Saturday, June 20, 2015

Game 191: Elvira II: The Jaws of Cerberus (1991)


The first Elvira was a better game than a game inspired by a schlock late-night character had the right to be. As I played, I kept catching myself having fun--only to be reminded that the game was, in some fundamental sense, about Elvira. I don't hate her or anything, but centering an RPG around her makes as much sense as basing one on Dave Letterman or the Church Lady from Saturday Night Live. Every time she entered the frame, it broke any sense of immersion the game had otherwise managed to build up.

By having pictures of Elvira literally everywhere, this game breaks the immersion quite frequently.

(For more background on Elvira and her inexplicable appearance in computer role-playing games, check out my coverage of Elvira: Mistress of the Dark, starting with the first of four posts.)

It's a bit worse in this game, because the protagonist is explicitly presented as Elvira's boyfriend. I've had to role-play evil characters before, but never a character that just has really bad taste. That's nothing against Cassandra Peterson, who is lovely, and everything against the character she created, who, while comical, strikes me as a bit gross. When I played Elvira, you made me watch her 1988 film, in which this weird, black-clad, ash-skinned, wig-wearing, cleavage-baring creature moves to Massachusetts. The movie gives her the most square, conventional love interest possible, and then just expects us to sit back and pretend that the pairing makes any sense. Now I have to pretend to be such a guy in a game.

Is this the CRPG Addict getting upset about boobies again? No. The issue is more that she's a butter...everything else.

No mention is made in the manual or opening screens about the events of the first game. Elvira is inexplicably back in Hollywood, running Black Widow Productions, producing films with titles like House of Horror and It Came from Beyond the Grave. Somehow, the demon dog Cerberus ends up on her set, kidnaps her, and plots to sacrifice her at midnight. The protagonist, her boyfriend, starts the game hanging outside the studio, waiting to pick her up for a date.

Your only character creation choice is whether you're a stuntman, private eye, computer programmer, or knife thrower, the choice of which affects your attributes (weapon skill, accuracy, willpower, magic resistance, strength, constitution, poison resistance, and intelligence) on a scale of 6 to 10. The stuntman is naturally quite high in weapon skill, strength, and willpower but low in accuracy, magic resistance, and intelligence. The computer programmer excels in magic resistance, poison resistance, and intelligence, but has low constitution, strength, and weapon skill. I went with the private eye, who has 8s and 9s in everything--no very strong strengths or weaknesses.

The game begins with a character creation process.

For some reason, the developers significantly increased the RPG credentials of the second title. Elvira's only method of character development was an incremental increase in weapon skill over the course of the game's many combats. Here, not only do we have more attributes and an actual character creation choice, but also a beating heart that helps diagnose fear and injury levels, actual experience levels, a system of tracking injury to individual body parts, and a choice of combat styles that tweak the mostly-action system.

The private eye's attributes are on display as he examines a cork board.

The PC begins with Elvira's spellbook, a small knife, a pendant that Elvira lost the other night, an empty wallet, a set of keys, a ballpoint pen, a used piece of chewing gum, a penknife, and a small silver crucifix. I don't know if he brought one along because he knew Elvira was in trouble, or just because he's fully aware of who he's dating.

The first puzzle of the game involves getting through the locked outer security gate. I spent a while trying to pick the lock with the penknife when Elvira exploded in another vision and suggested that I try using "the rock by the road." I returned to the road area, looked around, and finally found the "rock" she was referring to--a barely discernible set of pixels in the background. So that's how this game is going to be.

Do you see that rock?

Throwing the rock through the door glass, I was able to enter the security office. I grabbed a security jacket and hat from the wall and put them on. A bunch of notices on a corkboard didn't seem to offer anything useful.

The plot thickens.

A dead security guard fell out of a closet when I opened it, and a couple of pixels on his belt delivered me a "small security key." This unlocked a nearby panel, which prompted me to my first use of the game's copy protection system to find the right security code. The game came with a codewheel, and occasionally you have to line up various rings representing symbols, spells, and monsters to get numeric codes. Fortunately, there's this awesome online version.


Somewhere along the line there, I got enough experience to level up. Already Level 2!

A nearby computer monitor showed surveillance camera images of other parts of the studio. None of them seemed to be important.

Back outside, the security gate was now open. It led to a parking lot, where there was only one car--Elvira's. I opened the trunk and got a wrench and some pliers.


With nothing else to do, I opened the door and entered the studio. I immediately recognized a room I'd seen on one of the security monitors. I grabbed a fire extinguisher from the wall. A desk held nothing of importance that I could find. A pair of doors lead to restrooms with toilets; the game let me fiddle with the lid and gave me 4 points for flushing it for no reason that I could see. The bathrooms otherwise had nothing.

I'm trying to envision a scenario in which I'll need to come back with a coin.

A door led out of the entry room to three other doors, labeled 1, 2, and 3. I left them alone for now and took the other exit: an elevator, which offered stops at Levels 1 and 2 or the basement. I went down to the basement.

Might as well get the scary basement out of the way.

There, sitting crosslegged on the floor, was a strange-looking guy. But in my attempts to investigate the room, I accidentally walked forward into...I don't know...a boiler room? There, a giant hand came out of a doorway and killed me instantly. I hadn't been saving, so I need to start over.

Death comes with no warning.

A few other notes:

  • The game uses the same pseudo-3D as the first one. You can't really turn and look in all directions except from a few screens. When you do turn, you don't necessarily occupy a fixed location; the game might move you slightly closer or further away from important objects.
  • It's really easy to accidentally move forward when you just intend to click on something on the screen.
  • As in the first game, you can pick up a bunch of things in Elvira II that probably have no value to carry around.

I'm not sure if I need two fire extinguishers plus a portrait of Elvira.

  • While the graphics are okay, I can't tell you anything about the sound, because I spent this playing session in the middle of an airport lounge with no headphones. Hopefully, I'll be able to talk about that next time.
  • The game offers some of the first real interactivity with the environment that we've seen in an RPG, though perhaps not in games of other genres. You can flush toilets, turn faucets on and off, and operate the hand dryer in the bathrooms, for instance.

Water flows from the sink as I press the tap.

When I wrapped up my coverage of the first Elvira, I noted:

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.

This wasn't exactly a complaint, since I'm a fan of neither Elvira nor schlock horror films, just an observation that the character was oddly displaced into something that felt like a generic adventure castle. This game seems to have learned from the past by filling the screens with references to the character and the films that she glorifies. Because of this, it promises to be a better "Elvira" game, though not necessarily (from my point of view) a better game.


I had hoped to get to at least one dialogue and combat in this first outing, but I guess they'll have to wait for future posts, as will a discussion of the spell system. I don't mind an adventure game--I haven't played one in a while--but Elvira II is definitely feeling more like an adventure game than an RPG so far.

*****

You're probably wondering how Elvira got elevated to the next spot all of a sudden. Here's the rundown:

  • I have Antares sort-of working in the Amiga Forever application, but it keeps taking me to a black screen during loads and not loading the content. Typical experience trying to play an Amiga game. No, don't bother writing with suggestions--nothing any of you say ever makes any sense, and it's always filled with phrases like "easy" and "just..." and "all you have to do is...," all of which make me want to redirect the time I spend blogging to ruining your lives. I'll either figure it out for myself or I won't.
  • Dragon Slayer---can't find a PC-88 version. Anyone have one? I was hoping to avoid having to learn an MSX or FM-7 emulator.
  • Quest for Tanda: Only a couple of sites even attest to this game's existence, and if it wasn't for some screen shots on MobyGames, I'd frankly doubt that it was a real game. I can't find it available for download anywhere. It went to "not playable" status until I learn more.

48 comments:

  1. Ah, magic & poison resistance. The unsung strengths of the computer programming career.

    I'm not familiar with PC-88 emulation, but if you need an MSX emulator, blueMSX is accurate and pretty easy to use (like, actual-easy, not Amiga-easy).

    ReplyDelete
  2. It's only anecdotal, but I've been programming for years, and I have yet to fall prey to a single magical spell or get poisoned. I even seem to have a greater tolerance for questionable foods (hot sauce, sodas, or Hostess snacks, to name a few) than most.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I used to program on my C64 years back, made lots of neat little games. I guess that means I have BASIC magic and poison resistance.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Ah... instant deaths; the mark of an adventure game.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Well, go on using that Amiga Forever trash, then.

    Because that makes sense.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I will not say it is "easy" but... actually I managed to run Antares at the first attempt using FS-UAE and downloading the 4 disks (*.adf) from planetemu.net... I just used the a basic Amiga 500 configuration. 2 min time, including disk downloads, and I was playing...

      Just for curiosity, I tried and managed to run also Elvira II (7 disks!) at the first attempt, with the same configuration. However I not reccomend this version: swapping among 7 disks is a pain, the VGA-DOS version is good, even if the music/sound is still better on Amiga.

      Delete
    2. I suppose I could try yet another emulator.

      When I initially had trouble with Amiga games, a LOT of people recommended Amiga Forever, including other bloggers who post extensive LPs with the Amiga. I thought it worked great for the games that it actually worked for. I only have your opinion that it's "trash."

      Delete
    3. Incidentally, I had to Google that "FS-UAE" was an emulator, and apparently different from WIN-UAE but based on it. That one wasn't too hard, but it illustrates the problem I constantly have with any advice people try to give me with the Amiga. For all I knew, "FS-UAE" was some kind of command, or a setting in one of the emulators I already had, or a patch.

      Not often but occasionally, I run into problems with DOSBox. Helpful commenters say things like "Try LOADFIX" or "edit the config file to switch to CGA mode." These are just fine because I grew up as a DOS user and I have extensive experience with DOSBox specifically, so I know exactly what they mean. I know LOADFIX is a command that I can run from the prompt in DOSBox, and not some separate program that I have to download and install. I know that CGA is a video standard and that the "config" file is a text file within the emulator's root folder. But imagine that you were working with a complete DOS and DOSBox novice. Those terms wouldn't make any sense and those instructions would be useless. You'd have to step it out:

      "Start up DOSBox and when you get the C: prompt (assuming you know how to mount a directory to C:; if not, let me know and I'll send further instructions), type LOADFIX, a space, and then the name of the file that starts the game."

      And this is just one command. Imagine you're brand new to DOSBox entirely and you don't really understand how the directories and commands work, and you're trying to emulate a game.

      Every instruction or bit of advice I get on the Amiga seems to assume I already know how to use the Amiga OS. People talk about the "hard disk" without specifying whether they mean MY hard disk or a file that mimics the Amiga's hard disk. "You just click on the game and it starts right away," Albalieno said in a recent comment. Do you mean click on the game in WIndows or in the Amiga emulator? Go ahead and try to find any instructions about how to use "WHDLoad" that doesn't assume existing experience with the Amiga OS.

      So the only thing that any advice I get does is send me to a flurry of Googling to try to figure out what people are talking about, which leads me to a host of conflicting information. Oh, I can't tell you how fun the Amiga boards are.

      A: "Can someone tell me how to use WHDLoad?"
      B: "You have to install it."
      A: "Install it where? How?"
      B: "RTFM"
      C: "LOL. N00b."

      Amiga Forever at least promised a way around all of that. It just doesn't seem to work for this game.

      Delete
    4. Well, I have to give Nifft credit: FS-UAE seems to work where WinUAE and Amiga Forever didn't. I'm still not sure what the difference is, but at least now I can give it a try.

      Delete
    5. It's no rocket science to get win-UAE working :

      A500 -> 1/2me chip mem ONLY and 68000 and NOTHING ELSE -> OCS for graphics with kickstart 1.3 and most games run smoothly because that was the standard A500 that most of us had.

      Second most common was A1200 with AGA -> 2megs of chip mem and kickstart 3.0 and 68ec020 (means busted up el cheapo 68020 with a broken arithmetic unit in Motorola lingo).

      Any game ever made for Amiga works with those two configurations as long as you don't have to install it on a hard drive.

      Actual A1200 could be booted with a compatibility mode by pressing down both mouse buttons at start up but most (if not all) emulators including winUAE don't emulate the feature.
      That is A1200 could be "down graded" to a near perfect match of A500 which was pretty much the usual way of getting A500 era games working with A1200.

      Now if you actually have to run the program from a hard drive then setting it (the HD) up to boot to wb was a bit of a bitch even for a real amiga, you had a specific installer set which I never found out about until the internet ... which handled setting up WB so that the machine would always boot from a HD first (and not by inserting wb disk first so that you could actually use the HD) I had to set my WB to boot from HD with clever thinking and some trials and errors.

      In other words drop the fast mems, fancy UIs, HD's and all that crap and the game should run unless it's one of those rare game meant for the rich that requires you to buy a kit that expanded your amiga 500 to have 1meg of fast ram.

      A word of warning however in that most of the games in the net are pirated copies and they sometimes worked *oddly* even on a real amiga so if your Antares is one those chances are that it never worked that well to begin with.

      Delete
    6. Those .ADF never existed in Amiga era, it's a medium created specifically for amiga emulators and it stands for Amiga Disc Image meaning it's a prefect clone of an amiga diskette.

      Mainly ADF is used to make amiga disks to be readable on a PC as hardware of the era we're not compatible and using a HD disk drive can damage the data of an SD diskette (HD has higher magnetic field then SD) that Amiga used.

      Now WHDLoad is program made for Amiga that allows you to load games that once long ago were never ever made able to be played from a HD to be played from a HD.

      So asking what you just asked really is a stupid question if you know what those two file formats stand for and if you had ever had an actual amiga.

      Of c. it's not nice from fellow amiga enthusiasts to assume that everyone knows that but that's pretty much the case with all forums that run around one specific issue.

      Delete
    7. This is exactly the type of conversation I'd didn't want to have.

      1) Whether it's "no rocket science" or not, Antares didn't load with plain old WinUAE. Loading the first disk just took me to a black screen and nothing happened. It works with the other emulator. So regardless of what "any game for the Amiga" normally does, it didn't work here.

      2) The conversation I put in the post wasn't a real one. I was deliberately exaggerating the typical conversation I see on Amiga message boards. I never posted my own questions to such boards, just read what other people had posted.

      And I've never had an actual Amiga. It shouldn't stretch the imagination that a lot of people wanting to play Amiga games today never had an actual Amiga. So I trust based on your wording that you're not calling me stupid.

      Delete
    8. The trouble with the Amiga is that, much like the Macintosh, it has a very fanatical -almost cultish- fanbase, but unlike the Mac it never entered into the "Computers for literal Idiots" phase that ground off all the rough edges of the machine's interface and made it very intuitive.

      The Amiga was the last "nerd's computer", where intimate knowledge of the hardware could produce miracles - later computers worked through abstraction layers such as DirectX, and such tricks were relegated to consoles (for example, one of the PS1 Final Fantasy games crashes one of the chips to create a battle transition) where the uniformity of the hardware made them much more useful.

      At the same time, Amiga was one of the early examples of the modern high-level interface we're all used to today, where users and developers alike work at several removes from the actual hardware, and most don't even know more than the basics of how it works.

      This schizophrenic design manifests in the extreme difficulty of emulating it properly.

      Delete
    9. Although my pride as an Amiga guy is slightly hurt by Chet's bickering about the platform I have to side with him here. Since the blog spiked my interest I went to try old Amiga RPGs again. And I stumbled upon issues with several games, at least in my first attempt trying them from the plain adfs.
      After a few headaches I now have a full (virtual) harddisk installation based on ClassicWB with the WHDLoad versions of the Amigia RPGs from Chet's list accessible from the Workbench (i.e. "Desktop" :) ) in the Emulator.
      If needed, I could provide it via Dropbox (or similar).

      Delete
    10. Both winUAE and FS-UAE are based on same cycle exact engine so the issue has to be somewhere in the configuration and depending on how the game treats the hardware it can be pretty much anything.

      Main problem with games is that their developers used all sorts of tricks to get them run faster (such as "passing through the system" to avoid cycle consuming verify checks) and this can lead to tricky situations where tiniest things suddenly matter.

      Moonstone for example on your list never liked my real A1200 no matter what I tried and always had some kind of graphical glitches; works with emulator though as long as you don't have anything but that A500 config I wrote earlier.

      Above things are what makes Amiga emulating a tricky thing with multiple options since game never worked that well even in the first place with original hardware.

      For example my copy of tangled tales never worked with my real c64 despite being original copy, it works with emulator though ...

      Delete
    11. Yes, even as a past Amiga user, I know how complicated it can be, specially when it comes to WHDload and asking for advice in forums.

      So yes, stick to FS-UAE, since it's the easiest solution, and it's quite solid. Also, it's the best to take screenshots (Print Screen takes one and puts three versions in the desktop, at different resolutions), which i guess it's very important to you.

      It's also a good emulator for WHDload support, but some games still have trouble with save games

      Delete
    12. I would stick with the ADF files and ignore that WHDLoad and hard disk stuff. I still have a pimped Amiga 500 in my basement and I used to code games for that machine back in the days (that includes a shareware RPG...:-)), but I never figured out how to setup this WHDLoad stuff correctly myself. It doesn't matter for emulators anyway IMHO. It's more targeted to real machines with all games stored on a SD-Card, because you can't make them boot up otherwise if they were floppy only.

      Delete
    13. Since I can't seem to get clear instructions on how to use WHDLoad, I welcome this advice.

      Delete
    14. I winuae when feeling brave enough to play something amigaish.
      a 500 with kickstart 1.3 and I normally set the ram to 2 megs, and adjust downwards if I run into problems. For the later amiga games, ones which mention AGA I set it to a1200 with kickstart 3 and again about 2megs ram. Some games play nice, some are frankly a pain in the arse.
      What Petri said reminded me of a game I really liked on the c-64, it worked on my friends computer but not mine :S (arena which was an -obscure- chaos clone if anyone wanted to know)

      Delete
    15. In FS-UAE create configuration, pick Amiga 1200 from first tab, and 4MB or 8MB Zorro II memory extension from last tab.
      Then, point in 4th tab (hard drives) a zipped folder of whdloadized game. If zip is correct, below, in WHDLoad Arguments, will be shown name of "slave" file, ie "IsharAGA.Slave".
      Image of Workbench 3.0 copied to "Floppies" can be sometimes necessary. Proper Kickstart files are mandatory. Usually all info is ReadMe file in game folder.
      (and yes, for games on 1 to 3 floppies ADF way is simpler)

      Delete
    16. CRPG Addict,

      I never said that the Amiga emulator is going to be easy. ALL emulation, regardless of platform, is tricky.

      What I offered you is to hand you a .zip with the emulator and WHDload already configured (it would include both WinUAE and FS-UAE). So that you literally just need to launch the game.

      Launching the game means:
      - launching the emulator and waiting for the Amiga desktop to appear
      - click on the hard disk icon named HD0 (the only other icon is for the floppy)
      - open the folder named "games"
      - open the folder with the name of the game
      - double click the game name

      At that point a WHDload splash screen appears, and after waiting just a few seconds the game will launch.

      What I offered is to help you directly with the tricky parts. Want to play Antares? Good, I give you a package configured and tested to run. If you have problems you tell me and I'll try to find a solution.

      But since providing these packages isn't something I can due publicly due to copyright ROMs and whatnot, you have to contact me. Use abalieno@ the domain name of my site that you see linked here.

      "How to use WHDload", it works on its own once installed. Installing it might be tricky, so that's why I offered to give you a package with everything already set-up.

      If you want to do all this yourself, I can write down an extensive guide that step by step guides you, from downloading, installing and configuring the emulator, installing WHDload and everything else. But doing all of this yourself would require time even when following a guide.

      So you have these options.

      Delete
  6. Running Dragon Slayer on BlueMSX is actually really easy. Let me know if you want and I'll be happy to help get you set up. (Is Lord Karnov/Marc Campbell or whatever he goes by now around? He's posted Youtube videos of the PC-88 version and I'm sure could help you get it running.)

    On another note, when you do play it- and I've touched on this before- it feels like most people have a lot of trouble with the gameplay and the mechanics. You need a sword to effectively damage monsters; otherwise you can only do 10 damage no matter what (where the weakest monster has 1,500 HP and the strongest monsters have hundreds of thousands; Dragon Slayer liked to add extra 0's to lots of things; in some versions at least, some stats max at 655,350, suggesting that there's a two-byte max, and the final zero might as well not be there.)

    The HG101 article has a gameplay overview while not being too spoilery: http://www.hardcoregaming101.net/dragonslayer/dragonslayer.htm

    If the monsters are too strong or keep killing you...
    Zbafgref fcnja sebz gbzofgbarf, nf lbh'ir yvxryl abgvprq. Jura lbh fgneg n cunfr, gurer'f n ohapu bs yriry bar zbafgref ehaavat nebhaq. Jura lbh xvyy bar, n yriry gjb zbafgre pbeerfcbaqf sebz vgf pbeerfcbaqvat gbzofgbar; xvyy vg naq n yriry guerr zbafgre fcnjaf sebz gur gbzofgbar. ("Zbafgre yriryf" nera'g n pbaprcg rkcyvpvgyl abgrq va-tnzr, ohg gurer'f n irel pyrne yvar bs fhpprffvba naq vapernfvat fgeratgu.) Vs gurer'f gbb znal zbafgref lbh pna'g unaqyr lrg, gura pnfg n serrmr fcryy (vs lbh unir vg) gb vaqrsvavgryl serrmr gur barf lbh pna'g unaqyr, be whfg nibvq gurz hagvy lbh pna (naq qb ABG xvyy zbafgref bar yriry orybj gur bar(f) lbh pna'g unaqyr, be zber jvyy fcnja!) Gur jubyr sybj bs gur tnzr vf xvaq bs zber yvxr n tevaql fgengrtl tnzr guna na ECT, fvapr vg'f nobhg zbafgre znantrzrag naq abg yrggvat zbafgref lbh pna'g unaqyr fcnja.

    Also, if anyone else wants to try it and doesn't care about being strictly authentic, I suggest the version on Falcom Classics Collection, Vol. 1 for Saturn (which has the added bonus of having Xanadu attached to it.) Stay away from the Game Boy version unless it's your only option, because it has only two phases and moves slower than the computer version even *with* emulator speedup. Be aware that there's two different MSX versions if you go that route, and the cartridge version rearranges the phases (although the tape version leaves them in the original order.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Also, you'll probably have to learn an MSX emulator eventually (there's fan-translated Japanese RPGs on it that are only available in English on the MSX) so this might be a good time to do it- with a game that's relatively easy to run.

      Delete
    2. Hello, Formerly-Lord-Karnov here. I just sent Addict the PC-88 versions.

      Yeah if he continues with the Dragon Slayer series he's going to have to learn BlueMSX for an English version of Romancia, as the Famicom version is almost an entirely new game.

      Delete
    3. I don't know enough about Romancia to know if it meets his CRPG criteria. Dralse Family definitely misses it, but just barely (your characters do have flexible stats, but don't really develop.) Also, while it does have puzzles involving jumping (which Chet hates- see Zeliard or I'm too lazy to verify the spelling) there's almost always equipment that can make it easier in Dralse Family (give you higher jumps for magic power, etc.) Legacy of Heroes should meet it, though, and it's fan-translated on MSX (first two games anyway, if I'm not mistaken.)

      Delete
  7. The MSX is a neat little system which notably spawned the Metal Gear and Final Fantasy game series. It's worth checking out, I'm sure there are a good quantity of "genuine" RPGs for it.

    I don't think the FM-7 was nearly as popular as the MSX and nowhere near the insanely popular PC-88 system, I wouldn't spend a whole lot of time on an emulator for that one. The Sharp X68000 is equally skippable for the same reason.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Final Fantasy came to the Famicom a year and a half before the MSX, and wasn't the Sharp X68000 that system that had seriously arcade-perfect ports of almost everything? It was like MAME in the 90's?

      Delete
    2. The X68000 did have a lot of arcade-perfect games (Capcom's CPS and CPS2 arcade boards are an X68000 with an extra sound processor, basically) but it had very few RPGs. Most of the games on FM7 and the earlier SHARP PCs were all PC-88 ports too.

      Delete
  8. LOL. Don't want to learn a new emulator? You need to be the world's foremost expert on every single system out there. It goes along with the job. You're already the world's foremost expert on CRPGs before 1991, which naturally extends to a few subsidiary areas. Embrace the obsession!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, Chet. You seriously don't believe that you don't need to expand your Skill Tree and invest some Skill Points into Emulator Applications, and expect to complete your quest, do you?

      Delete
    2. A good life design comes with multiple workarounds. If you don't invest the skill points, you'll either have to recruit another member of the party with that ability or expect to pay extortionate rates for hints that let you bypass the obstacle. Shame this particular life riddle doesn't come with an option to combine a calculator with an intelligent chicken and build your own emulator, which naturally you'll understand out of the box.

      Delete
  9. I'm trying to envision a scenario in which I'll need to come back with a coin.

    Treating a gunshot wound? http://www.snopes.com/military/tampon.asp

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Or really, absorbing any fluid. Maybe there'll be some kind of ooze monster it'll work on?

      Delete
  10. As in the first game, you can pick up a bunch of things in Elvira II that probably have no value to carry around. - The game has a very unique magic system in which almost anything can be used a spell component as long as it fits the description. Unfortunately, this also means that, just like in the first game, you can use (and loose) plot-critical objects that way, so be sure to back up your saves.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Quest for Tanda can be found in a large Atari ST archive located here: http://www.climatics.com/archive.html, look under Atari Archives/st/Hang Loose archive/Games/q.

    I know nothing about the Atari ST, but I got running without trouble using the Steem emulator (steem.atari.st). And then I immediately got killed by a ghost after moving one square :) Really, this looks like a teenager's first game, it's probably best to just skip this one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can't imagine how you found that place! Another reader e-mailed me a version, too. I'll look at it briefly.

      Delete
  12. Two fire extinguishers and a portrait of Elvira? MacGyver could probably make an IED of some form, I'm guessing. There again, Elvira 1's puzzles were all pretty stock standard, weren't they? Nothing past the level of 'fetch quest'? Maybe if you can use the fire extinguishers in combat...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Extinguishers are for a spell, it's stated quite explicitly in the manual and the spellbook.

      Delete
  13. The find-the-rock "puzzle" fills me with dread for this one. I played one or two nearly pure pixel-hunting games in this era (notably Countdown) and the idea of combining them with an RPG to me sounds like a recipe for disaster -- or maybe just a way of highlighting the very smooth integration of RPG and adventure elements in something like Quest for Glory (accomplished admittedly by certain sacrifices) where the creators seem to have first gotten a handle on what would be a fun adventure game. Will be happy to be proven wrong with this one, of course, but so far, I've got a bad feeling about this.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I find Elvira a pretty annoying character, but Cassandra Peterson is no butter-anything.

    Granted you're a couple steps from the source with Cassandra to Elvira to Elvira depicted in a video game.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I agree. I was talking about the character--after the makeup, wig, etc.

      Delete
  15. Hey Chet! I don't want to be one of those guys but I'm going to be one of those guys now because it's in the title. Slight typo there!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, well spotted. My brain had automatically "read" the correct word!

      Delete
    2. I make that mistake literally every time I go to fire up the game.

      Delete
    3. It's probably a 3-headed dog with 3 sets of larger brains.

      Delete
  16. Fun fact: Cerberus, in the original Greek, means "Spotted".

    The lord of the underworld named his terrifying, three-headed guard dog "Spot". Some things never change it seems.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I got this idea in my head that it has something to do with "brain," which is probably why I'm always misspelling it "cerebrus."

      Delete

I welcome all comments about the material in this blog, and I generally do not censor them. However, please follow these rules:

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

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

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

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

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