of the film, it's destroyed. However, it's clear that Adventure Soft had obtained the rights to use the Elvira character at least a year earlier (I'll talk about this at the end), so this seems unlikely.

Regardless, while they crafted an interesting and relatively enjoyable game, the developers missed opportunities to truly make it an Elvira game by incorporating more elements from the types of shlock horror films associated with the character. The puzzles and enemies are mostly generic fantasy and horror tropes, and with the exception of Vampira, they don't seem to draw any obvious inspiration from B films. If I wanted to make a real Elvira-inspired game, I'd modify the plot a bit. The castle is haunted, but in such a way that it creates its horrors based on things it finds in the subjects' own minds. When it delves Elvira's mind, it finds decades of awful horror movies and populates the castle with Blacula, The Blob, intelligent rats from Willard, and perhaps a Killer Tomato or two. I guess that might have run into some copyright problems, but the point is the game doesn't quite have the campy humor or irreverent sensibility that you'd associate with Elvira, and most of the enemies and puzzles are played straight.

If they had made a game like this, I'd probably be complaining that I didn't like it because I don't like goofy, campy humor. Nonetheless, I think it would have been more true to the character. As it was, it felt like a decent horror game in which Elvira--a character I don't particularly like but also don't particularly mind--played a tangential part.

In my GIMLET, I give it:

  • 3 points for the game world. I give it credit for its horror theme and its tightly-constructed castle architecture, and a little for the back story involving Elvira's ancestor.
  • 1 point for character creation and development. It mostly fails in this vital RPG category. There's no character creation, and the only development is with the incremental increases in weapon skill.
  • 2 points for NPC interaction. Elvira herself is really the only NPC; other characters are encounters to be defeated. She's...there. I guess I cracked a smile at a couple of her lines.
  • 6 points for encounters and foes. In adventure/RPG hybrids, I tend to use this category to evaluate the quality of the puzzles, which serve as "encounters" in such games. I liked the puzzles in Elvira. They were difficult, but difficult for minutes rather than hours, and generally fair. The enemies were fun to look at but not very different when it came to combat.

I could only defeat this guy with the Crusader Sword.

  • 3 points for magic and combat. Combat is fast-paced but utterly non-tactical. As I outlined last time, the spell system was intriguing but mostly optional. I give it some credit for the variety of spells and the game dynamic associated with finding their reagents, but I wish the game had done more with the spell system.
  • 2 points for equipment. There's a lot of stuff to carry, but most of it is for solving puzzles, and I already gave the game credit for that. The small selection of weapons and armor is another blow to its RPG aspirations.
  • 0 points for no economy.
  • 2 points for the main quest, which offers only one outcome and no player choices.
  • 5 points for graphics, sound, and interface. I quite liked the graphics. The sound in the DOS version was sparse, mostly limited to combat attacks. I give it a little credit for the music even though I don't really care about game music. Mostly, I was surprised at how well I took to the interface. As you know, I'm normally not a fan of a mouse-only interface, but it worked surprisingly well here, even if there were times I wished I could just go forward and turn with the arrow keys.

  • 5 points for gameplay. It was nonlinear in the order that you can tackle the puzzles. I thought it was pitched at just the right level of difficulty and lasted just about the right amount of time.

That gives a final rating of 29, which sounds like I didn't like it very much, and I didn't--as an RPG. It's a decent adventure game, the presence of Elvira notwithstanding, but it lacks the combat, economy, and equipment that would have made it a true hybrid.

I guess Horror Soft knew what its selling points were.

Alas, not everyone felt this way. As I discussed in my first post on the game, Computer Gaming World famously gave it "Role-Playing Game of the Year" in November 1991 after considering J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, Wizardry: Bane of the Cosmic Forge, Worlds of Ultima: The Savage Empire, and Eye of the Beholder. I haven't played any of these games besides Bane, but to call that one alone an inferior RPG to Elvira is just absurd. Meanwhile, the same issue put Quest for Glory II: Trial by Fire in the "adventure" category and had it lose to King's Quest V; I wonder what would have happened if they'd switched Quest for Glory and Elvira and put them in their appropriate categories.

Those of you who are excited about Elvira, never fear, you'll get to hear all about her continuing adventures in Elvira II: The Jaws of Cerberus (1991). From its description, it sounds like it incorporates more RPG elements, including a choice of starting classes and more combat tactics. 1991 also saw a side-scrolling platformer called Elvira: The Arcade Game in which the player actually controls Elvira and kills enemies. I note that this is the same year that produced The Simpsons arcade game, which had Bart and Marge wielding a skateboard and vacuum cleaner as weapons, and a Hudson Hawk title in which the protagonist beans enemies with baseballs. Clearly, this is an era in which audiences looked at their comedy figures and said, "these characters are funny and all, but what I'd really like to see is them killing people."

Elvira was developed by the U.K. company Adventure Soft under its Horror Soft label, and the interface for Elvira is a clear update of the label's first adventure game, Personal Nightmare (1989):

Personal Nightmare has the same commands and approach to inventory, but it doesn't have the combat system or attributes.

Interestingly, the box cover for Personal Nightmare (also known as . . . A Personal Nightmare) prominently features Elvira. Clearly, Adventure Soft obtained the rights not just to make a video game based on Elvira, but to use her likeness for its Horror Soft series. In addition to Elvira II, we'll see Horror Soft again with Waxworks (1992). Three of Elvira's developers--Alan Bridgman, Michael Woodroffe, and Simon Woodroffe--worked on all of these horror titles, as well as the Simon the Sorcerer series from Adventure Soft.

Next we'll be returning to the 1980s with a review of Dungeons of Daggorath. I've removed Angband from the "upcoming" list because it's going to take me longer than I thought to offer my posts on Moria first. Sorry for those who were looking forward to it; we'll get there eventually.


  1. "Interestingly, the box cover for Personal Nightmare (also known as . . . A Personal Nightmare) prominently features Elvira."

    Probably because boobs, unfortunately.

    King's Quest V is a good game and a technical ground-breaker, but also head-bangingly illogical and difficult.

    I believe it is King's Quest V that demands that you throw a boot at a cat in the town to get a critical item for a puzzle later in the game. However, the cat is running across the scene and nothing about it suggests it is anything but a scenic bit of animation.

    I guess I'm bitter from my childhood. I got King's Quest V and Quest for Glory II on the same day, guess which one I played (a lot) more?

    1. That's not even KQ5's worst puzzle, and at least it's near the beginning.

      I still have fond memories of it though, the VGA artwork and the music made it very memorable.

    2. Yes, for its time it was unbelievably gorgeous and sounded amazing. It blew my young mind for a time. But the puzzles... O, the puzzles...

    3. There are no Roberta Williams puzzles that are worthwhile. They range from horrifying to merely passable. KQ6 is a high point because of Jane Jensen's design involvement, I think.

  2. I wonder for how many more games we'll have to groan at the portrayal of women and the assumption that the player is male.

    1. Hardly an unreasonable assumption in 1990.

      Though I do wonder why they didn't simply have Elvira be the protagonist of the games - if I'm up on my Elvira lore (as laughable as that concept is), by the time of these videogames she's a fairly experienced witch, so she could probably sort out her own problems. The standard RPG reason of letting the player build the kind of character they like doesn't really fly here, since there is no character generation anyway. If you guided Elvira instead of her generic hireling, her venom and sarcasm would be directed at the monsters instead of the person trying to help her, and she would come across as much less unlikable in the process.

    2. Depends how much you're into the groaning, I guess...

    3. Keep your sick comments to yourself, this is a family friendly blog!

    4. Hardly an unreasonable assumption in 1990.

      [citation needed]

    5. In 1990 it was still an unreasonable and unfair assumption but it was not regularly challenged until recent years, so it became a common assumption. Just like the old "women don't like sports" assumption that we have only recently put in the rear view mirror.

    6. "In 1990 it was still an unreasonable and unfair assumption"

      Are you suggesting that the vast majority of PC gamers in 1990 were not male?

      I have no data to back this up other than my personal experience, it was clearly that most individuals that played games (at home) were dudes.

      Can you please link info that contradicts this. I love when assumptions are wrong, it reminds me to question everything.

    7. I am suggesting that the assumption and stigma that went unchallenged in that era caused most female gamers to keep quiet about their proclivities. This led to it appearing that "it was clearly that most individuals that played games (at home) were dudes."

      Like you I don't have data, I just have anecdotal evidence from conversations with women around my age who were/are gamers.

    8. "In 1989, females constituted only 3% of the gaming industry"

      I am not a big fan of using wiki for information, it has a source but I haven't verified it for its accuracy. 3% sounds reasonable to me. The question then becomes, what percentage of women would being playing a RPG/Adventure hybrid. I am guessing that it would be a fraction of a percent.

      I know it is a limited sample size, but I really don't see how we can condemn a video game maker marketing a game to adolescents boys and young men. It appears to me that they have a good idea of who their market demographic is.

    9. Gaming industry means people employed in producing games, not playing them.

      Let me see if that article (or a quick google search) has statistics for the gender of players from back then.

    10. Considering that men made up probably 99% of the computing industry in the fifties and sixties, it's no surprise that reversing that trend took a lot of time. I work in IT and women are still a complete minority in the company I work for, along with American citizens in general, but I digress.

    11. I was able to find a bunch of current gender gaming stats but nothing 1990. In my own personal history Girls were just as likely if not more than boys to come over and play video games at my house. I was 13 in 1990 and I do know girls that would not talk playing games for fear of being judged by their peers or made fun of, but they had no problem enjoying games when they didn't have that fear.

      I grew up in a moderately affluent town surrounded by less affluent towns in the suburbs of Chicago, and hung and played with girls from both income scales. Anything outside of that slice of demographics I wouldn't make a claim to knowing about.

    12. Very good points, and I am afraid that the information needed is not available on-line for us to find.

      I am curious, we are about the same age and both from the heartland, although I am from a more rural area, what kind of games did the girls you know play?

      I do know girls/women who played video games, but it was exclusively on the SNES, Sega, or maybe Atari. And the games were more like Mario and Donkey kong, not really RPG's.

      Like I said it was a very small sample size on my part. What type of RPG/Adventure games did they play? I am curious as to the PC as well, but that is asking way to much.

    13. Many were console kids, boys and girls, in my area.

      It was almost always a social experience so single player games we played were ones you could easily take turns at or participate in the room, like adventure games (particularly loom comes to mind). I can't think of a pc-rpg experience in that era that could captivate a spectator very long.

      Also as I said the girls didn't talk about games they played by themselves, but come to think of it most boys didn't either there was a big stigma against staying home alone and playing games. I do have a few vague memories of girls seeing a RPG game box and asking for a copy/borrow or saying "oh you played that I loved it". Specifically I remember starflight as a I loved this, and Krynn(dont know which one) as a copy for me please.

      I guess in the context of this blog, you could infer we were specifically talking about PC-rpg games, but I took it as a more general "women don't/didn't play video games" statement. Which to me was just like the "There are no real women on the internet, only men pretending to be women" statements we all used to hear, or the women don't like/understand sports fallacies.

    14. I'm from an adventure game background and I know a lot of people online that were/are into adventure games, many of them female, of my age or older (I am 30) that have played the Elvira games. So, although I do not have hard stats, empyrically, there were women, and a lot of them, that played rpgs and adventure games at the time. And of course, there's Scorpia.

      So although they seem invisible, we shouldn't give a free pass to Horrorsoft (or any other develper) for assuming maleness in a game about *playing a role*.

      Of course Elvira was mostly an adventure game with some remnants of d&d or whatever, but evenso, I do not see why it's alright to handwave it away.

    15. It's great to hear that women were playing video games in the 80's and 90's, my daughter has picked up the habit as well as a few of her friends.

      In general though, even today when almost half of gamers are female, the RPG genre is still heavily tilted towards males. A large percentage of female gamers that have begun to play tend to be focused on the social aspects of gaming, not to mention the increased content of more non traditional games, I am thinking angry birds, farmville, and wii sports.

      I am not suggesting that the portrayal of women is a good thing, but lets be honest if we did find a study of the demographics of people who played PC (was this ported to any other device?) would anyone be surprised if it suggested any thing other than majority male players? Then factor in a RPG game to boot?

      To me this thread is about the assumption that in 1990 the majority (large majority) of players on a PC playing a RPG was male. Look at what we can, DnD players were mostly male. Computer club members, mostly male. Anything that I can think of that would be related suggests that in the early 90's, men were the dominate market.

      Now this game in itself makes a male lead a given in my mind. Elvira is/was about sex. She knows what she is doing and the perception people have about her. The game developers as well knew who their target demographic was.

      Why would they make a game for females as well? The cost of developing a 2nd set of dialogue options, screen shots, and other references would not be worth it.

      I love that women play video games and I think the realization that women find RPG's as a fun experience has helped make the genre as a whole a much better experience. But, lets be fair, despite the isolated stories, I think most everyone's experience is that men play PC games, RPG's in particular, more so in 1990 than women.

      Sorry for the roughness of this post, I know it's not written well.

    16. This has been an interesting thread. I would simply note that we're a bunch of men discussing our concerns that RPGs of the era are too geared towards men. We haven't heard from any female gamers about this.

      I think it's notable that the CGW reviewer who praised Elvira was a female (Leah something; I don't feel like downloading that file again) and said nothing about feeling "left out" by playing a male protagonist. Scorpia also gave it a good review a few months later. I've been reading Scorpia's reviews since I started this blog, and I've never seen her complain that she felt left out by the industry. In fact, in an interview on a female-oriented web site (probably not the best term, but I'm not sure exactly how to describe it), an interviewer asks several questions that invite her to speak about discrimination or sexism in gaming. She acknowledges that there are probably more male players than men, but doesn't offer any overt complaints as to the consequences of this.

      I'm not seriously trying to argue that gaming in the 1980s and 1990s wasn't overwhelmingly oriented towards male players. My point is rather that we should probably hear from a woman before making any assumptions that any particular game is unappealing to female players just because the protagonist is male or the NPCs show a bit of cleavage.

    17. Actually I was trying to say the assumption itself was problematic, but the discussion went into statistics.

      I was trying to summon the energy to reply and couldn't understand why I had lost care, but looking back I now blame statistics.

    18. Also to be fair I think the assumption that women would dislike the game because of cleavage is also a silly assumption.

    19. Precisely. How many of us guys here looks nothing like Arnie but had played/watched a Conan movie/game?

    20. "I'm not seriously trying to argue that gaming in the 1980s and 1990s wasn't overwhelmingly oriented towards male players."

      I honestly don't see why this should even count as a problem. Has the bar on discrimination and oppression fallen so low that an entertainment product not catering equally to every conceivable audience is a human right violation? Really? There's tons of media out there that don't cater to my tastes, should I call the UN?

      Besides, whining about videogame portrayal of women in the case of Elvira is disingenuous to begin with, since the licensed television character of Elvira is Cassandra Peterson's own creation and Horrorsoft has taken no apparent liberties in transfering her to the silicon.

    21. If it helps, I was a little girl playing adventures and RPGs in 1990. I don't remember even hearing about this game and likely wouldn't have played it if I had seen it, because I would have assumed from Elvira's presence that it was going to be eyeroll-worthy sex jokes. (When I was a bit older, I would have played it HOPING that it would be eyeroll-worthy sex jokes, but that's another story.)

      Most games I played back then did require me to be a guy and it was so common it was basically invisible to me, although I was happy and excited when King's Quest 4 finally let me be a girl. From my understanding the adventure game genre always tilted more female than the RPG one did.

    22. Whoa... my manhood just got compromised big time.

    23. The "how many women were gamers" question is the wrong way to approach the problem, I think. The real question to ask is "to what extent were women either made welcome or explicitly excluded" from CRPG audience consideration?

  3. personal nightmare is a really game. the whole series of games are just incremental updates of the same mud engine form MANY years before it was commercialised into single player adventure solo rpg games.

  4. Horrorsoft kind of did try to force the player to use magic on occasion, but botched it. Hedge maze's residents have to be killed at a distance, but you get so many starting spells that between those and the crossbow, you don't really need to mix your own.

    A late-game enemy that didn't get to appear in these posts, Emelda's ghostly handmaidens, cannot be harmed except with spells and enchanted weapons... but few people find that out since by the time they appear, the player is already holding the Crusader's Sword, and that counts as enchanted.

  5. Seems a bit odd that the you were able to take and carry the torturers bones around and he didn't seem to mind whatsoever, but touching his tongs is punishable by death.

    1. Maybe it works in the same way as a dwarf's tools in Discworld. Those are HIS tools, no one else can touch them.

      Body? Yeah that's fine.

    2. I can't believe the words "bones" and "tools" could appear in the same place and nobody had the urge to make one double-entendre?

  6. The sequel is more in-character with Elvira as most of its action happens (kinda-sorta) inside horror movies. It also has one of the more interesting magic systems out there: spell recipes are kinda puzzles in themselves. I.e. for a fireball you'll need a "combustible substance" and it's up to you to figure out which objects in your inventory fit such a description. Still, it fails as a hybrid IMO due to a very limited character system.

  7. I am hoping the, longer than expected time frame, on the Moria posts is due to having fun/frustration beating the game. If your having OS problems instead email me and I'll help where I can.

    1. No, it's not OS problems. I thought I'd have won by now. Then, I decided it didn't really matter, I'd just post on the game without having won. Now I'm back to wanting to try to win it first.

    2. Blogger at my post! Ok i'll try to remember it.

      Good to hear its your general over confidence in the likelihood of running through roguelikes not other issues.

      I know its not the expressed mission of your blog but I am curious on how you see the progression of the roguelike genre now that you have played a few titles in different years. With Moria now under your belt you have experience with the parents of the traditional branches of the rogulike familly Moria (1983) Nethack (1987) Omega (1987).

      Also when making comparisons Moria was 4 years earlier than nethack but if you can find the old code for hack (1982) it would be interesting to see your comparison of the two. Before you say it I know your expressed purpose of the gimlet is to compare games with a modern lens, so I don't handicaps by year just your thoughts.

      Hope your having a fun, frustrating, frighteningly good time.

    3. "Blogger at my post!" should have been "Blogger ate my post!"

      Why in 2014 do we still not have an edit feature?

    4. @UbAh: Because only Stalin edits HISTORY! And you're not a Stalinist are you?!

    5. Well, Japanese Ministers of Education had been doing it for years ever since WW2. Not to mention DPRK. UbAh might be Japanese... or North Korean! I mean, just look at his avatar!

  8. Elivra!

    You certainly seemed to cruise through the game; I thought it'd be more of a challenge. Anyway, I paid CAPs to see Trickster play through it. We'll see how he likes it. Personally, I have a soft spot for this hybrid, even when it generally creeped me out back then. The death scenes were brutal enough, but the atmosphere was spot on as well. Waxworks did the same. There is something about these games' art direction that lends this unsettling quality to everyday stuff. I wouldn't be surprised at all if this was conceived as an all-out horror game from the start, which would explain why Elvira and the attempts at humor feel a bit out of place.

    1. I did that one deliberately, just to see who'd be the first person to notice.

    2. Clever, but was the one in the post body deliberate too? ;-)

  9. Do you know that it is possible to complete RPG:s real quick too? See

    * Diablo - 3min 12s
    * Morrowind - 4min 19s
    * Fallout - 6min 54s
    * Baldur's Gate - 21min 31s

    1. I knew someone would post something like this, which is why I allowed that you could complete "very few" RPGs quickly. The point is that the obstacles to completing adventure games are GENERALLY knowing the solutions to the puzzles, and the obstacles to completing RPGs are GENERALLY about developing your characters enough to survive the sequence of battles. The latter is more time-consuming than the former.

      I'd also point out that most of these CRPG speed runs involve the exploitation of the game's engines and rules. The guy who completed Morrowind that fast didn't really "complete" the game; he just managed to get the winning screen.

    2. Dang it, Ragnar, now you've made me go look up speed runs of Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup, the game I most recently got into, I'm six characters in, all of them dead. Just found a run clocking in at 2 hrs 43 sec. Pretty damn good, I'd say. By the way, I'm not at all a speed runner or power player myself. I often find myself not finishing games (CRPGs) because I enjoy the developement of characters way too much. That said I did finish two of the games you listed. Morrowind several times. I think I might've bought that game maybe four times by now. I usually give it away when I tire of it for a while or it interferes with the rest of my life and such unimportant matters as work, school or social life. .

      Now it is once more installed, and modded up. Mara save me.

  10. Personal Nightmare used a different game engine, although the game shared video code and formats. I really liked the active world provided by Personal Nightmare, with people coming & going, and the gradual passing of day to night.

    The game engine (AGOS) of Elvira 1 was only used for a few RPGs (Elvira 1 & 2, Waxworks), and later only adventures (Simon the Sorcerer 1 & 2, The Feeble Files) and a spin off puzzle pack (Simon the Sorcerer's Puzzle Pack).

  11. As a follow-up to your, The Case of the Sultan's Pearls quicksolve. Random House put out a text adventure game called, "Alpine Encounter" from 1983 for the Apple II and in 1985 for the C-64 and PC that you could solve in four moves...

    When the character Renee arrives, Take Backpack
    Call Inspector

    Game over :D

    1. I think there was an episode of Star Trek like this, where Data is playing Sherlock Holmes, and he instantly solves the case because he's already read the book.

    2. I had to track down a playable version of 'Alpine Encounter' to see for myself. You weren't kidding:

      GO NORTH
      GO NORTH
      GO WEST
      WAIT (until 9:45)


    3. @Chet - Yeah, the episode is called "Elementary, Dear Data" :)

    4. Data's problem was that he'd read all of the Holmes stories, so even "new" mysteries couldn't baffle him because there are only so many ways to present the same basic elements. Even in adventure games with insane puzzles, you're ultimately playing against the imagination and creativity of the creators, so genre savvy counts for a lot.

    5. Actually the problem was that Data had no imagination and was simply re-enacting the novels word by word and then told the computer to create a story based on the books which he solved as easily.
      So he went on further and told the computer to create an adversary worthy of him based on the books.
      The result was a completely independent AI entity of Dr Moriarty that promptly took over the ships computer by fooling Captain Picard to give his mainframe access codes while still inside a holodeck simulation.
      Moriarty had also kidnapped Troi as a hostage in an attempt to demand to be able to walk freely without being confined to a holo deck (because he was a simulation after all).

      I liked the episode and we even met Dr. Moriarty again on later seasons.

  12. There was an Elvira TWO?

    Who knew Elvira had two of the Biggest Hits in gaming?

  13. The Alphabet Soup spell also helps with the mural in the church, so no knowledge of Latin is needed on the player's part.

    1. Thanks for that note. I assumed it didn't because it wasn't "runic." Now I'm wondering how the game translates the Latin.

  14. Hey, Elvira fans. Mr. Addict has given me permission to let you know that Mike Woodroffe, founder of HorrorSoft and one of the designers of the Elvira series, has agreed to do a community interview over on "The Adventure Gamer" blog.

    If you would like to contribute a question, just leave a comment over here:

  15. It seems to me that your issue was mostly that the game didn't really fit the category, not that the game itself wasn't good. But not being a true RPG it shouldn't have been awarded as such. Anyhow I'm quite satisfied with your summary of the game and I'm glad you enjoyed it somewhat even if it didn't rate so high.

    1. It wasn't much of an RPG, and I thought that Elvira herself was a little unnecessary to the game. The sequel ended up being a much better tribute to ELvira herself, and the types of movies she hosted, although I still didn't like it for various reasons.

  16. Thinking back to you talking about the SwordThrust modules costing $30 each, and seeing you can win at least one of them with five commands, dang. It has me reeling to think about how infuriating that would have been if you had somehow realized this from the get-go, and how you could laugh about paying $6 per move. That is even worse than GEnie's early 1990s rates for Island of Kesmai!


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