Sunday, November 15, 2015

Antares: Wrap-Up and Final Rating

Nightmare Productions (developer); Bomico (publisher)
Released 1991 for Amiga
Date Started: 7 July 2015
Date Ended:
19 September 2015
Total Hours: 23
Reload Count: 24
Difficulty: Moderate (3/5)
Final Rating: 30
Ranking at Time of Posting: 106/199 (53%)

For most of the summer and early fall, I was thinking that Antares would turn out to be a kind of ongoing source of humor on my blog. The game fell into a kind of tedious rhythm--survivable, but only in small doses--and I saw myself making one Antares posting in between other games, maybe covering one dungeon level per entry or something. Eventually, it would stretch into 2016, and after every post, commenters would wonder why I was still playing the game. But I'd plod on, probably reaching a conclusion around the time that I finished 1991 in general.

But after my unintended hiatus of the past two months, I've changed my mind. Even though it would be fun to be the only one online to document ending of this little German oddity, it's not going to be me. I couldn't even get through another dungeon level. The mechanics of managing light, food, fatigue, and healing are too much for what the game offers in return--a nonsensical, wandering plot and combat involving only the most basic of "tactics." Whatever percentage of the game I experienced during my play, I feel like I hit the highlights.

Messages strewn in the dungeon corridors show the game's Bard's Tale heritage.

Antares clearly draws from The Bard's Tale in its basic approach to exploration and turn-based combat, particularly in the variety of messages on dungeon walls, riddles, and static NPCs. But it joins other German games like The Legend of Faerghail and Dragonflight in offering a selection of gameplay mechanics and elements that are highly original but, unfortunately, not very good. I must both admire the game for deviating from the norm and chastise it by noting that the norm, however ordinary, makes for a better gameplay experience. Some of Antares's original deviations include:

  • No character creation system; instead, the player selects 5 from 12 pre-defined characters, including androids, mutants, and robots, each with different skills in fighting, technical ability, medicine, language, psychics, and cooking.
  • A food system by which a party's "hunger" meter slowly depletes and is restored by cooking ingredients found in shops and combat. The amount restored on the meter depends on the ingredient and the cooking skill of the character.
  • Division of hit points into physical and mental health, with different enemies and different attacks having various effects on both. Different items heal the two types of health, dependent on the character's healing skill.
  • Combat likewise is divided into physical and mental attacks, with the mental attacks sort-of replacing "magic" in a typical RPG, but without nearly as many options.
  • A strange approach to sound: no sound effects, but a track that plays different techno music selections when a party member uses certain found devices like Walkmen.
  • A weird sleep system: each character sleeps independently of the others, while the party is otherwise moving around and even fighting, slowly restoring the fatigue bar.
  • A selection of languages that the characters must translate by finding the appropriate books.
  • Part of the status display tells you what level of monster you're likely to encounter at any given moment.

Some of these don't sound too bad, but the combination of them--fatigue, health, and hunger, primarily--create a frustrating experience in which the player constantly has to juggle these logistics. Such considerations can be done well in RPGs, when made fun or particularly challenging, but here they're just tedious.

Still, we have to recognize a few things that the game does well. The monster portraits and other visuals don't represent the height of artistic achievement, but they are highly creative and very different from what we find in other games. The developers did a good job with dungeon design and wall textures, eschewing the bland repetitiveness of The Bard's Tale and Wizardry and really making each dungeon feel like a different place. I love that you can get hints and observations from your party members as you explore. The inventory system is reasonably well done, requiring some investigation and experimentation to determine what items actually do. I appreciated touches like the storage depot to store excess equipment. And in an era in which the default game seems to allow saving anywhere, any time, I appreciate that Antares offered a greater challenge by refusing to allow saving in dungeons.

One of the game's original monster portraits.
To recap the story, my party consisted of the remaining crew of the Auriga, a ship dispatched in 2314 to the Antares system to find out what happened to Earth's first interstellar spaceship, Hope, which had broken contact 34 years earlier. The same thing happened to Auriga that happened to Hope: shot down by an unidentified alien spacestation, with the crew stranded on the planet Kyrion. Among the remnants of the Hope crew--who were mysteriously sterile--I learned that the Antares system is home to three alien races: the Umbeken, the Questonaten, and the Vuronen. The latter are the evil masters of the system. Some mysterious being or force called "Tahun" seems to be influencing things.

As I progressed from the opening area, through the first dungeon, and to the first two cities and their associated dungeons, a mysterious "projection" kept popping up to help guide me along. Eventually, he said I should seek out an Umbeke named Ranishtar in the city of Akrillon. I was in the process of trying to find him when I last blogged.

An NPC offers to sell me information about Ranishtar.

I can fill in some of the rest of the blanks from the document that my commenters so helpfully translated. Ranishtar turns out to be a severe, war-weary Umbeke revolutionary who's also being visited by the mysterious "projection." He tells the party that the Vuronen live in a domed city to the north and suggests they build a bomb to use against the evil aliens. He gives the party a list of ingredients and parts needed for the bomb.

The next few dungeons seem to be full of riddles and puzzles as the party tries to find the parts for the bomb. If I had kept playing, I would have found several characters--including an android and an Umbeke--who would join the party and fill in the last character slot. Another race called the "Lepers" would have made an appearance, as well as a blue dwarf that keeps popping up and offering to sell advanced weapons for absurd amounts of money.

Eventually, the party makes its way to the domed city with the assembled bomb and starts sabotaging key industries and factories. Through a series of dungeons, it becomes clear that the Vuronen are working on a virus to destroy other life forms, and that they are capable of easily cloning and replacing themselves. They encounter the TAHUN, which seems to be a big glowing crystal that psychically impresses people to calmness and obedience. The party briefly falls under its power, but one of the robot characters is immune to the influence and guides the rest of them away (I have no idea what happens if the party doesn't have a robot at this point).

The projektion was up to no good.
Somehow, the party gets captured and tossed into something called The Death Zone. There, the helpful "projection" reveals herself as a female Vuroner named Stasia who has been using the party to sow chaos so that she can take power. At the end of the Death Zone is a final confrontation with Stasia. Unfortunately, I didn't see anything in the document that looks like congratulatory or end-game text. [Edit: my commenters found it and translated it! See the comments.]

In a GIMLET, I give the game:

  • 3 points for the game world. I'd like to go higher, as it is original and unusual, but it just doesn't hold together well. Elements of the back story and plot make little sense; major revelations are handled in a banal, deadpan manner; and several plot threads are simply dropped. The storytelling is as blithe and careless as it is original.
  • 3 points for character creation and development. The skills system is a good idea and creates a logistical challenge in party creation, but I don't like selecting pre-designed characters, and there's hardly any satisfaction to leveling. I guess characters get a little stronger, but their skills don't increase and there are no choices during the leveling process. You don't even get a notification that it's happened.
  • 3 points for NPC interaction. Discussion with a variety of NPCs advances the plot of the game, but it's all Bard's Tale-style, with no dialogue choices or role-playing options.
  • 3 points for encounters and foes. The highly-original monster names and pictures become bland when actually faced in combat. There, they devolve into two basic types: physical creatures and mental creatures. Other than monsters, there are a lot of riddles in the game, though translation issues make it difficult for me to judge their quality.
  • 3 points for magic and combat. Again, the division between mental and physical attacks and defenses is original, but it doesn't end up doing much for combat tactics. Overall, combat is even more rote and boring in Antares than in the games that inspired it.
  • 4 points for equipment. The long and varied list of items that you can buy and find make for a challenging puzzle. There aren't nearly enough inventory slots, though.

The halogenlampe lights up the dungeon. I never figured out what the Atari ST was for.

  • 3 points for the economy. You get money for killing enemies and spend it on food, healing items, and other equipment. I never felt particularly rich or poor. Nothing good or bad here, just bland.
  • 2 points for a long, meandering main quest with no side-quests or role-playing options.
  • 4 points for graphic, sound, and interface. The interface is well-explained in in-game documentation, and the graphics are both original and serviceable. The lack of sound--other than occasional techno music tracks that I turned off after a few seconds--is a major liability.
  • 2 points for gameplay. While the challenge is pitched okay, the game is ultimately too linear, too big, and too long.

The game features a fairly useful in-game help system.

The final score is 30, in that uncomfortable zone where I can't quite recommend the game, but if it were still 1991, I'd encourage the developers to try again. Just teenagers when they developed Antares, they definitely showed promise with design and programming. Alas, they didn't take my hypothetical advice. This is the only title from Michael Wyler, Kjell Marc Droz, Olivier Schraner, and their company, Nightmare Productions. Droz wrote to me briefly back in July, but I haven't been able to get him to answer a list of further questions about the game and its development.

With this, another German game has defeated me. I lost Faerghail because of a bug, The Ormus Saga and Dungeons of Avalon because I couldn't figure out how to win, and Antares because I wasn't willing to invest any more time. We'll see soon whether I can break the pattern with Drachen von Laas or Rings of Medusa II.


And with that, I'm back! Things have finally quieted down, and I have two more postings in the pipeline, so I hope to maintain a consistent schedule for at least the rest of the year. Finally settled into my new house (regrettably, only a seasonal rental), I plan to take an entire two weeks off in December, focusing on my blog during the day and Fallout 4 at night. Hopefully, by the end of the year I can make up for all the time I missed this fall.



    1. \o/ wohoo chet is here guys, let's party!

  2. Happy to read you again. Welcome back.

  3. Its great to have you back, too bad Antares beat you but I look forward to you moving on to better ganes so I can get more names to add to my huge list.

  4. It is good to have you back.

    Also, playing 1991 RPGs during the day and Fallout 4 at night for two weeks sounds awesome!

  5. Spirit of Adventure is another mediocre German game inspired by Bard's Tale. Not sure how you will like Fate: Gates of Dawn. On the other hand Drachen von Laas and Return of Medusa are more hybrid games where the RPG elements are more pasted on.

    German games will improve a lot in 1992 with Amberstar and Realms of Arkania.

    1. Both of those games still have a bit overdone micromanagement.

      In Amberstar, you always need light, rations, gold is very heavy to carry and there are a lot of ailments you have to cure. Spells help with that, though and it actually gets better over time. That makes you feel mightier as you progress, but still it can be a bit overwhelming at the start.

      And don't get me started with all those illnesses and herbs in Realms of Arkania. Of course it's your own fault if you travel without a warm blanket and catch a cold, at least it feels like that...
      I don't like this rpg system too much, it has a lot of pseudo-realism where you often feel stupid at the beginning - simply because you don't expect this (superfluous) level of detail.
      The game is still good, even though I only finished part 2 and 3.

  6. The congratulatory end-game text is in the file Intro/SBZ, but unfortunately I don't have time to translate it right now:

    Nachdem ihr die Vunorerin in einem letzten, grossen Kampf besiegen könnt, überkommt euch unsägliche Erleichterung. Nach Wochen der Mühen, der Entbehrung und der Qualen, nach dem Schock, den euch die Projektion mit der Preisgabe ihrer Identität versetzt hat, und nach den Gefahren, die ihr in der Todeszone überwinden musstet, fällt euch ein ganzer Geröllhaufen vom Herzen. Mit euren sehr bescheidenen Mitteln ist es euch gelungen, Kyrion von den technisch Ueberlegenen Vunorern zu befreien. Daran werden die Vunorer mit Sicherheit recht lange zu kauen haben...

    Dennoch. Irgendwie will in euch nicht die euphorische Stimmung aufkommen, die dieser Sieg hervorrufen sollte. Ihr seid euch bewusst, dass ihr keineswegs einen endgültigen Sieg über die Vunorer davongetragen habt. Sicher, ihr habt sie an der Fertigstellung ihrer biologischen Superwaffe gehindert, und das wird ihre Forschungsarbeiten um Jahre zurückwerfen. Aber die Vunorer werden wiederkommen, dessen seid ihr euch sicher. Und wenn sie wiederkommen - wer soll den Planeten vor einem Uebergriff durch die Vunorer schützen?

    Etwa die Menschen der Erde? Dabei ist ja noch nicht mal sicher, ob die Menschheit auf der Erde überhaupt noch existiert. In der Zwischenzeit kann sich allerhand ereignet haben, kann sich die bei eurem Abflug schon kritische Lage noch verschlimmert haben. Wie soll ein solches, am sozialen Abgrund schwebendes, Volk einen ganzen Planeten vor dem Zugriff einer Rasse bewahren, die zumindest in der Raumfahrttechnik einen technischen Vorsprung von Jahrzehnten besitzt?

    Eure qualvollen Gedanken sind jedoch bald wieder vergessen, als ihr nach dem Verlassen der Todeszone wieder nach Lauree zurückkehrt und dort von den Menschen in überschäumender Freude empfangen werdet. Gemeinsam mit den auf Kyrion ansässigen Umbeken und den Menschen in Lauree, versucht ihr, in den darauffolgenden Tagen wieder Ordnung auf Kyrion herzustellen. Bei den Arbeiten, die sich in erster Linie auf die Desaktivierung bzw. Umprogrammierung einiger noch herumstreunender Roboter und das Abschalten diverser vunorischer Sicherheitssysteme beschränken, macht ein Umbeke am neunten Tag einen Fund, der eurer Hoffnung auf eine schnelle Rückkehr zur Erde neuen Auftrieb verleiht: Ein vunorisches Raumschiff!

    In Gemeinschaftsarbeit mit einigen technisch versierten Umbeken gelingt es euch schliesslich, dem vunorischen Flugkörper eure Befehle verständlich zu machen. Im eine schnelle Rückkehr zur Erde neuen Auftrieb verleiht: Ein vunorisches Raumschiff! In Gemeinschaftsarbeit mit einigen technisch versierten Umbeken gelingt es euch schliesslich, dem vunorischen Flugkörper eure Befehle verständlich zu machen. Im Einverständnis mit den auf Kyrion lebenden Menschen und Umbeken beschliesst ihr nun, eine neue Crew zusammenzustellen und mit dieser den Rückflug zur Erde zu wagen und schnellstmöglichst Unterstützung für die auf Kyrion Zurückbleibenden anzufordern.

    Eine knappe Woche später erfolgt der Abflug von Kyrion, dem fünften Planeten des antarischen Sonnensystems. Das Raumschiff durchdringt die Atmospäre des Planeten, nimmt im freien Raum Kurs auf die Erde und macht sich auf die Rückreise zu einer winzigen, unbedeutenden Sonne namens SOL und dessen dritten Planeten Erde. Die zwanzig Menschen und fünf Umbeken in diesem Flugkörper tragen das Wissen in sich, das Hilfe und Rettung unzähliger Lebewesen zweier Planeten bedeuten kann. Jeder von ihnen ist sich bewusst, dass er eine immense Verantwortung in sich trägt, und jeden quälen pessimistische Gedanken. Dennoch hat jeder Hoffnung - Glauben, dass Mutter Erde in unversehrtem Zustand ist und ihnen die Möglichkeit zur Rückkehr geben wird...

    1. Let's go:

      Having managed to defeat the Vunoress in one last, titanic battle, you feel incredible relief. After weeks of struggle, pain and deprivation, after the shock you felt when learning about the true identity of the Projection, and after all the dangers you had to come by in the Death Zone, there's a massive weight off your mind. With your humble means you were able to free Kyrion from the technologically superior Vunorans, giving them food for thought for quite a while...

      Still, there is no sign of the euphoria you should experience from such a victory. You are aware that this was by no means an ultimate victory against the Vunorans. You stopped the creation of their monstrous biological weapon, and this will put their research back years. But you are certain they will return, and if that happens – who shall protect the planet from a new Vunoran assault?

      Earth's mankind? It is not even clear whether mankind still exists on Earth. Many things could have taken place during your absence, things which might have worsened the already precarious situation that prevailed when you left. How should a people existing on the brink of social collapse defend an entire planet against a race fielding decades of technological advantage, at the very least in the area of space travel?

      But your tormenting thoughts are soon gone as you leave the Death Zone and return to Lauree, where the people greet you with overwhelming joy. Together with Kyrion's Umbeken and the humans of Lauree you do your best to restore order to Kyrion. During this endeavor, which mostly comes down to deactivating and reconfiguring a few remaining robots as well as shutting down various Vunoran security systems, it is a Umbeke who makes a discovery after nine days which rekindles your hope of a fast return to Earth: A Vunoran spacecraft!

      Working with several experienced Umbeken, you finally manage to convey your orders to the Vunoran craft. In consent with Kyrion's humans and Umbeken, you decide to assemble a new crew, quickly return to Earth and ask for support for the people remaining on Kyrion.

      One week later, you start your return flight from Kyrion, fifth world of the Antaran solar system. The spacecraft breaches the atmosphere, sets course to Earth once in free space and commences the journey back to a small, insignificant star named SOL and its third planet. The twenty humans and five Umbeken in this ship are carrying knowledge which might aid and save innumerable lives on two worlds. Each of them is aware of the immense responsibility he bears, and each of them bears his own pessimistic thoughts. Yet, each of them is hopeful as well – hopeful that Mother Earth is still intact and will provide them with the option to return...

    2. Whoa! Thanks for the translation!

      Lousy ending though. It almost looks like they're setting up for a sequel that'd never happen.

  7. Wonderful - you are back finally :)
    That Umbeke guy looks like a green Admiral Ackbar ;)

    1. Every time I think about him, I hear, "They did not have calamari pizza because Mon Calamari are people, and I did not know that..."

  8. Welcome back Chet!

    I don't think I would have lasted as long as you did with Antares... at least it doesn't sound like you missed much in the story category.

  9. Glad to see you're able to blog again! I had a feeling Antares would end up being skipped and justifiably so.

  10. Geez! Playing Fallout 4 at night? Hope you're doing that on console so that Irene is playing along as well. It's a homewrecker, I tell you.

    1. Heh. True that. My wife did not like my Skyrim-holiday from family life, she will not like Fallout4 also.

    2. Irene wasn't interested in Fallout 3 or New Vegas, so she probably won't be interested in this one, either. She only likes games with thick, linear plots and lots of dialogue options. She liked Dragon Age II, for instance.

      But we're good. She already knows she has to leave me alone for a few days. I've told her when The Elder Scrolls VI: Akavir comes out, I'm just going to check into an undisclosed hotel for a couple of weeks.

    3. How have I not heard about Akavir until now? Odd, anyhow welcome back! :)
      P.s. for roguelike lovers, ADOM came out on steam yesterday :)

    4. My comment about Akavir was a joke. I would be really pleased if that was the subtitle of TES6, but I don't expect it will be.

      A lot of people online seem to be hoping it will be set in Black Marsh or Elsewyr. I guess those are the same people that actually play as Argonians or Khajit. Those people are looking for a completely different experience in RPGs than I am. I don't get them at all.

    5. There's the rather interesting base-building aspect in Fallout 4. I thought women might like to give some input on the horrid grey and brown palette we have chosen for our masculine stronghold interior decoration.

    6. Obdurate Hater of Rhythm GamesNovember 19, 2015 at 1:09 PM

      Is building a town in Fallout 4 as fun as it is in the Suikoden games? I played the first two recently, and if Fallout 4 can rekindle that magic, I will definitely get it soon.

    7. It's not really the same. In Suikoden, the upgrades & buildings are more or less static and plot-driven.

      Fallout 4's base-building is more free-form but it's a chore to build even a simple house. Minecraft, it ain't.

    8. I'm a cheap bastard and would have waited for a GOTY version of Fallout 4 to sell for under $15 USD, but my brother preordered it for me as a birthday present. Having beaten Fallout 1-3 plus New Vegas (including all DLC for the two most recent ones), I'm digging into Fallout 4 and having loads of fun.

      The building is a bit fiddly. I spent a long time trying to make a fence-line around my settlement yesterday.

      My wife is probably annoyed that I've been hiding in the office as much as I can, but I do make a point of tearing myself away to help with the kids and to watch TV with her in the evenings.

    9. That makes you a LUCKY cheap bastard.

    10. I played a fair bit of Fallout 4, but them got bored quickly. Wound up feeling to much like 3, and too spooky to play late at night.

      My brother and I got my Dad into Skyrim. I asked how he liked it the next time I was home and Mom threatened to disown me of I ever got him that obsessed with a game again he kept playing till 2 am.

  11. Hi!
    A quick translation of the end-game text (might still sound odd in some instances to the native english speaker, due to sentence structure):

    After conquering the Vunora in a last, epic battle, you are overcome by inexpressible relief. After weeks of troubles, deprivations and torture, after the blow the projection dealt to you by revealing her true identity, and after the overcome dangers of the death zone, a huge load is taken from your minds. With your limited possibilities you were able to liberate Kyrion from the technically superior Vunoreans. The Vunoreans will definitely need some time to lick their wounds…

    However. Somehow the euphoria is missing that this victory should elicit. You know that this is no final victory against the Vunoreans. Sure, you’ve hindered them in the finalization of their biological super weapon, and this will throw back their research activities by several years. But the Vunoreans will come back, you’re sure of that. And when they come back – who can protect the planet from an assault of the Vunoreans?

    The Humans of Earth? It’s not even given that Humanity still exists on Earth. Anything could have happened in the meantime, the already critical situation at the time of your departure could have escalated. How could such a Race, tethering on the brink of a social chasm, protect another planet from the grasp of a Race that at least in space travel has a technical lead of decades?

    Your tormenting thoughts are soon forgotten when you return from the death zone to Lauree and are greeted by the Humans with overwhelming joy. In the following days, together with the native Umbekes from Kyrion and the Humans from Lauree you try to restore Order on Kyrion. During this task, which mainly consists of deactivating or reprogramming of some roaming robots and the turning off of several vunorean security systems, an Umbeke discovers something on the ninth day which rekindles your hope of a swift return to earth: a vunorean space ship!

    In a joint effort with some technically able Umbekes you are finally able to issue your commands to the vunorean ship. In common agreement with the Humans and Umbekes on Kyrion you decide to assemble a new crew and dare the return to Earth, to request assistance and support for the remnants on Kyrion.

    Almost a week later you depart from Kyrion, the fifth planet of the antarian star system. The space ship moves through the atmosphere of the planet, and, once in open space, takes course to Earth and starts its return voyage to a small, insignificant star named SOL and its third planet Earth. The twenty Humans and five Umbekes on this ship gather the knowledge which can pose as help and rescue of uncounted beings on two planets. Every one of them is aware of carrying a huge responsibility, and everyone is bothered by pessimistic thoughts. Nevertheless everybody still has hope – belief that Mother Earth is still in sound condition and they have a chance of return…

    1. So there are two of us who have too much time in the hours of the morning :p

    2. Unfortunately, my having to approve comments means that commenters don't always know when other people are working on the same thing. Thank you both for taking the time to translate the end-game text; I added a note in the post.

      "It's not even given that humanity still exists on Earth." Wow, that's bleak. Nothing in the game suggested that Earth was in danger of an apocalypse.

    3. The jump from "bad situation when you left" to "all is dust as you return" seems rather far to me as well. Then again, the endgame text covers such a large span of time and events that it needed such an underlying tension to carry its weight; in this way, it also would serve to put the events of the actual game into place within a much larger narrative, keeping player interest high for a possible sequel (and probably the Antares universe as a whole). I presume we'll never know...

  12. Welcome back Chet! I looked daily at my Blogger-Dashboard since the 9th awaiting your next posting. ;-)

    I'm glad that you ticked this one off, even when I made small parts of the translation. German games have the problem that they often try to be different and most accurate with supply of foods, sleep, illnesses, healing etc.
    Mark my words when you play your first DSA game "Schicksalsklinge" in 1992. (Better known in the US as Realms of Arkania)
    I have never finished this and will be interesting to see if you will make it.

  13. Hey!
    I think you made the right decision. Sometimes you just have to call it a day. And maybe it wouldn't even do the game justice if you're just playing the game on autopilot because your forced break has destroyed any kind of immersion into the plot.

    I'd also wait until the bugs are patched out of Fallout 4 (though it seems to me that this complaint is exaggerated. I hardly have any problems with bugs in Bethesda games). Playing it around or after Christmas sounds like a plan to me, too.

    1. Welcome back!

      My impression of Bethesda is that they learned their lesson after Daggerfall, and since then every they released was in a very playable state, even if there were often interface annoyances that modders would later fix.

    2. So far Fallout 4 has been pretty stable. Not sure how well-optimized it is - I got a nontrivial FPS boost by installing a smaller textures mod.

      Only outright bug I've seen so far is a quest-related robot warping up into a tree.

  14. Thank you for keeping up with these titles. You seem to have run into another Bard's Tale only set in space. I appreciate, as you do, many of the innovations, but the preset characters especially is a negative. Half the fun of these games is coming up with new and interesting characters!

  15. Glad to have you back. And that you're moving on from this one- you definitely got enough of a taste of Antares to give an informed opinion, but some are not worth finishing. You certainly crossed your self imposed minimum time on this one, time to move on.

    1. I agree, though in general I'm trying to bail on fewer games than I used to. Unfortunately, Antares gave me four in a row.

  16. I wonder what kind of parallels and contrasts playing Fallout 4 along side early 90's games will bring to your mind. I'd be very interested in a post exploring how far we've come, or, indeed, haven't.

    1. I had planned to play fallout 4 during the last weekend. So I started to play, but after a few gameplay hours I just stopped, feeling completeley uninterested to continue. The strange thing is that I I loved the original fallout (1 & 2), and I liked a lot fallout 3 and fallout:nv too.

      No, I cannot explain why I suddenly lost my interest to continue to play with fallout 4 (and in any case this is probably not the appropriate place to further discuss it).

      However, as a consequence, having still a lot of free time, since I have never had the opportunity to play it before, I decided to give Ultima 7 a try (using the modern "exult" engine to run it). Well, I played it for the rest of the two days no-stop. It seems that Ultima 7 succeded to gain my interest while the last-gen rpg fallout 4 failed. No, I am still not knowing why.

    2. Happens to me all the time. Sometimes, a combination of factors--energy level, fatigue, temperature, other things going on in my life, pressing concerns--can drive me both towards and away from binges on certain games. Try F4 again in a few days, and you might find for any number of reasons that you take to it in ways that you didn't over the weekend.

    3. @jrjanowi - I do that all the time, playing new and old games along side.

      They feel very different.

      I would equate and old CRPG it as playing a boardgame about, say, hunting zombies while a new CRPG feels more like dressing up as a zombie hunter and hitting your other friends who are dressed as zombies.

      Doesn't make either more or less fun. It's just a different kind of fun altogether.

    4. Obdurate Hater of Rhythm GamesNovember 19, 2015 at 3:18 PM

      Applying that metaphor to CRPGs I played recently

      Pillars of Eternity feel like hitting cardboard cutouts of zombies while a hack writer desperately tries to figure out a reason.

      Legend of Grimrock 2 is like being the main character in an unimaginative but somewhat entertaining B zombie movie with no writer.

      Citizens of Earth is like the zombies are mixed with a million other monsters and the style of The Evil Dead.

      Albion is like the most awesome zombie movie ever, but in order to watch it, you have to use a broken DVD player that sends you back to five menus every half a minute, and you have to figure out which of a million unlabeled buttons will continue the movie.

      Starflight is an interesting zombie attack where your weapons are wiffle bats with broken handles and BB guns with crooked sights.

    5. *slow clap*
      Nicely put. I dunno about Pillars Of Eternity having a crappy story line though. It's an original IP so I guess it's trying overly hard to introduce the player to this new world.

      Not every game can be like Arcanum or Fallout 1.

  17. I applaud your thoroughness, your criticism, and your stubbornness to work through all these RPGs, but I don't think anyone is going to fault you for giving up on Antares. Sometimes I wonder if anyone ever finished some of these games. (In the eras before Lets-Plays, who knows?)

    It's fascinating to hear about the alternative ideas tried in these exotic games... and even better to hear how they affected game play, for better or for worse. Thanks for sharing!

  18. I'm glad you're back. Hope you'll carry on this excellent blog. You being away for more than one month made me fear you'd stop playing all these old and often obscure games. I would have missed it.

    There seems that games from different countries have some kind of inner similaraty inside them. Difference between CRPG and JRPG are well documented, but german game often have similar characteristics (numerous and original mecanics, long to very long games,...), french also (very nice art, non-standard world building, non-sensical mechanics). Would you agree with this statement?

    1. So far, only three games meet that description of German games: Faerghail, Dragonflight, and Antares. The others were built on more standard molds. So I guess I need a larger sample size.

      That goes doubly true for French games. I think we've had three so far? They've been so different from each other that I fail to see any common themes.

      I should have a better answer in a few years.

  19. Welcome back, I hope all is well.

  20. Home sick from work. Figured I'd read dozens of posts. Cold had other plans for me. Ug. Still up to November, only 7 months left to go, plus a year of The Adventure gamer and Retrosmack after that.


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.