Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Game 131: Elvira: Mistress of the Dark (1990)


Elvira is one of those characters of whom, like Pee-Wee Herman or Super Dave Osborne, I've always been vaguely aware, but without actually understanding their contributions to entertainment or culture. I had to look up her Wikipedia page just to understand what Elvira actually did. I had this idea that she used to introduce movies on USA, but I think I had her confused with Rhonda Shear.

It turns out she used to introduce B-films for a Los Angeles television station in the 1980s (re-broadcast on a New York station). She developed that into a home video series. She got her own film in 1988 with Elvira: Mistress of the Dark, and I can only assume I knew about her from seeing the video repeatedly while browsing my local Blockbuster.


I watched a little of her shtick on YouTube, and I confess I don't really get it. Sure, there's the cleavage, but even the 1980s, there wasn't a lack of that on television. I can't imagine wanting to watch a film called Count Dracula's Great Love anyway, but if I did, I'd probably just want the film to begin. Back when I watched films on television, I used to get annoyed with nonsense like this, whether it was Annabelle Gurwitch making sloppy joes during breaks in The Shawshank Redemption or Nick Clooney delaying the first scene of Bringing Up Baby with some anecdote about Cary Grant wearing a woman's dressing gown. Plus, I have the whole problem with camp. As someone who's never understood the appeal of The Munsters, The Addams Family, the song "Monster Mash," or The Rocky Horror Picture Show, I'm clearly not in her demographic.

I realize this is a snobbish thing to say, but if Netflix's "best guess" for how much you'll like Elvira: Mistress of the Dark is more than 2.5 stars, I think you have to re-evaluate your entertainment choices.

Even if you like Elvira and her type of campy humor, it's difficult to imagine someone watching her TV show or film and saying, "this really needs to be a computer role-playing game," but nevertheless here we are. 

The manual sets up the story with a series of diary entries written by the Elvira character. She's inherited Killbragant, a Gothic castle on the English moors, and she hopes to turn it into a spooky bed-and-breakfast. The story is full of silly but sometimes clever references to B-movie characters and themes: "a kitchen that's better equipped than Dr. Frankenstein's lab"; "a heap of legal papers big enough to hide Rodan"; "the place has been deserted since the Bloody Mary days." Anyway, it transpires that in days of yore, the castle's mistress was a witch named Emelda. She fell under the spell of an evil wizard named Beremond, slaughtered her people, murdered her husband Sir Elric, and reanimated corpses and skeletons in the catacombs. Before she died, she left instructions for her resurrection in a "Scroll of Spiritual Mastery," locked in a chest with six locks. She gave the six keys to her underlings, who later died in the castle.

Elvira's presence in the castle apparently causes Emelda's spirit to stir, and soon the place is crawling with ghosts, goblins, and gremlins. Elvira's plan is to find the ones who have the keys, open the chest, and figure out how to stop Emelda's return. In this plot, she has enlisted a "freelance ghostbuster" from a nearby town, and the game begins as he, the player, shows up at the castle gates.


Despite my skepticism as to the subject, I had already heard that Elvira had won Computer Gaming World's 1991 "Role-Playing Game of the Year," so I figured it must have really good gameplay. Even before I started playing the game, I was anticipating a pivot point in this review, where I'd say something like, "Given my ambivalent feelings about Elvira and her campy humor, you might expect me to completely pan her RPG. But guess what? It's a fantastic game!" Unfortunately, I can't quite say that. In fact, it's a little baffling to me that this would be the "RPG of the Year" in any year. It doesn't bode well for the upcoming crop of games on my list.

I'm not saying that it's a bad game. There are some promising elements. The graphics are quite nice, for one thing. They're well-integrated into a layout that makes the castle look and feel like a real place--a refreshing change from the featureless rooms and hallways of games like Wizardry VI and Buck Rogers. The interface offers an inoffensive blend of RPG and adventure game elements, perhaps a little better than B.A.T. and The Third Courier, but not as good as Hero's Quest or even--gods help me--Keef the Thief. I don't particularly care for the combat system, and character development promises to be scant.

There's no character creation. Every player starts nameless, with the same attributes: 50 strength, 10 resilience (like constitution), 80 dexterity, 99 life points, and 0 experience points (which, in this game, represent the percentage of the game completed more than any character development). The last attribute is "skill," which changes depending on the weapon currently wielded. I don't yet know if or how strength, dexterity, and resilience change, but skill increases as you land successful blows in combat--not a unique dynamic, but still rare for the era. The manual leaves the gender of the player ambiguous (clumsily covering by using "they" as a third-person singular pronoun), but I'm not sure why they did that, since the screenshots repeatedly show the player as a brown-haired male. I guess he's explicitly British, too, which makes for an RPG first.

The game offers some appropriately eerie music, and it's fun for a few refrains, but I turned it off fairly soon. Turning off the music is one of only a couple things you can accomplish with the keyboard; the game is otherwise entirely mouse-driven. The mouse ends up working well for things like inventory, but I don't know why it would have been so hard to program navigation to the keypad.

I've taken an axe from the wall and am preparing to take a shield.

The player can encounter an armory and get a battleaxe and shield just a few steps into the game, but there's really no point, as before you have a chance to enter the castle, you get a scripted encounter in which a guard hauls you to the undead captain of the guard, who strips your equipment and throws you in jail.


In a fun call-back to Elvira's TV appearances, which always seem to begin with her in a doorway, beckoning the viewer into her lair, Elvira then appears in the cell door to free the player.


At this point, we get a long bit of exposition in which Elvira reclines on a couch and tells the PC that he must stop Emelda, starting with finding a "strange guy in a sack" who stole her spellbook. She offers a few spells that she created before it was stolen and equips the player with a healing potion and a dagger. With some words of encouragement ("Now get out of here and do what you're being paid for!") she sends the player to the courtyard to begin his adventure.

This sequence involves the first use of embedded video that we've seen in an RPG. I think. I don't know enough about the technology, and it's tough to tell. I suppose it could just be a high-quality animation. Either way, it's only a couple of seconds on a continuous loop.


If you restart the game, you can just hit the SPACE bar during the beginning sequence to skip everything and start in the courtyard with the items Elvira gives you. That's a nice touch.

As you explore the castle, you fight occasional combats with random guards and fixed monsters. The combat system is action-based, though it is dependent partly upon the chosen weapon (at the beginning, of course, there is no choice) and partly the weapon skill. Mostly, it depends on player reflexes. Combat rounds are divided between attack stages and defense stages. During the attack stage, you can "lunge" or "hack." Once your opponent successfully blocks your attack, you enter the defense stage, where you can "block" or "parry." When you're successful at either, you go back to attacking, and so on.

Fighting an undead castle guard.

There's a clear choice about when to block or parry: when the enemy swings from his left (your right), you parry; when he swings from his right, you block. Sounds easy enough, but it takes a little time to learn how to interpret the attacks and anticipate which direction they're coming from. I haven't gotten good at it. I'm not yet certain whether there's some clear way to determine whether you should lunge or hack during the attack phase, so I've just been alternating between the two. I'll have more to say about combat when I understand it better.

The sounds during combat are fun, with the weapons appropriately clanging and the enemy screaming when hit. If you die from combat, you get a brutal death screen, and it seems to change depending on what type of enemy killed you. When a werewolf killed me, I was treated to an image of my throat ripped out.

Poor English lad.

Though you can rotate and turn as you explore, the game isn't quite fully 3D. You can't face every wall of every room. Instead, it's made up of a collection of static screens, some of which happen to be situated within turning radius of each other. You can click on most objects on the screen for a description . . .


. . . and you can pick up a ton of the objects, including paintings and lamps. I started collecting everything before I realized it would make more sense just to annotate their locations and return when I needed them.


Right now, I'm going through the familiar process of mapping each area, noting the objects, and annotating the puzzles. As in most adventure games, I expect I'll field a number of characters before I find the optimum path through the game. This, it occurs to me, is one of the distinguishing characteristics between an adventure game and an RPG: in an adventure game, you don't expect to win with your starting character.

90 comments:

  1. I remember this game, and the sequel. I found this one very hard and never got very far, but I beat the sequel. I didn't remember there being as much combat in the sequel, and being more like an adventure game, but reading up on it suggests that there was still combat.

    I don't think I ever really thought of either one as an RPG, though...to me they were more like adventure games with a bit of action.

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  2. I'm too can't really see how this would be "RPG of the Year" in any year. While 1990 probably wasn't the greatest year for CRPGs, it had some exceptional titles.

    Chief among them in my recollection is "Captive", which was one of the mainstays of my game collection far into the late 90s. I can still hum parts of the intro tune.

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    1. 1990 has Quest for Glory II, a game I have a massively unhealthy crush on. I refuse to believe any 1990 game is better than it. At all.

      Though I guess in 1990 it was not considered an RPG.

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    2. It was a nominee in the "adventure" category of CGW that year. It lost to King's Quest V.

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  3. I barely tried the Amiga version of Elvira and it did not grab me at all. Weird that CWG would make it "RPG of the Year". Sure, 1990 was one of the weaker years for CRPGs, but surely Wizardry 6 or Ultima 6 would have been a more natural choice?

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    1. Technically, the "year" in question is supposed to be 1991, since the issue came out in November 1991. But all but one of its nominees originally had 1990 releases. The games Elvira is up against are:

      -Wizardry: Bane of the Cosmic Forge (1990)
      -Words of Ultima: Savage Empire (1990)
      -Eye of the Beholder (1991)
      J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, Vol. 1 (1990)

      I haven't played the last three yet, but already I think Wizardry VI was a better RPG than Elvira.

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    2. Oh, and in the same issue, Quest for Glory II, which arguably has strong RPG credentials than Elvira, is a nominee in the ADVENTURE category.

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    3. Maybe elvira is slightly more rpgish than I gave it credit for but rpg of the year? that's criminal. Whether you took it as 1990 (ultima VI) or 1991 (eye of the beholder, death knights of krynn) it's no contest and they are just the three I know best from that time, I'd be surprised if I didn't prefer bane of the cosmic forge also (I missed it but played the next one).

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    4. I think it's the combat innovation.

      But then again, U6 brought in a seamless open world to the RPG plate. I believe I'm not the only one to leave Castle British and wonder when the hell I can get to the overworld map... until I read the f*cking Reference Card.

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  4. Hm. Netflix predicts I will give the Elvira movie 3.9 stars.
    Then again, I am mildly notorious for enjoying movies no human being should watch deliberately.
    Good luck with the game. I'm a little baffled by its inclusion here myself, because I remember seeing it shelved in the Adventure Game section of Babbages, not the RPG section. Then again, that was a long time ago.

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    1. Seems I'm right on the edge with a suggested rating of 2.8. Netflix has been very wrong before. Apparently recommended because I rated the movie Clue rather high.

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    2. 3.4 here, but I'm also on a mission to watch every 80s movie and so I've subjected myself to some real dreck.

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    3. 2.8 here also, and I've liked a lot of dreck-type movies, so there must be more to the formula.

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    4. This is a fun game. 3.7 stars for me. Maybe my proclivity for Mystery Science Theater 3000 has skewed this for me.

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    5. And by "fun game", I mean the "what is Netflix's star prediction" game. I know nothing about the CRPG other than the fact that the print ads in Computer Gaming World intrigued the 12 year-old me.

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    6. Hmmm, sounds like a movie either MST3K or Rifftrax needs to have some fun with.

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  5. I think that Elvira's appeal was based on the fact that the sort of movies she hosted were the type which you would normally watch with friends and make caustic comments about throughout the film. If you were watching the movie by yourself, Elvira supplied the commentary. "Horrible Sexy Vampire" benefits by constant interruptions in a way that "Bringing Up Baby" or "The Shawshank Redemption" does not.

    I'm not sure if you discovered this, but in combat you can also click to the left or right of your opponent to attack or block his weapon (at least in the Amiga version). I found this more intuitive than using the icons on the right.

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    1. Yes, I figured that out, and I agree it's slightly more intuitive, but not much. I'm still not very good at anticipating what direction the attack will come from in enough time to get my shield in the right place. This is where keyboard shortcuts would really come in handy.

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    2. Chet, it's been a long while since I played that game but I believe you can score critical hits by hitting (clicking) on the exposed (unarmored) parts of the enemy.

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    3. I think you're confusing it with the sequel, which had surprisingly detailed body parts mechanic.

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    4. Yeah, I'm not getting that. You can click directly on the enemy in combat, but it just mimics what the buttons do: left side is "block"; right side is "parry"; top is "lunge"; bottom is "hack."

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    5. Damn. And I thought Cobra Mission was based on Elvira Part 1.

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  6. "in an adventure game, you don't expect to win with your starting character" - why? I can kinda understand that point in relation to Sierra games, but most adventure titles just don't let you screw up in any way, so why would you want to restart them?

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    1. "Most adventure titles just don't let you screw up in any way." I don't claim to be an expert in adventure games, so I'll just say that most that I'VE played allow you to screw up. Every Zork game had two or three "walking dead" instances. Journey: The Adventure Begins had so many that I never figured out how to win the game.

      Even Hero's Quest had a couple (pity the player who ate the acorn)--more than a couple if you want to achieve the full game score.

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    2. I guess it's just like with RPGs: earlier titles tend to be a lot more unforgiving. Talk about winning any Wizardry before 6th with your starting character, for example. I mostly played adventure titles from the 1990s and 2000s and those were mostly fail-proof.

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    3. Hmm, so apparently Rogue is an adventure game and Secret of Monkey Island is an RPG. I never knew! :-)

      We went out of our way to avoid dead ends (as opposed to deaths, which were de rigeur in both adventures and RPG's). Any "walking dead" situations you found in a Quest for Glory were there because of errors, not by intention. I don't remember even thinking about the possibility of "eat the acorn", but obviously someone on the team (and possibly by design) implemented that. If it didn't lead to imminent death or (better) a chance to recover with another acorn, it was a design and/or implementation flaw.

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    4. Your games are clearly admirable in limiting such walking dead scenarios. The acorn one might be the only one that prohibits you from completing the game at all (can you accidentally drink or break the remove magic potion?), but there are others that prohibit you from FULLY completing it (e.g., killing the bear, failing to visit Baba Yaga before going into the bandit's fortress, failing to grab the magic mirror), and plenty of others that keep you from getting a full score (e.g., failing to find all the treasures when you break into a house; I don't think the game lets you back in). There are lots of other reasons to re-start the game, such as wanting to give yourself all the skills so you can participate in all the minigames.

      My point is that in this kind of a game, restarting isn't a big deal. I don't mind it at all. Once you know the terrain and all the puzzles, you could complete Hero's Quest in just a couple of hours. This is what distinguishes adventure games and hybrids from straight RPGs, where such restarting is rare, and even when you do it, it doesn't save you all that much time.

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    5. Over at The Adventure Gamer's blog, we had a discussion about this. LucasArts adventure games went a step further to ensure that the player could not die at all. So, you HAVE to complete the game with your first character.

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    6. Yeah, I think this depends on the vintage of adventure game: Once games started removing death and walking dead scenarios then a lot started moving in that direction.

      The only parallel in CRPGs I can think of is random encounters; There is a move away from spamming you with low level random encounters in most games, as no one wants to fight 400 lvl 1 slimes just so they can pick up an item they missed in the first city.

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  7. Hmm, even in Germany, I somehow knew about the existence of Elvira, though I also didn't know why she was famous until last month. I guess she was one of these one-or-two season pop culture phenomena like the Macarena or Psy, or Pokémon.
    Also, here's her parody of a Christine O'Donnell-campaign ad:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uqQJB8DR_Zo

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  8. This game was very much part of my formative years as a gamer and it scared the shit out of me. The music in the Amiga version is quite creepy. I even started writing background stuff about this game for my blog but i still hadn't got the time to actually play it.

    It also seems to be a very good looking game for PC-DOS standards in 90.

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    1. Completely agree with the above: the music on the Amiga is far creepier than on the PC (and it's different, it's not just a better version of the same music). I think it's worth firing up an emulator to try it, at least for a couple of minutes.

      Also, you can play either version on ScummVM (which I'd actually recommend), though to do so with the Amiga one you need to have an utility to extract files from .ADF disk images.

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    2. I totally agree. I liked Elvira on the Amiga very much. Superb graphics and eerie music. The game was hard though and I never completed it but I had a lot of fun.

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    3. Another alternative to using the Amiga emulator is just check some videos on youtube to see the difference. Playing from ADF's is very very slow, being WHDload the best way to experience this game.

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    4. Or, as I said, get an utility to extract files from .ADF disk images (google for "adf extract"; on Linux I use unadf), extract the disk images to a folder, and use ScummVM. To me, that's the best way to play this game -- all the advantages from the Amiga, none of the disadvantages. :)

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    5. I just brought up a YouTube video of the Amiga game side-by-side with my DOS version, and I really don't see any difference in the graphical quality. The sound, sure, but I turn the music off anyway.

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    6. Yes, the graphics are exactly the same. This game comes from a particular time when VGA (256 colors) was often used to port Amiga / Atari ST games (16 colors), but with a much better palette than EGA (also 16 colors) supported. Other examples from the time are The Chaos Engine and Lotus 3 (neither of which is an RPG).

      For instance, both Elvira (either Amiga or PC/VGA) and Wizardry 6 (EGA) use 16 colors, but Elvira looks much better (EGA can't do skin tones, for instance).

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    7. The amiga elvira shots do not have 16 colors, but range to up to 32. The same amiga artwork graces the pc port, as far as I can tell, bitstretched, perhaps.

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  9. I see Angband is coming up. Are you going to be playing that before Moria? It might be worth putting Moria in that slot even though it's not chronological, then putting Angband in at the end of the year?

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    1. I was planning to sneak in a Moria posting between now and then. I downloaded it a while ago from your e-mail and have been messing around with it for the last month or so.

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    2. I was all set to make the case that you should play Moria 1st but it looks like Joe beat me to the punch. Lets just say I strongly agree with him.

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  10. I wonder if there was just some confusion over what should be considered an RPG back in those days. The whole discussion over whether you feel like you're "playing a role."

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    1. The definitions of RPG vs. Adventure were exactly opposite on PCs and consoles in the early 90's. What we now call a JRPG was called an Adventure Game back then. "Playing a role" was never considered to be part of a CRPG (except by some of the designers who came out of tabletop gaming, including Lori and I). Most early 90's game players and developers considered story and characterization (including role-playing) to be part of an adventure game, not a CRPG.

      A CRPG featured frequent combat with stats, usually turn-based but occasionally real-time. Your character improved in some way (levels or stats) as the game progressed. And usually you could upgrade your combat weapons and armor. In the console world, those exact same attributes made an "adventure game".

      On the console, if a game featured story development and characterization, it was a role-playing game. For the most part, the PC and console games were developed by different companies. The terms didn't get unified definitions until developers started porting their PC games to consoles and vice versa.

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    2. Nice to know after all this time. Thanks for sharing. Could you also define what consoles you mean in this case. I assume some devices of Nintendo, Sega and Sony and maybe Amiga CD32 and Atari Jaguar.

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    3. This was a few years before the first Playstation, so no Sonys as of yet. The big consoles on the market in 1990 would have been the Super NES, the Sega Genesis, and the Turbografx-16. The CD32 and the Jaguar came out a few years later. The handheld market was dominated by the original Game Boy and the Game Gear.

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  11. I've seen the Elvira movie. Its every bit as stupid as you'd imagine it to be. "Fun" stupid, not "bad" stupid.

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    1. The first Elvira movie was unironically one of my favorite movies, back when I was twelve years old. When I discovered the wonders of illicit downloads, it was among the first I made a point of hunting down (along with an even better ode to stupidity, Big Trouble In Little China). I haven't checked whether it holds up and probably never will - no reason to ruin good memories.

      The game - eh. Its main selling point was at-the-time impressive graphics. I found the user interface super clunky even by 1990 standards - for example, in order to see the name of an inventory item you have to click it twice and to pick up an item you have to drag and drop it on the tiny "INV" text in the upper corner (and not, for example, into the huge inventory in the lower part of the screen). A lot of items are only visible under the "ROOM" tab and so on. It's just not well thought out, interface-wise.

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    2. Cool! Glad I'm not the only one who enjoyed that shit in my teenage years! My top ten stupid movies (not ranked in anyway) were:
      1) The Golden Child
      2) Elvira: Mistress of the Dark
      3) Monty Python & The Quest for the Holy Grail
      4) Hot Shots
      5) Up Pompeii
      6) National Lampoon's Joy of Sex
      7) The Secret Of My Success
      8) National Lampoon's Loaded Weapon 1
      9) History of the World, Part I
      10) Once Upon a Giant

      2 out of those movies brazenly hinted that they'd have sequels. I'm still waiting for them.

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    3. I still really enjoy Big trouble in little China, and every time I watch it I think it would make a fun game world for an RPG.

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    4. Is it bad if my Netflix rates me a solid 4 stars for Elvira?

      Actually I watched it a couple years ago, and it was entertaining. The movie does make fun of itself in a good way; just don't go into it expecting something deep and moving.

      Of course the greatest movie of all time is "Army of Darkness", so I don't know if that may influence my opinion. :-)

      Getting back to the game - it sounds like the link to Elvira may be hurting it for you? And if it was just a generic person that needed help you may not have the bias?

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    5. You guys just made me watch about 20 minutes of Elvira. I'm never trusting you again.

      Despite my self-professed dislike of high camp in films, I have to say that I've always loved the Evil Dead series. Bruce Campbell "sells" it in a way that, for me, Elvira doesn't.

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    6. Hey I recommended Big Trouble in Little China, and would second the Army of Darkness vote above, I never said anything about watching Elvira.

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  12. I played this game, but a certain kitchen puzzle stumped me. Elvira herself gives a clue, but at the time, I just thought it was flavor text. Cue me facepalming 20 years later when I found out what the solution was!

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    1. I'll be sure to pay attention to her words.

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    2. Easy for you to say that. Try telling the same advice to a 14 year old kid with no Internet connection, girly magazines or playboy channel.

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  13. I've known about Elvira, but not this game. Good luck with this one. It looks like it could either be an interesting diversion or a total fail.

    That castle guard does not look undead at all. Perhaps he was freshly killed?

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    1. Maybe he has a severe case of cataracts

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    2. That'll be the twist ending: I've been murdering living people the entire time.

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    3. It wouldn't be such a twist after you complete the following sentence: I've been killing decent folks at the behest of Mistress Of The __________.

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  14. Full-motion jiggle! When FMV technology became available, game artists knew exactly what they wanted to use it for...

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    1. Judging by the League of Angels ads on my sidebar, we haven't come very far.

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    2. It is really sad how much money and time has gone into soft body physics modeling just so games can have "jiggle physics". Legit challenge that is cool, skeveey use.

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  15. This was the first 'RPG' that I know of, to be truly cinematic. You had some cinema-ware games too but this is a multimedia treat. Nice detailed assets! (sorry)

    P.S. have you thought of posting about your favourite books or jazz tracks also?

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  16. Now I understand what the Simpsons character Boobarella was inspired by!

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    1. Elvira herself is based on Vampira, a fictional character played by Maila Nurmi. Vampira is probably most famous for her role in Plan 9 in Outer Space, but prior to that the character also had a local tv-show, where she introduced horror films. The look of Vampira was (supposedly) based on the Addams Family character.

      The name Boobarella in turn must be a play on Barbarella, a French erotic cartoon character. Also played by Jane Fonda in a movie by the same name.

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    2. There's information about this on the Wikipedia page for Elvira's Movie Macabre . . .

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elvira%27s_Movie_Macabre

      . . . that isn't on her main Wikipedia page. I guess Nurmi even sued.

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  17. "I can't imagine wanting to watch a film called Count Dracula's Great Love anyway, but if I did, I'd probably just want the film to begin."

    The one with Paul Naschy? I seem to recall it's a fun flick if you like Euro-horror...

    I caught some of Elvira's schtick on tv a couple of times but just found her annoying. In general, the "horror host" concept has never appealed to me despite my enjoyment of genre B-movies because I just want to watch the movies without some wise-ass making dumb jokes while I do it.

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    1. That's what I was trying to convey. If the movie is any good, I just want to watch the movie. If it's bad, I don't really want to watch it regardless of how witty the host is. Mystery Science Theater is perhaps the only way to do it to my liking--have authentically funny hosts on the screen at all times, mitigating the badness of the films.

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    2. To be fair, lots of people love having someone to comment on the film (that they've seen before, of course) for various reasons. Which is why most movies and/or games have a Director's Commentary Option in their DVD menus that will have people talking about the film/game while you're watching/playing it.

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  18. IMPORTANT WARNING: When you get an opportunity to create spells, DO NOT create a Fire Wall spell. There's only one fire flower in the game, and you need it for a plot-important spell. Other than that, you're free to mix whatever you want - that's the only "walking dead" scenario I'm aware of.

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  19. I believe the Elvira engine was built off earlier stuff and is basically a Fighting Fantasy mud engine game... and it really does play like a mud.

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    1. Can you elaborate? I don't have a lot of experience with MUDs, but I just don't see that in the engine.

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    2. I'll do that.

      Multi-player features aside, MUDs are basically text adventures with heavy RPG elements in its earliest incarnation. Like Zork, the commands are simply N, S, E, W, U & D for movement and parser features.

      The FF MUD engine has a graphical interface that removes those commands and the text parser in favor of a more mouse-driven input environment.

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    3. Yes, Elvira (and other HorrorSoft games) used the AGOS game engine, which was based off the AberMUD V, with graphical extensions added.

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  20. Dungeons of Daggorath is up after this? I wish you luck, that is a BRUTAL game...and not really a CRPG, as I understand it. you have levels(ish), but no NPCs, no stats, and nothing to buy. Had it and played it on the TRS-80, but never came close to beating it....

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    Replies
    1. I actually got through about 4/5 of the game a couple years ago (Irene had it when she was a kid and wanted to play it again), and I can't remember why I didn't finish.

      Delete
  21. I'm amused that not only can you not get people to agree that a game is terrible, you can't get them to agree that any given MOVIE is terrible either.

    Maybe we should all order pizza. What toppings does everyone like?

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    Replies
    1. I'll just stop you right there, I don't like pizza at all.

      I tested Elvira on netflix, they predict I'll give it 3.8 stars I think... I'm almost tempted to watch it and find out.

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    2. "I'm amused that not only can you not get people to agree that a game is terrible, you can't get them to agree that any given MOVIE is terrible either."

      Yeah - it's almost like people have different opinions and quality in art is totally subjective. Crazy, I know!

      Delete
    3. ...which... is why I made light of that fact.
      Way to jump straight to hostile there.

      Delete
    4. @xyzzysqrl: Honestly you really should know better than trying to joke on the internet... It's just plain irresponsible behaviour!

      Delete
    5. Meat lovers or cheeseburger pizza for me.

      Delete
  22. To clarify:
    That animated sequence of Elvira was high quality animation, and not embed video. The game engine of Elvira didn't make any use of video formats until a much later game (The Feeble Files).

    Also looks like the opening sequence can be skipped by using any key.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for clearing that up about the animation. I need to learn more about this aspect of games.

      The manual specifically mentions SPACE so I didn't feel it was necessary to try other keys. Such must be left to other pioneers.

      Delete
  23. Ah yes, one of the most memorable things about Elvira II, for me, is that in some locations you can pick up everything that's not nailed down (like the kitchen, where you can raid the drawers for every single itty-bitty piece of cutlery and tiny jar). Interesting to see that it already showed up in Elvira 1.

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    Replies
    1. And people are blaming The Elder Scrolls for doing this when a game more than 20 years ago is already doing it.

      Delete
    2. I think it's funny that the Elder Scrolls lets you pick up so much worthless junk, but I would never think of complaining about it. Some people just look for things to complain about.

      Delete
    3. Kill Bioware before the Gangrene SpreadsSeptember 18, 2014 at 2:34 PM

      I like collecting everything: You never know when it might give you backstory, a stat boost or a quest solution. My favorite series for this Metroid: There is no lack of health and weapon upgrades there, and plenty of colorful environments that are wonderful to explore.

      Delete

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